The Big Roof ~ Part Two

Monday I moved the welder back onto the top of container #1. Although the welder is really heavy, I pretty much lifted it with just one finger:

Once the welder was on the roof, I wanted to move it to the other side of the wall. How? Cut the doorway between the roof deck and the loft, of course. I felt my anxiety level rise because if I spent time cutting the doorway, I wasn’t working on the big roof. And if I wasn’t working on the roof, I was losing the race against the rain.

But as I have said elsewhere in this blog, I don’t run the job, the job runs the job. It takes the time it takes; you have to do things in the order that makes sense. Otherwise, you will work a lot harder to accomplish the same results.

Here is the doorway opening completed:


I made a video of me cutting part of the doorway. Notice how I let the heavy angle grinder and gravity do the work. You may also notice that I take breaks to gasp for air; I hold my breath as I cut. I would wear a mask, but I am allergic to latex:

Ever wonder what a latex respirator allergy looks like? Check this awkward mug shot of me taken about six years ago:


Yes, it is painful and burns like a bad sunburn. Itches like crazy too. My eyes are watering. It took a good three or four days to go away.

Now back to the roof… Um, not yet. First I needed to weld more of the big wall to the containers below; when I raised the wall I had only tacked it at the floor in a few places. That took about a day of welding on my hands and knees. This was a hot job with the sun beating down and the heat from the metal roof reflecting up at me.

Finally it was on to the roof. Armando and I lifted the three beams that I had previously welded together, onto the roof. Armando went back to cleaning the drainage ditches, and one by one I nudged two of the beams into place, each ten-feet from the previous one. I temporarily affixed them with clamps and ratchet-straps. But before I welded the beam to the 2×2 frames under the beams, I had to make the wall plumb. I used a tow strap and a come-along to ratchet the wall to be perfectly vertical. The next photo is a panorama composite; the beams really aren’t curved. But you can see the first of the three up in the air, as well as the come-along and the yellow tow strap connected all the way over to container #3:

Panorama -- Roof Rafters

When I was happy with the plumb of the wall, I spent an hour or two welding the ends of the beams to the supports below. I paid quite a bit of attention to this task. I would look darn silly if a strong wind sent the roof flying; this is a big roof and the lift on it will be substantial. Here is how it looks with the front wall done and the two new beams in place:


I find it hard to believe, but plumbing the wall and affixing the two beams took an entire day. Much of the time was eaten up playing the Up-The-Ladder-Down-The-Ladder game. There went Wednesday!

Thursday was taken up with other business. Friday morning I noticed that the two new beams were bouncing and swaying in the wind. Here is a video of how much a 40-foot, unsupported double carriola bounces. The birds in the nearby trees are my constant companions:

I decided that this was the appropriate time to install a previously-planned-for column, at the edge of the loft, for each of the two beams. Again I paid a lot of attention to detail making good thick welds, difficult to do without burning holes in the thin metal carriolas. For each weld, I welded for a while, then ground the weld with the angle grinder to make sure the weld was sound, then welded and ground some more. I’m not a stress engineer, but I am sure that thin, wimpy welds wouldn’t stand the test of time; metal fatigue, generated by any roof flexing in the wind, would tear inferior joints apart. These welds took a lot of time. Here are the two columns in place:


That’s where the roof stands as of Saturday afternoon. Next week I’ll be welding the roof rafters in place.

In other news, Armando is nearly done cleaning the drainage ditches (cunetas [coo-net-ahs])We are adding one new ditch; when it rains, all the water has to drain from the hills behind us, past our lot, flow under the road, and work its way to the main road where it goes under the road and starts a new river.

One of the several bottlenecks is where the water crosses the dirt road in front of our house; the water backs up into our yard. Our neighbor to the east and I replaced the twelve-inch under-the-road drainage pipes at our adjoining lot line with eighteen-inch pipes; better, but the water still backs up. Much of the water comes through the lot to the west of us, so Armando and I decided it would be a good idea to put another under-the-road drainage pipe at our west lot line. Here’s Armando hard at it:


Photo taken from the roof deck on container #1. By the way, that square of concrete is the top of our well.

Mango season has started. Down at the lower elevations, the mangoes are already in. These are big mangoes and cost a dollar and a half to two dollars if you buy them at the market. Better prices can be had by buying from small roadside stands. Mangoes at our elevation of about 2,200 feet (670 meters) will be ready closer to June. Here is one of the super-sweet beauties I bought the other day. Made a great breakfast:


These mangoes are big. How big? So big that the mango can’t fit through the mango slicer!


One mango fills a soup bowl. Ripe, sweet, and juicy. Delicious!

That’s all for now, more next week.

8 thoughts on “The Big Roof ~ Part Two

  1. I really appreciate the videos. Thanks.
    As clever as you are, I’m surprised you haven’t designed a moveable sun shade.

  2. Way back in the project I built the Big Top Tent. The wind blew it to smithereens in a couple of days.

    It is amazingly hot working under a tarp.

    Maybe one of those hats with a solar powered fan in it would work. Soon with the rain I’ll be clamoring for sun.

    My current strategy is to work in shorts and those beige Dickies work shirts; dark shirts soak up the sun and bake you underneath. No slave to fashion me. I love beige.

    I have thought of putting reflective aluminum foil on my baseball cap, but it wouldn’t breathe and I would look like I was trying to keep the alien messages from entering my brain.

    I’ll keep working on it, but soon the house will be DONE and I won’t have to worry about the heat. And comparatively speaking, compared to the temperatures ten degrees F. hotter down the mountain, what do I have to complain about? Life is good.

    I’ll keep the videos coming. Glad you like them.

  3. Great pics as usual Fred , I suspect that last couple of foot raising the welder onto the roof was a little more involved than you are letting on ;0) , also nice pic down to the road and land across from you , just how much more does the road extend past your block once its cleared , bit disjointed today still haven’t had my morning coffee , a request to see a few pictures of Cynthia`s glass bead projects if you can find the time , and if I remember correctly has that teacher done the painting in the small bathroom with the glass sink , if so , how did it turn out ? . As usual a great post , thanks a lot

    • Hi Mike, thanks for your comment. Cynthia says, “Mike has been reading EVERYTHING!”

      Yes, the last couple of feet were a bit more involved in raising the welder. I was able to use the winch a bit more once I cleared the wires from the rebar. Then I just swung the machine and lowered the winch. Easy, but not as easy at rolling the machine up the wall was.

      The neighborhood isn’t very large. In the photo above with Armando digging the ditch, I am looking toward the main road two blocks away that comes up the mountain, does a big curve around our neighborhood, and goes a few more kilometers down into the volcanic crater town of El Valle. To the right of the little brown house you can see a road that comes from the main road and passes west around behind us (there are a couple more house lots behind us) and curves around and becomes the road to the east of us. There are two houses back there, but the few other undeveloped lots are very wet in the rainy season.

      As to Cynthia’s glass beads, she and I need to take some pictures and then I’ll post them. She has done seed bead jewelry for years and has some impressive necklaces. The lampworking (making glass beads by using a torch) is newer for her. After the neurological damage that she suffered during open heart surgery, her (now ex)neurologist said that she would never work with glass again. So Cynthia has been working against hope, and succeeding magnificently, in training her hands and eyes and brain to work hot glass. I’ll be happy to post some of her work.

      The painting-the-bathroom project… The artist and we came to agreement on price. He postponed once. Then he didn’t show and didn’t contact us. We’re not going to chase down an artist and make him work, so it looks like that project is null for now. The upside is that Cynthia and I may do the job ourselves.

      Thanks again for your enthusiasm!

  4. Fred and Cynthia , the reality is I`v been reading your blog for quite some time already , just never got around to making a comment . but its got to the stage where I just cant keep quiet about my admiration with your way of handling what comes up in the process of building your current house , also interesting is the various side trips around the country and the backblocks . The pic from where Amando is working is a first I think looking at the house from that angle , garden looks good , and the fence is great , was interesting how you did the fence when you first built it , that and the pillars for the gate . Anyway enough , looking forward to your next post Regards once again Mike

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