Thursday, January 3, 2013

Pole raising, day 2

With the two poles and beam yesterday seen as a sort of a dry run for the real thing, this morning we got stuck into the serious business of erecting the central, feature, post-and-beam frame. The posts here are 2.5m long red stringybark (Messmate) taken from the 7.6m pole we retrieved from Jenna's place last week, and the beam is a beautiful straight bluegum log I felled (successfully this time!) some time ago on our property.

When we lifted the posts against the shipping container, we had a little insurance against over-balancing them - they couldn't fall forwards or backwards. The central poles however are free standing, and so we lifted them to vertical using the bobcat and ratchet straps, then off the ground for positioning over their bracket.

So first thing I began manoeuvring the first pole onto the slab, ready for its raising. Shortly thereafter, my brother-in-law Jared arrived from Wangaratta to help (at 6:30am, a serious effort after 4 hours sleep!!) followed immediately by Peter.

With pleasantries out of the way, we got stuck straight into it and lifted the first pole. This one we braced in two dimensions, across to the bottom plate of the wall frame which has already been securely bolted to the slab. This prevents the pole from moving anywhere, and gives us plenty of manoeuvring room on one side to raise the other two and the beam across the top.

With this one in place in record time, it was straight onto the second. I tell you, the bobcat makes this job an absolute cinch, and safe as houses. I'd hate to think how we'd have had to do this another way...

This one we braced again to the bottom plate of the external wall, and also to the top and bottom of the first pole. They're not going anywhere!

Next, the third:

Piece o' cake. All three poles in the air and it's only just gone 8am! :)

No stuffing around then, time for the beam! Being a shade over 9m long I'm unable to lift this one with the bobcat solo, so I used my castor-wheeled engine crane on the far end and pushed it around with the end of the log in the bobcat bucket.

One very slow and careful lift later, and bingo - we have one end of the beam in the air, in place on top of its pole.

(Please excuse the fingers over the lens, Jared is unused to iPhonery :) )

At this point we attached a couple of temporary vertical stays on the far post to prevent it from slipping sideways during the final lift, and another screwed to the end grain to prevent any chance of it coming off when tugging the log into position. Oh, and a little ratchet strap paranoia, too :)
So with everything prepped and ready, it's time for the final lift!
We took two bites at this one. When we first got the log seated on the poles we discovered how much error we had in our notching as the log pivoted on the middle pole, so it was lifted down, a few small adjustments made and then lifted into place permanently, all before noon!
With a forecast top of 38ÂșC and in the full sun fast approaching that, we took a short but welcome break for lunch and then got straight back into it. With two extra pairs of hands being so valuable, I couldn't pass up the chance to get some trusses up! I'd been wondering how to attack these by myself without a convenient hillside from which to skid the trusses up on, but with helpers they went up easily and quickly.
By far the slowest part of the job was the endless measuring, and the notching of the log atop the shipping container to take the ends of the trusses at precisely 2.7m high. In the end I ended up over-notching them a little; a little too deep and a little too low. The depth of the cut will never be seen, and the height allows the truss position to be fine tuned with precision packers :)
The truss manufacturers supplied 1.2m long cyclone ties for these trusses, and both Peter and I reckon these are fine if they'll never be seen, but with these trusses remaining exposed in the garage we'll be a little more industrial and use some 50x50x5 steel angle and big, chunky coach screws. Serious anchors for serious frames! :)
We pushed on despite the heat, and by beer-o'clock we'd managed to erect 10 of the 17 trusses in total. They still need to be fiddled with to find their perfect positions, but that's something I can do easily by myself without needing extra manpower.
So in the morning, Jared and I will finish notching the container log for the rest of the full trusses, and erect the two remaining half trusses before Peter returns to help with the last few.
It's been a very long, and truly epic day! By far, this is the most progress that has been made on site in one day and it couldn't have happened without the invaluable help of Peter and Jared. Thanks guys, you're both legends! :)

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