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Monday, April 18, 2005
Skeleton Day 3: And Then There Were Four

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The task ahead: turn all of these pieces into a roof

Day three of our house-raising party got off to an auspicious start.

Today's task was to begin work on the second-floor skeleton -- namely, the second-floor corner posts (thankfully wood and not cast iron), the roof trusses, and the diagonal support braces.

Topsider's manual contains very clear instructions on how to do this.  They even include little cartoon illustrations that show a man standing halfway up the center column, assisted by two men putting up the corner posts.  According to the instructions, the corner posts must be plumbed and bolted down before anything else proceeds.

When we had looked at this process yesterday afternoon, we decided that Matt and Russell could accomplish this themselves.  We therefore told Frank that we wouldn't need him until at least 10:00 am. By yesterday evening, we thought we were being too optimistic.  We telephoned Frank and told him we wouldn't need him until at least noon.

When we got up this morning, Matt and Russell took one more look at Topsider's instructions.  Matt proposed an alternate procedure: instead of lifting the corner posts, roof trusses, and diagonal braces up into the air one at a time; then trying to bolt them with our arms above our heads while hanging in the air; why couldn't we just pre-assemble everything on the ground, then use the crane to lift them into place?  Russell immediately agreed.

Gail was NOT happy having to call Frank for yet a third time.  She caught him just as he was about to take his free morning and tend cows, and told him that we now needed him over as soon as possible.  His chuckle on the other end of the phone was audible.

Matt's revised procedure for building the roof skeleton worked beautifully.  Frank, Matt, and Russell worked as a team to pre-assemble each of the roof truss sets.  (As Russell was fond of telling Frank, we alternately used him for his crane, his brain, or his brawn, depending on the situation.)  By late morning, Gail, Cameron, and Joss joined as well.

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Installing the roof trusses: Topsider's method... and ours

By afternoon, Frank's daughter Jessica and son-in-law Ryan dropped by, and Ryan (as usual) immediately pitched in to help.

(Ryan was amused by a surprise that Gail had set up for him on the dirt access road. "Ryan's Curve," the spot where Ryan's truck had run off the shoulder in the pouring rain several months ago, now had an official sign.)

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"Ryan's Curve"

One added bonus for the day was Matt flying around up in the air on the crane harness.  We realized that we had forgotten to add a small part to the pre-assembled trusses, and the only way to attach them now was to hang Matt from the crane.  (Matt was volunteered for this important task as the person least afraid of heights and edges.)

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Matt gets a free crane ride

Now that we had reached Monday, Gail also made her long-awaited phone call to Topsider.  Their official reply to the center column bolts being too short was something along the lines of "Oops."  Their official reply to the glu-lam beams not fitting into the center column was something along the lines of "Huh? What?"

On the positive side, Topsider is working hard to make things right.  They have promised to ship the correct bolts out as soon as possible.  In addition, they plan to credit us back to replace all of the ruined insulation.

Topsider was also very interested in our feedback regarding their instructions (or lack thereof).  As Gail reported afterwards, "They are revising their manual even as we speak."

By evening we had accomplished the impossible: the entire two-story house skeleton was complete!  Especially considering the way things had begun two days ago, we would never have believed that we could accomplish this much in only three days!  (The two-story skeleton had been Gail and Russell's stretch goal for the entire week.)

On that happy note, we bid a fond and final farewell to Frank and his crane (at least for this time around).  Once Matt departs tomorrow, the party will be down to our core family -- Gail, Russell, Cameron, and Joss -- alone on top of our little mountain until the next weekend.

We are getting more exhausted, sunburned, and banged up every day.  The evenings keep getting earlier.  But today, we are enormously pleased and proud of ourselves.

The house is beginning to take shape.

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The house so far: a complete two-story skeleton (before Frank departed with his crane, we had him set the second-story walls atop the second floor)


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