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August 21, 2005
Marathon part 5: Lowering the deck purlins

Ready for joists: our first (and so far only) deck purlin is installed over the front door, outside of what will be Cameron's bedroom

Between Steve's departure on Tuesday, August 16 and Gail's return on Thursday, August 18, Russell had two days and two nights alone on top of the mountain.  In addition to moving the last triple purlin up to the second floor, Russell prepared the remaining glu-lam beams for installing these purlins.  All eight glu-lam beams had to have the bitumen-based vapor barrier, the composite risers, and the purlin hangers.

Russell actually ran into one unexpected glitch.  On the sections where the deck would go off in both directions from the glu-lam beam, the blueprints called for an additional piece of composite decking material to be inserted upright in between the purlin hangers.  When Russell actually tried to do this, he discovered that it was physically impossible because there wasn't enough room.  When Gail called Topsider, and Brian Reed agreed that the instructions in the blueprints were physically impossible.  He was actually amazed that no one had ever noticed this discrepancy before.

A raised strip of composite material is supposed to be installed down the middle length of the glu-lam beam.  Unfortunately, the purlin hangers are in the way.

The only other exciting event during Russell's solitary time occurred on Thursday morning.  At 7:00 am, the local police raided an illegal crop marijuana plants on the BLM land just south of our property.  For more than five hours, a police helicopter airlifted bales of the stuff out of the forest and deposited onto the nearest road for pickup by police vans.  Russell had a great view as he performed his otherwise menial tasks on the glu-lam beams.

Russell's entertainment: a nearby police helicopter

On Thursday afternoon, Russell was elated by the return of Gail, Cameron, and Joss.  Gail brought clean sheets and hot meals, including spaghetti and meatballs (Russell's favorite) and spicy pork burritos.  But not only that, additional people meant additional laborers.

Gail barely took time to marvel at the amount of work that had been accomplished before she set to work herself.  As usual, her first chore was to scrub the last wall section with bleach to eliminate the mold that had built up.

On Friday, we spent the day measuring, sawing, and installing 2x6 joists into the first deck section.  Unfortunately, Cameron was suddenly stricken with a cold that had been going around (Russell and Joss had contracted it a week before).  While Cam spent most of the next two days sleeping, Joss helped his dad to level the joists and nail them into their hangers.  By the end of the day, 11 of the 13 joists had been installed.  (The last two will need to wait for another day, when we can bring up a Sawz-All.)

Installing the deck joists
(Note: in the background, Cameron and Joss are assembling yet another gazebo)

We would not be able to install any additional joists until we first installed more triple purlins into the deck sections.  So on Saturday, despite numerous warnings from Russell, Gail volunteered for the back-breaking task of installing the rest of the triple purlins.  Although Russell and Steve had previously refined the process so that we knew exactly what to do, the work was still excruciating.  The purlins had to be pushed, pulled, lifted, or kicked across the upper story floor until they reached the edge of the floor panels.  Then, Gail and Russell set up ladders and shouldered them out to the outer ends of the glu-lam beams.  We had to perform a continual balancing act, as the purlins were cut to the exact length of the gap between the glu-lam beams.  They had to be lowered into their hangers at just the right moment, before they fell ten feet to the ground below.

Installing a triple purlin the old-fashioned way: with ladders and shoulder-power

When we started on Saturday morning, Gail was optimistic that we would have time to install additional joists.  By the time we finished late Saturday afternoon, Gail was completely exhausted.  The last purlin almost destroyed her shoulder (or, as she put it, almost took off one of her ears).  We called it a day.  Fortunately, we were able to install all four of the remaining triple purlins.

For Gail, it was time to get Cameron home so he could get well.  For Russell, at the end of an eight-day marathon -- the longest amount of time that anyone had spent up on the mountain so far -- it was time for a hot shower and a good night's sleep.

Two beautiful sights:
Deck joists installed outside of Cameron's bedroom on the north side of the house
Triple purlins installed in a three-section continuous deck on the west and south sides of the house


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