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September 18, 2005
Roof race

Russell and Gail hoist a metal panel up to the roof, with support help from Cameron below (picture taken by Joss)

The octagonal roof of our mountain home has, of course, eight sections.  Each section requires seven metal roof panels, ranging from 6 feet to 24 feet in length.  This makes for 56 total panels.  On Russell and Steve's first attempt at installation on August 28, we installed 11 of these panels.   That left a balance of 45 remaining panels.

There were two major challenges in installing the roof.  The first challenge was how to get the panels up onto the roof in the first place.  With no crane, each of the panels (some 24 feet long) would have to be manually raised 20-plus feet straight up to the second-story roof without being bent or damaged.  On our previous trip (August 27), we successfully developed a system of ropes, C-clamps, wash clothes, and muscle-power.

But the second challenge -- just as difficult -- was the order in which to install the panels.  Originally, Steve and Russell had installed an entire triangular section of 7 panels on the south side.  Afterwards, we changed our minds and decided instead to install all of the longest (24') panels first.  As a result, the 11 panels installed by August 28 looked like this...

August 28, 2005: 11 panels installed, 45 remaining

There were more logistical challenges that had to be accounted for.  We still had a hole in the roof on the east side that served as our access point to the roof.  We wanted to keep this hole open for as long as possible.  (Frankly, we weren't sure how we were going to get onto the roof once this hole was closed).  As long as this hole was open, however, there would be three entire sections of the roof that we couldn't work on.

On September 9-11, Russell returned to the mountain, this time with Gail and the boys.  Russell's intention had been to work further on installing the decks around the perimeter of the house.  Gail, however, was very insistent that she wanted to work on the roof.  Despite her fear of edges, she really wanted to challenge herself... as well as claim credit for having worked on every aspect of construction.

Gail overcomes her fear of edges.  At the beginning of the weekend, she could barely climb the ladder to the roof.  By the end, she was practically leaning over the eaves.

So Saturday, September 10, found Gail and Russell up on the roof again.  Not only did Gail prove just as capable of working in a harness, lifting heavy panels, and installing hundreds of tiny screws as Steve had been; she also made several improvements to the process.  Where Steve preferred to install all screws by hand with a ratchet, Gail used an electric drill fitted with a hexagonal bit.  As a result, Gail matched Steve's milestone of getting 11 panels installed in one weekend.

Using metal shears, Russell cuts a panel to fit the ridge of the roof

Steve: "Well yes, Gail, I see that you also got 11 panels installed.  But just remember, Russ and I had to spend half a day just getting all of the panels laid out on the ground.  And we had to figure out how to get them up on the roof."

Gail: "Okay, Steve, I'll grant you credit for having less time to install your 11 panels.  But don't forget, I also had to take care of two boys, as well as cook meals."

September 11, 2005: 11 panels installed, 22 total, 34 remaining

22 panels down... 34 panels to go.

On September 16-18, Russell and Steve returned yet again to the mountain.  Because we still needed to keep the west section open for hoisting up panels, we had now gone as far as we could go without closing off the hole in the roof.  On Friday afternoon, while he waited for Steve to arrive, Russell noodled over the logistics.

Problem #1: Once we closed the hole, how would we get onto the roof?  Russell screwed OSB plywood over the only deck that had joists so far, and set up the 11-foot ladder on the north side of the house.

Problem #2: Once we closed the hole, how would we tie our safety lines?  Russell fastened a couple of 9-inch cast-iron C-clamps directly at the apex of the roof, and tied the safety lines to them.  They had no problem holding our weight.

Old roof access: a hole on the east side
New roof access: a ladder on the west side
A 9-inch C-clamp holds our safety lines... and our weight

With the logistics solved, Steve and Russell proceeded to close the hole in the roof.  By Saturday morning, we had closed the hole, installed lag screws, cut and nailed OSB spacers, and rolled and stapled tar paper.  By Saturday afternoon we were installing metal panels over the sections. 

The hole in the roof
The last 8" triangular panel is fitted into place; OSB spacers are nailed on either side
Tar paper is rolled and stapled over the gap
A 24-foot metal panel is cut and screwed into place

At this point, we were racing against time to finish the roof.  The rainy season begins by mid-October, and we had fewer than half of the roof panels installed.  In addition, the days were getting visibly shorter with the onset of Winter.  Fortunately, by now Steve and Russell had been working so long together that the process was intuitive and productive.  We were up at dawn and still working at dusk.  We even stayed longer than usual on Sunday afternoon.

The hard work paid off.  During the day-and-a-half of solid work, we successfully installed a whopping 27 additional panels!  Everything was completed except for the last 7 panels of the western section, which we were still using as a staging area for hoisting panels up onto the roof.  We're not quite sure how we're going to install these last 7 panels when we need that same space to hoist them... but that is a logistical challenge for another day.

September 18, 2005: 27 panels installed, 49 total, 7 remaining


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