Ups and Downs

We were so excited to start erecting the steel frames. We bought a scissor lift, and it arrived just in time. It can lift 1500 lbs, and it goes up 40 ft!

We also rented a telehandler for a month. (It’s a telescoping boom lift with forks.) It can lift 8000 lbs, and it goes up 44 ft. It’s easy to drive, and has neat features like tilt and crab walk mode. Our friends Zach and Vicky drove up from LA and arrived the night before erection day. Everything was coming together! Zach even happened to be a certified telehandler operator.

They are super fun characters despite the serious faces

We weren’t sure what the best approach for assembly would be. We started at the north end of the building and bolted the columns and the spanning attic beam together on the ground.

Zach lifted the assembled u-shape and lowered it into place. The holes in the bottom of the columns lined up perfectly with the anchor bolts.

Driving the length of the building with a giant thing in the air didn’t seem great, so we tried a different method for the second frame. We set the columns first, picking each one up from one end and lowering it into place.

Then we placed the attic beam between the two columns. After what appeared to be a reenactment of a scene from the Titanic, Sam and Zach bolted it in place.

We were excited to see something that resembled a building after the first day!

Because of the limited reach of the telehandler, we had to put the first two roof frames (rafters) up before moving on. After this, we could continue placing all of the frames (roof and all) North to South. We assembled the first roof peak on the ground first.

Then we placed it on top… It didn’t fit very well. We weren’t happy with how the joint at the peak looked, but we got the bolts in and moved on.

The following day, we set the second roof peak. It didn’t fit at all! Sam used a chain and ratchet straps to squeeze the two ends towards each other. After what seemed like a few hours, Sam and Zach got the bolts in. It wasn’t pretty.

There was a 1″ gap between the two halves of the peak, and the sides were misaligned. After much investigation and some phone calls, we concluded that the ends of all the roof pieces were cut at the wrong angle! We measured all 16 pieces while the steel company deliberated. They were as shocked as we were. Unfortunately all of the other pieces were cut as badly as peak #2. The steel company decided to re-work them all, including peak #1! 

We were so disappointed. Everything started off great. Zach and Vicky were excellent help- we could have erected the entire building in just a few more days with them. Now, we were losing half the building and the help! After showing me how to operate the telehandler, Zach and Vicky hit the road. We will miss them and their matching hoodies. 

But, some good news… more help arrived! Our friend, John, flew in from Australia to help us out for a few months!

John and his positive energy arrived at just the right time. We regained our gumption and set a few more beams!

The following day we were told that a truck was coming to roof parts up, but it was too windy to take down the peaks! We had the truck come early the next morning instead. I drove the telehandler, while Sam and John were up in the scissor lift unscrewing the bolts. The take down went great, and the truck arrived just as we finished. We loaded up the truck and off it went. They are going to cut the ends off and weld them back on at the correct angle. We were told it would just be a few days. Now what?

We came up with a new plan- set all of the columns and attic beams while we wait. Then, hire a crane to place the roof peaks on. (Our telehandler can’t reach over the attic beams.)

We finished assembling all of the steel we had.

With a laser and a level, we aligned the columns. We screwed some wood boards between the columns to hold them in position. We’re charging ahead!

One thought on “Ups and Downs

  1. What a thrilling and terrifying chapter!! And so disappointing about the roof pieces. Of course I can hardly stand to see you both operating those gigantic pieces of machinery–as a mother, of course I have to remind you to be careful!! But it is magical to see those huge pieces up against the sky. much love pat


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