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Barn Down!

Posted on December 16th, 2013

The last week of July I was able to make the final major push on the barn de-construction.  Work began by removing the remaining siding along the south, east and north sides as well as the upper sill beams on the main barn frame.  The sill beams shown in the photo below leaning against the south side of the barn are a great example of the craftsmanship of the barn.  The sill beam runs the length of the barn, comprised of 3 pieces spliced together with an intricate z-splice and pinned with wood pegs.  In turn, the entire beam is fastened with mortise and tenon joints to the frame posts to hold the roof trusses.

Barn with siding and upper sill beams removed

Barn with Siding and Upper Sill Beams Removed

 

The next step was to remove the east lean-to framing.  First we removed the exterior wall framing, and then the cross beams, by unpinning the members and stacking them to the side.  I was happy with the general quality of the posts and beams from the east lean-to and believe the material to be adequate for the reconstruction, especially given that I will only use 5 of the 7 frames when I rebuild the barn.

East Lean-To Coming Off

East Lean-To Coming Off

 

With the east lean-to off, our attention turned to dismantling the main barn frames.  This process required that we remove the oak flooring from one span of the barn, and then remove the floor joists beneath the flooring.  Interestingly, the floor joists were a full 6 inches high and varied in width from 1.5 to nearly 3 inches.  At 8 to 12 feet long, solid oak, they are very heavy!

The photo below shows the frame after we had removed 2 spans of flooring and joists, then laid the north frame on the ground, followed by the east A-frame and then the west A-frame.  This was somewhat of a tense process, but went relatively smoothly.  To lower the north frame, we used ropes tied to the upper cross beam, strung them over the frames to the south and wrapped them around a pole to maintain control as the pins were pulled and the frame began to be lowered.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get any good photos of the process as my “hands were full”!

Five of Seven Frames Remaining

Five of Seven Frames Remaining

 

To lower the A-frames, pins were driven out of the mortise and tenon joint of the horizontal connecting member and ropes were used to safely lower the frame to the ground.  Given each step of the process was a “first” for everyone involved, it went remarkably well.

Driving Pins Out

Driving Pins Out

 

After the two north A-frames were down, we lowered the southern most end frame, as well as another interior from on the north end.  As we continue to lower frames, the remaining structure became a bit more precarious, such that we decided to lay the final 3 frames over to the east as an entire unit.  To do this, with minimal damage, we had to remove all the wood pins and steel rods.  Wayne drew the short straw, so he had the task of removing the final wood pins before we brought the remaining frames to the ground.

Final Frames Coming Down

Final Frames Coming Down

 

With all the materials on the ground, the long process of cleaning up began.  I labeled all of the frame pieces to aid in the re-construction process.  The frame pieces were all taken directly over to the building site, whereas the siding, rafters and flooring is all being stored inside of Troy’s pole building.  As fun and exciting as removing the roof and laying down the frame was, clean up was equally less-exciting.  It seemed like I would never get all of the nails pulled out of the flooring or the floor joists!  But in the end, this too, was completed.  Given several family trips and work responsibilities, I completed the final cleanup in mid September.

Almost Cleaned Up

Almost Cleaned Up

 

This was an amazing process.  I have so many people to thank for their help and encouragement.  I would especially like to thank Troy for his endless encouragement and trustworthy advice, Angela for sharing Troy’s time with me, Chad who always seemed ready to lend a hand, Ali who pulled nails with the best of them, Mark whose humor and hardwork were always welcome, Karl who joined the crew late in the process, Wayne and Gerald who enriched the process beyond words, Ben and Michael for chipping in, mom and dad for driving down to watch the program, Grampa Bob for pulling nails when I couldn’t pull another nail, and Mary and Steve for their patience through this year and a half long process.  My heartfelt thanks goes to each one of you.

Lastly, and most importantly, I would like to thank Miechelle, whose love and support through this journey has never wavered.  From the day I came home from meeting Steve, full of excitement, sharing that “I think I found a barn!”, through many days that I spent thinking about and working on the barn, to the dirty and sometimes dangerous tasks at hand.  It was only with her trust and encouragement that I was able to complete the barn de-construction and have any hopes of salvaging this wonderful century barn.

Next up, barn raising!

 

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