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Barn Work

Posted on June 9th, 2013

Yesterday I posted background information about The Barn.  Since our initial discussions in the spring of 2012, I have made some progress on the barn deconstruction.  In fact, the first weekend of work happened to coincide with the 2012 Johnson County Barn Tour on June 23rd and 24th sponsored by the Iowa Barn Foundation.  Steve and Mary’s newer barn (circa 1940) was on the tour.  I was a little hesitant to start the barn deconstruction, but assumed the Barn Tour turnout would be light.  Boy was I wrong.  On Saturday alone over 200 people came by to see Steve and Mary’s restored barn, in doing so, many stopped by to share words of encouragement with us.  That day my two sons, Ben and Michael, along with Troy Lyons were helping.  It was really encouraging to hear so many people wish me success in this project and hear their stories about barns that had been saved and a few whose fortune were not so good.

My favorite story of that day was an nice lady asking if I was a professional barn mover.  My response was “Yes, in fact I am, and at the end of the day I will have 1 day of experience!”.  That was really a fun day.

We began by dismantling and cleaning up the west lean-to.  The first step was to clear out the livestock pens on first floor and then begin to take out the collapsed roof.  To get the roof down, we used a sawzall to cut the roof into sections and then drug them outside to stack the salvageable pieces and pile the waste for later burning.  As expected, the shingles and 1″ by 6″ sheathing were not worth saving.  Some of the 2″ by 6″ rafters were good, so they were stacked inside the center bay of the barn.

Hauling Roof Sections Out

Hauling Roof Sections Out

West Lean-to Roof Removed

West Lean-to Roof Removed

Once we had the roof off, we then pulled off the oak paneling from the west wall.  This paneling was used to keep livestock (most likely pigs) from rubbing up against the siding on the outside of the barn.  The oak paneling is 1″ thick rough sawn white oak in random widths.  I was able to save all of this paneling material and have over 200 sq ft that I kept.  In fact, this past Christmas I used my thickness planer to clean up enough pieces to build a box for my parents that Miechelle and I filled with locally made products.  The box turned out really nice and has a very cool vintage patina with a few nail holes and historic blemishes.  It was a fun gift.

After we removed the paneling, we took off the siding on all three sides of the lean-to, leaving the frame exposed.  The frame is a nicely build white pine frame, with mortise and tenon joints and wood pins.  For the most part, the wood pins drove out pretty easily allowing us to dismantle the frame.  In the photo below, Michael and I are removing the upper sill plate, notice the nicely crafted Z-shaped splice joint along the interior.  This joint was also wood pinned.

Michael and I Dismantling the Outer Frame

Michael and I Dismantling the Outer Frame

 

I have stored all of the frame materials upstairs in the hay loft.  This has kept them relatively dry over the winter and spring.  The photo below shows Michael and Mark removing a tie-beam and placing it upstairs.  The tie-beams were mortise and tenon jointed on both ends, held with wood pins, and a splice plate on the main columns.  In general they were in good shape.  Given that I plan to rebuild the barn at an approximately 0.6 scale replica, using only 5 of the 7 frames, I should have plenty of good framing materials.

Frame Members Stored Upstairs

Frame Members Stored Upstairs

 

Alas, we had the west lean-to fully removed.  The siding and framing materials were all nicely stacked inside the barn, and the debris piled outside to be burned later.  As we finished one evening, Troy’s wife, Angela, stopped by with their two boys, Will and Henry.  This is quite a project, one that interests both young and old, alike.

West Lean-to Removed

West Lean-to Removed

 

Having removed the west lean-to, I had accomplished all that I planned to do in 2012.  As fall approached, I had plans to spend a good amount of time bow hunting in the fall, and working on timber stand improvement work in the winter and early spring.  My goal for 2013, is to complete the barn deconstruction, and with any luck maybe even get the frame rebuilt in its new location.  All in all, I feel really good about my progress last year.  Everything came apart as I expected and we had a safe job site.

When working on the barn, its fun to think back 100 years ago and imagine the craftsman working with hand tools to build this great barn.  I am sure they never imaged that in 2012 and 2013 someone would be taking the barn down, one board at a time to rebuild it for a utility barn and weekend hangout.  Imagine the conversations we could have if we could unite the original construction crew with my helpers today!

 

2 Responses

  1. Matt McConville says:

    Very, very interesting project Larry. Looks like you guys are making good progress. I’m looking forward to seeing more photos and hearing more about it. Take Care. Matt

    • Larry Weber says:

      Great to hear from you. I have kept a special hammer at the site with your name on it, so anytime you are ready to pull nails, just let me know.

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