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Barn Roof – Independence Day

Posted on July 7th, 2013

This past week, while most Americans were planning 4th of July celebrations, I was focused on removing the main barn roof and east lean-to roof of the barn that I am moving.  First and foremost, I am happy to share that the work of the week far exceeded my expectations, and most importantly, was without incident.  I was fortunate to be assisted by Chad and Troy (as usual), with some clean-up help from Sara, but the stars for this event were three young Amish fellas, Garold, Amos and Wayne.  I can’t put words to my appreciation for their knowledge, hard work, and friendship that developed during the process of removing the roof.  These guys did all of the challenging, elevated work, while me and my crew focused on siding removal and clean-up.

The work started at 7:30 a.m. on July 3rd.  Remarkably, by 8:30 all of the shingles had been torn off of the west side of the main barn.  The main roof has a 12:12 pitch, however, the roof crew seemed very comfortable working directly off of the sheathing boards.  I snapped a quick photo with my iPhone from inside the barn while Troy and I were removing siding from the north side of the barn.  I really like the abstract nature of the photo below.

Shingles Removed from the West Side

Shingles Removed from the West Side


With the west-side shingles removed, Amos and Wayne went to work removing the east-side shingles while Garold started to remove the sheathing boards on the west-side.  The shingles were removed from the ridge to the eave, whereas, the sheathing boards were removed from the eave to the ridge.  I was amazed at the systematic way in which these guys worked, especially after scratching my head for several months thinking about the best way to approach the roof removal.  Based on our conversations, and their work, it was clear these guys knew what they were doing.  In particular, the sheathing boards were removed with a custom-made tool whose specific purpose was demonstrated as the boards were quickly removed.  The following two photos show the shingles and sheathing boards being removed.

Shingles Being Removed from East Side of Main Barn

Shingles Being Removed from East Side of Main Barn


Sheathing Boards Being Removed

Sheathing Boards Being Removed on the West Side


Remarkably, by noon the roof crew had the shingles and sheathing off of the entire main barn, while the siding and clean-up crew seemed to be falling further and further behind!

Given the shingles and sheathing were all original to this 100+ year-old barn, they were not salvageable, the roof trusses on the other hand appear to be in great shape, with minor repairs needed to a few heels (lower overhanging eave portion of the truss).  Steve and Mary allowed me a place to burn the waste materials on their property, and each time we left to unload a load of debris, we came back surprised at the progress of the roof crew.  The photo below shows the barn just before lunch.


The Barn from a Distance


After lunch, the roof crew began to individually remove the roof trusses, working from the north to the south, until they got to the ridge beam and barn door.  The purpose of the ridge beam is to allow the hay carrier rail to cantilever out beyond the barn wall so the hay fork could be lowered to an awaiting hayrack full of hay to be loaded into the barn.

To complete the roof de-construction, the roof crew needed to open the hay door, which had not been operated for several decades, and then remove the remaining five trusses as one unit.  After a little prodding the hay door came open with a bang, and a shudder of the remaining roof trusses.  Fortunately, the trusses, and roof crew all remained in place as the door swung free!  The five roof trusses were then lowered by prying the east sides free from the upper wall beam and then lowering onto scaffolding, again without incident.


Barn Door Opened with a Little Prodding

Barn Door Opened with a Little Prodding


By 3:30 the entire main-barn roof had been removed, and I was giving the roof crew a ride back to their homes.

We didn’t work on the 4th, and reconvened back at the site for a second day of work on July 5th to remove the east lean-to roof, and continue the debris clean-up.  By noon on the second day, the east roof was removed and a good portion of the debris had been removed.


East Lean-To Roof Off

East Lean-To Roof Off


This will be an Independence Day to remember!  I am so delighted to have the roof off of the barn, but more importantly, honored to have experienced the simple, hard working nature of three young Amish gentlemen.  Beyond their work ethic, I was really impressed by the conversations that we shared to and from the job site, and throughout the day.  We all learned a lot about each others lives and cultures, and I believe that we will be equally enriched by the experience.  I know that I have already shared many stories about this experience with my family and friends, and I am sure they have shared equally colorful stories about their experience with their families and friends.  I can only imagine their stories about the professor who is moving the barn!

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our country’s Independence Day holiday, than to spend it working alongside Garold, Amos and Wayne.  God Bless America!


6 Responses

  1. bill zales says:

    I know the wonderful feeling. Our son & I salvaged a similar barn & built a 24 x 48 with help from friends & relative. How rewarding.

    • Larry Weber says:

      Thanks Bill, I am really looking forward to the re-construction portion of this adventure! I been blessed to have help from family and friends, along with a little hired help for the toughest work.

  2. Randy says:

    Just wanted to say that I enjoyed your blog. The wife and I saved for 10 years and bought 100 acres of timber in West central Missouri. We are working with our conservation department on TSI and some burning, please keep posting, I have enjoyed reading everything. You may just have inspired us to start a blog of our own for our property. Great Job.

    • Larry Weber says:

      Congratulations on your purchase! I would be interested in seeing your blog, you can email the link to me at, or repost here. Good luck with your timber work, it is yeoman’s work, but very rewarding.

  3. John Doershuk says:

    Wonderful website and the barn move is quite a project!

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