Monday, August 17, 2015

Beam me up Scotty...and Keith and Colton and Jason and Kyle

 It took some brains and even more muscles but we have our posts and beam up in the Grain Bin House and most importantly no one died. Being the mom , nurse and safety captain I was most concerned about the dying part and drove the other parties nuts with my constant need for structure and planning. "Ok now, who is doing what? What end goes up first? What are our positions? Who is responsible for getting ladders into place? What is the secret word to yell out if you think you are going to drop the beam on your head, or someone else's head? or my head? Is everyone up to date on their health and death insurance?"

But once again we barreled through and are now well on our way to a second floor. Before installation we purchased vintage, and I mean vintage, posts and a large 17 foot beam from a neighbor who deconstructs old barns. The main beam and the two supporting posts were all 8 by 8 and the floor joists we bought to complete the completely unmatched set were various lengths since nothing is very square in a new round home-to-be.

Original tenon and mortise joint of the 100 year old beam

Long beam before trimming and sealing on benches.
Keith sitting on two shorter supporting posts
 The wood is in various conditions of age, size, patina and abuse but all is structurally sound. To give it the image of similarity I wire brushed all the surfaces and then coated each piece with polyurethane, some of which itself was decades old and kept "just in case" by Keith from other projects.

I'm glad he did because a new gallon of polyurethane is over $30 and we did have to buy a couple gallons after using up all the old stuff we had. The wood, being old and dry sucked up that sealer like Dean Martin used to suck up gin.

With three strong sons to help, Colton, Jason and Kyle, there was first a lively discussion about the process. Dad had his method in mind (attaching the beam to the south wall post before lifting it onto the stair post) which was questioned by a son or two but he persevered.

Large long heavy beam on left, shorter supporting
post on right. Main contractor Keith: middle.

We tried his method and as I mentioned above; no one died. Thus his method was deemed a success. Working in 90 degree outside heat, with a heat index of about 100 in the metal building, we also managed to get the beam up without too much name calling; good natured teasing, yes, but nothing brutal.

The process went like this: Keith and I carried in the main support post ( a mere 150 pounds or so) and attached it to the stairs the day before.

Although the stairs do take up a fair amount of floor space,
underneath it we will keep our water heater, water softener and washing machine
The day of, the other post was hauled inside as was the large beam which weighed close to 300 pounds and took four of us using hay twine and 2 by 4's for leverage.

Sons Kyle and Jason bring in the big beam.
The other two helpers did their share but went for drinks.
Inside the bin Keith attached the big beam to the remaining post with more 2 by 4's. Then the five of us lifted the L shaped beam plus post so it reigned like a big letter V on the floor. Then while two of us held it steady the other three, on ladders and the stairs hosted it the rest of the way up to rest atop the post already in place at the bottom of the stairs.

The discussion on HOW to lift the beam up on top of the center post.
Note: No sons were harmed in this process.

Every job needs an overseer.
Colton, Jason and Keith discuss Christmas
grab bag gift ideas.
The beam had been pre-notched by Keith to fit against the south wall of the GBH both up top into the framing and down below at floor level. but once in place needed some more chisel work to make it fit tight.

Beam in concrete floor notched into
wall framing
Beam notched into top part of wall frame

While Colton rammed the beam all Viking style from on top the
staircase the rest of us held steady and maneuvered to post into position.The beam is cut not to reach the wall on one side to allow for the stairs which will rise off the landing both to the right (into a small office) and to the left (to a small library.)

 The whole concoction was further stabilized with a lag bolt from outside the GBH through the metal wall and into the post as well.

Soon we'll start putting in the floor joists and then...the second floor!

Beam in place on the north side
Beam in place on the south side


  1. Wow! That looks exhausting. And awesome. You´re going to have the coolest place!

    1. Yeah we think so too. Well we hope it will be cool in summer and warm in winter but its all up in the air until we fire up the rocket mass heater for the first time.

  2. Ahah! Caught you. You managed to install a whole staircase without a post (the blog, not the staircase) about it. Now we'll never know if you guys actually built it, or that the pyramid aliens erected it with anti gravity machines. 'Fess up, is this round building really a rocket? ;-D

    So happy to see you're using so much reclaimed lumber and resources. Glad you're cracking right along. Winter is coming.....

    1. You are the sly one Kris, can't get much past you. Yes we did slip the stair installation in there but I assure you none of it was pre-done by aliens, elves or hobbits, although a short wide wife was involved in holding a few pieces in place. Keith once again did the majority of the work. I promise to dedicate a blog just to the stairs as they wind their way up to the second floor...and beyond.

  3. I was waiting to see if you had block and tackle at the ready to help lift. Glad to see the progress and that no one got hurt!

    1. The whole process took about 5 days of planning, 3 minutes to get in place and another 30 minutes to secure to walls. Yesterday the floor joists were installed above it (about half of them) which means the second floor should get laid (layed? leighed?) by start of next week.


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