Showing posts with label construction work at Gamone. Show all posts
Showing posts with label construction work at Gamone. Show all posts

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Construction of wood shed

In my previous blog post, entitled Wood shed finished [display], I stated proudly that the structure was “sturdily-built”. Prudent, I had preferred to wait until the entire construction process was terminated successfully before showing how I had gone about building the shed. It would have been so embarrassing to have described my building work, only to be followed by a dramatic image of a pile of wood and tiles beneath a mound of snow on the lower slopes beneath my house. But I really don't believe we're likely to be faced with such a situation.

In this blog post, I intend to present a few images, taken at the start of October, that highlight some of the more difficult phases of the construction process. As explained on 8 September 2013 in Getting ready for the cold season [display], I started out by bolting a metallic base onto each of the six hefty pieces of timber to be used as upright posts.

Click to enlarge

For each post, I then dug a hole 50cm x 50cm x 50cm and placed the post in the hole in such a way that its lower edge was more-or-less at ground level. To hold a post upright, I surrounded it by a couple of chestnut fencing stakes, and used struts of timber held in place by steel clamps to secure the post while I adjusted its verticality. Throughout the entire construction process, I made constant use of my precious collection of steel clamps (which have gathered rust through being left outside in all kinds of weather).

Once each of the six upright posts was surrounded by a block of concrete, my friend Serge Bellier used a simple hand-saw to level off the posts at the top. Then I was faced with the question of how to raise the heavy horizontal beams. The following photo shows you the makeshift system I invented for this task:

Placing a beam on the foreground posts was a slightly more difficult operation, since these post are considerably taller than the posts on the valley side. The following photo shows my enhancement of the block-and-tackle solution to deal with this increased height:

As you can see, the main difference is that the ladder had to be held in place by chains to prevent it from toppling over. The next photo shows the last of the four big beams being raised to the top of its supporting posts:

Here’s a closeup view of the block-and-tackle system at the top of the ladder:

It goes without saying that, when carrying out such operations, I was wearing a hard hat at all times, and never positioned at any moment beneath the beam being raised. Once the beams were resting on top of the posts, I used an assortment of nails to fix them in place.

The remaining phases of the construction process were quite straightforward: installing rafters, corner stays, and finally the tiles. I didn’t bother to take photos of these activities, because they weren’t particularly photogenic. Concerning the final result, I’m particularly pleased with the system of corner stays (there are probably more technical terms for these various pieces of timber) that keeps the structure perfectly rigid.

It was a matter of creating a set of triangles covering every point at which the global structure might be capable of shifting under the weight of the tiles and snow.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Getting ready for the cold season

As I said in a recent blog post [display], I've just built a new version of the small website for the Châtelus camping site of my friends Daniel Berger and his wife Michèle. A few days ago, Tineke Bot translated the text of the website into Dutch, which means that the website [display] is now in French, English and Dutch. Daniel was so happy with my work on the website that he insisted upon doing something in return... although I tried to make it clear that I certainly don't create website stuff on local themes with the intention of receiving any kind of payment. Daniel told me he owned a mini digger (which had played a necessary role in the creation of his camping site on the slopes of Châtelus), and he suggested that there was surely some kind of job to be done at Gamone with the help of such a great little device. I replied that it would indeed be good if the track behind my house could be modified a little so that surface water coming down from the slopes would not tend to leak into my stone cellar. Daniel understood immediately the exact nature of the task to be carried out. A few days later, after working late at night on my computer, I happened to sleep until the middle of the following morning. When I awoke, I discovered with surprise that Daniel had arrived early in the morning, with his mini digger, and completed the job.

Last night, there was a heavy storm at Choranche, and I was happy to find that Daniel's remodeled angle of the track has succeeded in bringing surface water directly down onto the macadam road, so that there's no longer any trace of moisture getting into the house.

The day before yesterday, I drove to Valence to pick up the final two sections of tubing for the chimney of my new wood stove. Consequently, Serge will be helping me to install the rooftop chimney in the next few days (preferably at a moment when we're sure that there's no rainstorm on the horizon, because we have to cut a hole in the roof).

Meanwhile, my neighbor Gérard has delivered my annual order of top-quality firewood.

This new wood supplements a big stack of dry wood (not visible in the photo) left over from last winter. And it's quite likely that I'll purchase a small additional quantity of extra-dry wood, for the new stove, from the high-tech Barraquand factory in the nearby village of St-Laurent-en-Royans. I now need a convenient roofed zone, alongside the house, to store all this wood. So, that implies another quite big construction project, to be carried out as rapidly as possible. Here are the six basic posts, ready to be set up in concrete-filled holes.

It's timber that I purchased about 15 years ago, when I was thinking vaguely of erecting a more elegant shed for my donkey Moshé. I've bolted a steel base onto each post, and painted the wood with a nasty-smelling but highly effective protective product.

Over the last couple of days, I've already got my concrete mixer back into action and erected two posts. (When the rain stops, I'll take photos.) The future construction will occupy an area 5 metres wide and 2 metres deep, with a sloping tiled roof (in the style of my carport), located to the left of Fitzroy's kennel (just behind the pair of old brown wooden doors in the above photo of the wood pile), on a flat site that has been built up, over the years, by landfill.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Carport update

As soon as winter sets in here at Gamone, it becomes difficult to pursue any kind of outdoor work. Consequently, construction of my carport hasn't advanced a lot since the end-of-year progress report [display]. When I stopped working on the site in the middle of January, it looked like this:

As you can see, the tiled roof was finished, and I was starting to fill in the triangular zone above the roof with narrow reddish planks of tough larch (mélèze in French), which is highly water-resistant. And I had ordered all the necessary timber to board up the sides of the future carport (in ordinary pine), so that a vehicle left there overnight would not be covered in ice the following morning.

At that stage, however, my construction was marred by two almost invisible but annoying defects. On the one hand, I had failed to lop off the extremities of the four horizontal beams upon which the roof has been built. Professional observers warned me that, however esthetic they might look, these protruding ends would be an invitation for dampness and rot to invade the beams. The problem was complicated by the fact that these extremities concealed the ends of nails holding down the outside rafters. Besides, I had boarded up the sides of the tiling, which meant that it would be hard to find a good angle in the use of a saw to cut off the extremities of the beams. Despite these problems, my friend Serge Bellier (a former house carpenter) confirmed that these extremities would have to be removed.

The second defect was far more serious. I had inserted into my carport various pieces of used timber that I had recuperated from a demolished wood shed. Among these, the four horizontal beams gave the vague impression that they might be sagging—ever so little, and almost imperceptibly—under the weight of the tiles. Without hesitating, I decided that each of these old beams should be strengthened by means of an identical new beam, to be bolted onto the old one. But, when I took delivery of this new timber, I soon realized that it would not be a simple task to insert them into the existing structure.

Fortunately, Serge dropped around last Saturday afternoon, and he soon succeeded in solving all these problems. So, here's a closeup view (with snowdrops) that shows how he had used a chainsaw to lop off neatly the extremities of the old beams.

And here's an inside view (also with streaks of falling snow) that shows how we managed to wedge in four new beams, which I shall soon attach to the old ones by means of sturdy bolts.

There's still a lot of work to be done before I can call it a carport (even though I've already started to park my old Citroën underneath). But I'm now confident that the initial defects have been corrected. Serge told me that, if I had been his carpentry apprentice, he would have been pleased to see that I made an effort to correct my building blunders. For the moment, though, he wouldn't be prepared to look upon me as a competent carport builder, and award me an apprentice's diploma, until I had erected correctly, all on my own, another dozen or so similar structures. So, I'm not yet in a position to start looking around for jobs as an independent and experienced tradesman.