Showing posts with label firewood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label firewood. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

It can be chilly here in France

A recent survey reveals that 75% of French people say that their homes are excessively cold in winter.

Well, this is not the case for me at Gamone. My installation of a large wood-burning stove has proven to be ideal. I hasten to point out that this success is based upon several additional factors:

• I’ve got into the habit of ordering a stock of high-quality firewood in summer.

• I store this firewood in a large and sturdy woodshed alongside my house.

• I’ve learnt the skill of lighting up the stove of an afternoon, using a tiny quantity of pine wood chips.

• Finally, the cold stove must be cleaned of ashes the following morning.

My house is well insulated on all sides. Besides, if ever the presence of snow made it difficult to go outside to fetch firewood, there’s a stock inside the old stone cave behind the ground-floor level of the house.

In my upper-floor bedroom, study and bathroom, electric radiators switch themselves on automatically when the temperature drops. The use of firewood as my principal fuel means that I would not be in danger in the case of an electricity blackout. And I’ve got a stock of candles. So, the general situation at Gamone is comfortable and reassuring. This is a must when you live on the edge of the French Alps.

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.