before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – days 10 thru 15

before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – days 10 thru 15
written by David
pictures by Stephanie

Day 10: Veni, Vedi, Aedificare (I came, I saw, I framed)

…and so it begins. After the dirty work of the last 9 days it’s finally time for some fun to begin. It’s time to start working with clean materials, time to see the plan take shape. We hope you are ready! First, there was still a little demo, of the “load bearing” variety, in the downstairs bedroom. The old bedroom door framing need to be removed and replaced in-line at the common wall with the kitchen. Thankfully the new door framing, with a solid header to carry the roof load, could be installed while the existing framing remained. The work went fairly quickly and the new in-line doorway location really opens up the bedroom. In dealing with a small house, it’s important to maximize convenience and amenities wherever possible, ergo, a private in-suite full bath with a window and in-floor radiant heat.


Days 11 and 12: Veni, Vedi, Aedificare II (I came, I saw, I framed II)

With the first floor framing complete, it was time to move upstairs (about now I wish the stairs were finished… they’re not, so for now it’s “up-the-ladder”). Well, framing the second floor is going to be interesting; tight space, 9 foot ceilings, two ladders and one… me. That can only mean one thing: cut… climb… nail, repeat!! Thank God there are only four walls in the master bath, I just might be too old for this.  (Details on the master bath will be revealed at a later date and they are spectacular!) Once I finish framing inside, the next exercise… a new hipped front porch roof with plenty of head room and lots of light. Since I have to get everything ready and select locations for the trades, in breaks between framing, I set the plumbing fixture locations. The plumber starts rough-in next week, along with electrical and mechanical. But the coolest is tomorrow morning when Dave Ratcliff, of Ratcliff Masonry, starts working on the first floor fireplace repair. If I were a betting man, I’d bet on that being an adventure.


Day 13: Papa, how’s Santa gonna get down that chimney?

The fireplace on the first floor had been bricked in many years ago.  The chimney had been fitted with thimble and an oil burning heater had been installed. During demolition we exposed the fireplace, found the original firebox, and discovered that sometime in the 1940’s the chimney must have  fallen away from the house and had been rebuilt using cinder block. The new chimney had been fitted with a flue liner and back-filled with ALL the rubble from the collapsed chimney. Now it was time for the mason’s to go to work clearing out the rubble, finding all the firebox, blocking the existing flue liner in place, rebuilding the throat and smoke shelf and connecting the new fireplace to the existing flue liner.


day 12 #4

What could possibly go wrong you ask? Well… plenty! After completely exposing the firebox and cleaning out all the loose rubble, it was time to cut out a log to make room for a stone lintel and to give the mason’s a little extra room to work.

day 12 #2

After the log was removed the mason’s started to chip away at the last of the rubble. Our hope was to be able to block the flue liner in place then build the throat and tie the new fireplace to the old flue liner. Just one last piece of old mortar… and… a rumble, a pair of masons diving to the side, and in a cloud of dust, half the contents of the chimney was belched out and onto the floor.  (Stef missed that picture as she was ducking underneath the stair landing, pulling Easton with her!)

day 12 #3

Now THAT was exciting! After the dust cleared my daughter Scarlett stuck her head through the door and looking a bit depressed asked, “Papa, how’s Santa gonna get down that chimney?”

Day 14: This is gonna require a second opinion!

Yesterday’s excitement passed and was followed by hours of shoveling rubble into buckets, dumping them into a wheelbarrow and rolling them to a pile in the yard. Not much fun but the day ended with the original firebox exposed, cleaned up and ready for rehab. Only one problem remained… what about the remaining flue liners and the rest of the rubble wedged just above the level of the second floor? Day 14 started with Dave Ratcliff and Alan Cochran, two local masons, looking up the chimney trying to decide what to do next. As I mentioned, just above the second floor, wedged in the chimney were the remaining flue liners and presumable the rest of the rubble… a party waiting to happen. One idea involved a steel plate and two lolly columns and working from inside the chimney.  A second, removing the upper 6 feet or so of the chimney and working from the top down. Option #2, the safer option, is a go. Scaffolding goes up Tuesday and work will begin soon after. The bonus… a new chimney with a stepped-in brick crown at the roof rake, AWESOME!

day 14

Day 15: No banging in the house until the chimney is stabilized.

A self-imposed day of rest until the chimney is stabilized! Oh well, everything should be clear after tomorrow.

 PlanetDwell ICON 300 res

We look forward to the days and weeks to come and hope you will continue to follow us on the “Chronicles of a Log Cabin.  We welcome any and all comments on our posts.  We would love your audience and implore you to “follow” and “like” us here on our blog.  We also encourage you to “share” our blog posts among your friends.

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