Day 16: “…at least Dave has some supervision this time…when he built the fireplace at my house we drank all my MOONSHINE”.
Another rocking day on Williams Gap!
The plumber continued churning through his rough-in and he just might finish soon if the right-angle drill and the 200-year-old framing doesn’t kill his helper! (Heard today; Mike says, “Paul, careful, those knots are killer, you gotta use them logs to brace that drill!” Paul replies, “I know, I know… it’s already HIT me in the face, TWICE!”)
Well, with the plumbing rough-in complete on the first floor it was time to head upstairs. So, when working with true 3″ x 8″ hand-hewed ceiling/floor joists, how do you make sure that a toilet drain can run over 9 feet, with slope, and not come out of the ceiling?… a 25 year-old HP 11c Reverse Polish Notation Calculator… that’s how! Oh yeah, and a plumber willing to take his time, core drill ACCURATELY and trust that my calcs are correct. Anyway, it looks as if we will be able to gang all the plumbing from the second floor into one bay between the joists in which I can trim out to look clean. This will enable me not to have to frame up an area-eating chase at the corner of the staircase.
Mid-morning and the HVAC crew from Mannix Heating and Cooling arrived and hit the ground running. We had met with Mannix Heating and Cooling owner, Jerry Mannix, at the house last week and marked the sizes and locations for the new ductless mini-split air handlers. After a brief discussion about the line-set, drain locations and drain discharge points, his guys started their rough-in with very little added instructions or hand-holding (damn, that’s nice). Shortly after noon they were finished and I could check one rough-in off my list en-route to drywall.
Late afternoon the stone masons arrived… I’m beginning to think these guys have day jobs! Today is going to be an exciting day with regard to the new fireplace. It’s time to re-build the firebox and start the profile. After a discussion on the distance to set the new profile off the logs (movement in the logs over the last 200 years had pushed the right side logs a bit further away from the hearth stone than the left side, so we had to cheat a little), Alan and Dave began the careful task of removing the stone corners of the original firebox and moving them forward to set the site for the new profile.
An early evening phone call from the owners (away at the beach for a week) helped end the day with a bit of humor. When asked how things were going, I gave him the run-down on all that was happening including the status of the fireplace restoration. When I mentioned to him my collaboration with Dave and Alan about the site of the profile, he replied, “…at least Dave has some supervision this time, when he built the fireplace at my house we drank all my moonshine.”
Day 17: … did I say something to make the everyone mad?
The house is quiet without all the Trades running around, the plumber is off in Washington, D.C. on a service call and the stone masons won’t post until about 4 PM, perfect time to start the stair stringers. What’s the old adage? … measure twice, cut once! Ha, I can tell you one thing for certain…that old sage would never work in a 200 year-old log cabin. In this house it was more like: measure 3 times in 4 different locations, layout and cut ends, set in-place, scribe, cut again, set in-place again, shim, level treads, shim, scribe, cut… you starting to get the idea! Stairs function as rise over run, well that’s all fine and dandy if the surfaces you are rising and running from are generally level and plumb. Not so here, grasshopper! The rise at the landing is different from the rise at the end of the stringers, the floor beneath the stringers, “rolls” from right to left like an ocean swell and the log wall on the right side of the stairs is, how shall we put it… less than plumb. OK, now that I got that out of my system I finally have my stringer pattern… Victory while not complete, is in sight!
Like clock work… 4 PM equals STONE MASONS! What do these guys do all day? Is this a side job? Nah, just juggling multiple jobs and we are damn thankful they worked us in on very short notice! Today’s plan: finish the back of the firebox, run-up the profile and set the lintel… nothing but net! I am truly amazed at how these guys are able to create ART from a pile of rocks!
Day 18: Virginia is a “Right-to-Work” State and this is a non-union restoration! … and, this is a broom, Trades! Learn how to use it!
Holy crap! The stone masons clean-up after themselves, I keep the site and my general areas free of cut-offs and broom swept… but the flotsam of shrapnel that followed the plumber and mechanical contractor through the house was prodigious. Can’t wait to see what the electrician leaves in his wake. How do these guys work in these conditions… I mean, hell just grab a broom and sweep it into a pile! Oh well, two hours into the morning and the site is clean, apparently I am the site laborer… from now on I think I might issue brooms to the Trades as they enter or maybe just hold a cleaning deposit!
All alone today… finishing cutting and installing stair stringers on main stairs and prepping header for short run from the landing to the second floor. With all the stringers in place, treads level and risers aligned, I can finally claim complete VICTORY. Just a little framing so the plumber can finish his rough-in and time to put another day in the books. Tomorrow, the stone masons will be finishing the fireplace on the inside of the cabin and I will set temporary treads on the stairs…yay, no more ladder!
Day 19: Now THAT…is a fireplace!
Bright and early… mud mixer spinning! The stone masons are ready to set block in the back of the chimney, set the form for the smoke box and throat and finish the inside front of the fireplace… and what a fireplace it is! Somehow it is rustic, traditional and slightly refined all at the same time. The sandstone lintel and corners are a perfect complement to the Virginia field stones that complete the face. The reuse of the original firebox corners are truly fitting. The fireplace, beautiful as is, will be stunning once the stones are pointed and a thick mantle shelf, milled from a matching log, crowns the top.
It may take some doing, but I am confident that the stairs with their planned open profile, maple newels, maple rail and wrought iron stiles will be a fitting compliment to the one-of-a-kind fireplace.
This little cottage is going to ROCK!
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