before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – days 20 thru 24

before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – days 20 thru 24
written by David
pictures by Stephanie
dbd days 20-24

Day 20: People in glass houses should not throw stones… but it’s OK if they do ’cause people in log homes use them to fill the voids!

Back in the 18th and 19th century building materials were, how shall I say… limited. You had your hand-hewed logs and beams, your hand-made bricks, your field stone and with Janney’s Mill, just over in Waterford, VA., you could even get some rough sawed-lumber. I know, I know… it’s hard to believe that you couldn’t just hitch the horse to the buckboard and make a quick run to the “Early American Home Depot”, or simply pick up the phone and call in an order for delivery but such was life in the wild west. Yes, before there was a WEST… this was West. As we are working with an 1820 log home, each of the above referenced materials is present and accounted for, Sir! None more so, pound for pound, than the lowly field stone. To begin, the two-foot thick, six-foot tall foundation is solid field stone and the “chinking”, the fill for the areas between the logs, is packed tight with field stone providing a solid base for the lime mortar scratch coat and clay-lime mortar top coat. If you look closely at the photographs you will see that there are literally 1,000’s, maybe 10’s of 1,000’s, of flat field stones wedged on an angle and packed into the voids between the logs.


Just thinking about the amount of work that went into placing all of those stones exhausts me! Most of the stone on the interior walls are staying put. The looser stones will be “re-wedged” and then finished in the traditional method of a scratch coat topped with a skim coat of clay-lime mortar (I mean… can you imagine the work required to remove them all?). However, since we are going to be using a more modern form of chinking on the front of the home, where we exposed both the interior and the exterior of the walls, the stones must go! Remember back on Day 1 when we removed the stucco façade under the porch to expose the log? Next week we will be raising the roof line of the porch substantially, subjecting the newly exposed logs to more weather. After removing the stones and repairing any rotted or damaged areas on the logs with wood petrifier and filler, we will be insulating the gaps between the logs with an expanding foam insulation by Foam-it-Green, installing a rigid cement backer board and then completing the chinking with skim coat of Perma-Chink, a modern polymer-based chinking product. Stay tuned… this could be fun!

day 20 #2

day 20, #3

Day 21: Is the Electrician coming today… NO, Tuesday… we be there Tuesday! How about the Plumber? The Mason?

No Electrician today but that’s OK… a little extra time for me to get more framing in place. The Plumber is in and out. Shower valves are set, shower liners and drain connections soon… ready for rough-in inspection by Friday? It’s possible! The Masons show like clock work, every day at 4 PM there is a rumble of diesel engines on Williams Gap Road. Today, the flue liners and the inner chimney will rise like a phoenix from the ashes of the old chimney.

day 21 #1

day 21 #2

Day 22: Framing and Plumbing and Block-work…Oh my! Electrician….”Wednesday, Wednesday morning bright and early”

Another day in paradise! Framing like the wind to ensure that the Electrician, once he shows… if he shows, can keep moving! All jokes aside our electrician, Jeff Trump of Premier Electrical Services and his helper Dan, will be here on Wednesday and will roll through this job like a hot knife through butter. In fact, by the end of this week the plumber and the electrician should both be finished with rough-in and inspections called in for next week. Drywall can not be far off!

Day 23: “An Electrician, an Electrician.. .my kingdom for an Electrician!” vs. The search for the elusive distribution box.

Wednesday morning, bright and early… and what to my wondering eyes did appear but a white van with a lightning bolt… the Electrician is HERE! After a quick walk through of the house, with a tape and Sharpie in hand, marking the locations of lighting, outlets and switches, Jeff and Dan were off and running. By day’s end there seemed to be miles of white and yellow wire dangling from the ceiling, routed through holes in the framing and spilling out of blue boxes mounted on the studs. Our little place was eating through some wire. The Plumber was chugging through his rough-in… the next areas to fall were the kitchen and the mud room. I can almost taste that drywall dust now! Oh yeah, not to be left out, the stone masons arrived promptly at 4 o’clock pm. The block work on the outside of the chimney was quickly completed and the new brick crown began to rise!

day 23 #1

day 23 #2

At some point during the afternoon the new PlanetDwell yard sign arrived!  We think it looks really great and with all the traffic on Williams Gap, maybe we will land some additional work.  Actually it would be awesome to have more folks follow the blog and just see what we are doing and maybe, just maybe it will help someone see that you don’t necessarily have to tear a structure down to create something wonderful.

Day 23 #3

So, has anyone seen the distribution box? It’s not that big… about 2′ x 3′, concrete… with a flat top? Well, if anyone sees it, let the owner know. We dug a bunch of gopher holes the back yard until it was too dark to see… no luck! Tomorrow is another day.

Day 24: The more things change, the more things LOOK the same! …except the backyard which looks a lot like the Caddie Shack golf course. Hello there, Mr. Gopher!

day 24 #1

As predicted the flotsam and jetsam following the Electrician and Plumber through the house is EPIC. You could fill numerous contractor bags with the wood chips, trimmings and cut-offs… oh yeah, I did. My idea of issuing brooms was scoffed at, in an almost Monte Python-like fashion. All present had a great laugh when I mentioned the condition of the house when they started and the Electrician replied, “…the house was clean when I started and I am sure it will be clean again… AFTER I leave!” Both Jeff and Mike the Plumber think they are funny. Maybe they could give stand-up comedy a shot if the whole electrician/plumber thing doesn’t pan out! Oh well, I will keep trying and I am certain that at some point in the future I will make some headway, until then it is a good thing their work is top-notch and they sail through inspections or I would have to find another way to deal with such hubris.  Damn, 4 o’clock pm already… here’s the Masons! One thing is for sure, I can count on them to clean up after themselves!

PlanetDwell ICON 300 res

We look forward to the days and weeks to come and hope you will continue to follow us on theChronicles 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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2 responses »

  1. Great post as always! I hope you don’t mind – but I added you to my blog roll. Looks great – and I know how much time is involved. Amazing.

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