The Big Work Weekend

The safety brake

A very long weekend with a very great deal of volunteer help has resulted in a major milestone: all three floor sections are on the foundations, in the correct order, and ready to be stuck together and built upon. This happens to coincide with the only long stretch of decent weather forescast for this year (or so it feels) so I’m taking a single day off and then heading up to Tod tonight to just build build build all week and see if we can get this f***er roofed before it starts raining in earnest again.

The workforce this weekend were amazing. We had an average of maybe 8 or 10 people at all times, though people came and went. Everyone did amazing things, some going home with more aches and pains than they maybe bargained for. Everyone with staw in their hair. It’s inevitable.

sliding half a building down the slope

The first thing to go down was the section of floor that had had its walls dismantled earlier and had been sitting under a haphazard tarp for a few weeks, hopefully not rotting. It seems to be fine, though it got a fairly thorough soaking at one point when I was gone for a few days and returned to find the tarp collapsed and forming a sort of lake-and-ponds aquatic system on top of it, slowly dribbling through tiny holes in the tarp. Bit of a nightmare. But it seems ok now and sending it down the ramp went without a hitch.

taking the lid off the second section

The second section had its top plate taken apart by Elmo and we managed to get it off with quite a lot less difficulty than the other half had been (mainly because we had a lot more people.) We pretty much just flipped it up and slid it down a couple of 2×4 runners with all hands guiding it down. After that it was easy for four people to carry.

We then had to set about marking and sawing the clay on the inside of the building to allow the bales to be dismantled without harming the clay any more than necessary. We all took a turn with the saw, and ended up using the decent, sharp one in addition to the old, rusty, knackered one, just for speed’s sake. Steven carried a monumental number of clay-covered bales down the steps and into the tent, and everyone will have had sore shoulders and forearms after all the hefting and carrying that went on.

sliding along the plywood road

It came down amazingly quickly though, and the next day we were able to build a road out of spare bits of plywood (to stop the rollers just sinking into the very soft soil) and roll it down to the top of the ramp. The top picture of this entry is of the safety brake rope that stopped it just crashing down into the trees. Luckily it’s pretty much all downhill, or I’m not sure we could have moved the thing.

the exciting bit

The second section came down the slope exactly as the first had, only faster because we were more confident this time.

carrying the central floor section

Having used it for a ramp, we were hoping (and we were right) that we could just lift and carry the central floor section. We had to get it out of the way so that we could roll the end sections into place along the rail system we’d created to get it on the foundations. It turned out to be heavy, but not too heavy, and 8 people were able to get it up and moved without too much trouble.

Preparing the end section for rolling

Having got the floor section/slope out of the way, we had very little trouble rolling the end bits along the flat rails and plywood.

rolling the end section into place

There was an interesting moment wondering whether the metal pipe we’d hammered into the ground as a rope-brake would hold. There are no trees in the walled garden to use, so we picked a sturdy, fat pipe, hammered it about two feet in and wrapped the rope round it. It pulled foreward quite alarmingly in the first few seconds, but after that it held and Liz and I just tried to keep the rope as low on it as possible.

finally in placeThe rollers worked really well on the rails we’d constructed, and the thing moved quite quickly along, sometimes a little alarmingly, from the shouts.

After this point, it became a bit of a sprint, so I didn’t take any more pictures, though Alec did and I hope to add some when he sends them. The light was fading fast and we wanted to get as far as we could with the people we had. We had to jack up the building, remove the rails (which were only there so we could roll the building along) and settle each section on the tyres themselves, which took ages because the jacks only had about eight inches in them, so it had to be done in stages.

The other end section went into place first, so that all the rails could be removed before we moved the last, central bit of floor. Out of sheer luck more than any kind of calculation, we got both ends in place with almost exactly the right shape and size of space to put the floor in. A couple of inches out in a few places, but pretty damn close.

A mighty cheer went up when it dropped neatly into place. It was pretty well full dark by that time, though so we just got out the mega-tarp and unfolded it to cover the whole lot, did a quick scan for discarded tools and called it a day. The volunteers went off home one by one and Liz, Alec, Elmo and I took another hour to drift about sorting the place out before heading off home to a very well-deserved bed.

So that’s where we left it, pretty much ready to start building it up again into a little house! The exciting bit, at last!

Can’t have an entry without reference to food, though, so here’s a picture of the potatoes we planted, which should be edible size by Christmas. If it can be done, I’m hoping it’ll be Christmas in our little cabin.

potatoes growing in tyres

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