Sunday, October 14, 2012

Machine shed, rough and ready

I started the summer with dreams, nay, a design, for a timber-framed machine shed/blacksmith shop. We would saw the lumber with an Alaska mill, and mortise-and-tenon the joints. Alas, the summer is gone, and nothing done. All kinds of things got in the way, from chain saw failure (Siegfried started to choke. Needs new points, probably, but hard to find) to  the Snow Splitter, which was really the priority project. Of course everything took longer than expected. So, time for plan B. We will throw up a rough and ready shed. Really rough. 5x5 meters. Low ends 2 meters, high ends 3 meters. All such projects begin with holes in the ground.
 John kindly dug the holes, 60 cm deep. We have put poles in the holes. This involved a trip to the woods and a chain saw. We got most of the poles within 100 meters of my property. We did not peel them. Hey, this is really rough and ready stuff. Next job is to nail crosspieces to the uprights. We do this on the ground. Then we lever up the structure into the holes, a la Pennsylvania barn-raising. An auf! (on up), say the Amish.

Next job is to add rafters. The rafters, of course, must be a bit longer than the five-meter length of  the shed. A trip to the woods, a chainsaw, something of an eye for what's too heavy and what isn't, and we are done.

And another view. At the lower end, the thick end of the rafters, lashings are in order. Nails not long enough, unless you use "cabin spikes" (which we used to nail the crosspieces down) and even then you have to drill holes. Thank heavens for cordless drills. 
You can see the rafters in the above shot a little better. We will nail "nailers" (crosswise to the rafter strips) to the rafters and then use castoff "tin" (really galvanized steel) available at your friendly Ghost House for free.

Now comes the icing on the cake. It snowed last night. But Lysander the heroic tractor must be gotten under cover. I agonized all morning. Can I get him to start? Almost didn't dare try. Haven't run him for over a year. Just in case I charged up Lysander's battery. It is an old 6-volt system with positive ground. Yes, positive. Lysander was built in 1941. You can tell by the serial number. So I took my courage in both hands and went on with the starting drill. Pour gas into the tank. The gas is old. It has been stabilized, but it is still two years old. Worry about it. Hook up the battery.  Remember + is ground! Take off the glass crud filter and clean it. Drop the nut on the ground and spend an eternity fishing it out. Turn on gas. Pull out the switch. A major project. Needs pliers. Pull out the choke. This thing has not started for about a year and a half. Give it a shot of ether into the air intake, cheap insurance. My fingers are freezing.  Climb up into seat. Make sure it's in neutral gear. Push in clutch. Push starter button. Lysander turned over. Black smoke from exhaust. Sput sput. Too much gas. Push in choke. Try again. Roar! Ran a little rough at first. So would you if you were over 70 years old and hadn't worked out for over a year. Then it settled down into a lovely Lysander rumble-roar. I cannot believe how well this machine is built. Anyway I drove him into the shed. I think he looks very happy there. When the pic was taken he was still running. He has a generator problem. Won't charge battery. Must worry about that, but not today.
Personally I think Lysander likes his new home. But this is sheer anthropomorphism. It's just a machine. Or is it? As Roger Welsch (q.g.) sagely  remarks, could it be that tractors have (gulp) souls?

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