Pulling Things Together

There’s no pun intended, really, but after looking at all the weights and sitting with it for a little bit, I realized that I did actually need to buy a bigger truck to pull my house.  That’s one part of “pulling things together”.  The more difficult and comprehensive aspect though is fitting together all the puzzle pieces of moving from working on the outside of my house to working on the inside.

I needed to coordinate the work that Dan, my carpenter, Michael the Younger, my welder/jack of many trades/solar mount system designer, Michael the Elder, my electrician, and Mark, my radiant floor heating installer from ABC Plumbing, needed to do so that everyone could be doing what needed to be done next.  This was complicated by Dan living in Oklahoma, Michael the Elder working in Alaska and Mark, the only one in his company who installs these floors, being overbooked.

So, what’s happened lately is the radiant floor is installed along with the special water heater that it took three months to find (more on that another time).  I bought a new (2008) white Ford F-450, diesel, 4WD truck – her name is Cavallo Bianca (White Horse) – Bianca for short.  Dan arrived back here and installed my beautiful bamboo flooring first thing to protect the radiant floor heating panels and then finished up with the siding and caulking.  I got many coats of stain/oil on the siding (with the help of Tyrone, a former neighbor from back in Baltimore).  Michael the Younger did the redesign and welding of the shelf space under the gooseneck of my trailer and I now have room there for four propane tanks, eight batteries and my 3600watt Onan generator.  Also, I have insulation in 3/4ths of my ceiling, Glo-Step folding stairs and all of this has happened since July 12th.

In that time I also moved Gyrtle to ABC Plumbing for the radiant floor install and then back to Allfleet.  I started to have a series of flat tires and discovered that all of the trailer tires had the wrong kind of valve stems on them so had to replace the stems on all five trailer tires.  I don’t really understand why Jayhawk Trailers would have set me up with automobile valve stems instead of heavy duty trailer valve stems.  Luckily I was in parking lots in a town and had help to get the tires off and on and the trailer jacked up, etc.  In doing that I also learned how to change my trailer tires all by myself if I need to – so that’s a good thing all in all.

Gyrtle has now been moved to a new home in the parking lot at our CleanTec warehouse to finish doing all the inside work.  CleanTec is a business my brother Mark, Michael the Younger and I have started, but I’ll tell you more about CleanTec in another post.

Time for some photos!

Journeys Have Begun

While it’s true that I don’t yet have my home built, I have begun to take the journeys that I will be taking in my home – even if I don’t always take my home.  This post is about my first journey which was to go back East to White Rose Farm to participate in the energy of the farm and create a performance together with Sally Voris, a biodynamic farmer and the caretaker of the land, and Cynthia Hoven a eurythmist from the West Coast.  I was there a week, from June 4 to June 11.  So the empty space from Dan leaving and not being able to work on my house has found some purpose.

The time there was truly magical.  Sally has seen the purpose of her farm as a place of beauty, balance and bounty and more recently as a place where agriculture supports community.  She sees the relevance and importance of connecting people to the earth and to honoring the spirit of the land.  She knows how this feeds more than our bodies and as we are fed in body and spirit by being on the land we give back to the land our love and respect.  This relationship is something that is sorely needed at this time.

Sally, Cynthia and I created a wonderful performance (even if I say so myself) that centered on a poem “This is the story of the Mother who comes collecting hearts through the sky.”  There were other poems and songs and the involvement of the audience.  In the end there was a chance for everyone to express their own calling.  One audience member played the native american flute which sounded like water dancing over the rocks in a stream.  There were people of all ages from a baby to an 80 year old, men, women, parents and children – both young and grown up.  It was a very moving experience.

The whole week was a wonderful time of renewal for me and an impetus for continuing down my path.  I share some photos of the place and the people:

The Weight Tally is In

On Thursday, July 5th, I took Gyrtle for a spin and some truth-telling on the scale.  I had the help of my new wonderful aide, Michael Ring.  We even have a video of Gyrtle’s virgin voyage to the scales.  Why don’t you watch this while I run out to my car and get the exact figures.

I’m back.  Here are the figures:

My truck originally weighed 4680 lbs. on the front axle and 3200 lbs. on the rear axle for a total of 7880 lbs..  I don’t remember if the gas tank was full or not.  That can make a difference of around 200 lbs. from full to empty.

When I weighed the truck together with the empty trailer the front axle of my truck stayed the same, the rear axle went up to 4340 lbs. (an additional 1140 lbs.) and the trailer axles were holding 2840 lbs. together.  That makes the full weight of the trailer 3980 lbs. (nearly 2 tons) but only 3000 lbs. (1 and a half tons) on the trailer axles, leaving room for 4ooo lbs. additional on each axle.  The axles are rated at 7000 lbs. each.

The new measures with the basic structure of my house on the trailer are: Front axle of the truck is 4900 lbs. (an increase of 220 lbs.), rear axle of the truck is 6060 lbs. (an increase of 2860 lbs. on the rear axle of which 1140 is the trailer and 1720 is the house).   The trailer axles are now carrying 7760 lbs which is an increase of 4920 lbs. due to the house so I’m a little over halfway to my maximum load on the trailer.  In other words, I have about 6000 more pounds that can go on the axles.

In terms of my truck, the GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating) is 23,000 lbs.  My current GCWR is 18,720 lbs so I still have 4280 total pounds I can put on my house in terms of my truck.  If I end up over that (or anywhere over 4000 lbs.) I’ll have to get a bigger truck :), so I’m aiming for no more than 4000 lbs.  I may still get a bigger truck.

My energy systems (4 propane tanks, a generator, 4 solar panels and 8 batteries) are about 1200 lbs, leaving me about 2800 lbs. for interior finishing and furnishing and my personal belongings.  That doesn’t seem like much so I’m going to sell a major portion of my music (13 bins worth) and let go of a lot more books to start with.

That’s the skinny on the heavy.  TTFN (Ta Ta for now)

No Gyrtle Tire Soup!

Hey, hey, hey – we have launch.  As with everything it took a little longer than anticipated to get Gyrtle off of her jacks.  And, I had problems with two tires – one on Gyrtle and one on my truck.  In order to take care of things my wonderful assistant – Mike Ring – and I had to set up the compressor to fill the tires.  This entailed going to Lowe’s to get “fixin’s”.

Once we had the tools we needed we noticed that the air wasn’t really filling the tire – and then we heard a faint hissing from the valve.  In a way it was good to find out right away what the problem was – a bad valve.  So then we needed to get the tire off and put on the spare.  I thank God for strong young men – specifically for Mike.  Even he tore up his hand applying the needed pressure to loosen the nuts on the tire.

The tire on my truck wouldn’t fill completely so I’ll go today to where I can get more pressure.  But that tire is holding enough pressure to drive Gyrtle to a station.  Or maybe Allfleet will be able to fill ‘er up for me.

So, the truck was attached to Gyrtle with no problems.  We saw the flat and the low tire and took care of those.  We moved all the materials that had been stored under the trailer and then we completed removing all the other jack stands and supports until my home was settled onto terra firma via her own wheels and the truck!  You will see from the photos that the springs held up and the tires didn’t squish.  Yaaay!

Of course, I’ll still be adding a number of thousands of pounds with my batteries, generator, propane tanks, solar panels and interior finishing, and of course my personal belongings.  But, I feel all is well.

Yesterday was a different sort of 4th of July here in Colorado Springs.  After the tremendous Waldo Canyon fire and it’s devastation things were pretty quiet – no fireworks anywhere, no barbecues allowed.  There was a big concert at the World Arena with the symphony, the cowboys from the Flying W Ranch (which was burned out) and a number of other local musicians to raise money for the displaced people.  I must give a shout out to the amazingly virtuosic yodeler – I’ve never heard anything like that before.

The great work of the firefighters is hailed over and over.  Many homes were saved by their good work and the fire now is 80% contained (or more).  It was kind of nice to have quiet acknowledgement of freedom, community, the importance of paying attention to and caring for the earth and lots of gratitude.


How Heavy Is That Thing!?

“How heavy is that thing?” is the disturbing question I’ve been asked numerous times over the last couple of months.   Usually it is followed by one of the two addendums:  “As soon as you remove the jacks your tires are going to explode.” or “As soon as you remove the jacks the tires are going to sink into the wheel wells and you ain’t goin’ nowhere!”

Well, tomorrow we will see just what it means that my trailer is rated at 14,000 pounds and the tires are rated to carry that load as well.  I know the framing of my house is around 7,000 pounds and my question to all of these doomsday prophets is, “What the heck does it mean to have a trailer that is rated at 14K pounds if it doesn’t mean it’s rated at 14K pounds?”  The same goes for the tires.  Geez, what do we have all these regulations and standards for?  I have actually had someone tell me that just because the rating says such-and-such, it doesn’t mean that it will perform that way.

So tomorrow – actually later today – I’m taking my trailer off of its jacks and taking it to be weighed and then to get the radiant flooring and water heater installed.  Wish me well and stay tuned for the triumphant report that the sky didn’t fall.  TTFN (Ta-ta for now)

Progress Slows Down – Frustrations Abound

Hi Folks,

At this point we got word that our father’s house (where my brother and I were living), which had been on the market a fairly brief time, had a second buyer who wanted to settle by the 15th of May – which was only three weeks away.  I had arranged for my carpenter’s wife, Chris – a really good friend of mine, to come from Oklahoma.  Originally she was going to cook for us and help out where she could.  But when we got the final definite word that the settlement would be on the 15th all plans changed.

Clearly my house would not be finished by the end of May and clearly Chris was going to be needed to help finish packing up the house and getting out.  We had one week when she arrived.  While we were packing up, I had to get the siding (which we had brought to the house from my site to coat with oil/stain/preservative) painted and backt o the site so Dan could put it up.  He was working mainly by himself now because I had to be at the house.  So his progress was slowed down too.  At least I found out that I really had been needed.

In spite of all – which included ordering special stainless steel, ribbed siding nails from Indiana – we did manage to get almost all of the siding up before Chris and Dan left at the end of seven weeks and two half-days of work.  Dan also got everything prepped so that the roof could be put on.

We ran out of the special nails before completing the siding and the new order didn’t arrive until they had left.  The roof had also been delayed for some reason and finally arrived on May 17th instead of April 30th.  I found a roofer pretty easily to install the roof – and it went on days earlier than projected! – except for the last two pieces – because we ran out.  So it’s another two weeks to wait for those pieces to come in.

Dan also finished the porch which is just lovely.  I really enjoy sitting out there on my rocker, feeling the breeze and looking at Pikes Peak.  I really couldn’t have picked a better site to build on than this for so many reasons.

My electrician also came by for a day and we started wiring.  It was a lot more time consuming than I would have thought to get really specific about where I wanted lights and switches and plugs and all the little other things that needed power when you have a house that is a hybrid between a house and an RV.  In fact, I’m still working on choosing lights and fans.  I’m not real happy with what I’m finding on the DC sites.  In the end I think my brother Mark will make DC lights from AC lights I find that I like and we’ll put LED bulbs in them.

This brings us up-to-date with weeks 6-7 and 8.

Roof, Tyvek and a Loft

A lot happened this week too.  I screwed in tons of screws on the roof.  To be fair, Dan did half the roof and I did the other half. We got most of the Tyvek up.  It got too windy to be up on the tall ladders so we had to stop.  We also got the Bitch-i-thane (properly known as Ice and Water Shield) in place on the roof and the front of the trailer.  We also have a floor on the sleeping loft.  Grandkids now have a place to sleep.  And Windows!  Not quite dried-in, but getting pretty close.

End of week five.

Finishing Walls/Roof Begins

Hi Folks,

This week my space begins to take on overhead dimension also.  It was interesting that as we put more parts together my home no longer felt so awkwardly huge and my fears of it being of odd proportion started to go away.  It began to feel just right and just as I had imagined it.

We did go through a bit of a reexamination of things as we approached the roof and ordering roofing material.  The walls were higher than we originally intended and we had to lower the pitch of the roof a bit to make sure I wouldn’t be over 13.5′ tall from the ground.  This gave us some concern about the required pitch to satisfy the requirements of the metal roof.  It also changed the needed length of the panels for the roof (to shorter, fortunately), but they had already been ordered, so that’s the way it was.

And so was the end of week four.

The Beginning of Walls

Oh, these first weeks were exciting as (big) things started happening.  Once we knew we could proceed – that’s just what we did.  Every week we thought we would get more done than we did, but still, there was progress.  The weather was generally great – not too hot, not too cold.  A bit too windy. At times we had real concerns of things blowing apart before we could get them stabilized.

While we (Dan mainly) were framing I had to spend many mornings at Home Depot and elsewhere ordering materials and picking up supplies – or taking things back.  I had wanted to design one section of the framing all by myself but the timing never worked out for that.  I cut many of the boards though and did a ton of screwing in plywood between floor, walls and roof.

Actually, a lot has happened

Hi Folks,

Oh my gosh, a lot has happened since I wrote last – it’s hard to figure out where to begin.  Can’t decide if I just go ahead and post a picture of where things stand right now or make you wait and go back to week two.

I think I’ll do a little of both – show you one picture of how things are now and then go back and fill in the details by weeks.  All along the way there have been things that didn’t go as planned.  Researching materials has been and remains time consuming.  Some items are delayed in arriving.  Some come and are the wrong thing.  People get sick.  Items get charged to me twice – blah, blah, blah.

I’m sure that anyone who has built anything, or taken on any big project knows that these delays are to be expected.  In fact, even though it tries my patience, I know that it has been necessary to working out the right order of things and making the correct choices to have these delays.  I just don’t like it much.

Here’s Gyrtle right now, in all her semi-completed, complete dried-in state.

You will see that I have all my siding (almost) completely stained (almost).  Also, I have my complete roof on (almost – if you look close).  Oh well, one day these things will be completely complete.

So, back to week two.  There are two nests of magpies in the trees behind my house.  This one seemed to be claiming the territory of this strange object coming up so close to its home.

The end of the first week was tough because we didn’t know how to proceed.  I’m going to have radiant floor heat and we really didn’t know what materials to use and how to install them.  If the radiant floor was to go under the subfloor we couldn’t proceed.  But a few trips to ABC Plumbing and consulting with Kurt helped us come to the conclusion that we could go ahead and put the subfloor down with insulation in it and much later in the process we could put the radiant floor panels down.  So we were finally ready to proceed!

In these pictures you’ll see the progression from having just the aluminum which goes under the whole of the structure for protection from water, to putting in the floor joists, having the shiny aluminum that covers both sides of my insulation installed and finally the subfloor is on.  Most of the pictures are of me enjoying walking on my floor the first time and seeing that my idea of the space and what I want in it will actually work.  The only floor missing is my bedroom which will be up on the gooseneck.

Oh Happy Day!