St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Barn Straightening Part 1

Well, after a trip to Washington Island to revisit some of my former students and fellow teachers 40 years after teaching there, and heading to Milwaukee last weekend for Niece, Cassie's wedding, finally decided to get on with the barn straightening.  

I put an 8 foot hardwood plank on each side of the barn, just under the eave on the SE side that needs to come in 8 inches, and at haymow floor on the opposite side.  I will be pulling down and in as I try bring a trapezoid back to a rectangle.  

The SE corner of the barn has tipped out about 8 inches.  The bottom siding board is off as I replaced the rotten sill on the south and have to replace the vertical studs (scab new 16 footers along the old ones and renail the siding). 

This is the south west side of the south end of the barn.  I took off some of the bad siding.  A new sill is in place, but the studs here are rotten too.  The moisture from cattle and silo door opening seems to have gone up here and rotted the wood.

The plank on the SW lower end to pull against when I try to bring the opposite side top in. 

The SE upper plank -- the wall that I want to pull in 8 inches.  

One come-along will pull on a cable and another on a chain.  I worry that something might break, so have doubled everything. The rope was to pull the plank up in place and hold it there until I put some tension on it.  Can you tell I was a Scoutmaster?

The south end of the barn has some braces put on by Dad many years ago.  The vertical studs are mostly pieces and rotten.  I stuck in one new one.  Notice how they were made out of short pieces instead of nice long ones--probably short on wood or something.  They all lean a little to the left.  

SW side of the barn -- I am pulling up and across from that plank outside the wall to the other side.  I am hoping the angle will bring in the other side and leave this side alone.

From the inside, the siding looks pretty bad.  The barn leaned and some of the siding pulled loose--so I straighten the barn, then get a 40 foot ladder and hope Margo or Scott will nail it back in place!   Actually, I might just put steel on it when I have the new roof done.   My Luck Mutual insurance man said they wouldn't insure the barn unless I fixed the end.  It is rather fun to do this--uses my physics Mr. Rodger Meyer taught me in St Croix Falls HS--levers, pulleys, and so on.  

The cobwebby corner had a gap of 8 inches.  Now it is only about 4-5 inches.  That is how I judge if the barn is coming back to place.   Notice the exposed nails that had pulled out of Dad's brace.  The barn was built sometime in the early 1900s and not enough bracing was put in.  Dad added a lot to strengthen it, but as he got rid of his dairy cows when he was 72 (back in 1986) it has not been used for hay storage or cattle -- just full of junk that I am gradually cleaning out.   I think I will put a stairway (in place of a ladder) to the haymow and then try to think of a good use for it so I can justify putting a new roof on it.

The experts say you should not straighten a building all at once, but rather pull it a little each day.  So for the next week or two, I plan to crank the come-alongs a couple of notches each day until I get the barn a little past straight, then nail a bunch more braces, put in the studs, and maybe leave the cable behind holding it all together when I am done.  

So far, so good!