Friday, July 1, 2011

Saving for a Rainy day

Rotted beam
My parents always told me to save my money for a rainy day. On the Norfleet project, this cliché actually means to hold all the really fun work until we literally get a “rainy” day.  My current rainy day project is to replace a section of rotten horizontal beam that was discovered when we were getting one of the roofs ready for the cedar shakes that are coming this fall. This section is also tied into three ceiling joists, but is completely accessible with the roof intact, making it a perfect rainy day project.

            The 5-foot section is located on the rear side of the main house and spans from one of the window frames to the corner. Our first concern was to brace the ceiling joists to make certain the whole place wouldn’t come down when we cut it out. We installed dual braces: one uses a partially milled portico column some and some face-nailed 2x4s beneath the ceiling joists and the other uses a couple face-nailed 2x6s fastened to the top of the ceiling joists with large timber framing screws. These two systems combined with the perpendicular exterior wall and a beefy 1-inch kick plate on the rafters completely ensures the building will remain a building and not a demolition sight.
Rotted section removed!

View of the half dovetail joint the the corner tenon
            I made the initial cuts into the rotted section and began to remove pieces in order to get a more detailed picture of what the replacement would have to look like and discovered a half dovetail lapped joint where the beam met the corner post. This is a common technique for the time period but left me a bit puzzled as to how I would get a beam up there that would have to notch into three rafters, mortise into three tenons on the vertical beams and add a half dovetail. (Actually, the half dovetail was the least of my concerns at the moment.)

Rot from the inside, the other side is completely blown out

 As we continued to ponder the beam, we discovered a huge area of rot on the bottom of the corner post that would have to get replaced. This can be considered a stroke of luck as we can now remove the vertical beams, reinstall a new section of the horizontal beam and then reinstall the repaired vertical beams…but I guess we’ll have to save that for another “rainy” day. 
All posts removed for repairs

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