The threat of cold temps and snow loomed in the forecast for Monday, and we knew we had to make some headway before the white stuff hit the ground. I had taken 2 hours off work Friday afternoon and tried to get ahead on any small work that could be done, which primarily consisted of installing the grade board after finding slab height, then marking the posts for the new header height.
8AM, I got up to the site and measured for the small sections of grade board that would go between the doors. I got those cut as Ben rolled up and we set about installing the headers across the front.
The day’s primary objective was to get the trusses up, and hopefully make some major headway on the purlins. After marking and blocking the east end for the proper truss height, Ben, Cara, myself and the parents lifted one end up onto the captured block, then hoisted the other end up onto the truss. After some adjustments with a BFH, we ran screws and spax through it, committing it into place. In a matter of a few minutes, it was up and fastened. We did the same thing on the west end, then pulled out the string lines to see how straight the end walls were and adjusted as appropriate.
The next truss would be a little harder. This time, there’d be no lateral posts to help keep it in place while lifting. To give it a little stability, I screwed a 20’ long 2x4 to it from the point on down and the girls used this to keep the truss upright while Ben, my dad and I lifted from each end. Again, in just a few minutes it was up, but Ben and I had just about spent ourselves for the day lifting and fighting it and nobody wanted to go through that again. In the interest of working smarter and not harder, we backed the picker into one of the ‘stalls’, removed the header so we could raise and rotate the boom so it was in the center of the building, and decided to use it to do the heavy lifting. The next truss was a breeze, but truss number 5 fought us…and then the rope broke! The very definition of “not good”, it dropped in a controlled way and luckily nobody was in the fall-path.
While the trusses were going up, we began to run lateral braces across the bottom chords to give them some stability as the wind was really whipping. We finished with truss #6 using a heavy duty tow strap which would easily carry the weight. Then maneuvered the picker out and restored the header section. It was early afternoon and the parents’ took off while we finished up additional bracing. Ben and I then put up the second row of headers as a combine and tractor pulling a wagon came blasting in and headed for the field. We worked while they got the combine header on, then started to wrap things up. There was still some evening light but we were exhausted. A little Seafoam action in the DeVille capped off the evening. We were now ready for purlins.
It was 8:30AM on Saturday when I crested the hill with the 40’ extension ladder which had already toppled off the truck once, and spotted Ben turning off the main road. We dragged out the tools and radio, and while the thermometer said high 40’s, the wind and overcast sky made it feel about 10 degrees cooler...that is, until you started working. Sunday would teach us a very good lesson on hard labor. Before anyone else showed up, we attempted to install the overhang jacks on the rear. Things went from bad to worse- the jacks needed trimming to fit right, the east truss wasn’t where it was supposed to be on the rear post, bits were stripping, and the parents arrived along with Cara and they had nothing to do but watch us try to fix the situation.
With geometry corrected, we proceeded to install the purlins. Purlins are 2x4s that run on their edge to support the weight of the steel. They get nailed to the trusses with, get this, 6” long nails! With me scaling the building, and Ben on the extension ladder, we toiled our way across the rear and up to the peak running these 2x4’s, hammering in these spikes with the biggest hammer we could find, and swinging both arms to get them to go in. By lunch we were exhausted, but we had the rear roof section done.
The McDonalds did not hit the spot, and I felt sick to my stomach the rest of the day. By mid-afternoon, my feet were burning, every muscle ached from balancing precariously from the roof structure, and Ben looked like he might drop at any minute. Somehow we persevered, completing all but the top row which would require careful cutting before installation. Installing these isn’t a very good use of people’s time. It’s essentially two people, one at each end of a board, nailing these things in, and a third to pass up tools and materials. That said, I know I appreciated the help.
Before we called it a day, we cut/installed the jacks for the front overhang and pulled down some braces. Victorious, but flattened, we all drove to the Wild Hare in our construction garb to drown our aches and pains in cold beer and boneless wings. A skilled crew would probably have trusses and purlins set in a day if not sooner, but accomplishing it all in a weekend isn’t bad for a ragtag crew like us.