Monday, May 15, 2006

Capping the tower.

Deep down inside, I am terrified of heights. Slowly though, in the process of working on this house, some of that fear (common sense?) has eroded. Monday morning, we pulled the tower top assembly from the barn, placed it on a car trailer and towed it up to the house site. As we climbed up and down the tower top, carefully rigging it for its final flight to the top of the house, an inevitable thought struck me... I was going to ride this thing to its final resting spot, 45 feet above the basement slab.

The assembly was so heavy that it barely tipped when I jumped on it a mere 12 inches from the ground. My brother-in-law operated the 1974 Grove antigravity device and the flight was smooth. At one point, I made the mistake of looking through the rafters, past the pendant, down the boom, and into the cab of the crane. It was exhilirating thinking about what might happen if the crane tipped, and just before I locked up, I looked back toward my intended destination - the top plate of the house (now at eye level).

Once we were within spitting distance of the top plate, one of the guys grabbed a rafter foot and spun the tower into position. Theoretically, the tower top could have assumed any of 8 orientations on the top plate, but we had measured the distances between the rafter feet, and the corresponding distances on the top plate, and had found the best match. The distances varied as much as 1/2" from the intended values, so we lined up the variations of the tower top with the variations of the top plate. A "least-squares-fit" to get the most square fit. :)

Four of the rafter feet dropped into position just as they were supposed to, but the other four feet needed convincing. I jumped down from my perch, and my father-in-law and another friend climbed up to the tower and, using the big mallet and a ratchet strap, we persuaded the other four rafter feet to find their places on the top plates. We knocked off the old poplar 2x4's that were holding the tower top into its rough shape, and the tower top settled into position. There were gaps here and there, but those could be resolved "tomorrow." It was time to nail our pine bough (aka Christmas tree) and hang an American flag on the top of the completed frame.


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