Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Above the loft with block (Fireplace Part XI)

We're above the loft now and going a faster on the chimney than we did on the fireplace because we're using block instead of stone. Eventually, we will parge the outside of the block with stucco. I would have loved to have taken the stone all the way to the ceiling, but its just too much work.

The man in the blue shirt is our "masonry consultant." Now that I'm done with the stonework, I've reverted to a common laborer... mixing mortar, carrying materials, buttering block, and mostly just annoying the mason with crazy ideas and questions. The man directly below him is a friend who showed up today and volunteered to help... in fact he's the (crafts)man who made six of the doors for our house... he was bored of working in his shop... late winter (mud season) will do that to you.

The most visible flue liner in this picture is a 16"x20" that vents the Rumford fireplace. I'm guessing these flue liners weigh at least 150 to 200 lbs each. Santa Claus does not need magic to fit down these! The kids asked why the big flue liner was slanted and I told them that was to slow Santa's fall as he approaches the fireplace. Their attitude switched from amusement to keen interest when I told them the bigger flue liner might allow for bigger presents.

At 18" above the loft, the chimney steps in 16" on both sides. I needed the extra 16" to contain the flue liners without slanting them more than 30 degrees. We decided to truncate the 16" steps at 18" so they'll make built-in (hot?) seats for us to sit on!

The second photograph shows the four flue liners inside the chimney. All of them are plumb now, except for the small pizza oven flue liner... it must come in line with the two 8.5x8.5 flue liners before it can travel vertically. Although lower down in the fireplace I let concrete touch the flue liners, we're now trying to maintain an air gap between the flue liners and the cement block. The horizontal reinforcing wire and vertical rebar in this chimney might be overkill, but it is neither difficult nor expensive to incorporate in the structure. Well, not too difficult... the blocks must be lifted up and lowered around the rebar, and the cores containing rebar must be poured full of grout, but at least I know this thing is not likely to fall during a minor earthquake!

I took several pictures (this last one included) today from the 28+ feet of scaffolding that my wife has been using to sand and polyurethane the rafters and purlins near the ceiling. Our drywall finisher was nice enough to leave much of his scaffolding at our house for a few months so my wife could finish the timbers and paint the walls. I doubt either of us will be dusting up here very often after the house is finished, but for now it makes an interesting perspective for photographs.


Blogger John Ackerson said...

You're a rare breed! Especially these days. My wife brought your blog to my attention, and I'm glad she did! Its nice to see that there are even crazier people out there willing to suffer even more than I did for their artistic house quest. But what a house!

Where did you go to school? - Swiss Family Robinson?

As a young teenager when I read the book, I was amazed at how industrious that family was forced to become - building, and inventing.

Thanks for sharing with the world your apparent love of design, genius, self-determination,and obvious craftsmanship!

If you don't mind, I'd like to come back often to watch!

March 5, 2008 at 9:40 PM  
Blogger brad_bb said...

Great update! Fireplace stonework looks awesome! Curious, what spurred you on the whole big project? Was it a pure passion for DIY? Was money an issue? In other words, were you like me in that you could get a lot more and nicer house by doing much of it your self? Or was money not a factor? Just curious because of how high quality the house is and your ability to not work for a couple years (except on the house)...I'm pretty sure I read that. Regards, Brad

March 11, 2008 at 4:54 PM  
Blogger oldmilwaukee said...

Sorry for the delay in responding... I've been off-line for a couple of weeks.

John, thanks for the compliments. Your artwork and house are amazing. When I look at the pictures of your place, what strikes me is that it all hangs together so well and does not feel like a cluttered mish-mosh of ideas (as my project sometimes feels!). I wish you all lived closer to Kentucky. Please drop in the blog to see what we're up to... I recommend not visiting too often, because if you do, it will look like we're standing still!! perhaps visit every 3 months and it will look like something is getting done. :)

Brad, I am happiest when building things, so I decided to try a house (one of the most selfish creation endeavors a person can undertake). I find that when projects have too many people working on them at one time, it is hard to keep it "fun." For me, the fun factor goes away real quick when I spend my day trying to coordinate people and materials. I have no patience for folks that will take my money and then proceed to do things without regard for my requirements or wishes. (sorry to sound negative!) While working on this house, I've found some amazing individuals to help with different parts of the project. They've all been able to contribute something unique to the house without ever diminishing the spirit of it. And they've all taught me something because I've worked right there with them.

We bought and sold our first house at the right time and place (New England, bought 1996, sold 2003). It was our first house, and we loved it. It was a modest, unremarkable, stick-framed, asphalt shingle, vinyl sided, cape with dormers, but we more than doubled our money on the sale and that allowed us to build this house (on a farm that was bought with money from a company that I started in 1993). By building this house ourselves, we can get more for our money. When the house is done, our bank account will be zero, but the house will be paid for _and_ it will be self sufficient from an energy standpoint (no bills to pay). I'm still trying to hold to that goal without comprising the materials in the house. The result is that it is taking a long time to build!!!

April 9, 2008 at 9:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Lord man!!!!! This is no mere timber frame, but rather a timber castle! Your talent amazes me to no end!!!! Great job!

January 15, 2009 at 11:09 AM  
Blogger oldmilwaukee said...

Thanks! Please do not confuse dogged persistence with talent. If I had some of the latter, I would not have to rely on my meager measure of the former. :)

January 16, 2009 at 9:35 AM  
Anonymous Geoff. said...

I havn't been a big one for on-site safety myself, but I shudder at the consequences should your "masonry consultant." take a step backwards, to his right. At least your "(crafts)man" might come in handy, softening his fall!!

April 16, 2012 at 5:45 AM  

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