Delayed, but with improvements

It seems that I often end up posting about delays, changes of plans, or minor disasters that prolong this project. Happily, it’s resulting in a more Zen approach to the whole thing – it will get done when it gets done, and in the meanwhile I enjoy the process. Not as much as I’ll enjoy the results of the process, of course, but I do enjoy it nonetheless.

So – the delay. After much fuss and bother over how to get 29 8” holes drilled 4’ into the ground, I finally found that I could rent a “tow-behind auger” from one of the local rental places (MacFarland’s Rental in Halifax). For those that haven’t seen or used one, it’s a gas/hydraulic-powered auger that uses the weight of the engine (an 11hp Honda in this case) to counterbalance the auger, making it much easier to get it out of the ground once it’s in, and taking the sting out of any abrupt stops that the auger might happen to make. I haven’t tried one of the hand-held ones, but rumour has it they’re not very nice to your thighs. The tow-behind was a snap to use – I definitely recommend it for boring holes in the earth.

As long as there is earth to bore holes in, that is.

I started at one corner of the shed, prepared to work my way down the line and end up with 12 4’ deep holes on 4’ centres. The first one went poorly, I only managed to get down a foot before hitting bedrock. The second one as well. And the third. By the time I’d drilled my 6th 1’ deep hole, I realized that there was no way I was going to get the stability that the shed would need from the portion of the posts that were in the ground – I’d have to come up with a new strategy. Sigh.

I had many thoughts on what to do at this point, but the only ones that seemed to make sense to me were to either:

  • get a short wall poured after having an excavator dig a trench where the wall needed to go, or
  • fill the entire area with gravel and put pre-formed concrete blocks down to attach the shed structure to.

I called in a local excavator (Eugene Lenihan, great guy) to look at the situation and give me his thoughts – he thought both plans would work, but didn’t do concrete work so he pointed me at Jimmy Rafuse, who does. Jimmy came the next day and told me that it would be cheaper to pour a slab than to pour a short wall, which surprised me – I definitely thought it would be the other way around. He went off and did up quotes for both, and sure enough, the slab was less – and has the great benefit of making this essentially a finished building – easy (easier?) to keep sealed up against creatures, possible to keep clean, and possible to find things in when they fall on the floor (unless they break, which I suppose is more likely). It has one downside, which is that I lose the knee wall, so I have to get my “shoulder room” up at the boat’s deck level in some other way – more on that later.

I also looked into putting large concrete blocks on a base of gravel, which would have been another good solution – but it wouldn’t give me a slab, and it would take up more room, width-wise, since the blocks rely on weight and width for their stability. The most reasonably priced blocks are called “yard blocks” – or they are around here – and are poured from the dregs of the concrete that returns to the yard in the trucks after a delivery. Doing the foundation this way would have been effective and cheaper – but not nearly so nice as having a finished work surface inside the building. After some deliberation and some convincing by others, I’ve opted for the slab.

Step one is getting the drawing updated, step two is visiting with the engineer to get the new drawing approved, step three is handing in the new plans at the building department, and step four is getting the location excavated and gravel put down in preparation for the pouring of the slab. I should have the drawing tomorrow, and will get it to the engineer right away and hopefully to the building office either tomorrow or Friday, depending on how quickly the engineer can turn it around. It should be pretty quickly, it’s really a minor adjustment to the overall building – and an improvement, at that.

The last detail is around the loss of “shoulder room” due to the loss of the knee walls, which I plan to deal with as follows:

  1. I’ll run a sill around the perimeter, bolted to the slab – that’ll effectively give me a 6” knee wall;
  2. I’ll lengthen the bows by 8” or so, regaining some of the lost height;
  3. I’ll put more bow in the bows (increase the depth of the chord), which will widen the structure slightly while making it a bit shorter; and
  4. I’ll take the boat right off of it’s trailer and put it on the slab supported by 4×4’s, reducing the height of the boat’s deck, which puts it in a wider part of the shed.
    I think the combination of these four things will be more than enough to give me the room I need to get around the boat on scaffolding, which is what I’m looking for.

Since it seems a shame to have a post without a picture, here’s a picture of a much larger boat than mine (Witte Raaf, an ALC 40 owned by friends and for sale in the Caribbean, as it happens) on the hard with 4×4’s supporting it – just in case anyone thinks I’m a lunatic to do this.

Witte Raaf