Thursday, 30 January 2020

dock construction

     When we first bought the cottage property 50 years ago, it had no dock. Just a couple logs held together with a few old boards -- slippery and dangerous. Thus my first project there was to build a swimming dock. I constructed the beast at home in the garage, and then took it in pieces to camp and reassembled it on the shore. Since it was 3 x 12' sections, thus 36 feet long, built out of 2x6" western red cedar (readily available in those days), it need a 'horse' support for each of the first two 12 foot sections. I built the horses in my university's workshop, one out of aluminum and the bigger, stronger one out of steel. And there I am below in the water together with the two horses waiting for the dock pieces to arrive from helpers on the shore. We had a team of different folks helping with the installation and removal each year, as no one relished the job. (Note the log raft out in the 15 foot water.)

And so the usual installation began. This is the shore section heading to the first horse..

And the second section positioned from the first to second horses...
I was always the idiot working alone out in the lake wearing waders. Spring water temperatures are just about freezing of course. In some spring seasons I had to push the ice out of the way!  My grimace tells the story. We have done this installation (spring) or removal (fall) with as few as two of us in the past (thanks again Tim P).

The end of the dock, the third section was a 8x12' piece that floated on 4x45 gallon drums attached with a 4' tongue. In the beginning, we used steel drums to float that end piece. The end section overwintered partly on the shore on top of the old steel drums (see below). In later years, we replaced the steel drum floats with plastic drums, again seen below, before floating the end piece into position at the end of the dock. Note also on top of the raft section is the 4 foot tongue connector piece folded back with hinges onto the end raft section.

Finishing the connection from the second horse to the 4 foot tongue on the floating raft unit -- of course with helpful guidance from my grand-daughter overseers.

Thus the dock was again installed for probably the 30th time. The sliding steel rods at the end of the floating section allowed it to move up or down without moving sideways.

This yearly installation was a real drag. It clearly was becoming a project that no longer should  physically involve me. Also the wood, too, was getting tired, even though many of the boards were still is good shape -- you have gotta love western red cedar.  However Jamie began encouraging me to replace the dock with a "floating dock."
     At our neighbor's cottage next door on Finch Lake, Matt Churchill had just installed a floating new dock that did not require winter removal!!!!  Being the eternal pessimist, however, I said let me see how your new dock over-winters in the face of the ice assault in the spring. Spring ice has a way of destroying most every kind of dock and its supports -- including horses and rock-filled cribs. Yet the next spring, Matt's unit was perfect. Thus a new project began for me at our place.
     Our dock design was much longer than Matt's, which was going to require some additional planning. But we went for it anyway and order the required pieces...

The wood for the top dressing boards also arrived, and so it began. The old dock was still in use here.

At this point, my brother Dave made the 'mistake' of coming to visit. Thus, he and I assembled the new dock next to the old dock, with some help from his dog Ginger.

and more ...

and more.

Slowly the interconnecting parts were secured, which took a couple of days

The floating end section, like the old dock, and the floating approach to it next were secured.

Now for the top dressing of 1 inch 'treated' boards.

Each board was secured to special places on the black floats forming a wood frame on the top of the float, and then the 'deck' boards were secured to the wood frame, all with stainless steel screws.

Finally, the floating sections collectively were done.

Following a hard couple of days by two old men, the day ended as expected.

Times two ...

Of course this was followed by a well earned libation.

Now was time to work on the shore deck, requested by Tracey, and the ramp from the shore deck to reach the floating sections in the lake.  David was now gone so the rest of the project was effected by Jamie and me. First the shore deck was nestled under the trees on the north side to block wind from that direction (Tracey's idea).

After successfully overcoming the challenge of making it perfectly square that piece was done.

Now the ramp to the floating dock was constructed and added. Note that the old dock has been moved away...

...and was retired to sleep quietly off to the right side of the new dock and off-screen, where we subsequently used it for getting in and out of boats and kayaks.

In a side view, the new dock looks like this. The aluminum cage behind the dock was part of an earlier trout raising project, but that is another story, and both the project and the cage are now gone.

So the dock was now ready for play. The grand kids love to run down the ramp and zoom out to the end of the dock leaping wildly into the air and landing in the water. Here Siobhan is executing this ritual.

and landing ...

Kersplash !!!!

And then her younger sister, Ceilah, gives it a try, with less confidence.

And so one day ends, and another day begins with the sun rising over the new dock.

And sadly too soon the swimming season ends.  The deck, however, continues to be useful during the fall for sitting in the warm sun and eating lunch on it or at the adjacent fire pit.

In conclusion, if you ever need to build a dock, take a serious look at this beast. It has been wonderful for the past several years, and I no longer have to lift the damn thing!!!! Note also the raft is gone. It broke its cable one spring and floated away -- again for the second time -- but this time down the outlet about a half mile where it ended up on a beaver dam. It's still floating, but it is not coming back. 😊

Monday, 20 January 2020

Camp Renovation

Winter has returned again to the Great White North, so it is time for new blog postings from me. This one will describe the work we did at the cottage beginning about 12 years ago to bring it from the dark ages into the present times. Below, you see it as it was for over 50 years -- a hunting camp, but in good shape. Historically (for the first 35 years) we used outdoor toilets, water from the lake, no electricity, etc., but the camp became too small for children, spouses and grandchildren all at the same time. Thus, it was time to change.

As it remained unchanged for so long, our old friend John Wilcox, who with his family has visited us at camp for decades, one year carved a salmon and inscription for us to recognize the unchanging fact that the cabin was a veritable museum.  Thus 'upgrading' was definitely due.

And so the work began. First the back door was removed from the original camp's kitchen and its solid cement porch, seen above, was dug out. This involved a sizable backhoe and a neighbor, Arnie Jones, with the help of friends seen below. Note one of the new footing pads for the new addition is positioned next to us.

More of the concrete footing pads in the picture below were distributed according to our addition drawings.  Between the pads we began digging up the ground for the plumbing lines and laid the ground piping heading to the septic system.  Except for the digging (by a backhoe), we installed the entire plumbing system, learning about drainage, flexible Pex lines, shut-off manifolds, and how to use it all to our advantage.

The septic system followed, finding a home in our small 'back yard'. Note the roots that owned the yard.

Next, it was time to drill for water and install the pump system. Since the camp was only 20 feet above the lake, I assumed the well water would be soon accessed -- and it was at 30 feet. But the water wasn't clean, so the boys kept drill -- through solid granite!! The next vein of water was at 170 feet. They capped the well at 200 feet and I installed the pump. This had the happy ending seen below.

Now the floor for the new addition. The side door and its porch roof on the old cabin also disappeared subsequently.

Knowing that we were going to begin this project in 2008, we began harvesting wood from the property the year before that would be used in much of the finishing work. This procurement was documented in the next few pictures. First we downed aspens, seen below, for the ceiling and some walls. Then we harvested a pine for the beams and posts.  Finally, black cherry and yellow birch for stairs and railings.

At that point, my sawyer, AndrΓ© Seiffert arrived with his portable saw mill and turned the logs into the required boards and beams (like he did later for our house in my previously posting). This was during June black fly season! Horrific!!

Then all of the various forms of wood were stacked, stickered and covered for a year before going to the planer man (same fellow we used in a few years for the house wood in my posting from last year). Aspen boards and pine 8x8's were stacked up in the wood yard where the logs had previously been collected.

White pine beams  ...

And black cherry and yellow birch for the stairs ....

The 5x10" black cherry boards for the stairs I worked on over the winter in our old basement until they were to my liking.

We hired someone to frame the extension and put up the walls and windows. Now the new addition was closed and roofed, so the six of us could begin the finishing jobs both inside and out (Dan, Jamie, Tobi, Peter, Tracey and Nancy). First we got all of the new boards moved inside with the indispensable help of my old buddy Ormond Churchill (who is sadly no longer with us). His team also installed the roof singles, skylights, soffits and gutters.

The inside ceiling went in first. This involved working off of 3 tiers of scaffolding, which the grandkids (Siobhan here) played on when I wasn't dangling at the top.

Scaffolding without me on it.

Here I am working in one of the 5 skylights.

The aspen worked great for this purpose.

When I was finishing the apex of the ceiling, I was on top of a step ladder tied to the top of the 3-level scaffolding. This is no place for a guy who responds poorly to heights!! But I survived without doing a two-and-a-half gainer.

Now that the ceiling was finished, here is a view of the great outside from the finished loft, showing also the rarely used second bed positioned at the loft railing.

On other weekends, we moved to installing the stairs, starting from the loft, which became our bedroom, to the down stairs. Jamie and I struggling with some fairly heavy 5x10" stairs rungs at the loft.

and then moved down from on high.

The next step (no pun intended) was working on the upstairs bathroom. A functioning shower minus the walls. Peter made the border around the shower from little stones on our property - lots of them!

Downstairs kitchen minus the ceiling, the island, and floor covering.

Designed by Nancy...

More recently, we attacked the old fireplace. Now we removed the brick, pulled out the old firebox and replaced it with a free standing unit set inside the fireplace hole. The system is now much safer than the old one -- see below. Here is the old steel fire box after removal of the bricks.  Note also the new downstairs bathroom, in the right of the picture, which we made from a previous bedroom.

While doing the work, I looking up the old flue and saw that there was no liner in it -- just bricks. Yikes... Man were we lucky to never have had a serious chimney fire, since the previous owner used to burn coal in this puppy!!

The new stainless steel piping and cap exit from the chimney was now complete with mouse and mosquito proofing thanks to Jamie!

The new stove system inside the camp with insulated liner from bottom to top, all to code.

Adding to this heat source is my brother David's old enamel pellet stove, which now sits at the junction between the old and new additions, so we have acquired a very thermally comfortable cabin for the fall and spring, at least.

Here is the pellet stove's position in the new addition.

In the old cabin we had gas and kerosene lights, but now we have electricity. Because we are about 4  miles from the commercial power, we installed a solar system, as you can see below ... one little unit on the old cabin and 4 panels on the new addition above the sky lights.

For times when the sun doesn't shine, we have a 6K generator in the in-ground box, which also contains the well head and pressure tank. Son Jamie is working on the generator and is allowed out of the box a few time per day. πŸ˜€

As the place is now complete, here are a few pictures of the end product. Below is the backdoor entrance with screened porches before painting on the upper porch was finished.

And from the front or lake side ...

And a view of the lake from the finished two tiered porch deck ...

On the inside, a view of the living room/kitchen/loft in the service of John and Karen Wilcox (reading and a puzzle) with Nancy in the kitchen..

And the downstairs bathroom for family and guests.

Now we can accommodate many more people than before, and comfortable so. Two indoor wash rooms with running water and electricity. What more could you want? Don't ask ... Just watch for the next posting 😊.