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This page continues the story of the construction of a timberframe cabin in the Sierra Madre Mountains from the previous pages which you can access here (April - August 2006) and here (September - December 2006) and here (January-May 2007). and here (Summer 2007). The rest of the pages can be accessed through the index of my timberframing pages at www.mvr1.com/timberframing/timberframecabin.html .
Fall Goes Quickly
That pretty well says it all, as the short narratives below will attest
Let There Be (Just A Little) Light
I took a long weekend up at the beginning of September and got the solar panel up and running, the charger charging and even a light lighting. Two days of driving to get in two full days of work. But as I said, the work worked. Here are some pictures of the panel mounted on a tree near the cabin and a closeup of the lightning arrestor on the wiring box.
Here is a photo of the one light I managed to install on this trip. The fixture itself is made from old porcelain parts (no plastic or paper for additional fire safety and great aesthetics) for the 12 volt lights. The bulb is a newer 3 "warm white" LED bulb that puts out a surprising amount of light. Since this is a 12 volt system I used terminal strips to make junctions. My fading eyesight in the fading light of my last evening made the work slow going. But the result was rewarding. Here's the photo:
And Another Quick Trip Out of Control (with a happy ending)
On the last weekend of September I was kindly invited to Laramie to give a paper at the University as part of a metaethics miniconference. After a fun day and a nice dinner I started over the Snowies to the cabin. I ran into an unexpected blizzard but made it into the North Platte river valley safely. I decided not to ascend to the cabin as it would likely be through another blizzard once I got above 8000 feet or so. Instead I went looking for a hotel room one day before hunting season. (Don't try this.) I wound up in Rawlins (70 miles from the cabin) for the night. When I awoke, another blizzard had shut down Interstate 80 back to the highway to Saratoga, Encampment and the cabin. After some dithering I drove West instead and then South to Baggs. Then I drove back East on Highway 70 and up and over the pass to the cabin turnoff. I was able to walk in over the snow (which melted over the course of the day) bringing some more parts for more securely fastening the solar panel to the tree. When I got there I was happy to see it still attached, since the previous night's storm had been accompanied by 60 mph winds in some locations. I spent a couple of hours drilling holes and bending aluminum to final shape and soon had the panel better secured. The photo below shows the result. Guy wires protect the arrangement from updrafts and I have put aluminum bars between the tree trunk and the panel itself to resist sidewards forces.
Yet Another Trip on Which It Snowed a Bit
For Fall break Jenny and I took a trip out for the final working trip of the season. Hopes were to get the side storm windows installed, the siding on, the battery box insulated, and maybe some more of the lighting operational. And hopefully after a few days using the solar panel to charge the batteries I'd feel comfortable leaving the charge controller all on when we left. The plan was also for my new and very outdoorsy colleague Dave Henderson and his wife Marianne to visit overnight while we did this work. They'd hike and fish and Jenny and I would make progress on the remaining cabin work. Or that was the plan.
You know what they say about the best laid plans, but 4 out of 5 isn't bad, even if the remaining bit was the largest. Jenny and I arrived a bit after noon on Saturday. Since there was already snow on the dirt road we left the car up top towards the highway and walked much of our luggage down. It was snowing when we got to the cabin so we quickly returned to the van to get the rest of our stuff. Luckily our neighbor, Mark, offered to use his pickup to ferry stuff down and we quickly took him up on the offer. We left the van at the turnoff from Highway 70 and took in the rest of what we thought we needed for the trip. The storms we'd made at home of heavy tempered glass so it was a great help for Mark to ferry them in. I immediately installed them once we brought them down, using a hand plane for final fitting. You can see the result below:
Though snowy, the evening was relatively cozy. All of the main windows now had serious tempered glass storm windows over the regular windows. They are sufficiently robust to keep out any snow that should accumulate against them during the winter. And they provide extra insulation over the existing windows. Thus the propane heater and the wood stove were plenty to make for a warm place to stay.
Unfortunately, the propane tanks soon seemed to be empty. We're not sure why. Given the usage the tank should have been mostly full. Given the heavy snowfall overnight, we were a mile and a half from the van and the nearest plowed road with an empty main propane tank and 15 plus inches of snow on the ground as illustrated in the first photo in this section and this one below.
I decided to try to see if I could get cellphone contact with Dave to see if he could bring out some propane to the van which could then be sledded in. So I snowshoed out to the back hill across the creek where I sometimes got analogue cellphone reception. (Have I complained about them ending analog cellphone service in 2008 yet?) I left a message with colleague David that he should bring a tank in his car if he decided to continue with the plan to visit overnight. But I also suggested that the weather would be too harsh to try that day. Rather he should try on Monday.
The snow stopped midday and Jenny and I decided to trek up to the car just in case. As we made our way up the mountainside, a lone figure in blue appeared. It took me a while to place him. It wasn't my neighbor Alfred, nor my neighbor Mark. Mark had likely left that morning (and would be on a snow mobile if he had not). It turned out to be David who had come in to see the cabin, but not to stay. He had gotten hold of a propane tank and left it at the cars. But it was only to borrow and needed returning the next day. So it would not do as a permanent solution for a winter propane source. But if I could get the empty tank up the hill I might be able to trade that for a full one in town on Monday. So a plan was hatched.
First though David deserved a tour. We showed him the lay of the land, the creek, the back hill, and then the outside and inside of the cabin. Then he and I pulled the spent propane tank up the hill in a sled and eventually back to the car. The next day Jenny and I would drive it to town and hopefully exchange it for a full tank. In the meantime I was much obliged to David for the help hauling the empty tank up the hill, especially since I let him do the longest stretch of the trip up.
David's Suburu got him through the snowbank and onto the road to bear witness that there actually is a genuine cabin and that this is not just a fictional website. Or so I say. If you want to know for sure you'll have to check with David. My trip back down to the cabin for nightfall and dinner was uneventful. Jenny and I ate noodles and pesto, and then I worked on the lights a bit before bed time.
With the snow stopped and the sky clear the night was truly luminous with snow clinging to the tree branches under a nearly full moon.
Jenny and I did make our trip to buy propane on Monday and then returned in time to do some work on the lights inside the cabin. There was just too much snow to do the siding.
Tuesday was filled with taking apart the tablesaw and putting it away for the winter, insulating the battery box for winter, and getting things in shape for coverage with many feet of snow. Finally we hauled a first load of luggage up to the car in preparation for the trip out the following day. Through all of this the sun was out and the battery charger worked as it should. Since it will have to run on its own for many months I was pleased to see the charging amp hours go up, even with lots of trees to block the sun which is by now somewhat low on the horizon.
Finally on Wednesday we took our last load of luggage to the car by sled. It was a beautiful day with the sun and the snow. It was also exhausting dragging too much stuff up the hill.
And then there was the 600 mile drive home to teach an early class the next day. . .Back to first Timberframe Cabin page (April-August 2006). On to the ninth Timberframe Cabin page (Spring/Summer 2009 ? coming soon).
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