northeast pillar girder
Tuesday, October 18 2005
The weather was cool and sunny, so I spent most of the day installing the four by six treated girder in the laboratory deck beneath the northeast pillar that rises to support the solar deck. That pillar was set in a complicated metal footing which concealed a bolt which had to be removed, and I'd assumed that getting the pillar off that footing would be the hardest part of this procedure, since the pillar supports a quarter of the weight of the solar deck (and the solar panel). But it was simply a matter of getting a ten foot four by four under the solar deck at an angle and then pounding it until it was mostly plumb. The hardest part of the job turned out to be the removal of existing braces under the laboratory deck. I'd built most of it a year ago using still-moist treated wood, and as it had dried it had seized around the galvanized screws, some of which proved impossible to extricate. It's a good thing I have a reciprocating saw, the closest thing to a light saber in contemporary carpentry.
I didn't have any good angles of attack when I went to attach the new girder firmly to the house, so I removed one of the decking boards from the laboratory deck and drilled out a hole for sending in a half inch by eight inch lag bolt at a shallow angle. At the top of the hole I drilled out an inch and a quarter wide countersink hole so the head and washer will all be out of the way when I put the decking board back on. For now, though, I left it off. I didn't even have a suitable lag bolt yet, and I still needed to install a second big ass girder under the northwest solar deck pillar.
In the course of adding the girder today, my first use of my oxygen welding kit (and the first true welds of my life). My original intention had been to cut a three-inch-wide joist hanger down the middle and then weld in a plate at the bottom so it would be three and a half inches wide (thereby being able to hang a four by six). The cutting went fairly quickly, but the welds were full of bubbles and broke when I applied any stress to them. So I ended up using screws to hold my modified joist hanger together. In the end I wished I hadn't bothered modifying the hanger and had instead just carved down the bottom side of the end of the joist itself. Since a joist hanger can spread at the top, the only place where the lumber has to match its width is at the bottom seating place inside the hanger.
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