Thursday, April 5, 2012


I am now pretty much back to where I was before the move, or at least it appears that way. The roof panels are back on like before but this time I have a safe, easy system to install and remove them when I need to move the house.

The first panel went well, but I knew there were things I could have done to make it work more smoothly. The primary problem was that I used a very cheap hand crank winch which disintegrated on me. I fixed this by buying the smallest electric winch I could find. I ended up with a 12 volt 1500lb winch designed for pulling RTVs out of the mud. It is just the right size and can easily be powered by my solar panel system. As soon as I got home I did what I do with anything new that I get. I took it apart. Everything looked good and I made a new mounting bracket for it so that it would fit with my system.

Another problem that I encountered was some gouging at the bottom of the track. To fix this I cut a slot about 3/4 of an inch up the corner of the track, heated it up with a torch and flared the two flanges. This made a much smoother transition onto the track and fixed the problem.

The final small change I made was to cut a piece of PVC pipe in half and use the halves as a slide on the tracks. It made a big difference by reducing the friction.

Once the panels were outside and we finished installing all of the threaded inserts, it took less than an hour to put them on the house! Thank you Randal, Amanda, Josh, Toper, Pat, Scott, Dave and Ben for your help!

For now the panels are held in place with TimberLocks from the top side. Before I put on the roofing material I need to drill holes and replace the TimberLocks with some bolts that are installed from the inside. Then I will put on some temporary fiberglass roofing until I am ready to do the copper roof.

Photo by Topher
Because the weather looked good I didn't put a tarp on last night. Just to remind me that I'm not in charge though, a big black cloud flew over and a freak rainstorm dumped a bunch of rain on the exposed wood. Luckily the rain was falling sideways instead of down, so it survived with no damage.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Roof bits

Last week I worked on the components for the roof. This picture shows the beginning of the cable guide that will get installed on the top of the ridge beam. I used a piece of 1/2" square tube which I cut then bent by heating it up with a torch to make a smooth path for the cable to slide on.

I finished it off by welding on a piece of 1/4" square stock on both sides of the slot.

Next I cut a mortice in the top of the ridge beam and installed the guide.

I installed all of the threaded inserts for the winch, the track system and the mounts on the panel.

With the help of any free hand at the shop, we moved the panel into place and hooked everything up. Here it is all ready to go! The first trial ended prematurely when one of the guides on the winch started to bend. We stopped while I changed the mounting to fix the problem with the winch. The second time went better, but I did notice that little pieces of scalding metal were falling out of the winch onto my arm the whole way up. Thank you Harbor Freight Tools. I know better every time, but the store is just around the corner an everything is so cheap! The panel made it up with just slivers of metal left on the gears of the winch.

Once the panel was up, it was very easy to make the final adjustments with the winch and fix it down with a few timberlocks. The whole system was broken down within a few extra minutes.

An then of course more rain and snow were on the way so I had to put the tarp back on again. Before the other panels go up, I am going to make a few changes. I have already bought a new winch. This one seems to be much better quality and is battery powered. I want to make a few modifications to the track to make everything slide easier, and I will probably add some nylon slides to the panel also.

While I was working on this, Dave, the shop intern, cleaned and oiled the rafters. I never would have gotten around to that myself and am very appreciative of the help.