A Roof Overhead

Some of the roof deck around the edge of the tower had reached the end of effective service life.  Along with the deck, the underlying support brackets had failed as well.  The first attempt at new brackets didn’t end well.  Framing lumber from the box stores doesn’t want to hold screws. 

So back to the workbench to cut some brackets from plywood. With these in place, and with some mechanical help, we slid new plywood roof deck under the old roofing material; which was replaced in recent history, unlike the deck. 

With the new roof deck in place, we made some custom drip edge, slipped it under the remaining roofing, and with a generous helping of roof coat and fabric, rebuild the roof. 

I hope this is the end of my roof work.

The Over under.

With the framing the place, and the work done it was time to do some sheathing. Although you don’t typically paint the sheathing, this seems like a good time to experiment with color combinations and patterns. It also seems to be easier to do all the priming and painting inside downstairs rather than up on the scaffold. After priming the plywood and marking the pattern out with the pencil, I went over the edges with masking tape for the basecoat.

Once the yellow paint was mostly dry I could remove the masking tape and came back and just with a careful hand, added in the green trim color. In the actual facia this will be raised trim but for now will just go with the color.

Once the green paint has dried, I hoisted  the sheathing up to the top of the scaffold and put into place. Finally the tarp can come down. 

A chip off of the old brick

With the old brick remove it was time to start building up the wall again. Rather than using brick we decided to use a layer of block followed by lumber so the first thing we do is hold some blocks up to the and marked where we need to cut them.

We then transferred these marks to a block we had cleverly left down on the ground, and got out the hammer and chisel carefully score in cut off that little corner we didn’t want We then hauled the cut block back up onto the scaffold and set it into place. Where it promptly broke in half.

I did not want to damage my good circular saw by using it to cut block. Fortunately one of my friends had several old circular saws that he was glad to give me with the proviso I throw them out when I’m done. With a replacement black cock I was able to lay out all of the blocks on top of the existing brick work but first I put down a section of metal durra wall to help hold the thing together.

With the block in place we added anchor bolts and fully grouted all of the block openings and gave a nice level and smooth top to start the sill plate. On top of the pressure-treated sill, we added vertical two by sixes and pressure-treated endcaps at an angle to tie into the two sidewalls.

With a little push from the rail road jack, we could slide the rest of the studs into place. On the brick side of the end caps we added brick ties and as we build up with the bricks we could bend the ties on a place to tie the Brick-side walls in to the end caps.

Finally with a little more work, a few bricks and 250 pounds of mortar we have the side walls done.

Jenga – With Real Bricks. 

With the roof supported by the temporary
jacks, and the front bricks held in place by the threaded rods, it was time to start clearing the old bricks out of the way. We slid a couple of pieces of rigid insulation behind the façade to hold the bricks in place and were able to take all of the loose bricks that were threatening fall out down without losing a one. With this we could start removing the façade and preparing it for disposal.

With the façade down we could start taking away the loose bricks and till we get down to a solid base didn’t know how far were going to have to go. In the process we discovered some previous repairs including structural foam. 

We eventually got the front down to where the original 2 x 4 had rotted out. It was good it was solid under that because we had run out of brick we could take out. All of the debris ended up going down in a controlled manner using the hoist wheel which is proving very very useful.

With the main demolition done our next step would be to start to build.

Raising the Roof

With the scaffold in place, and ready access to the attic via the high bridge, it became apparent that the front wall was collapsing. When it was first constructed, a pair of 2x4s were set in place of rows of bricks to provide a nailer for the facade. Alas, after 100 years, they have rotted out. As a result, the top three rows of brick are leaning out, being held in by the facade itself.


The first order of business was to secure the bricks for the fall out. To do this we ran threaded rod through the brick and through the façade and then both put it back into place this will keep things from sliding out.

On closer examination it became clear that this front wall was in fact structural, and to make matters worse the façade had become load bearing.  As an added precaution we rigged up a tarp to help catch anything that fell.

The next order of business was to install some blocking in the roof structure in the attic. Along with the blocking we added some metal angle brackets to help tie the current structure together.

The next step was to install a lifting beam near the front of the trip that would be supported using scaffold jacks, driving scrap pipe to lift the whole structure up. This was also tied into the structure to keep it from rolling.The pipes, which we got from Mike Douglass, had to be cut to length before I could install them.

With the bracing in place and the safety tarp set up, we were ready to try lifting the roof a tiny bit to take the weight off the bricks and try to catch them before they fall on the cars below.

With the loose bricks remove we can finally start exposing the work area. We certainly will have many opportunities to excel.

A Bridge Too High

The project to repair the facade of the house requires access to the attic in the north wing.  Unfortunately, that access is via a hatch in the closet ceiling.  Getting up there requires dragging an extension ladder upstairs, and moving a bunch of stuff. 

Well, maybe a bridge from the south wing roof to the north wing roof.  Although that requires getting up on the roof of the south wing.  Rather then dragging out the extension ladder, maybe we can put in a pull down stairway.

But the existing opening is a bit too small (and the ONLY ceiling in the south wing that still had lath attached). But with a bit of work and some power tools, a new opening was formed. 

With the opening rebuilt, and the new pull down stairs in place, it was time to make some parts.  Many years ago, we had to move a screen house, so I cut some 1″ pipe into rollers. Adding a hole in each allows them to act as a base for scaffold railing posts.   As it happens, that is the size of scaffold pins. I also had a set of pipe legs from a church table.  As an added bonus I had some 1 1/4″ pipe caps from an earlier scaffold project. All of the hardware will get held together with some UniStrut that we cut into 12″ lengths. 

With the hardware all set, it was time to build a frame to span the gangway. 

Once the frame was assembled, we could push across the gap, and start decking it with left over Trex off cuts from the deck project.  One last trip through the closet, and we could set the legs on the north side, and finish the decking and railings. The railings can come off once the work season is over.