|Naked as the Day it was Raised|
We've reached that phase of the restoration process where it becomes hard to see progress. Which is not to say that significant progress is not being made. It is just much harder to notice a tenon repair, the whittling of 150 wooden trunnels (pegs), or the cutting of floor joists than it is to see an entire wall or roof removed in a single day.
What has been a welcome site is the completion of the roof removal. Our barn's roof has given me nightmares since the day we moved in. Back in 2001, it already had a few holes in it, courtesy of a branch that impaled the barn on the previous owners' watch. Several years back, we had an expensive tarp installed over the roof to keep the water out, and while it was effective, it looked like hell, and I cringed every time I saw it from the Merritt Parkway. Being the old house obsessive that I am, I also hated seeing the miserable rafter replacement that had been inflicted on the barn in the 1980s - with badly-installed dimensional lumber marring the beauty of the timer frame. Seeing a huge trunk of Superstorm Sandy-felled tree sitting astride the barn for the past six months also made me a little ill. But, no more. Good riddance to bad rubbish. The new roof will be returned to the 12:12 pitch of the 18th century original (as evidenced by the last remaining piece of original roof plate), will include unmilled logs with one flattened face as rafters, and will be free of modern dimensional lumber. Sadly, it will be too expensive to install cedars shingles on the roof, so we will have to go with a metal roof for the time being. Hopefully we can re-roof once we win Powerball. Otherwise, I give whoever owns the house in 100 years permission to curse my name for using a historically inappropriate roofing material. Fair is fair.
Another exciting step forward is the arrival of the 30 foot log that will become our new tie beam for the east bent of the barn. It appears that this particular piece of lumber has long been a problem for the barn - probably as a result of the northeast corner of the barn sinking over the years. The original beam was no longer in place, having been replaced probably in the 19th century by a recycled 18th century hewn timber that appears to have served previously as a floor joist-carrying beam in another early structure. This beam, too, failed at some point - cracking in half at its mid point. To remedy that issue, another beam was sistered to the broken tie-beam - bolted along its top face. With a newly-poured footer under the northeast corner of the barn hopefully eliminating the centuries old problem with the tie beam, we have removed the old replacements, and are going to install a new beam.
While I knew that the beam had to be hand hewn to honor the history of the barn, finding an appropriate 30 foot log proved to be a challenge. Once again, though, my friend Clint Thorn came to the rescue, tracking down a huge, straight and relatively knot-free red oak log through one of his friends. Delivered two weeks ago, Renard and his crew have hewn about 3/4s of the log so far. The next step will be installing the new beam onto the east bent of the barn (which is currently lying on the ground) and then re-raising the entire bent. That should be cool.
30 Foot Red Oak Tie Beam, Partially Hewn
Finally, I should point out the beautiful dry laid fieldstone foundation that is now partially in place around the barn. The masons that Renard recommended are awesome. We returned from vacation to find restored foundations on more than half of the barn - built just as they originally were 230 years ago, with stones from our property laid carefully with no mortar.
More photos to come as work progresses further. Hopefully I will also have a "barn raising" video of the east bent going up in the next week or so. Fingers crossed.