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restoration

Guest Bedroom Window. Was in rough shape. Of course. The storm window is repaired with the new paint curing til our next visit. If I’d put it in now the paint would all stick. As it is it is better than it was, even without the storm window up.

The storm window hadn’t been removed for who knows…40 years…more…
Storm window triage. I didn’t remove the glass- but most of the glazing came away easily.
A cattle drive two weeks ago is the likely culprit, or the bear again; last time he just knocked it off the post.
Pre-drilling before resetting the walls with 3.5″ screws.
This evenings Bluebird line is above that hayfield, and on to the North to the end of our property. It is always really pretty up there.
This group of 5 deer watched me clear one house, then moved up. They came back with 4 more at dusk, next to another group of 10.
A steady wind on a perfect fall day.
Tree swallows always nest in these models- just a bit too small for Bluebirds.
The cows are let into the hayfield- a different one than shown at the bear lunchbox.
The last two houses are all smashed apart and take some doctoring.
The staples are just like in surgery- the invasive part is over and staples help hold everything together.
Time to daub the rest of the building. The little brown jug with the blue top (bottom L) is my little jar of maths. Based on the amount of mortar-to-stain one “little” wall used yesterday, I figured the linear footage of the remaining 3 walls, allowing for some much wider runs. The little jar holds 20 3/4 full yellow cap doses to 20# dry mixes of mortar. Each blend of mortar completes one seam of narrow width of a full wall. Todays 20 mixes will eat up 5 80# bags of mortar and take 10 hours at a constant quick pace.
I’m saving the seam under the eve and the bottom runs on both long sides just in case I run out of my blended stain and have to switch to basic brown.
When I move to the front I begin mixing a bit more stain into the S-mortar, as this is the face of the building and I want it to sit well with the cleaned logs here, vs the dark oxidized wood of the rest of the building.
650mg acetminophin (aspirin) makes this all possible. Thanks for introducing us Kaye!
The day is blustery and cool, the gusty wind removes half the leaves from our central tree in the back yard. I mist the seams with water all day long to keep them from drying too quickly and weakening the set.
The technique is straight forward enough; after mixing the mortar to the right consistency load a heavy glorp onto the tray, then load some more, now hold the tray to the bottom line, and using a trowel push the daub through the screening to backfill any gaps and smooth out the surface, looking for a consistent thickness of around 1/4 inch covering the mesh. Load it in fast and strong, then go back and make a good top seam blended down to the bottom. Then jog back to the mixing tray, and if the mortar is firming up- don’t add water!- just mix it again. Think of a cement mixer always spinning to keep everything liquid.
My right arm was doing pretty well throughout the day. About now it began to catch fire.
The side I started on in the morning is finally finished, and I have enough stain for one more seam.
The seams under the eve were held til the last.
The only seam worse than the bottom seam is this one, or maybe it is the reverse.
I thought a lot about Cal-Wood over the last few days- an outdoor education center built by my stepfather back in the 1980’s. The Calvert Lodge was the central space, and the largest log structure built in Colorado for generations. This was not how any of that vast enterprise was done.
Two day’s later and the daub is mostly dry, but still curing out. It is much lighter in color than the chocolate filling when wet, now it is more of a chocolate meringue.
The wind is roaring about, but inside the cabin it is quiet and still. So that’s different!
The slight variation in dye on the front shifts to a darker caramel.
I reset the big-faced spring-thermometer (for looking at from inside the ranch house) and companion mercury thermometer ( for double-checking from outside how cold it really really is in winter).
Not quite a before/after, as the before shows all the loose old daubing removed- revealing the true level of disrepair that needed amending.
Cutting the expanded metal to fit the seams. Each seam is a different width, with tapering runs and all sorts of variety. I thought up this table-jig while staying under the covers this morning.
The table allows me to dial in the size so I can cut it out neat and easy with the jigsaw.
The metal runs are sproingy and sharp and eat a pair of gloves over the day.
Each seam is fitted with a run of expanded metal.
The screws squeeze the metal horizontally and vertically, if you play with the drive angle- making the fit extremely tight.
This Makita impact driver sets nearly 1000 screws on a single charge!
The yellow handled shears in their holster help fit the corners and adjust any wide spots.
The “invisible” seam up under the eve.
Two sides wired off!
Finding a way to drive the screw up into the vanishing undercurve of the logs was tough. I figured out a workaround half way through the final wall.
2/3 of the long wall remaining, but I’m getting stove-up and call it quits for the day.
I finish out the metal over the course of the morning, then set about cleaning up all the foam debris and old chinking.
In the afternoon I finally clean the packrattery off of the basement hoses, and hook one on to the house water down in the basement. Then I come up with my system for positioning all the mortaring equipment. Then I make some batches of mud.
Great Falls’ Home Depot doesn’t carry concrete dye. Are you frigging kidding me? On the way out of town we stop in at Ace Hardware- they have four little bottles of dye remaining, two brown and two buff (think orange-adobe). I’m mixing them together and hoping it is enough for the whole project. Getting the colors consistent will be a challenge. Not the color I’d planned, but anything is better than sidewalk gray.
One 80lb bag of S-type Mortar (Lyme, Concrete, Sand) did the first wall. I’m mixing the two bottles of buff to one bottle of brown, eyeballing it as I don’t have a container to mix them together. I’m hoping this covers it all. This isn’t working out too well, so I’ll have to just pour them all into an old coffee can or whatevs. Just in case, I’ll still have a bottle of brown and I’m waiting till last for the “invisible” seam under the eve’s, as well as the lowest run on each side.
If trying a new process, always start on the back side…the middle seams are a nice blend toward a Raw Sienna, and all the rest is brownish.
Sienna brown (lower) vs boring brown (upper). The day was sunny and mild, barely hitting 70, and tomorrow will be low 60’s (with overnight temps in the 40’s)- good temperatures for the mortar to cure out slowly and strong.
Sunday night stroll up the big hill. The smoke is gone and the sunset is clean and lovely.
I noticed this big fellow up on the hill after I cleaned up for the day. Lets zoom in.
With binocs you can see his yellow feet and impressive beak: Golden Eagle!
We head out for our sunset stroll after dinner and he is still there.
He doesn’t mind us walking by, but is gone upon our return.
Last of the sun on the high ridgeline and the colors start coming on. The first image is how things looked at their peak.
9-6pm project: foaming the Ice House in prep for expanded metal and mortar. The first lap is shooting deep into the creases.
First lap is finished.
Second stage is building up mass.
Third stage is hitting trouble spots and backfilling gaps.
As full as it can get, and a little bit more.
Spraying water first helps the foam to stick and to kick, then a mist after helps it to set.
Many caps for many spent bottles of foam.
After lunch I head in with a disk grinder / paint eater and clean the foam up, setting it at the correct angle/bevel from the upper log to the lower.
The foam dust sticks to everything.
Shop-vac blower comes in handy.
All foamed in and cleaned up. Ready for expanded metal and mortar.
I can see how it might come out now. Still a big lift remaining, but the momentum is rolling.
Daubing is all removed. There were a few areas of concrete behind the mortar. The mortar popped away from the concrete easily, and likely never bonded to it. Some of the concrete withstood the hammer drill, those are the areas of white still remaining.
After clearing all the daubing out, the logs got a nice wire brushing by hand, then vacuumed out. Then E helped me paint the whole outside with linseed/thinner. I’d hoped to use the paint gun, but after painting the barn, the 3-door garage, the grain shed, and the house, it could only move a little whisp of spray if I held it upside down. I took it all apart, cleaned it- though it was clean already- put it back together, and it ran the same. So, hand painting.
Prior to treating with the linseed solution, I removed most of the white paint from the front. I used an entire disk of the paint stripper and accomplished little, so switched out for my big 10-amp grinder with a massive cup wire-wheel. It takes the paint off fast with minimal effect to the wood, but is a bear to control- so I allowed that it would have an aged patina of paint in the deep recesses. Also, take a look at the door; gaps all the way around and the floor is collapsing at the threshold.
Pressure treated lumber over a cedar remnant fixes the threshold, and trim I’d brought up for the upstairs windows fills out the framing gaps.
The entrance is painted with two coats of spar-urethane.
Inside I’ve re-stacked the remaining 1/2 to 2/3 cord of wood in a traditional Germanic form of a big circle. This keeps wood stack away from the walls, lowering the nesting potential of critters and bugs. I’m foaming the inside seams, while the outside linseed treatment cures.
I’ll tidy this up when the outside is all finished.
The big roll of heavy plastic is for the root cellar/earthen basement, as the invading packrats (now blocked out?) chewed up and peed all over the plastic from a few years ago. First though, I noticed that the hurricane door touches the bedroom storm window, so a fix before I can even open the door to go down in the hole.
I cut two sections of PVC panel, just enough to capture the door at a thickness to spare the window.
A gap of an inch or less. Speaking of windows, on one of the horribly smokey days I went upstairs and finished all the windows with an oil-base primer coat and an acrylic enamel top coat. Then I mopped the floors- the half that I had never gotten around to. It is now a tidy empty upstairs with some plaster/lath issues, and encroaching ranch-gross.
I start with the hoses to drain the house water, all gross with packrat pee. Next I start filling the big black bag with the ruined plastic ground sheeting. Last time down here I pulled most of the ducting and dealt with the holes punched through the beams. I took out 10 gallons of yutz remaining from the hole-punching crew 70 years gone. With the floor raked smooth, I laid down the new vapor barrier of plastic over the damp ground.
All that redux cleaning and plastic was prep for the real job of insulating the house skirt / rim joist with rock-wool or mineral-wool. It is similar to the pink fiberglass stuff, but it is made of stone and doesn’t get wet while allowing moisture vapor to pass through (bonus, it is also bugproof, mouseproof, and fireproof) which makes it ideal for insulating down here as it won’t compromise the wood with trapped moisture.
It looks tidy now, first I filled the 16 gallon shop-vac with spider webs, packrat nests, and whatnot.
This is all under the kitchen and bathroom, and will protect all the pipes as well as making the upstairs exponentially warmer.
This N-95 mask. It blocked covid on every public outing since March 22 and was still looking pristine til last Sunday. That is when I cleaned the packrat nest out of the ceiling of the Ice House. Today it went down in the hole for more packrattery, then micro-fibers of insulation. It is now retired with honors.

Ice House: on the to-do list.
This is how things looked in July.
The daub (mortar with white paint) over chinking (wood fitted between the logs: all coming apart.
This is my giant 30 gallon feed bucket of packrat poo. I pulled nails from the walls and ceiling for awhile, and found a rotted ceiling Cants (these cants are sawmill cut remnants of cutting “Cant” lumber). The poo started raining down from the ceiling. The ceiling is made of log Cants (with bark still on for many), backed with planks. This makes the ceiling seem to be made of full logs, and has a nice undulation. The structural framing above the ceiling is narrow 8 inch diameter logs dropping down from the trans-beam to the walls, this creates a gap of 8 inches between the ceiling and the roof: about 4 inches of dirt is packed into the gap from 140 years of dust blowing around, and this critter nest- which spanned 4 Cants. The roof is heavy plank, topped with cedar shingles, then tar shingles, and now a steel roof.
I pulled the rotten cant. My dad had used the ice house to store household garbage over the winter, and the packrats had found the perfect living situation.
Before I cut away the ceiling cant, this giant pile of nest tumbled out with some encouragement.
I cut the cants and pushed out “nesting” from roof peak on down, spanning four cants.
The critters collected my dad’s little matchbooks.
Two Cants removed revealing the roofing planks above the Cant ceiling.
I brought up clear acrylic panel for a different idea, but I’ll fit it as a “window” to fill the hole and let some light in.
Hurt-em Hammer says Smash! No! Bad Hurt-em Hammer! Bad! Don’t make me put you back in the tool box and switch to Don’t Hurt-em Hammer (the old wooden handled hammer).
Hurt-em Hammer goes into a time-out, and I foam fill gaps.
Tidy.
Pulling the old remnants of electrical for the Ice House.
This ancient fire started at the ceiling light (now pulled).
The tails of the burned Cants have disintegrated.
All cleared out and ready for a fix.
8 inch lumber from old old old corral remnant.
Measure and cut, then fit and cut, and fit and cut, and it falls apart.
I search for another piece of lumber, there are none, so I make a fix. It fits.
On to (Woody Woopecker inspired) Ha Ha-ha HA-Ha Hammer- the spring hammer with a pick / axe. I found him 6 years ago at a going-out-of-business sale in a man-tool specialty-store in SLC; $5 well spent.
Would you like some aged mortar on your packraterry? Oh, please Yes!
Meanwhile, Cows. When we arrived Dave had the corral busy with cows, vaccinating this years calves. He was missing 13 pair and a bull. Today he headed out to find them, and after a long day far off the ranch in the neighboring lands, had most of them rounded up. A last pair are on the ranch, but in country too rough for ATV’s.
Heading into the corral.
Crossing the marsh / creek.
Worn out dogs and humans.
Our dim overcast of smoke from the entire West Coast.
Ha Ha-ha HA-Ha Hammer is a spastic brute!
I have enough arm left to shatter the pure plaster daubing on the end wall.
Now you can see the outside from the inside! The smoke really rolls in after this, and outside work will have to wait at least a day.
A new arrival: Pine Siskin. The first bird at the feeder all summer. He’s friendlier that a pet.
Fitting the new storm window for the pink bedroom, to hang from swing pins.
Measure measure measure. Set all the parts. Make adjustments. Run out of adjustments. Come up with other scenarios. Work those scenarios. Fit.
Once hung I could assess the gap at the bottom. This PVC board takes up most of the gap, leaving just enough room for a line of window seal.
Cleaning the glass with razor, then glass spray and microfiber.
The inspector makes the rounds while I’m out in the yard.
Final prep of block sanding the trim. I’m up on a footstool, as this is the tallest window in the house- which is also why the green trim is only half way up. The rest will need a ladder from outside.
Clamp #2. Clamp #1 fell to the concrete below and is a goner. Just as he was wisecracking about my half-painted- whooop! Bang.

Southwest bedroom.

This is the bedroom above the kitchen. My father’s childhood bedroom.
I started in the Pink Bedroom, moved to my dad’s childhood bedroom, then the East facing bedroom shown here, then the West facing bedroom; working away from the sun and finishing at dusk.
The East facing bedroom is the upper R.
East bedroom.
Northwest bedroom.
Pink bedroom before.
Pink bedroom now-ish.
E looked at an old 1800’s image of the house, when it was just the core two-story rectangle. It was this same window, pushed up, with a curtain blowing out. Two-story house physics: open an upstairs window and downstairs windows, and cool air will come in downstairs as the heat rises out the upstairs window. But how could this fixed window open? It lifted into a slot that opened directly into the small “attic” space above. This explains the floppy wooden panel up in the gap, installed when the window was permanently removed and replaced with two sash windows (both bottom sash windows btw). Those windows are now re-installed behind this original (not pictured), which is now used as a storm. It took a bit of doing to get the pin to hold the lower window, as they had drilled too many bad holes for the lower hole and never created (gave up?) on making the higher hole to hold it open. The sash windows have horizontal bars, which mismatch to the vertical windows of the (now) storm, which is a no-no in window world, as it makes a cross of the window. But, whatevs.
I started at 7am and will go ’til 6: I’m starting an hour earlier for the next bit as that extra hour saves a few hours the next day. These are yesterday’s windows- they needed a final clean up from wood pins and putty. It’s a day off from the office for E, and she gets out for a picture as I prep the second window for glazing.
These bottom windows have a slot that the window slides up into. I hope the old glass holds together.
Glazing points went in smoothly, glazing putty is in, now primer.
These are the windows for the pink bedroom with the great view, getting their two coats of green enamel latex.
I went upstairs and painted all the window casings green, forgetting to pull my tape-line. Now I have to use the razor to cut along the line before pulling or it will pull away the delicate layer of oil-primer over the glazing.
On the big storm window for the bedroom. I gave in to the blue tape after free-handing all the windows last time up, and free-handing all the primer.
Lots more of this in the pipeline for today.
6 windows here, of 11. Plus the windows on the house done last trip, I worked on them without removing them as they were in good shape- their storm windows are all finished from this trip and in the guest bedroom. So 3 more storm windows to install added to the 11, for 14. Sounds like a weekend.
This pair of windows, or dose desequis, may be where tomorrow begins- in my dad’s childhood bedroom.
They are dry to the touch, but will stick together if they touch. So the will stay against the house tonight to cure out.
None of the windows have their inside face painted yet. So far, it doesn’t rain inside the house, so they should be good til our next visit.
Blurry, but the two big storms for the bedroom, and the second kitchen screen, sans screen. All the long runs of wood leaning about are the window railings refurbished originals and new stock. I hope I have enough. The windows were often held in place with mismatches of floor trim, ceiling trim- anything that was thin, long, and true.
Bedroom #3 (of 4) Windows are ready for glass. So goes the morning: glazed in and ready for primer.
Did someone day primer? I head up to Bedroom #4 and paint the sill- it looked like rain all day, and did spit a few drops after midnight.
Oil-based primer for bedrooms #1 & #2 and the storm for #2, as well as the screen window for the kitchen.
This is the storm window.
A passel of cattle arrive at the corral, and the flies come with them.
Windows to #4. Only one pane survived. I almost just left this for Future-Dan, with a plan to board up this window and focus on getting all the others going. This idea was making a black hole in the future that reached back to the now and sapped my momentum, so I got on with the last bit of gross.
Both are scraped- one is against the tree back there. I finally had to show mercy to the shop vac after this final pair of windows and change out its bag and filter. About 10 lbs of lead paint and yutz.
Then a course of 60-grit / 80 grit / 100 grit to reveal smooth new wooden skin.
Lots of new wooden pins at the mortise/tenon joints, glued splits, with clamping through lunch and a bit longer while I prep glass from the salvage stack. Next they receive wood-putty for all the splits and gaps. I’ll re-sand, then glaze and primer these tomorrow.
The tools required for start to finish- with a finished window to bedroom #1.
The partner window for bedroom #1.
This is the storm window for bedroom #2. Nora has told me that she ate an hour ago, and it is time to play. And really really time to stop for the day.
These are the windows from bedroom #3, yesterday’s pull. By late lunchtime I have them sanded down, the glass removed, and wooden pins glued at multiple mortise/tenon joints- set aside for the glue to cure overnight.
The corner is clamped over lunchtime, while Sandy- my little helper woodblock- keeps an eye on things.
I’m moving on to glazing the West facing storm for the bedroom, but will hang it as a “dry-fit” while still light weight and windowless.
Next time it hangs it will have glass and paint. The inside face is a nice luster of clean wood under spar-urethane.
Cleaning the salvaged glass.
Reinstalled panes, now adding the glazing points.
The ground squirrel races along the fence line, he is here, there, and everywhere.
I’m starting to fade out, but get it all glazed by 4pm.
I bet I could pull that last bedroom window after a shady cool soda by the creek.
I know what I’ll be doing tomorrow.