Save the beams. Part II

The next day, I sold my other metal lathe. $600 on craigslist, which is a lot less than I paid for it, but it sure taught me a lot.  One less thing to move and store, and even now, 2 months later, I’m still working thru the wad of hundreds in my wallet. There’s something about cash that checks and cards can’t match.

Today’s trailer load is garbage. Stuff that’s been easier to store than to throw out. And now that we’ve got a big roll-off box, it’s just as easy to cart it to Morrisville as it is to cart it to the dump.   The trailer has a slow leak. Every day, we pump it up, and overnight, it leaks flat. Today, it was flat by noon, and we found a crack in the valve stem.  I pumped it up again and brought along a tank of air. We drove over, unloaded, and got right to work.

I took out screws on the underside of the floor while mary took out ringnails upstairs. Then I got the catsclaw and pulled the big nails holding the floor down. The square nails only leave a dimple, which got filled, over the years, with dirt and crud, and then sealed in when they painted the floor. On my hands and knees and grunting over every single nail after nail after nail. Great exercise. And then Mary followed me with the big crowbar, pulling the half-pulled nails. Square  nails squeak, crying in protest when you pull them out.   Hundreds of sheetrock screws on the underside. Hundreds of 4″ and square nails on the top side. Hundreds of sheetrock nails on the underside. Hundreds of ringnails on the top side. All gone.

I’ve had a lot of bad things to say about this house over the years. But to it’s credit, it is Old. And you don’t get to be that old without you’re either good or lucky. Mary says there’s been a structure here since the 1790’s. And this floor and these beams are the oldest part of the house. It’s like they’re artifacts, and I’m plundering the site.  It makes me wonder: We’re building this modern house with engineered lumber, whose strength comes largely from adhesives. 200 years from now, will it still stand?

The tire was flat again when we were ready to leave, and the tank of spare air we’d brought had also leaked away, but we decided it wasn’t so flat that we couldn’t make it home, with a stop at the creemee stand mid-trip “to check on the tire.”  

I got to thinking: what if the only reason the house hadn’t fallen down was because the floor added so much rigidity to it. Without nails – without a floor – would it fall down? I don’t think this is the case, because it has a lot of diagonal bracing built into it, but what if ?? So I bought some turnbuckles and chains and drilled holes in every other post and tied them snug so that, when I took out the interior walls, the roof wouldn’t fall down. This involved a lot more lath and plaster and sheetrock and studs – all ‘down the hole’ into yet another pile in the living room.  We carted it all out to the ROB.

So the floor was loose, and the walls were gone and the turnbuckles were tight and all that was left to do was take out the floor boards and cut down the beams. Then clean up, tarp the holes, and move in. All in 3 weeks. I chickened out. I’d had this gnawing feeling that I was in over my head and decided that the thing to do was to just clean up and move in. Does this seem obvious to you, too ?? What was I thinking?

I put a FREE sign on my lawn mower and left it on the driveway. Never saw it again. We had a yard sale at the Mill and made about $200.  


And we cleaned up. On cleaning day, the plan was to get going first thing, and clean all day.  So we got there about 11am. This is one of those things I love/hate  about Mary: she is slow getting going in the morning. But then, if she were always ready to go at 5am and giving me trouble for getting up late, that wouldn’t be OK either, so what we’ve got works. And besides, who can’t use an extra cup of coffee in the morning?

She vacuumed and mopped and I took out the rugs in the stairs and bedroom. More stuff for the roll-off box.  And by the end of the day, we were ready to start moving in.


By now, it makes us laugh that we ever agonized over whether to spring for the big roll-off box. The final bill was for about 5000# of debris. And that’s without the wood we took out of the place, which we piled in a big pyre. All we need is a dead body.

Some day soon, there’s going to be a party, and we’ll have a bonfire.



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