Barn News

Readying The Machine Room

The one area of The Barn to receive the least attention thus far has been the ground floor, a shortcoming I have begun to address.  In anticipation of the upcoming move of my machinery next month I needed to get room for them prepared, which I began with the recent clean-up of the space.

For the past couple of days I have been making great progress in getting the machine room ready not only for the machines but also the installation of a wood stove to heat the machine room and my main workshop which is immediately overhead.


Fully cleaned, or as fully cleaned as I could get it, the space looked like this at the beginning Wednesday night.


The best thing about being at The Barn is that it is not close to anywhere.  The worst thing about The Barn is that it is not close to anywhere.  When building materials are required for a project, if they are not delivered it means a three-hour round trip to the lumberyard.  On Thursday afternoon I made the trek, returning with about 1400 pounds of supplies in my little half ton S10.  If GM had not been vampirized into a confiscated soviet  enterprise I would be the perfect spokesmodel for their little trucks, as I have used them hard with nary a whimper on their part.  Remind me to tell you sometime about heading over the mountain, some of the winding-est roads anywhere, with two 400-pound smelting furnaces, a raft of machines, and weighty supplies in the back, my pal Mike riding shotgun.  In the dark.  In the rain.  And me with poor night vision.  I cannot state with certainty that when we arrived he leaned over to kiss the ground, but it would not surprise me.

The space for the machine room still had its packed gravel floor from the original construction seven years ago, wholely inadequate for machines (yes I know the dictionary spells wholely differently, but in my opinion dictionaries are wrong about this).  In addition, the gravel floor was not really level.  So, my plan was to flatten the gravel and lay floating 2×4 PTSYP “sleepers” on it, then screw ¾” CDX sheathing on top as the final floor.


The first several feet were fine, and the gravel level was just about right.  The hardship came after these first few sleepers were laid.

Unfortunately the remaining gravel had been put down with a slight crown, about 3 inches worth.  That would not have been a terrible problem, but I had to inset the sleepers with their tops to be about two inches below the current gravel level.

Let the digging begin.

For the majority of the project, I wound up loosening all (and removing most) of the gravel where it was, using a shipwright’s adze as my implement of destruction.  The gravel was a local product known as “limestone dust” which packs tight, becoming almost cementitious over time and traffic.  This consumed about 75% of my time and 90% of my energies, as the gravel had to be bludgeoned into a state of looseness, the shoveled and raked smooth at the right level.


Had you been there to keep me company yesterday and today — and where were you, by the way? — this is what you would have seen a thousand times.


My working routine for this was to sit on a concrete block and work in arcs swinging the adze to break up the gravel, working in ever widening arcs and moving the block stool as needed.  Once a large enough area was so prepared I would remove about half of the gravel, one shovel full at a time.

By the end of the day I was practically immobile with exhaustion, and last night I was in bed by about 8.30, too tired and sore to even open the folder with Roubo 2 manuscripts being edited.


Just before a late supper tonight I finished with the main area of flooring I will get done this trip, but even this 300 square feet (with another 100 s.f. to get next trip) exceeds my current tiny basement workshop by 50% so things are looking good.  But then, I have to make room for a wood stove and all the machines I have out in the barn at the other house…

Tomorrow I make the new garage doors for the machine room.