Saving the Old Shed

Once I got a chance to peer carefully under the piles of junk, it was clear that the existing building was too far gone to be restored with any sensible amount of time and money. The roof was shot, the walls were rotting, and worst of all the concrete floor was extensively cracked and heaving in all directions. This was a disappointment because an East Homestead built around the existing building, would have been complete faster at a lower cost. The upside of the situation is that we were free to select a more ideal cabin site.

The new strategy for the old building is to get the most possible use out of it, with the least possible time and money invested. As bad as the old shed was, it was still better than working and storing our gear in the open with a Saskatchewan winter encroaching.

The first thing to do was to clear out the junk and add bracing to prevent a total collapse. Five truckloads of metal and three of garbage were removed and that provided enough space for the things I needed to store during the move. I attached a 2” x 8” to the ceiling spanning three rafters at the centre of the building. I measured carefully the distance from the floor to the new plank and cut a support post a quarter inch longer. When I hammered the post into place, it took some weight off the most vulnerable spot in the roof. Next I drilled drain holes everywhere on the ceiling where water seemed to be collecting, and finally I attached a large tarp over the leakiest part of the roof. That was the extent of the first aid applied to the problem during the move.

With the move now complete, I am diverting some attention to the old shed. There was a pile of rough cut timbers inside which may be useful later on. A shade over 1 and ¾” thick x 8 and ¾” wide. 42 planks varying in length from 12 to 15 feet. I stacked them outside in the new clearing to the southwest of the shed. I salvaged a couple of half length railroad ties to keep the stack off the ground. Five timbers in each row with a half inch of air space between. Between layers I laid a pair of light spacers crossways. These are often available free from your local lumberyard.

There was an opening about 27” square high on the east wall. It seemed to be rigged up for high volume ventilation. With the ducting removed, it was a good fit for a frosted window that we had just salvaged from a chicken coop that will be torn down.

The shed had an old swinging type lifting frame next to the big doors. It was jammed in place by the sagging ceiling, but a little work with a big hammer and a small hydraulic jack freed it up. With my chain hoist attached, I should be able to start clearing some of the heavier items away.

October-17-2013: The chain hoist was a big help moving some of the heavier items out of the shed. Although they are designed to work smoothly on a straight vertical lift, I found that I could drag things across the floor although it required a bit of extra effort to keep the return chain aligned. I loaded up two rusted out coal burning stoves and a heavy duty logging winch.

I have now installed a second brace to hold up the ceiling along the west wall. I am not sure how much I have improved the structural integrity of the building, but the new braces are good for my morale. As much as I resent diverting effort to these old wrecks of buildings, I understand that I cannot afford to ignore any resource, no matter how flawed. Until we can put up a proper workshop, the old shed will have to fill the role.

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One Response to Saving the Old Shed

  1. Keith Tall says:

    HI Mark,

    I am very tired having just read all the stuff you are doing there in the far northern regions. 

    We are at Laura’s place this weekend  – babysitting for three days while the parents get some time away.  I can’t remember if I told you that we have filed for a green card. It was a long difficult job and now we sit and wait to see what they will do. With the government shut downs from time to time who knows how long the wait will be. 

    We are both doing well – hope you and Elaine are doing the same. Send pictures when the snow flies – it makes us feel superior.


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