Around 1990 I read some interesting books on barns by Eric Sloane and others especially one entitled The Barn by Arthur and Witney published by Arrowood Press which showed both historical evolution and details of timber frame construction which were fascinating, not to mention ,beautiful. It got me thinking about the construction strengths of the medieval style, and having lapsed from any major building of late, stirred my imagination as well as instincts for practical application on the farm.
During the winter I began drawings based on functions I required in a barn , culminating in a model using some timber frame applications (ala Roy Underhill.) Timber frame used mortice and tenons with pegs to hold giant hewn beams so massive they were cut on the ground, numbered and then raised to position. A combination of tinker toy and lincoln log is but a weak reflection of the fitting involved. My model attempted all the decisions about space and size on a diminutive scale (with of course my usual pacing full scale out in the snow beforehand to feel the proportions.)
My nephew Justin agreed to come up from Texas and help out on the massive project before going into the navy. For the next two years various souls joined in to erect this homage to the Middle Ages.
After digging a trench for the water line, Justin poured the footing.
After which we framed up the first story wall and hired a concrete pumper. My neighbor Roger and Justin admire the pumper.
Unfortunately when we started to pump concrete the weight was too much and some of the corners came apart which precipitated a rather mad scramble to retain the cascade. But it was a magnificent accomplishment when we got it done!
With timber frame construction there are a lot of BIG BEAMS to lift, and at times we had to call in heavy equipment.
In order to set a two foot by two foot center beam down the middle of the first story for example, it was necesary to bring a backhoe inside. Once the posts and beams were in place it was impossible to clear the door beam to get out, so we had to raise the whole beam structure together off the concrete wall, hold it up with shims, and drive out, then lower the structure in tact onto steel pins. No easy task,but accomplished without accident, and more important without injury, to my tremendous relief. Now there was a day with a sense of accomplishment!
The use of post and beam construction produced a spiderweb framework giving a marvelous pattern of light and shadow to the work. From the pictures you can see the mighty endeavor of two years culminating in horse stalls, pig and chicken nurseries and a second story hayloft stout enough to drive into with a loaded truck for unloading.
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