As told by J.J. Parker
I looked around and thought to myself, “J.J. Parker, what have you gotten yourself into?” After seeing Mom, Dad, and Linda all so busy I figured I’d better find something to do myself or be drummed out of the family. I didn’t know that when I started talking about the need for some kind of building with better protection than the tents I would be playing a major role. With the Historian choosing the site and Bartlett providing the lumber there turned out to be quite a few wanting to pitch in. What I did was mostly run around and make sure as much as possible that things got to where they needed to be when they needed to get there. Others more experienced with construction did the designing and building. This is a record of the high points.
It was going to be very rough looking at first but our aim was strength and ease of construction. The first thing we did after choosing a spot [U1] was to level the grade. Next we marked locations and had the bots dig the big 8 foot deep holes for the corner posts. The building’s outside dimensions, 48 by 64 feet, set their location. These logs for the corners, 2’ in diameter and 30’ long, were the first things carried over from the forest and we would do the trimming here. The first and only floor would be 10 feet above the ground. Later we could do something with the open area underneath. The walls were planned to be 12 feet high and the pitched roof would show through exposed rafters. Very rustic.
We have two chainsaws here at the construction site. Bartlett was using three at the big mill and Andy Stewart was using one to erect the Bio-Lab. It didn’t take much time for the Log Trees Bark to be sliced lengthwise in several places and then peeled off. The robots were soon doing that work.
This is how we made the corner supports. Starting at one end and extending for about 12’ the trunk was squared on two sides. This would be the top section and planking attached for the raised walls. After being shown the first one the robots did the cutting to ensure that everything was true and even. The four corners columns took all morning, then things started going faster. That afternoon we cut the side posts which were simpler as they only needed one flat surface for planks to be tied into. Down the center were 6 supports to hold floor joists. The 6 center posts were slightly larger in diameter up to the floor level then squared to 16 inches until they made roof height where the rafters would tie in. All these columns were notched to hold the joists and rafters and wall planking. When finished, just like the lumber cut at the mill, they were set to dry overnight.
We started erecting the columns using 20 foot lengths of pole pine to raise the top ends while the bottoms slid into the prepared holes. After getting them lined up, soil was tamped around them and they were ready for setting the floor joists in place. When the Copernicus crashed we lost all of our ready made spikes and nails. We were going to dovetail the wood for strength but wanted to do more. The discovery of the adhesive properties of the sap which ruined everything cut on the first day we landed was good for our project as we decided to glue and peg everything together in addition to the dovetailing.
Ladders, not a one on the whole planet. We had some two by four side rails delivered today, still wet, and glued and pegged the rungs in place. We hadn’t quite finished with the columns and floor supports by the time darkness arrived.
Lumber cut the previous day started arriving. We made our pegs out of freshly debarked log tree saplings and used electric drills to bore holes for the pegs. The construction seemed rock solid when finished. If or when the glue showed signs of weakening we should be making bolts, spikes and nails. The flooring and wall planks were 3 inches thick and the roofing boards an inch and a-half. The doors and windows would go in later. For now we would just put up solid walls on all four sides and a ladder through a trap in the floor to get us in and out. Andy Stuart finished up the basic Bio-Lab so we have another chainsaw to use.
Rajnar Singe fell off one of our new ladders and broke an arm. That was exciting but delayed us less than 15 minutes as medical help arrived. Raj was back in about two hours to do what he could one-handed.
By the end of today enough of the framing is completed that half of us can go onto other things. Now the hold up is waiting for planking. The numbers show that we will need about another 11,000 board feet of sawn timber to finish the building. Using most of the lumber from both mills, if nothing goes wrong, we might have the basic structure roughed and roofed in another 3 days so long as no wood gets diverted elsewhere. Having the robots cut all the rafters helps considerably. Bartlett is using 10 robots at the mill and another 14 are working here. We plan to keep going round the clock till we’re done. I am running back between the lumber mill, the supplies at the tents, and the construction site so often that my head is spinning.
Things are going faster than we thought with the planking. The robots have been able to square everything up and get it edged even before it goes into the mill for sawing. There was a mix-up on the Mayflower and what was thought to be thin polycarbonate sheets for greenhouse construction turned out to be five times as thick. Just enough to make some windows for the community center that will be near as strong as the wood itself. The down side is now we are short on material to construct greenhouses. But most of three walls are completed and the rafters are going up.
The roof is almost all in place but still a lot of gluing and pegging to do. We don’t have enough electric drills to keep up. The openings for the windows have been marked and as soon as a window is ready the opening will be cut and the window installed. We had two done by noon but still a lot of very rough trim work remains. Looks like we will finish sometime tonight. This has really been a community effort. Why even Burt Buchanan came over to offer some advise concerning window placement and provisions for ventilation. Surprisingly enough it made sense and we used it.
Done. Good enough for now. I sure am bushed; I’ll let Mother know I figured out today is Sunday back on earth. Time for a dedication.