Monday, July 26, 2010

Concrete Day

Well after some thinking I decided not to piggy-back our concrete load, it seemed we would wait at least another week and I was worried about how long the mix might have sat in the truck before delivery.
Ordering a small 1 yard mix costs more but it was in perfect shape when it showed up.
All in all, it cost about $40.00 more then we would have paid doing it ourself and there were no extra trips to town, or buying, loading and mixing, a true no brainier.

It was close, the building height made for very little slope on the trucks shoot so we had to push the concrete down to the pier.

Vibrating 3 times during the fill, we then installed and aligned the top bolt plate. The blue tarp kept the mess to a minimum.

(Click on any photo to see larger view)
Pat's planting looks great, the photo's don't do it justice.. Now it's up to me to water so they get a good start.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Aerial Photo and Some Rock Wall Planting

Pat was up this weekend,
with a car full of plants, dirt and seed which gave her a great start on planting the stone wall.
I'll have photos later.

Jim and Michelle were also here
this weekend and able to take this photo on the flight home,
it's fun to see it from the sky! (That's our dock in the very low left corner.)
Other then that not much work went toward the observatory this week. I've ordered the concrete to pour the pier. I'm trying to piggy back our small 1 yard load with another load being delivered near by to save some money.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Looks Like a National Park

Clean up went very well.

It started with cutting the hillside and collecting rocks, which seem to be as plentiful as trees around here.
I realize this goes against the thermal mass rule, but the berm wouldn't have held up over time. My wife Pat has a knack for planting beautiful rock walls and I'm sure she will have it green by next year.
We will also plant shrubs along the sides of the building, put a wood deck in front and a native grass everywhere else, which should mitigate any thermal trouble.

Here is the final wall with class 5 gravel spread over the road and parking spots.

This wider view shows the fire ring and wood shed. This space will be used when we are not using the observatory. We needed a new fire spot, our old one is in the middle of our building site for the new house.

View driving up the driveway.

The observatory's back, a side parking spot and a rock pad for the warm room. This view is from the northeast corner of the observatory. Next week we'll pour the pier and do the final building leveling. The pier will need some time to cure before we mount the scope.
I'm also running to the cities this weekend to pick up grass seed, shrubs, dirt and plants.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Tree Killing and Dirt Work

Our tree clearing day ended up being wet. It started raining first thing in the morning and never quit.

Some trees were cut down and their stumps left in the ground, others were pushed down with the hoe and stumps removed.We took a total of 15.

Dean takes great pride in his ability to push trees over, legend has it that a tree kicked the shit out of him when he was young and he's now getting even.

All of the downed trees are stacked on a landing with plenty of room for the fire wood cutter-splitters people to come harvest it for heat.

Next day our dirt work started by leveling off the site, we then started on the pier and did we got lucky, a 7 foot deep hole around here is a lot to ask! Once we got to depth, Doug leveled out 5" of 1-1/2" rock in the bottom.

The re-rod cage went in next followed by the sono tube with spread footing attached. Back filling with lifts of sand, we leveled and compacted around the tube working to within 4" of final grade.

For the last 4" we used more of the 1-1/2" rock which will make a great base. One other thing to mention that is not shown in the photo, we braided a good 8' copper ground rod and ran it up the side of the tube.

Home sweet home, the scary part was lifting and pulling the observatory over the tube without smashing or crushing the top of the newly installed tube.

There it is, the pier through the floor with ground rod in the front, we then aligned the building north/south.

Our permanent pier is now established.

N 47 44' 22.3"

W 090 35' 42.8"

Tomorrow is clean up day, as well as site preparation for the warm room.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Big Surprise on Top of Hill

Using a GPS to navigate the thick woods, we punched a 1000 feet trail to the top of the hill and ended up hitting the northwest corner dead on. This corner is the site I had picked and photographed earlier in the blog.
It was the middle of the winter when I picked that site and now it looks entirely different, Dean flattened a small spot so we could evaluate the sky view and amount of trees that would need to be cut down to improve it, we noted:

Evaluation included the following:
1. amount of trees to take down
2. ability to remove wood from the site
3. final view obtained
4. cost to run power
5. accessibility in winter

After spending an hour of looking around, counting trees and shooting compass lines we headed back down the hill looking for a possible site lower down. Ends up the best site we could come up with is 10 feet from where we started the road and 30 feet from where the observatory was unloaded in the first place.
To keep us from feeling like we wasted our time, we tossed around the idea of tapping maple trees and running the tubes down the path to a central collection point, but I'm not putting this idea on the white board just yet.

This is the new site, it was cleared a few years ago for septic work, it has a road, good view, close electric service, and it will be easy to remove the downed wood.
This was the best compromise, far less trees removed and in time we can continue to improve the sky view, I was disappointed at first but getting happier by the minute.