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Author Topic: Fixing up old Cabin  (Read 6334 times)

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Offline landrand

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Fixing up old Cabin
« on: November 24, 2006, 10:10:32 am »
I have a 20x24 stick built cabin on 25 acres in Northern Michigan that was built by my dad back in 1941.  He built the camp when he was 15 years old.  Although it isnt much, I consider it quite an accomplishment for a 15 year old. On this property I have a portable sawmill and have been cutting timbers to build a Timber Framed house. 

While cutting the timbers for the last 4 years, Ive practically been living in the old cabin. Since the cabin is in very rough condition, I always thought it wouldnt be worth the time, effort, and money to fix it up.  Ive been planning to build a house on this property and tear down the old shack.  Since my elderly dad knew someday Id tear down the cabin and make room for the house, hed often tell me to wait till he died before tearing it down.  One day last year, I was sitting in the old building having a few beers, when I thought it would be a shame to demolish this old relic.  The memories of spending summers at the cabin, my parents and friends gathering to play cards, and all the locally caught fish grilled on a wood cook stove persuaded me to forgo my initial plans and save the shack.   Six months before my dad passed away, I told him I was going to fix it up rather than take it down.  The smile this old, sick man gave me was heartwarming.

Since Ive been planning to build a Timber Frame, I thought putting some sort of TF roof system on the cabin would be a good learning experiment.  Since the roof leaks profusely and is quite rotted, Ill need to totally rip off the old roof.  The existing rafters were spruce poles with a top diameter of 1.5.  The 2x4s complementing rafters were added about 30 years ago to help hold it up.  Its amazing how this roof held the Northern Michigan snow load for the last 65 years.  The walls are uninsulated stick built with small spruce poles spaced 20 on center.  Again, 2x4s studs were added to the walls 30 years ago so cheap paneling could be applied to the walls.  Therefore, the walls should be very strong with a studs spaced somewhere around 10-12 apart.  The top and bottom plates consist of a single rough cut 2x4s and the outside is sheathed with 1 thick rough cut boards and tar paper.

Although Ive been studying Timber Framing for the last several years, Im a newbie with no TF or building experience.  What are your thoughts, recommendations for timber framing a new roof for this old cabin?  Since I have all the pine timbers and plenty of 1 and 2 boards already cut, it shouldnt be too expensive.  My initial thoughts were to beef up the top plates with some kind of timber.  I wouldnt mind increasing the height a foot or so.  Then perhaps principle rafters (king post) spaced every 6 feet.  Or should I just stick with rafters and a ridge pole spaced 2 oc.   In addition to the timber rafters, I plan to nail 1 T&G pine to the roof and insulate it as well.  Any thoughts or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Offline Jim_Rogers

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Re: Fixing up old Cabin
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2006, 11:10:02 am »
You could be ok, with adding a new roof to this old cabin if all the studs in the walls will truly be holding up the new weight.
Then next thing you need to look at is the thrust created by the rafters. You'll have to put or have some ceiling joists or bottom cords to the truss to prevent the walls from bowing out under the load of the new roof and snow.
Spacing and sizing will be determined by actual loads, so you'll need to figure your snow load for that area as well as the "dead" load (load of roof materials themselves) to get your combined load per square foot.
With this info you can start designing your roof system.
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Offline LOGDOG

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Re: Fixing up old Cabin
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2006, 09:46:49 pm »
Hi Landrand,

   I totally respect your decision to rebuild that cabin. I'm young yet (31) but my dad who is now 56 was raised in a popple log cabin in northern wisconsin next to the land that I grew up on. I often regret not buying the homeplace once I came of age and found myself with some money. I still think about how great it would be to have restored that cabin. Believe it or not I remember my grandma cooking fresh bread on a wood cookstove in there. Unfortunately my uncle got the land and didn't feel nearly as nostalgic as we did and burned the place down.  ::) So kudo's to you for hanging on to history. I don't think you'll ever regret it.

   As for tips, I'd say this: Start with a survey of the building. Sounds like you've spent a good bit of time in there so you no doubt have an idea of what's happening in the structure. One thing to remember in all kinds of construction is this: All weight from the top down transfers to the foundation. So that said, look at your foundation. What kind of shape is it in? When laying out your rafters of trusses, look at your walls after you've removed the paneling and such and see if there are proper supports in place to transfer the weight solidly all the way to the foundation. Growing up in Northern WI I know the winters are tough up there. Think about using this opportunity to add thickness to your walls and addtional insulation. Do you have a fireplace in the cabin now? Is that something you'd like to add? Things like that are good to consider before going forward with remodeling.

   Be prepared for a lot of hard work and some frustration along the way. Old buildings are like that. But it's great saving them. And I guess along that line of thought ... I'd recommend keeping the building as close to original as possible for nostalgic purposes. That may involve going bacwards a bit to before the "cheap paneling" was put up and investigating what was there to begin with. Maybe some of your uncles or dads hunitng buddies could tell you about the details of the place from way back.

   Keep us posted on your progress. I wish you the best of luck on preserving a piece of your family history.


LOGDOG

Offline landrand

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Re: Fixing up old Cabin
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2006, 11:07:14 am »
I think I figured out how to post some pics.  Very strange method for a forum.  Anyway, here's a few pics of the cabin as well as the existing roof structure. 

My sister is a structural engineer.  I asked her about using 8"x10" white pine timbers for rafters.  She said they may not be big enough.  Since I was sitting in the cabin as I was talking to her on the phone, I looked up, and saw the existing rafters being spruce poles with the little end about 1.5"-2" in diameter spaced 2' oc.  I thought that was funny.  An 8"x10" timber isn't strong enough yet these little poles have held that camp up for 60 years.

http://www.forestryforum.com/gallery/albums/userpics/11511/DSC00630.jpg
http://www.forestryforum.com/gallery/albums/userpics/11511/DSC00728.jpg

Offline sawguy21

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Re: Fixing up old Cabin
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2006, 12:22:03 pm »
8X10 rafters   ??? :o Going to need some stout walls and foundations to hold the roof up
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Offline Raphael

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Re: Fixing up old Cabin
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2006, 01:40:34 pm »
  An 8x10 is awful beefy for a common rafter, if your sister was thinking a rafter from a principle rafter and purlin system then she may be right and it may not be enough depending on spacing and snow loads.  In a principle and common rafter situation it can probably be made to work even at 8' of spacing which may look a bit less crowded than 6'.  It all gets interwoven with the size and spacing of the smaller common rafters.
  The important this is tying back the weight of those timbers from spreading your walls and getting solid blocking under them.  I'd build up a post under each principle rafter pair and treat it as a point load.  First thing to do is look at what you have for a foundation as it may dictate how that load gets handled.
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Offline beenthere

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Re: Fixing up old Cabin
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2006, 01:56:38 pm »
landrand
Not doing too bad on the pics there.  You will get better when you max them to 400 pixels on the longest side.
It's not the forum that is strange, just that some of us are slow to adapt to these computer things. I beenthere   and for many things, still amthere.  :)

Here is one of your pics imbedded in this post. From your gallery, clicked on your pic, and then clicked on the underlying message that copies the URL, that I then pasted in this post.


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Offline Stephen1

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Re: Fixing up old Cabin
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2006, 10:06:36 am »
You will get the picture thing. if you are using firefox just highlite the url then copy & paste to the post. Not all things designed for IE work in Firefox, just have to find a way around them.
I like how they have placed the 2x over the spruce poles. Looks like a great project to work on. keep us posted on how it goes. I am also looking at preserving the old cottage where my cabin is. My better  half wants to hang on to the old memories for us and the kids. The roof is what worries me as there is a lot of sags in it. I will be watching this project to see how you doand to see what I can learn.
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