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#34360 - 02/08/18 10:05 PM Re: historic hewing questionnaire ***** [Re: northern hewer]
northern hewer Offline
Member

Registered: 03/17/02
Posts: 1116
hello everyone tonight

Using recycled timber---as promised----

During the mid 50s here a dramatic event took place here near were I live--The St. Lawrence Seaway Project--

Undertaken, To enable ocean vessels to sail unabated directly to the upper Great Lakes, from ports all over the world--50 years in the planning by the U.S., and Canadian Gov`ts, and 4 years in its making---

For this to happen unfortunately hundreds of the earliest Farms, towns, cemeteries, apple orchards, businesses, older canals, homes, barns, outhouses, even the largest living elm of the time standing near Cornwall Ontario had to be cut.

Every structure had to be demolished so a 22 mile lake could be formed, and a waterway formed to overcome the natural barrier of the Long Sault rapids would disappear

The lake not only was deep enough for shipping but but many millions of watts of electricity was produced by the escaping waters of the lake

Now as the planning of the seaway took place fortunately it was recognized that our early heritage was disappearing along with many very early buildings--homes, barns outhouses and famous battle site like at Crysler Farm where the American forces bent on capturing the then young fledgling British nation was on the line--the date 1813--

Now that date meant that the disappearing buildings and properties, contained timbers, lumber, and architecture, hardware, furniture, implements, churches, and just plain old memories of years gone by, that had by some way to be saved for generations to come.

Upper Canada Village became the depository for this early history, and to that end, hundreds of truckloads of timbers, lumber and even whole buildings, came slowly and steadily from the demolition sites numbering several towns, and hundreds of farms

These truckloads especially of the lumber and timber ended up in large fields adjacent to the UCV construction site

You probably can see where this history lesson is going but it is for another night or 2 to unravel

enjoy

richard
NH

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#34361 - 02/08/18 11:08 PM Re: historic hewing questionnaire [Re: northern hewer]
NickM Offline
Member

Registered: 01/23/18
Posts: 7
Loc: Strasburg, VA
Hi Richard and everyone. I am enjoying your tale telling immensely. I am looking forward to the continuation of the tale. best, --Nick

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#34362 - 02/12/18 10:27 PM Re: historic hewing questionnaire [Re: northern hewer]
northern hewer Offline
Member

Registered: 03/17/02
Posts: 1116
hello everyone tonight

Well to continue,

the reconstruction of many of the buildings necessitated the incorporation of, in many cases mud sills and other structural members, that during their 100 years of pre seaway life had sucummed to rot or fracturing from demolition on their original sites

It actually worked quite well because as a replacement timber was required one could usually select one from the timber repository in one of 2 locations

problems did develop though for the framer and his team because the perfect substitute usually had curves and bows that needed to be dealt with before they could be used.

counter hewing was the name of the game, as william E Bell in his 1858 volume CARPENTRY MADE EASY put it, but he was referring to counter hewing new timber that had for one reason or another succumed to internal stresses, or curing ills

I know from experience hewing new timber that the sun would quickly dish a timber as it was being hewn especially if left unattended over a warm weekend, we resorted to covering the exposed upper sides with one inch lumber, and when the timber was finally completed to store on level bed pieces in a sheltered but airy spot

It was surprising and very difficult to frame a barn frame over a couple of months because even the nice straight stored timber would then bow as you worked from day to day, and throw chalk lines out

We were continually fighting the sun`s intensity as we try tested the framed bents and their many braces, for square and trueness

Long timbers say 45 feet even though looking true at first glance would always show a discrepancy as you drew a chalk line from end to end to decide on the many complicated seatings and positions of posts, braces seatings

Sometimes we had to resort to WILLIAM E. BELL`S counter hewing just to obtain a level playing field

I hope that you are following me as I ramble on, but these were just some of the problems we had to deal with as reconstruction moved ahead

Now I say reconstruction, my father dealt with reconstruction using old reclaimed timber, I rather dealt with reconstruction of old disappearing examples of historical buildings using new hewn material, and I say new because to hew enough timber for a 30 by 45 foot barn was quite an undertaking, and required approx 1 season of hard work for 3 men

Just to give you some indication of what we were up against, first of all everything was advertised a year or two in advance giving you and your team strict guidelines, in that regard all timber in advance of hewing had to be selected and purchased, harvested and transported to the site not a small feat because most bush harvesters could care less about old knots, external defects, tears or rips

I personally had to select standing trees, for instance that would square a 12 by 12 at 45 feet, no wane edge, but we did get through it and did end up with some pretty nice timber

Those timber described above ended up 40 inches on the butt, and seemed quite formidable to the hewing team

well so far so good

hope you enjoy

Richard
NH

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#34364 - 02/16/18 10:19 PM Re: historic hewing questionnaire [Re: northern hewer]
northern hewer Offline
Member

Registered: 03/17/02
Posts: 1116
hello everyone tonight

I must apologize for opening up multiple topics on this thread, but as my mind slowly gives up pieces of my past it has a tendency to skip around a bit, like the reconstruction of the Ross Barn (above).

Many aspects of its reconstruction necessitated piles of research to not only faithfully hew and frame its many unusual features-one might say what could be unusual about a 3 bay barn, well lets see, for starters the frame members were unusually large and decidedly not square but rectangular in cross section

why was this a challenge--well as you framed each bent the cross sectional sizes of each of the different rectangular vertical post meant that an adjustment of the length of each connecting girt had to be closely followed--remembering that the wide width of each of these vertical posts in the outlying walls carrying the connecting girts were in line with the girts, and each vertical post were sized differently in that respect

Just to summarize what I am trying to say is that of the 4 cross girts which by the way were 30 foot 10 by 12s, not one ended up the same length, and even all our careful checking and rechecking failed us on the length of one of the cross girts, by 3 inches, the error not being noted until 2 days before the raising

This error was a sneaky one because even though we had framed and checked the bent for true with each brace in place, we failed to check the overall length until the last minute

We were lucky because we had a spare 30 foot timber unused but not yet hewn-so in the space of 30 hours we had to hew and frame a new connecting girt- a feat I will forever thank the hewing and framing team, and un benown to the many that came to see the barn frame rise

Then there were the large barn doors opening on to the threshing floor--they swung inwards on large wooden hinges, the hinges themselves an integral part of the doors skeleton the hinge itself constructed so that the pins were of 1.25 inch oak and the pin itself held by 2 oak brackets firmly placed in the vertical posts

Safety was always on my mind as we began to move up to the second floor level to install the purlin plates and the posts, these members were quite smallish and the 45 foot purlin plates only 7 inches square were delicate to manouever and could have cracked or split as they were being handled

Well have to go

enjoy

NH
richard

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