The Frame Finally Arrives

Last fall I started looking on Ebay at timberframes. Amazingly enough there are often several of them available; everything from turnkey houses to timberframed doghouses to old reclaimed frames. One that caught my interest was an old frame in Pittsburgh. It was the frame of an old dairy barn that had been built in 1903.

We had been getting quotes for new frames and had found them to be quite expensive. Of course they have tons of advantages. They are new and clean and pretty and are engineered to be perfect when they arrive with tight joints and a guarantee and a crew to install them. As opposed to an old reclaimed frame that might have rotten parts and pieces missing and God only knows what other potential defects and the costs associated with repairing them. There is also the real possibility that you will have a heckuva time finding someone to do the work. Naturally, we decided to go that route - the new frame is just too easy right? No, that is not it. We like the rustic feel of an old frame. We also really wanted white oak and the cost of a new frame white oak frame is almost prohibitive.

Anyway, back to Ebay. I enquired about that particular frame. It was 32' x 48' (about the footprint I wanted) and 17' high to the sill plate (meaning that it was tall enough to hold 2 stories) and it was made of white oak. Of course I wanted to see it first and my work schedule in November/December is really packed; there was no time for a road trip. But over the holidays I made arrangements and went ahead and drove to Pittsburgh to look at the barn. From what I could see it appeared to be OK. Not that I am a barn expert but it looked like the wood was mostly sound and mostly there (no important pieces were missing).

To make a long story slightly shorter I went ahead and bought the frame. Now it was a matter of getting it taken down and delivered. Just about a week after I bought it the snow started and it snowed and it snowed and it snowed. So here we are, the end of April, and the frame is arriving on a truck today!

The truck arrives and I walk to meet it. Note the great Lincoln in the parking lot, which naturally I stopped to admire! Must be what, about a '56 Continental?

Down my road and past my newly-plowed field. Note that high quality Carolina clay! Nice truck huh?

Here he had to pull up into my field to get the angle to back into the unloading area.

Easy does it, back up until it is almost level, then we can unload.

First Chuck (the driver) has to unstrap the load.

The crew looks on in anxious anticipation, everyone gearing up for the big event and wondering "what have I gotten myself into?".

The roof boards come off first. Michael hopes I know how to drive that thing!

These loads were so heavy you can see the rear tires almost coming off the ground (in fact sometimes they did).

These are the roof boards. Beautiful seasoned white oak. We intend to have them cob blasted and use them for interior paneling. The tanks there are for storing rainwater to use in the greenhouses.

Next are the bundles of rafters. These are oak 2x6s about 20 feet long.

That is the smile of relief; Angel has just arrived and taken over the driving duties. Whew, I unloaded the first half with no incidents.

These are mostly the beams that supported the barn floor. I bought them to make the support structure for the second floor. The big ones are 30' oak 12 x 12s. As you can see we will have to pressure wash them to remove a 100 year buildup of crud.

And finally it is all unloaded. Eeverything went perfectly. Most of the material is wrapped in tarps to protect it from the weather. Now we need to figure out how to put this all back together. Anyone good at 3D jigsaw puzzles?