Sky Fort Day 7: Upper walls, windows and the ladder.

Despite the fact that it was a work/school day, Sara and I made some more good progress on the Sky Fort today.

While Keaton was at school, Kylie and I made a trip to the BORG to buy another gallon of the waterproofer.  Most people say it takes about 2 gallons to coat this thing, but I’m thinking that they applied it after the structure is built.   Doing it a piece at a time beforehand may take more because there’s no wood that’s covered up by another piece (it happens a lot) after it’s built.   Also, the garden sprayer likely wastes a bit here and there.   I know my shoes are very waterpoof now (so is  a large, blotchy portion of our garage and driveway).

While we were at the store, Kylie had to show off how stylish she was…

After school, Kylie and I picked up Keaton.  I made it home before Sara today,  so when the kids took their naps, I went to the garage, stacked up all the lumber that was sprayed yesterady, and spread out all the last of the lumber to be sprayed today:

With that drying, Sara came home and we set to work.  She climbed up and started by fixing the oops from yesterday.  No one guessed it, though we did have some good ideas.  Here’s the oops photo again:

And here is the roof again after Sara’s precarious fix (involving standing on a ladder on the second level to lean around the A-Frame.

See the difference?  The green metal piece that attaches to the very top needs to be on the outside.  It was correct on the A-Frame closest to the house, but the one facing the trees had it on the inside of the fort.  It seems minor, but there is a wooden sunburst decoration that goes on the outside and nestles into the green metal plate…

Once we were back on track, Sara quickly got into a rythym.  She added the first couple runs on the roof first to give the A-Frames support—beacuse it was rediculously windy today.

 All the more awesome that she had to be up on the ladder.  The only thing I could do was hold the ladder and keep it from sliding off the second floor.  We thought about hitting the walls first, but with her having to lean out and around to get to the very top of the roofline, we decided to skip a few steps and do things in the order that suited us tall people better.

As an aside, it looks like this thing will have at least 7′ of headroom inside the main “room” of the clubhouse.  Unreal!

Sara started working on the side walls at that point while I busied myself with attaching the ladder.   She built it yestrday, but the two cross braces that keep it straight (this sucker was warped big time) were just sprayed with waterproofing last night, so we had to wait to attach it till today.

It was attached with some big ass lag screws I had to drill through the underneath of the fort, but once attached and leveled (I had to dig a bit in the ground to set the base of the ladder stable) it is solid.  Sara no longer needs  a boost to get up and down now—she’s got herself a real pretty ladder.

When I was finished with that, I stepped back and got a shot of Sara’s progress—she was much faster at installing the side walls.  Big progress in about 30 minutes!

By now it was time to get the munchkins up—we just had to show Keaton how his fort was turning out.  He took one look out the window and raced down the hill screaming in exitement.  Kylie was about 5 steps behind him, jumping and hopping all the way.

He very quickly found the ladder and I captured the inaugrual climb.

Sara turned her attention to filling in the A-Frames next, partly to give herlself a bit of relief from the sun beating down on her.  Despite the fact that it’s only about 70* outside with a real stiff cool breeze, she was starting to get sunburned after 3 days out in the sun.

Now it’s starting to look like a little house!  There was also 2 bay windows to be completed.  I got to help on the second one—I stood on the ground and screwed in the planks from the outside on the bottom area, so Sara didn’t have to lean all the way through the wall and down.  She was able to easily get the upper ones.

At this point Sara filled in the other A-Frame and we brought the kids in so I could start dinner (lasagna!) and she and the kids could take a break.  Once they saw that ladder, it was nearly an hour of going up and down (both of them) and up and down and down and up and checking out the Sky Fort.  They are absolutely nuts over that ladder!

With dinner bubbling away, I kept the kids occupied until we ate while Sara continued to build and race against the dying of the evening light.   We may or may not get another chance to work on this thing till the weekend, so we’re tyring to get as much done as we can.

Also, as another note, I tested the ladder, since it felt so stable.  I can climb up, no problems, no creaks, no noise.  That thing is rock solid.  I will test the strength of this thing soon.  If the ladder can hold my 6’2″, 240 pounds, I’m thinking the deck planking with floor joists and hundreds of screws should be able to hold me.  We are continually surprised at how well engineered this set is.  Simply awesome.

Sara wrapped up as dinner was put on the table and she did a lot while she was out there.  This shot shows how the wall under the A-Frame was capped off with a little decorative wood placement.  Sara also got about half the roof on this side installed.  The rest is drying in the garage.

Here is the rear of the fort.  She finished off this side as well.   There’s another oops here.  Around the tiny upper window, you’ll see to pieces of wood that look like little shutters.

Well, that’s great and all, but those pieces were supposed to go inside to support the fragile wall.  We didn’t catch it until the green window pane unit was installed on the inside (it was supposed to go on the outside).  Meh, it doesn’t affect the structural integrity.  I suppose the little vertical boards would give added strength from the inside should a kid push out on the wall, but really, those are tiny little boards.  And that window is damn near 7 feet straight up from the second floor.  Its about 12 feet off the ground.   If some kid can even reach that window, they don’ t need to be playing on this thing!

All in all, we don’t think it hurts anything to have put in on backwards, and we actually like the look better anyway.  So, if you’re building this thing, know that this is a viable option to the instructions!

Lastly, the light was fading fast (you’d think that being up on this hill would give us extra daylight…in the picture below, you can see the line of tall pines that border our property waaaay in the background.

Those things really block the sunlight early.  The yard goes “dusk dark” around 6pm even though sunset may not be for another hour (or two earlier in the summer).   Anyway, here’s the last shot of the work Sara has done—notice the roof is starting to come together.   It’s looking cool now, but I think it looks a little awkward without the two wings (monkeybars and swingset).

Build Time Today: 5 hours.



About Steven M. Vaught

A native son of Delaware, now living in Illinois, Steven is a writer, family historian, amateur astronomer, sometimes-gardener, woodworker, father to three wonderful children, husband to a wonderful wife, and caretaker of one cheeky vizsla.
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