Sky Fort Day 9: Monkey Bars and Porch Roof.

We didn’t get a lot of progress accomplished today thanks to a rather big oops we have to fess up to…regarding that porch roof.

Yeaaaah, so yesterday I posted about how silly it was to build the roof completely, then attach it, and how smart we were for building it halfway to give us wiggle room during installation.  Well, I can safely say to anyone out there planning on following our lead—DON’T.  There’s a very good reason you shouldn’t try to put the planks on after you attach the roof to the rest of the fort, and I circled it in yellow for you to see:

There’s not enough space between the top of the porch shingles and the support beam for the roof of the main clubhouse, as seen in the picture above.  How do you attach it then?  Well, if you’re like us, you cuss under your breath for a few minutes as the kids are running around, then you back out all the hex bolts as far as they’ll go and try to force the drill in there…but no, still not enough space.

Then you fart around for another 30 minutes trying various combinations of loose bolts, backed out bolts and removed bolts from the supports in an effort to get the *%^$#(@# porch backed out far enough to fit the drill in.  And then you just say F’ it and detatch the whole thing.  Because it’s at that point that you realize all this pulling and torquing of the porch roof assembly has pulled it apart at the seams.  Yeah, the whole thing started to give way.  Awesome.  You can see by the picture below the extreme angle in which Sara was forced to work.

But that gave us the solution: while it was coming apart, we screwed in the offending shingles, then fixed the roof split.  Luckily, Sara could reach that from standing on the open side of the porch.  Then you reattach the roof to the supports.

That’s when we found mistake #2, although this time, it wasn’t our fault.  Turns out that 3 of the support bolts fit rather nicely where they were supposed to.   Number 4, attached to the side of the clubhouse, didn’t want to cooperate.  It was off by about 2″.  Not off center, but we couldn’t get the roof within 2 inches of flush with the clubhouse wall.  Wood in three different places had warped just enough to combine the difference into a royal P.I.T.A.

However, I believe there are very few problems in life that cannot be solved by the judicious application of brute force.  And a bigger bolt.  We quickly swapped out the bolt the instructions called for with a bigger one from a bag that had 6 or 7 in it.  I forget the new size, but I think it was 3.5″.  Last time I was at the BORG I noticed they have a whole assortment of lag and screws (some even plated the same as the ones in the set here).  If we screw up we’ll get more.

I put as much pressure I as could into the support at the corner (I was standing on a ladder at the top so it wasn’t everything I had but I guess it was enough), Sara did the same at the clubhouse wall and then used the impact driver on full power and BAM-BAM-BAM, we got traction.  There is a significant gap, but it is very secure an short of me breaking out the hand planes, saws and getting some replacement wood, there is nothing we can do about the warped boards.  You can see the shadow between the two boards in the picture below—just left of center.

After wasting most of our available time today messing around with the porch roof, we had little time enough to finish the supports for the monkey bars (I carried the whole unit out of the garage and down the hill myself, it’s really not that heavy but suprisingly sturdy).   Then it was just a matter of flipping it over, lining it up against the fort and drilling pilot holes.  A few tee-nuts, some bolts and washers and the monkey bars were locked in tight!

It’s forecast to rain all day tomorrow, so we won’t bother with putting in the anchors for the monkey bars until Friday when the ground should be good and soft.  As I went inside with two very hungry kids to get dinner going, Sara stayed out a bit longer and tightened down all the bolts and screws holding the monkey bars toegether to get a real solid connection.

I took a picture from the deck as a comparison shot of the new playset versus the old playset we had last year…I dragged it over from across the yard yesterday to keep the kids a little closer to us while we worked and man, I didn’t realize the size difference until just now…

With construction on hold for tomorrow, pending the weather, Friday looks like the day we may get the swings up!  We’re looking at completion either this weekend or early next week!

Built Time Today: 2 hours.

TOTAL BUILD TIME: 33 hours, 15 minutes.


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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