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Equipment Discussions >> Observatories

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JoeT6571
member


Reged: 03/11/12

Pebble Hill Observatory
      #5292764 - 06/28/12 06:51 AM Attachment (162 downloads)

After 25 years of lugging and transporting my gear for observing, I finally live in a location that allows me to build an observatory. I've decided to build a 12' x 16' roll off roof observatory with a 5' x 12' add-on garden shed to keep my wonderful wife happy.

I struggled with deciding whether to go with a poured concrete slab or put the observatory up on sonotube footings. I decided to go with an elevated observatory on sonotube footings because of the drainage pattern on the property. Lots more on this later.

The site is pretty dark. We live on 40 acres three miles from a small town in far northern Wisconsin. There is slight skyglow to the east from town but it is not bad. Half of our property is field, the other half woods.

Of course the first thing one must do after laying out the location is to dig a hole for the pier. Out comes the shovel and four inches down I hit a my first pebble.



Not to be denied, I continued to dig to find the size of the beast. It was a little larger than I anticipated.

To be continued.

Joe


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csa/montana
Den Mama
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Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5292863 - 06/28/12 08:54 AM

Congratulations on the start of your Pebble Hill Observatory! Wow! If that's a pebble, I'd hate to see what is considered a boulder!

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Greyhaven
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 05/11/04

Loc: Greater downtown Maine
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5292997 - 06/28/12 11:02 AM

Wow! With the size of the crater maybe that's a "meteor-wrong" right.
Hope you don't find more.
Be Well
Grey


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rwiederrich
Goldfinger
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Reged: 11/17/05

Loc: Always Dark skies of Belfair W...
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5293421 - 06/28/12 02:57 PM

Congrat on your new Observatory....
Also, congrats on finding bolder..just think of all the trouble it might have caused if you hadn't discoverd it right under your new Observatory

Rob(good to know your new OB is built on solid rock)


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Starman27
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Reged: 01/29/06

Loc: Illinois, Iowa
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: rwiederrich]
      #5293498 - 06/28/12 03:54 PM

So there you were..wondering where to dig the pier footing and... Good luck on the rest of your build and keep us posted.

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JoeT6571
member


Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: Starman27]
      #5294439 - 06/29/12 08:02 AM Attachment (114 downloads)

Thanks for the encouragement folks. Todays post is entitled adventures with Quikrete.

That pebble wasn't going to stop me because I knew I could call on my friend John to lift it out of the way. So off I trudge to the pole barn and fire up the John Deere. I lift the pebble out with a chain attached to the bucket in front and continue digging, and digging, and digging. My plan is to bury a 2' x 2' x 1' form five feet down. I wanted the top of the telescope pier base to be well below the frost line. It gets cold here in Hayward, Wisconsin.

About 3.5 feet down I hit hardpan. It is so hard I have to virtually chisel my way down. Definitely not fun. Finally I hit bottom, set my form and drive three steel bars of 6 foot long re rod into the middle of the form which will tie the base to the pier and reinforce the pier. My wife and I mix up and pour six 60 pound bags of Qwikrete into the form and let it all set up for a couple days.

Everything looks good, so now I put a seven foot long, 12 inch diameter sono tube on the base and backfill the hole. The top of the tube is three feet above the ground. This pour also goes well and I top the pier by driving a circular form with 3/4 inch treaded rod into the top. This circular form will be used to fabricate the base of the steel pier.

As my lovely wife drives out to go to town, I notice something strange about the pier. The tube feels very damp and could it be, is this thing starting to list to port? Sheer panic sets in, this baby is going to tip over and spill its guts all over the ground. Is this why they have a cute little picture of a support form printed right on the side of the sono tube? Why, oh why, was I so stupid to think that a cheap little tube of cardboard would support several hundred pounds of dripping wet concrete by itself?

By now panic has revved up to sheer terror. I race a couple hundred feet to the pole barn, grab some scrap lumber, nails, hammer, and sledge hammer and race back to my beloved project. Have you ever tried to build a square frame to fit a round tube while using your butt to hold up a listing sonotube? At any rate I manage to get it all built, supported, and even get that tube shoved back to vertical.

Note in pictures who is doing the heavy lifting.

To be continued.


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csa/montana
Den Mama
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Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5294574 - 06/29/12 09:55 AM

Quote:

I race a couple hundred feet to the pole barn, grab some scrap lumber, nails, hammer, and sledge hammer and race back to my beloved project. Have you ever tried to build a square frame to fit a round tube while using your butt to hold up a listing sonotube?




Now, THAT'S the photo we would have loved to see!

BTW, we have neglected to welcome you to Cloudy Nights! Really enjoying your thread!


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Starman27
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Reged: 01/29/06

Loc: Illinois, Iowa
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5294852 - 06/29/12 01:06 PM

This is just the start of the adventure! We have all been through similar opportunities to improve our skills and knowledge.

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rwiederrich
Goldfinger
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Reged: 11/17/05

Loc: Always Dark skies of Belfair W...
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5294934 - 06/29/12 02:01 PM

Sweeeeeww.

Now is a good time to assess the small things needed to finish this project...before another problem occures that requires demolition.

Measure twice..cut once.

Glad you got things fixed.

Good luck.

Rob


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JoeT6571
member


Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: rwiederrich]
      #5296312 - 06/30/12 12:42 PM Attachment (98 downloads)

It was time to call in the reinforcements. My good friend Troy who lives way up in Hovland, MN (20 miles from Canada) has built two different cabins on concrete piers. He was willing to come down for the weekend to jump start this project. The plan was to lay out the sonotubes on Friday, dig holes on Saturday, place and backfill the sonotubes on Sunday, and pour concrete on Monday.

Troy came up with a very unique way to lay out the project. The idea is to construct a wooden frame from 2 x 4 material to the exact outside dimensions of my sonotubes. We use this frame to spray paint hole locations, pull the frame away, dig the holes, and then replace the frame over the holes. We then cribbed the frame to the desired height, establish proper levels with a transit, square up everything, and then tack the sonotubes to the frame. The frame allows us to support the tubes and keep them vertical during the backfilling and concrete pouring operation.

I wanted to elevate my observatory to keep critters from living underneath, keep air circulating below to keep the wooden foundation from deteriorating, and allow natural drainage.

What is better than a friendly neighbor? Answer: A friendly neighbor who owns a skid steer and is willing to help. I reserved a post hole digger attachment from the local rental center and we hooked it up Saturday morning. After my telescope pier digging experience, there was no way I was going to try to dig all those holes by hand. Who knows how many more pebbles we were going to encounter.

The frame construction went very well. The digging went very well. It was what happened later that did not go so well.

To be continued.


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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5297382 - 07/01/12 06:55 AM Attachment (77 downloads)

The digging was not entirely without adventure. We did run into a few more pebbles. Here is a collection after we lifted them out with a chain and dragged them off to the side.

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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5298980 - 07/02/12 07:32 AM Attachment (67 downloads)

After the holes were dug, we dragged our frame back over the holes and cribbed it up to the proper elevation. We used a transit to make sure the frame was level. The tops of the sonotubes will be attached to the top of the frame on Sunday. We also made sure everything was square. As I mentioned before the frame was designed to have two sides of each sonotube supported at the correct height and exactly where my 4 x 5 support posts will be centered.

One nice thing about the sonotube frame was everything was screwed together. When dismantled all lumber will be reused in the construction of the observatory. Little to no waste.

So far so good. It was time to BBQ steaks and drink beer.


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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5300862 - 07/03/12 03:57 PM Attachment (67 downloads)

Full disclosure - This post describes events that happened over a month ago. I did not want to begin posting this thread until I actually felt there was a chance I would be successful in this project. As you will see, there were some real challenges and at one point I really felt the project wasn't going to happen.

The next day (May 20, 2012) we woke up to clouds and the threat of rain. Since I only had Troy for the weekend, we decided to proceed with attaching the sonotubes to the frame, getting them vertical, putting some gravel at the bottom of the tubes, and backfilling the tubes.

We immediately discovered that some of the holes needed to be expanded. Occasionally while we were digging with the skid steer, the auger would hit a large enough rock to shift the auger over. To keep our holes in the proper place, we had to hand dig out the rock and expand the holes so the tubes would be vertical and in the proper position. It was quite a job.

While doing this work, it started to mist. We kept working. Then it started to gently rain. We kept going at a little faster pace. Then it started to POUR, and the site turned into a mess. We finished as best we could setting the tubes and pouring 4 inches of gravel in the bottom and around the base of each tube.

That night it rained 3 inches. The next morning to tubes were flimsy and soaked. The site (because of heavy soil) was a disaster. There was no way I could pour cement. Troy left Monday morning (May 21) and all I could do was wait for things to dry out.


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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5302431 - 07/04/12 03:08 PM

After two sunny days, things begin to dry out. I haul a trailer load of sand from the local sand and gravel pit and use it to mix with my soil to backfill the rest of the tubes. Amazingly the sonotubes survive the heavy rains and I feel confident they will hold up ok. We mix and fill all 16 tubes in about 4 hours.

The picture shows the tube layout for the observatory, attached garden shed, and the gantry. I went with 8 inch tubes only after my local architect assured me they would carry the load. They are buried almost 4 feet deep and sit on about 4 inches of gravel. They stick out of the ground from 8" to 16" due to the slope of the ground.


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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5302436 - 07/04/12 03:11 PM Attachment (49 downloads)

Missed the picture in the previous post

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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5304940 - 07/06/12 07:40 AM Attachment (62 downloads)

Disaster strikes. It had been a very wet spring and our ground was saturated. My wife's rain garden was full of water and local rivers were way up. One of the reasons I chose putting the observatory on piers instead of a floating slab was I did not want to build my site up enough to get good drainage away from the building. I felt I could just let the water run under the building by elevating it.

We got over 6 inches of rain in a month. I live in an area that normally gets 30 inches of precipitation in a year. After pouring my tubes the rains returned. It rained and rained and rained. My site was so wet that even with tubes buried 4 feet down, they were unstable. I had a pole barn full of lumber and started thinking about using it to build an ark instead of an observatory.

This was the low point of my build. I had serious doubts about success.

I knew I had to keep water away from the site. I dug two trenches to divert water away from the building site, lined them with landscape fabric, and filled them with sewer rock. I also covered by building site with thick plastic sheeting and covered it also with the same rock.

Luckily my skid steer neighbor also owns a small dump truck. He let me use it to haul the rock and I spread it with the tractor. This work was done in one long day.


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JoeT6571
member


Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5308938 - 07/08/12 08:28 PM

Finally in the last week of June, I was able to start construction of the wooden foundation. The rains have let off and the site is dry. I have a vapor barrier installed and the diversion ditches and base are covered with rock.

The foundation is 2 x 8 treated timbers mounted on 4 x 6 (actually 3.5 x 5.5) posts. Even with trying to level the tops of the sonotubes, I still had a slight differential in the tops of the tubes. I leveled everything by mounting everything to the posts. I have a double beam running down the center. Joists are 16 inches on center all attached with joist hangers.

This part is easy and fun.


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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5308939 - 07/08/12 08:29 PM Attachment (52 downloads)

Here is a picture of the wooden foundation.

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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5309173 - 07/09/12 12:17 AM

Glad the rain stopped, and you're able to continue the build! It's looking great; we appreciate the pictures!

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dw310
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Reged: 08/10/10

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5309175 - 07/09/12 12:22 AM

Yep. This is fun to watch! Keep it coming!!

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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: dw310]
      #5309343 - 07/09/12 07:16 AM Attachment (47 downloads)

Before setting the joists, I used concrete anchor bolts to attach the wooden posts to the concrete tubes. The wooden posts allow me to get the exterior and interior beams vertically level. The concrete anchor bolts allow me to square up the structure completely before permanently anchoring it down. The metal corners are cut to fit with a sawzall with a metal cutting blade. After squaring up my perimeter, I drilled holes into the concrete with a hammer drill, blow the dust out of the hole, hammer the anchor bolt down, and then tighten the nut on the anchor bolt. Tightening the nut expands the bolt in the concrete and anchors it completely.

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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: dw310]
      #5310446 - 07/09/12 08:35 PM Attachment (50 downloads)

I applied one coat of primer and a coat of paint to the underside of my 3/4 inch OSB tongue and groove decking prior to installation. Even though the deck is elevated off the ground, and there is a layer of plastic underneath, I felt the paint would help preserve the wood. The decking was glued and screwed on June 24. I made sure no 4 corners met by starting the second run with a half sheet.

I cut a hole in the decking for the pier leaving and extra inch. The pier is completely independent from the observatory.

Last summer we had a couple fairly strong windstorms. Each storm blew a couple of our mature aspen into our field. I had to clean them up because a local farmer cuts hay in our field every summer. Instead of continuing to "waste" this wood, I decided to cut 35 cords of aspen last winter from the perimeter of our field. Hayward has a large OSB plant and I had the wood delivered there. Since the decking (and the siding) I purchased from the lumber yard was made by this same company, I'm telling everyone some of the wood for the observatory came right from our property. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.


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Raginar
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Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5311123 - 07/10/12 09:54 AM

Beautiful!

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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: Raginar]
      #5311411 - 07/10/12 02:07 PM Attachment (44 downloads)

The north and east walls were pretty straightforward. I went with 2 x 4 construction because of cost. Everyone assured me that 2 x 6 lumber was totally unnecessary for the walls. Studs are 16 inches on center. I framed up the wall on the floor of the observatory, squared up the wall taking diagonal measurements, and attached a temporary diagonal 2 x 4 to the wall to keep it square.

My plan is to complete the observatory before beginning the attached garden shed. Sorry dear.

I'm looking a rather happy here because things are finally starting to go well.


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nytecam
Postmaster


Reged: 08/20/05

Loc: London UK
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: dw310]
      #5311663 - 07/10/12 04:46 PM

It will be fabulous - keep up the good work

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dw310
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Reged: 08/10/10

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: nytecam]
      #5311924 - 07/10/12 08:19 PM

I'm really enjoying your progress. Thanks for sharing!

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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: dw310]
      #5312473 - 07/11/12 07:04 AM Attachment (45 downloads)

I installed a drop down wall to the south bringing the height down to 39 inches. You didn't think I was going to all this trouble and expense building a 12 x 16 foot observatory to house a 25 year old 8 inch SCT did you? Nooooooo! Someday I will add a larger dobsonian and I designed this observatory with this in mind. The west wall will also have a drop down section. The 39 inch figure was a guess, since I do not know the make, model, or size of this future scope.

So where is the second independent pier? Well I thought long and hard about digging a second pier for the dobsonian. After about 4 seconds I decided I wasn't going down that road again. The dob will be for visual observing only and 99% of the time I will be alone in observatory. There is a concrete tube directly under where the dob will be located and I do have a double beam in the foundation running down the center of the obs. The floor is very solid. If I ever host a group of friends or students and interior vibrations affect the observing to much, I can always construct a ramp in the future and run the dob outside to a gravel or brick pad.


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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5312475 - 07/11/12 07:06 AM Attachment (39 downloads)

I used a router to recess three heavy duty hinges for the drop down wall. This allows the wall to lay flat in the up position.

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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5313822 - 07/12/12 07:31 AM Attachment (39 downloads)

The west wall got a little busy. I have a 33 inch rough opening for the door, a 23 inch rough opening for a window, and an 8 foot fold down wall section. The headers for the door and window are constructed with 2 x 6 lumber with a half inch thick piece of OSB for a spacer.

I used diagonal measurements across the corners to insure the walls were square before permanently anchoring them down.

The west wall is not strong because of all the openings. I will need to brace this wall to keep it straight and to do this I'm thinking of building a short (two feet?) stub wall in between the fold down section and the window. I have the room to do this. Any comments to solve this problem would be appreciated.


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csa/montana
Den Mama
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Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5314030 - 07/12/12 10:26 AM

That's very impressive building! Really looking great. Yes, the dropdowns are a must for the dob in your future. I think your wall heights with the dob in mind are perfect. Mine are around 3' high, with a dropdown on my East wall.

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GaryJCarter
sage
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Reged: 06/06/09

Loc: Fairview, Texas
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5314306 - 07/12/12 01:21 PM

Quote:


The west wall is not strong because of all the openings. I will need to brace this wall to keep it straight and to do this I'm thinking of building a short (two feet?) stub wall in between the fold down section and the window. I have the room to do this. Any comments to solve this problem would be appreciated.




Assuming you are sheathing the outside with 1/2" exterior grade plywood, strength should not be a problem once installed. If you are still concerned about it I would suggest a diagonal let-in across the span of the wall. This would brace it from shear.

I do see one potential problem. It appears you have an exposed porch(?) I am assuming that is an uncovered deck when the observatory is closed. The interior observatory "floor" is not offset from the exterior "deck". Two issues with this.

First is the exterior sheathing cannot be anchored to the floor joist in this arrangement. You lose a lot of strength here. The second is it will collect water at the deck-wall interface. Exposure to the elements means you will have a bad problem to deal with a few years down the road as that wall plate develops dry-rot. I suggest you cut the exterior deck from the interior floor and allow the wall sheath to extend all the way to the bottom of the floor joist. Water will shed to the ground avoiding the dry-rot problem.


Edited by GaryJCarter (07/12/12 03:01 PM)


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Mary B
Vendor - Echo Astronomy and Electronics
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Reged: 05/21/10

Loc: Minnesota
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: GaryJCarter]
      #5314538 - 07/12/12 03:01 PM

He is adding a garden shed on that open end so no problems with water pooling.

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JoeT6571
member


Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: Mary B]
      #5315519 - 07/13/12 07:42 AM Attachment (39 downloads)

On to the gantry. The 3.5 x 5.5 posts support a 2 x 8 track joist which is mortised into the posts. This is capped with a double 2 x 6 track plate. The steel rail will be installed on top of the track plates. A 2 x 6 runs cross ways between the beams.

The first step was to determine the height of the posts. I did this by putting a full length post in place and making sure it was plumb. I used 2 x 4's with screws to temporarily lock everything down. Then I ran a string level from the top of the observatory wall (but below the top plates) out to the post to get the correct height.

The post then comes down and I cut it to length. Then I measured the width of my track joist and mortise the post. Not all 2 x 8's are 1.5 x 7.5 inches. Some of my lumber was 1.5 x 7.25 and I was glad I measured before I mortised the post. Then the finished post is set back in place and the whole plumbing and cribbing process takes place again.

This is definitely a two person day (actually two half days) and it requires a helper of patience while all this measuring and remeasuring, plumbing, assembling and reassembling is taking place. I'm not that fast and it was HOT. It just takes time to get everything plumb and square. Thanks John, I really appreciated the help.


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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5315522 - 07/13/12 07:44 AM Attachment (33 downloads)

Our front porch overlooks our south field. The observatory sits off to the south and east from the house. During dinner on the porch my wife commented, "it's a little bigger than I anticipated."

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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5317455 - 07/14/12 01:18 PM Attachment (28 downloads)

I ordered the rail fabrication from a welder friend. 3/16 steel plate three inches wide capped with angle iron. The angle iron is tack welded every foot and there are slots every two feet for 1/4 inch screws. I had him manufacture one piece to the exact length of my fold down wall section. He made each side in three sections for ease of transport and installation. Apparently I had a miscommunication with him. I thought I ordered steel, but when he gave me the bill, it looks like he charged me for gold instead. Holy *BLEEP*! This stuff is expensive. I can't wait for the bill for the steel pier.

I cannot complain about the work however. The angle iron is centered perfectly and the edges and clean and square.

I applied one coat of primer and two coats of rust preventing paint to the rails prior to installation.


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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5317543 - 07/14/12 02:02 PM Attachment (28 downloads)

After finishing the gantry I decided to build the castor plate on top of the walls and install the castors. The top of the walls were straight and level and were a good work surface. Each castor plate is double 2 x 6's screwed together. I snapped a line for the groove center of the castors on the plate and was careful to keep the castors lined up and straight when I screwed them down.

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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5317546 - 07/14/12 02:04 PM Attachment (27 downloads)

After finishing the gantry I decided to build the castor plate on top of the walls and install the castors. The top of the walls were straight and level After completing the plates and castor installation, I took them down and put the rails on the walls using only a few screws to each rail piece for temporary placement. We measured across the observatory with a steel tape every four feet to insure the rails were parallel.

Then we put the castor plates back up on the rails and used blocking to keep them from tipping over.


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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5317550 - 07/14/12 02:06 PM Attachment (28 downloads)

I then tied the two sides together with 2 x 4's and used a couple of diagonal 2 x 4's to square up this temporary "roof." Now the big test - would it roll? I got lucky and it rolled like a charm. No need to tweak the rails.

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Gastrol
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Reged: 11/04/11

Loc: los angeles
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5317565 - 07/14/12 02:24 PM

Very nice! I found that there were just enough lateral wheel play within the castors themselves that they virtually self aligned themselves as they rolled.

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JoeT6571
member


Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: Gastrol]
      #5318491 - 07/15/12 07:24 AM Attachment (32 downloads)

I ordered the rafters weeks ago and when I finally had them delivered, I was very disappointed. They certainly are not fancy and I could have banged those things together in a morning and saved myself a chunk of change. Their only redeeming factor is that they are exactly alike and I guess that's worth something.

I screwed two vertical boards up at the end of the north wall high enough to support the first rafter. Since I didn't have the right kind of rafter ties for the end, I simply toenailed in the first rafter after clamping it to the vertical support boards. Then I set my rafter ties two feet on center down the castor plate. The rafters were light and the installation went quickly. I actually had two rafters set by myself before super wife got home and gave me a hand. I made sure each rafter was plumb before tying them together with a 1 x 4 on the inside peak. I also tied the rafter chords together with a 2 x 4 along the top center of the chords.

Roll of went smoothly, but it certainly takes more effort with the rafters installed. I imagine roll off will be a grunt after the roof is finished.

Since this is the first time I have ever attempted a roof, I have a big learning curve for the gable ends, soffits, facia, and metal roof installation.

I have a question for my cold weather friends. Will I have a condensation problem with a bare metal roof overhead? I do not want to install sheathing and roof felt below the metal because of weight.


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Raginar
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Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5318714 - 07/15/12 11:25 AM

I put felt underneath my steel roof just in case. However, I haven't noticed any condensation on mine. Beautiful roof; I agree you could've done it yourself but there is nothing better than just having to put them together on the roof .

Good job!


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csa/montana
Den Mama
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Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5318852 - 07/15/12 12:52 PM

My roof is metal over plywood, with tarpaper in between. I've never experienced any condensation whatsoever.

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Peter L.
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Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5319874 - 07/16/12 08:04 AM

Unless the roof space is super ventilated, you will have condensation on the under side of the metal. And I'm not sure it's possible to ensure constant air flow all the time, so best to go with sheathing and then tar paper underneath the metal. I'd personally go with 30 lbs. tar paper vs. the standard 15 lbs.

Peter


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Al8236
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Reged: 08/18/10

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Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: Peter L.]
      #5319976 - 07/16/12 09:56 AM

If you can I would try to locate the vinyl encapsulated fiberglass that they use in steel building construction.
Light weight, the vinyl contains any dust. You just roll it out over your perlins and lay the metal right over top.
I believe you can get it in 1" and it compresses to basically nothing between the perlin and metal.
Just bare metal will cause it to "rain" inside the building in the right conditions.


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JoeT6571
member


Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: Al8236]
      #5326921 - 07/20/12 01:34 PM Attachment (44 downloads)

After a few days off (95 degrees one day, two days of rain) I made a little progress yesterday. I installed the purlins, gable ends, and facia boards. One side of the roof is square, the other side is a little off. I'm going to blame sweep in the rafters for this problem. Why would I want to blame me?

I decided to install the metal roof directly on the purlins. If I get a condensation problem I will insulate the roof with foam panels. That will weigh much less than sheeting the roof with OSB and installing tar paper under the metal.

I was up early this morning ready to begin screwing on the metal roof. My friend arrived at 8 am and we got everything ready to go. That's when I discovered that I had inadvertently purchased two different styles of roof vent closures instead of buying a set for the roof vent and a different style closure for the eaves. They are not interchangeable and no one in town sells what I need. Since the inside closure strips need to be installed before the metal is installed, this project came to a screaming halt. So we cleaned up and I'll have to hurry up and wait until I get the right supplies.


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rwiederrich
Goldfinger
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Loc: Always Dark skies of Belfair W...
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5327003 - 07/20/12 02:29 PM Attachment (37 downloads)

Quote:

After a few days off (95 degrees one day, two days of rain) I made a little progress yesterday. I installed the purlins, gable ends, and facia boards. One side of the roof is square, the other side is a little off. I'm going to blame sweep in the rafters for this problem. Why would I want to blame me?

I decided to install the metal roof directly on the purlins. If I get a condensation problem I will insulate the roof with foam panels. That will weigh much less than sheeting the roof with OSB and installing tar paper under the metal.

I was up early this morning ready to begin screwing on the metal roof. My friend arrived at 8 am and we got everything ready to go. That's when I discovered that I had inadvertently purchased two different styles of roof vent closures instead of buying a set for the roof vent and a different style closure for the eaves. They are not interchangeable and no one in town sells what I need. Since the inside closure strips need to be installed before the metal is installed, this project came to a screaming halt. So we cleaned up and I'll have to hurry up and wait until I get the right supplies.




Looks great..a word of advice: It will sweat and drip all over your equipment, if you don't place some kind of barrior under the metal. I had a friend staple down this plastic first then layed the metal over it. It helped considerably.

I just skipped the entire problem and added PVC roofing instead. it comes in the same dimentions as the metal and is UV rated. It lets in awesome amounts of light and it doesn't drip. Meaning you can skip paper..plastic...whatever. I wanted my building to be bright and light during the day when the roof is closed. With a metal roof..you're in the dark during the day and you need lights to see much of anything.

No runs, drips, or errors. Light and dry.

Rob


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rwiederrich
Goldfinger
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Reged: 11/17/05

Loc: Always Dark skies of Belfair W...
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: rwiederrich]
      #5327033 - 07/20/12 02:54 PM Attachment (40 downloads)

And a bright interior. During the day its so light inside its rediculous. I can work in there no problem. Not adding much weight to the roof it really adds to the ease of roof roll off.

I planned on using metal myself...I'd never go that route now and you can see why.

What ever..habve a good time and enjoy.

See how bright during the day. Its like being outside.

It also doesn't trap heat, it blocks the bad boys and I can easily vent with my big industrial fans.

Rob


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JoeT6571
member


Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: rwiederrich]
      #5327151 - 07/20/12 04:21 PM

Rob,

Now that is a great solution. I really like your system. If I didn't have everything purchased already, I might change systems.

I also love your hip trusses. So much more head room.


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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5333276 - 07/24/12 03:21 PM Attachment (35 downloads)

It has been hotter than blazes here in Hayward. This has really put a crimp on my enthusiasm, but some progress has been made. Yesterday I put siding on two sides of the observatory and today I got one side of the roof sheeted.

I learned a good lesson siding the east wall. I squared up the siding with the wall and started working my way across. That was a mistake. As I worked my way across the wall I had to make minor adjustments to the sheets as I worked my way across to keep things in line. This is noticeable at the top and bottom of the sheets. I should have squared up the first sheet with the bottom of my wood foundation. That way the sheets would march across the observatory in a straight line and any "out of squareness" would be covered up with trim at the end of the wall.

When I built my foundation I recessed the bolts into the beams so my siding would be flat when I covered the foundation. After drilling the bolt hole through the beam, I used a 1 inch wood bit and drilled into the beam just enough for the bolt head and washer.

Before I started with the metal on the roof I build a jig reproducing my roof on the ground. I used a sheet of plywood and 2 x 4's and screwed the 2 x 4's into the plywood exactly where my purlins were located. Then I stacked three sheets of metal and placed them over my fake roof so I could drill holes exactly where my screws needed to go. That way the screw holes all line up and I'm not doing a balancing act on the roof trying to hit the purlin centers. This worked very well.


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rwiederrich
Goldfinger
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Reged: 11/17/05

Loc: Always Dark skies of Belfair W...
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5333340 - 07/24/12 03:55 PM

I Originally worried about square myself..but was pleasenty suprised that my 4x8 sheets went up spot on and since my OB is a square 18x18..I had little waste. My roof was spot on square and the roofing pannels went on straight as an arrow with exactly 12" over hang as I designed and proper overlap of panels. The only issue I thought I might have was rolling the huge roof off and it binding..but I made sure cross bracing and good even draw from both sides with the cable and drum system was established. I just flip a switch and the motors take it out and in...now I don't have to lift a FINGER.

Good luck and stay cool.

Looking great thus far. How are you going to control the condensation from the metal roof?

Rob


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JoeT6571
member


Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: rwiederrich]
      #5333485 - 07/24/12 05:16 PM

I'm hoping that good ventilation will prevent condensation. I have the observatory elevated off the ground. The ground is covered with thick plastic under the foundation. The peak, eaves, and gable ends will all be vented.

If after all this, I still have a condensation issue, I will buy 4 x 8 insulation panels, cut them to size and insulate the metal between the rafters.


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rwiederrich
Goldfinger
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Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5333775 - 07/24/12 08:33 PM

Quote:

I'm hoping that good ventilation will prevent condensation. I have the observatory elevated off the ground. The ground is covered with thick plastic under the foundation. The peak, eaves, and gable ends will all be vented.

If after all this, I still have a condensation issue, I will buy 4 x 8 insulation panels, cut them to size and insulate the metal between the rafters.




I hope you find great success. I also vented the gable ends the peak and the eaves. All my venting is screaned off to keep out critters(though they sometimes find a way in). I have a long extendable pole for knocking down any nests before they get started and a duster that attaches to the extender pole for dusting the scope up high during summer months and I cover the entire thing with thin visqueen to protect it during winter months and I keep a 64 watt bulb on continuesly year round at the base of the pier to detract humidity.



More pics when you can.

Rob


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Retsub
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Reged: 12/08/06

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Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: rwiederrich]
      #5334128 - 07/25/12 02:33 AM

Joe T said >I'm hoping that good ventilation will prevent condensation< Yes and no. The problem may show up when there is a big temp change quickly and make it sweat underneath. Ever been in a small building or utility trailer with a little heat inside and see how quickly it sweats ? I wouldn't use foam either as it can trap moisture inside also. Not sure how much summer heat you get for your area but a good radiant barrier can block the uv easily but don't use the bubble wrap stuff since it can't breathe like a good radiant barrier can. Good rule of thumb is don't insulate unless you intend to climate control the area. You probably know what a damp Igloo cooler closed can lead to inside. Florida Solar Energy web site has lots of tests and info too. Hope some of this makes sence. Thanks. *BW*

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HunterofPhotons
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Reged: 04/26/08

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Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5334779 - 07/25/12 01:11 PM

Quote:

... I should have squared up the first sheet with the bottom of my wood foundation. That way the sheets would march across the observatory in a straight line and any "out of squareness" would be covered up with trim at the end of the wall....




The preferred method of framers is to measure up at each end and snap a chalk line. The sheets are laid to this line.

dan k.


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JoeT6571
member


Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: HunterofPhotons]
      #5336098 - 07/26/12 07:29 AM Attachment (22 downloads)

When I sheeted the drop down windows, I left an overhang of about 1/2 inch around the perimeter. That way the wind can't blow though the opening.

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JoeT6571
member


Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5336102 - 07/26/12 07:30 AM Attachment (24 downloads)

I installed flashing at the base of each window. I might install a rubber gasket on the vertical seams (old bicycle tube material) if they aren't weather-proof enough.

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roscoe
curmudgeon
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Reged: 02/04/09

Loc: NW Mass, inches from VT
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5336117 - 07/26/12 07:54 AM

Looking real fine, Joe!!
Russ

PS the trick you devised of pre-drilling the roofing is pretty standard in the metal roofing biz, you invented it just right! It makes it worlds easier to get the screws in, just drop 'em in the holes.

Also, for our readers, don't use the torque adjustment on your drill, tighten them by eye, because if you hit a knot, the screw won't tighten, and it'll leak, also a soft spot might split the rubber washer, also a leak.


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Starman27
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Loc: Illinois, Iowa
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: roscoe]
      #5336188 - 07/26/12 08:51 AM

Really coming together, did you crush your large prbbles to get the stones around the observatory?

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csa/montana
Den Mama
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Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5336255 - 07/26/12 09:40 AM

It's really coming along beautifully! You will wonder how you got along without it, after your first night in it, observing!

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rwiederrich
Goldfinger
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Reged: 11/17/05

Loc: Always Dark skies of Belfair W...
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5336720 - 07/26/12 02:03 PM

Joe..looking very nice...are your walls 6 or 7 ft? I like your drop walls..you must be using a Dob. I had to use 8ft walls and that vaulted ceiling..cuz I use a 10"f/15 refractor on its 8ft pier. My CN friend Jeff B built a similar OB as mine for his big refractor with vaulted ceilings too. I'm always curious why many folks don't build vaulted ceilings in their OB's...it really doesn't cost more if built correctly.

Anyway..your build has been fun to watch..and you built it very nicely. What did its final dimentions come out to be for the interior of the viewing area? I like the small outside deck too.

Rob


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JoeT6571
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Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: rwiederrich]
      #5337486 - 07/26/12 10:04 PM

Rob

The bottom chords on my trusses are a little over 6 feet tall. With my shoes on I have about 1/2 inch clearance. I really didn't think about ordering vaulted trusses until after my trusses were built. Another mistake on my part.

The exact outside dimensions of the foundation of the observatory is 12' x 16.' The walls are 3.5 inches wide so the interior dimensions are 11' 5" x 15' 5"

I will mount my 8 inch SCT on the pier. I just made a deal on a 12.5 inch AstroSky dob that I will pick up next week. I designed the interior to accommodate a dob. I just didn't know what kind I was going to get till just this last weekend.


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JoeT6571
member


Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5339182 - 07/27/12 10:12 PM Attachment (68 downloads)

I've been busy the last two days. The roof is fully sheeted and the vented ridge cap is installed.

I put plywood under the eaves and will cover it with some decorative siding. The north wall is sided. It's starting to come together.

The big news is that I have found a dob to go into the observatory. My wife and I are leaving Monday and driving across the UP of Michigan to meet up with the seller of a 2006 AstroSky 12.5 inch dobsonian. We will camp, bike, and kayak for a week. We will end up at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan. I'm excited about the new addition for the observatory. My wife is excited that she's getting me away from the observatory for a week.


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rwiederrich
Goldfinger
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Loc: Always Dark skies of Belfair W...
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5339189 - 07/27/12 10:19 PM

Congrats on the new Dob. Any pics with the roof rolled off?

Rob


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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: rwiederrich]
      #5357201 - 08/07/12 09:42 PM Attachment (50 downloads)

I'm back from our trip to Michigan with my new scope. It is a 2006 Astro Sky 12.5 inch truss tube dob with Argo Navis and Stellar Cat. I have a huge learning curve ahead as this is my first dob and first goto scope. I would like your recommendations on what I should buy to collimate this scope.

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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5357202 - 08/07/12 09:44 PM Attachment (55 downloads)

I did a little work on the observatory installing the door, window, and trim.

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rwiederrich
Goldfinger
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Loc: Always Dark skies of Belfair W...
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5357418 - 08/08/12 12:24 AM

Quote:

I did a little work on the observatory installing the door, window, and trim.





Sweet.......

Rob


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csa/montana
Den Mama
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Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5357424 - 08/08/12 12:28 AM

What a nice job on your observatory! It looks great. You will really enjoy the views thru that new scope also!

A big congratulations of both!


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tjay
Carpal Tunnel
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Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5357728 - 08/08/12 09:40 AM

What a nice looking observatory! Enjoy it. I'm sure the new scope will help a lot too..

Edited by tjay (08/08/12 09:40 AM)


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JoeT6571
member


Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: tjay]
      #5372161 - 08/16/12 09:08 PM Attachment (37 downloads)

This has been quite a learning experience for me. I was nervous about installing soffits under the eaves and gables, but they turned out to be very easy. I started by installing gussets under the eaves to hold the frieze starter. The frieze starter is simply a metal strip that holds one end of the soffit. The other end is held up by the facia trim. After looking at a few metal buildings, it is easy to see how it all fits together. The end result looks pretty nice.

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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5372162 - 08/16/12 09:11 PM Attachment (38 downloads)

My wife bought me some decorative siding to go under the gable ends. Unfortunately it was cement board. If anyone tries to sell you cement board, RUN AWAY! You have to buy special blades for your saws, it cuts like *BLEEP*, it requires drilling holes before you can install a screw, it is just miserable material. I installed one course and then gave up. It is going back to the lumber yard.

Here is the gable end siding I finally installed. It is a fiber board product and went up with no problems.


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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5372167 - 08/16/12 09:13 PM Attachment (36 downloads)

I also framed up and sided the garden shed. It looks amazingly like a warm room. What do you think my wife would think of that idea?

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theflop
super member


Reged: 02/25/09

Loc: Ortonville, MI
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5372463 - 08/17/12 01:16 AM

Awesome. I took am putting metal on my roof. I have never installed metal roofing before. Can you provide more info like brand, supplier and installation? Thanks.

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JoeT6571
member


Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: theflop]
      #5372610 - 08/17/12 06:11 AM

I bought all my metal at Menards. They have a free booklet called "Helpful Hints for Residential Steel Roofing" that describes what you need to buy and installation instructions.

I know I was warned, but I went ahead and installed a bare metal roof to save weight. I now know that even with good ventilation I will have a moisture problem that I will have to fix after the fact. There needs to be some kind of barrier between the metal roof and the interior. Most people install plywood and roofing felt under their metal. I didn't, and now I have to solve the problem.


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Mary B
Vendor - Echo Astronomy and Electronics
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Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5373618 - 08/17/12 06:06 PM

Get a spray foam kit and foam it, will help with temp control too.

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roscoe
curmudgeon
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Reged: 02/04/09

Loc: NW Mass, inches from VT
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: theflop]
      #5373678 - 08/17/12 06:54 PM

Quote:

Awesome. I took am putting metal on my roof. I have never installed metal roofing before. Can you provide more info like brand, supplier and installation? Thanks.




If you have built your roof carefully, and all the purlins (the strips that go side-to-side) are straight, and parralel to the top and bottom edge of the roof framing, you can pre-drill your metal for the roof screws. Remember that you will need to drill the two sides seperately, to account for overlap direction (the full edge tab points toward the prevailing wind, the 2/3 edge overlaps, and points away.
You might want to first bring a narrow board up onto the roof, pretend it is your roof panel, work out the bottom edge overhang, and mark the centers of the purlins to lay out your screw holes. Each 8" flat gets one screw in the center of the last 1 1/2" mini-flat on the side toward the 2/3 overlap edge. The last sheet also gets a row along the outer edge.
Fabrall is one roofing manufacturer that, if pre-ordered, will cut your roof panels to the nearest inch dimension. Ask your local lumber yard (not the big-box) what brand they carry, and if it can be precut. Fabrall, as an example, comes in about 18 colors, including two whites and several beige/sand colors, as well as light grey.
Hope this helps, don't hesitate to ask questions (I'm a carpenter, it's about a week since I finished my last metal barn roof installation....)
Russ


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JoeT6571
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Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: roscoe]
      #5380611 - 08/22/12 08:00 AM Attachment (31 downloads)

The exterior is mostly done except for the painting and landscaping

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JoeT6571
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Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5380614 - 08/22/12 08:02 AM Attachment (23 downloads)

I bought my door and windows at the local Habitat for Humanity Restore. This is a great place to buy cheap building supplies. Here is the interior of the garden shed.

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JoeT6571
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Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5380619 - 08/22/12 08:05 AM Attachment (25 downloads)

I have installed my SCT on the pier but need to do all the interior work including wiring for electric and bringing in the furniture. The new dob will go in soon.

First light was actually the end of June. As soon as I put the floor on the joists, I set up my scope on a tripod and observed on the deck. The scope has been in and out of the observatory since then during the construction phase. It's is now semipermanent and I will only move it out when I start drilling holes to run the electrical wires. Just too much sawdust flying around to keep it there.


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JoeT6571
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Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5380628 - 08/22/12 08:10 AM Attachment (26 downloads)

Here is a view of the exterior of the garden shed. If I ever decide to make it a warm room, I will close off the exterior garden shed door, and cut a new door between the rooms.

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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5493641 - 10/28/12 08:18 PM

I've done quite a bit of work on the observatory since my last post. I dug a trench 110 feet from the house to the observatory and laid 10-3 underground wire for electricity. I installed and wired nine duplex receptacles and three light fixtures putting in two circuits each with their own GFI protection. Two duplex receptacles were boxed in on the floor for protection next to each scope.

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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5493647 - 10/28/12 08:20 PM Attachment (28 downloads)

I also insulated the ceiling with reflectix foil wrap insulation. This product is basically bubble wrap sandwiched between two sheets of aluminum foil. I stapled it to the underside of the rafters and then ripped 2 x 4's into lath which I tacked to the rafters for support. The roof now has great flow-through ventilation with no chance for moisture condensing on the metal roof and dripping into the observatory. I installed garage door seals along the top of my walls to seal the rolling roof.

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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5493653 - 10/28/12 08:22 PM Attachment (26 downloads)

Furniture is in place including a desk chair, file cabinet, and a rolling mechanics tool stand that I use for holding my eyepiece case and observing guide next to the scope I'm using. The wireless signal from the house is strong so I have good internet access. With everything sealed and the ceiling insulated, I even put in a ceramic space heater to make things comfortable when I/m in there during the day.

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JoeT6571
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Reged: 03/11/12

Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5493656 - 10/28/12 08:24 PM Attachment (31 downloads)

I put a few of my pebbles out front for landscaping (including the original "pier pebble") and hung the sign on the front door. The garden shed is even finished off. I know this project will never be done, but the big push is over and I can now concentrate on observing.

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CMacD
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Reged: 01/23/12

Loc: Ontario, Canada
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5493805 - 10/28/12 10:15 PM

Very nice. Now the enjoyment begins.

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bob irvin
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Reged: 03/22/11

Loc: Greater Los Angeles, CA
Re: Pebble Hill Observatory new [Re: JoeT6571]
      #5499602 - 11/01/12 04:33 PM

Awsome job, thanks for putting the thread together.

I"m envious; Id love to find some property like that to retire to and build something similar.

bob


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