It all looks so clean and pretty for the moment. I even found time to slip in the first plots (look to the upper right in this picture). They don’t look like much from this angle – but it was very exciting to see them there. Made my heart warm to know that all the bloody knuckles, sun burnt shoulders and joint pains were not in vain – this was really happening!
This view is to the north (where the swamp cooler will be) and the final part of the triple insulated wall is filled in with metal framing for the wall all set in place – time to build the ends!
The ends are just huge sheets of plastic. Didn’t sound like a tough thing to do – oh silly me! We propped them up against the metal skeleton and then just used a marker to line up where to cut – piece of cake. Now the cutting was a whole different animal! This picture angle, it just looks like thick sheets of single layer plastic – nope. If you have ever looked at hard plastic on a greenhouse at your local garden center, you would see that there are pockets in that plastic. Not sure why they make it this way? Could be for drainage? The pockets would allow the moisture that could build up to flow through them to the base and drain out – but they are on the outside and the tops are all covered with a metal cap (and eventually the roof plastic covering and another metal cap), so there is no way for any water to get into the pockets. I still have no clue why they use this type of plastic, all I know is that it’s nasty to cut!
Cutting a straight line was great-just follow one of the pockets and you can do it with any box-cutter knife. Cutting the curved lines was ugly! First we tried to use a jigsaw. Well the first attempts on that was a disaster until we figured out what we had to prop 2×4 boards on either side of the cutting line and then hold the plastic down really tight. I did get a great laugh on one of the first tries when all I was doing was waving the plastic up and down with the saw blade. Darn stuff is so light and flexible that the blade just carried it – didn’t cut it at all. Second attempt made it splinter, not a clean cut and really not good to have anywhere near the plastic roof material. But by the third attempt and with the help of some 2×4 wood pieces and a bit of extra weight – got it done!
Once the plastic was up, the large fans could go in. Oh, and these were in pieces and had to be put together before they could be hung. Nice huh?!
They have to sit at an angle so any moisture or debris that builds up in them can flow off. The next picture shows their size in comparison to the door – THEY ARE HUGE! The fans are fairly heavy because they are so large, but the flimsy sheet metal that incased them is what got to me! First we had to screw the metal casing to the big fan frame – ya sure, try to align all the pre-drilled holes when the whole thing keeps moving. Made me think of a hula-hoop…the more you moved, the more it moved! Lost track of the number of cuts I got on those suckers! The funny thing about a sheet metal cut – it’s so clean, it never wants to heal, but hurts like crazy!
We didn’t have much room between the greenhouse wall where the fans needed to go and the shop – only about 10 feet. We did manage to put the fans together, then lift them using the bobcat and coming in at an angle. Once Keith had the bobcat close to the hole for the fan, it was my job to push it into the hole and get it screwed to the frame. No pre-drilled holes in the frame by the way! My arms got a major workout those days Punching into the framing was always an adventure. Drill starter hole first, then put all the pressure you can on the metal screw to push it through and hold the pieces – spaghetti arms by end of day-YEA!
Good thing there were only 2 fans!
The door is normal size – about 7 feet. The fans are about 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide – I could barely reach across in any direction to hold the darn things in place – but we got them up! One minor problem…when we pulled out one of the motors to see how it mounted, we found we had installed the fans upside down!?! Got great laughs from that one! Struggled with the darn things for several days only to find (after the fact) that we did great – just upside down! Too funny! When we set up the fins (one big piece, light to hold/carry but awkward to maneuver), which direct airflow, they ran right into the motor – won’t open!
That was easily remedied, and no we didn’t take them out and turn them around. The more we thought about it, the more we liked the way they were. The plans called for the motor to be hung from the top. The motors are not light! If/when we will ever have to replace a motor, why would you want to have it at the top? I’m not a “spring chicken” any more and trying to hold up a 50lb motor over my head and screw it up there did not sound like something I wanted to look forward to in the future. So, our mistake became a blessing – we put the motor on the bottom and just built up an extension on the inside to accommodate the fins. Viola! Functional fans!
The north end looked easy enough – oh silly me again! We had the cutting/shaping down to a fine art, but this end had to accommodate an opening and one really huge flap/door! The swamp cooler is roughly 20 feet long and 4 feet high – HUGE! Nothing like the ones you see on houses or mobile homes. Those are only about 2×2 feet with everything already installed. Our swamp cooler is in pieces and will have to be installed piece-by-piece, including the flap/cover on the backside to block out the air/wind. This would all be set up later, but now we had to hang the flap, which was just a huge metal frame. It was just like a monstrous picture frame but much more flimsy. Once that was in place we had to cut and attach the plastic. The best part was the pieces of plastic for this were straight square cuts – wooo hooo! No angles – yea! (FYI – several months later, after the roof was up but the swamp cooler was not yet, it became very hot in the greenhouse. I thought I would be smart and prop some 2×4 boards to hold the flap open and get some airflow in there. Well, stupid me lifted the flap too high and the whole darn thing dropped right out of its track and on the ground! First scared me to death – 20’x4’ metal/plastic floppy thingy falling on me-eeek!!! Then I just stood there and laughed! Was easy enough to pop it out – great thing to know – but just try to put it back on alone – NOT A CHANCE! Just had to laugh at myself! Got my sister Darcy to help me put it back up when she got home that night. That was great fun cuz we could not stop laughing – it was just so floppy and trying to align the top of the flap track into the wall track was a challenge – but we did it!!)
When all was said and done, I stepped back and took the next picture – a real building was starting to form – soooo proud!
One last little note on this phase of construction…the heaters were easier to hang than the huge fans! The end wall was still open and the bobcat held up the fans while we screwed them into place. With the huge fans, it was more human strength than bobcat. Never thought I’d have arms like a body builder – but this sure put me to the test-ouch!