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Saving The Barn: The North Side Gets A New Roof

Mary ConleyDear readers,

The behind the scenes story about roofing the north side of the barn is that Larry was still working and needed to take a week’s vacation to tackle it. He would be gone eight days. We’ve been married since we were 18 and rarely apart. We are not good at it. We are big babies about it. Nevertheless, I stayed home because of piano students. He would be with family and enjoy working hard with Todd. I would be alone and finding ways NOT to work. I would not clean, cook, wash dishes, make the bed, etc. But, I WOULD eat ice cream – straight from the carton and often. One might have to go to the grocery story, though, if one was out of ice cream.

Our barn was in very bad shape, and so much of it had to be replaced. On the other hand, much of it could be saved; important parts such as the foundation, many of the rafters, both ends, and the back.

In a previous blog, Taking The Sag Out, I told you how the guys took the sag out of the roof using only a leverage system of 2x6 boards and their muscle on temporary supports. Next, Todd discovered that the barn was leaning two inches to one side, which would cause the roofing to be misaligned. He attached a winch and using high tensile wire, pulled it back to square until the finished roof would hold it in place.


The cedar shingles went straight into the tractor bucket to be burned or saved for fireplace kindling. The guys were surprised that there was no tar paper or plywood under the shingles; only 4- to 8-inch wide boards with gaps between them. This meant there were places where the roof was made of only shingles. I wouldn’t want to step in one of those spots, even when it was new. We realized that plywood hadn’t been produced yet, and later learned from a carpenter that the roof was built that way intentionally to prevent moisture buildup and rot.


The men added 2x4s on the ends and a new horizontal board for additional support.


They worked their way up the roof removing old boards and adding plywood.


In this photo, they are almost finished measuring, cutting, and lugging up the heavy plywood. What a job!


There was a nice view of the corral and lower field from up there. Is this photo blurry or are they just feeling a little dizzy?!

tar paper

Then they added tar paper.


After eight days, the metal was on, and they were finished. We like having three buildings with white steel roofs. I would have preferred shingles to give it the original look, but it wasn’t practical. Note that the back side of the barn was in fairly good shape, as were both ends. Later the guys would use boards saved from the old granary to do a few repairs. However, the front side was a whole different story, and I’ll tell you about it soon.

Yes, Larry finally came home! He was happy with all they had accomplished. I was tired from all my work. See you next blog!

4/24/2014 8:25:39 AM

Hi, Dave! Thanks for posting! I feel like I'm getting to know you more and more through these posts. Yes, I think if companies thought more about the families, they would have better and happier workers. I know that some do. I'm going to try and wrap up this "old building series" on this next blog. Happy spring!

4/23/2014 7:53:20 AM

Mary, repairing old building can be quite a task. Looks like the weather was nice for them to work. When I put a new roof on my house, I hoped and prayed that it wouldn't rain over the course of the four days to get it done. Well, I didn't think about temperature and it turned into 100 degree days. We had to quit by noon because the shingles were so soft that the nail gun kept shooting nails completely through the shingle. My wife and I didn't like being apart either but my job required schooling every time new technology presented itself which was quite often. The schooling was never locally and some times required me to be gone for weeks at a time. It was always great to get back home after schooling was completed. I always thought the company should allow a couple days off for family time after a training session but they didn't quite see it that way. Have a great saving the barn day.