Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cabin part 5: Moving day!

Finally, here is the post and photos everyone has wanted to see. After about 5 weeks of frantic preparation, excavation, foundation work, and building of the lower level, we were ready to move the cabin to its final home on Birch Lake. Click on any photo to see a larger version of it.

We met Greg Tibbetts, the wizard in charge of the move, at the Great Lakes School of Log Building in Isabella, MN on October 11, at about 2:30 in the afternoon. He brought his 50-foot-long logging truck, which has a huge log claw in the center. Here's what the scene looked like when he started taking it apart. Note the colored tags on each log; these tell him where each log belongs to make it easier to put it back together the next day!

Bruce is inside the cabin (in the red shirt), drilling 1-1/4 inch holes through each log before it is removed. These are wiring channels, so we can run electrical wires up through the logs so they are invisible.

It took less than 2 hours to disassemble the cabin and pack it neatly onto his logging truck.  He promised to be up at Birch Lake, about 160 miles away, at about 8:30 the next morning ... and he was, along with a crew of 6 able helpers. His huge logging truck barely fit into our driveway; its rear wheels were hanging over the edge of the hill next to the cabin.

It was a real panic to get everyone functioning as a team, and there were lots of questions that Bruce and I had to answer. So I didn't even get the camera out until after the first few courses were laid down.

Each log has a carved, U-shaped channel underneath that had to be filled with insulation. So Greg would pick one up and carefully lay it down on the cabin floor (or resting atop the other logs, once there were a few of them in position) with the underside facing up, so the insulation could be added. We used an eco-friendly insulation made primarily out of ground up blue jeans (true!) that had to be cut or torn into strips. We used spray-mount to adhere the strips to the log undersides, then Greg sort of nudged each log over so it was right-side up, picked it up, and placed it into position. The helpers jostled them into final position as needed, sometimes aided by Greg who had to use the side of the huge claw to nudge the logs into place with a tap. Individual logs weighed as much as 500 or 600 pounds, so it was no small feat for the crew to get them into position.

I'm just going to let the next few photos below speak for themselves. As you can see, it was a pretty wild process. (That's me in a few photos, wearing an orange bandanna.)

I served lunch at about noon... a huge crockpot of homemade chili, and sandwich fixings with chips, pickles, cookies and beverages. They inhaled it all. After that, Greg moved the big equipment around so they could use the huge Cat excavator he had brought; for some things, it had better reach than his logging truck, and was used to finish the top of the structure. Rather than a claw, the Cat had log tongs that had to be pounded into the logs to pick them up.

Here she is at the end of the day, along with some of the guys who put it together. (Greg is the guy in the brown shirt on the far right, by the way.)

Now we need to get some sort of roof on it, to protect it against the winter snows (which have already started). The rest of the work will wait until spring, so I'll post more then. Thanks for looking at my photos.


  1. Great post!!! Amazing team, esp the equipment driver. I sent a link to a friend who's building a place in the Trinity Alps of Calif as encouragement. Good luck!!

  2. Thanks for the comments, MFH! I took a look at your blog and plan to spend more time checking it out; very interesting. Yes, that lead guy (the equipment driver) was really something. The whole process is amazing to see.