Last week Sunday morning on short notice, Eriq and Dean arrived to help me install the beam in the first floor. After getting some coffee we got to work taking out the load bearing wall. Much like the basement beam I had held off taking it out until the day of to minimize the time that the house was resting on the temporary wall. The downside to this is it cost some time, and that’s something we wound up running out of.

Dean and Eriq

Dean and Eriq

I mentioned in an earlier post that the brackets I bought were the wrong size, meaning that the beams fit, but there was no wiggle room. This made getting the pieces properly seated quite difficult, especially since this was a retrofit. In new construction they can drop the beams into the bracket from above. In our case we needed to wedge them in from below.

First section installed

First section installed

The real difficulty started with the second section, because the bracket was positioned close to the ceiling joist, making it nearly impossible to fit the beam sections in. We wound up using a sledge hammer and a wood block to pound each individual section into the bracket, sometimes a sixteenth of an inch at a time. Eventually it succumbed to brute force and we got the second section in place.

Second section in progress

Second section in progress

This picture helps explain a bit better (sorry it’s a bit dark). Each beam section is made up of three separate LVL pieces. There are three sections, so a total of nine beam pieces. Here we’re propping up one end of the second section on a makeshift post, since there’s no way to put it into both brackets at the same time. By the time we finished getting the second beam section up the day was already spent.

I worked on the project a couple of nights during the week, but didn’t make significant progress. It turned out that in order for the beam to be level the end column needed to be shorter than we’d made it. The last couple floor joists are inexplicable raised up by nearly an inch (!) which will make levelling that floor an interesting venture down the road. I also learned that in order to get the beams snug in the bracket you should shave the corners.

Finally yesterday I was able to get cracking on it and got the last beam section up. That proved to be the easy part. Getting all of the holes drilled for the bolts was maddeningly difficult for some reason. I couldn’t manage to drill straight through and my cordless drill batteries kept running out and I’d have to wait while it recharged. I think I should buy a corded drill.

Ready for last column

Ready for last column

I put the laser level up on top of a window and pointed it at the beam (barely visible), which is how I determined that the last column was too tall. Then I put up a string line to make sure that the beam was straight across the three sections. Sarah helped me get the two beams into alignment. First we lowered a bottle jack until there was some play, pulled it into position, and then jacked it back up. Once everything was in place I measured, cut, and installed the last column.

Beam installed

Beam installed

Sorry this picture is dark, but it does show the finished beam. I haven’t gotten the temporary wall taken down yet; I’m waiting until I have the column bases anchored properly. It shouldn’t really matter, but I’m playing it safe. I ordered some brackets I need to do that, but they haven’t shown up yet. I also need to cut off the excess bolts. The instructions called for 6½” bolts, but they’re usually only sold in one-inch increments.

I’m sore today, much as I was last Monday, and toward the end yesterday I was pretty frustrated, but it’s up. I’d like to thank Dean and Eriq for their assistance last weekend. This was a big project to do with just three people and they really kicked ass.

Tagged with:
 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *