Days 206-208: Assembling the Service Entrance Mast

Friday, 2/5
First thing Brian did upon arriving at the house was cut the top piece of mast (the piece with the offset bend) so that it rose 3 feet above the height of the roofline (See Day 201 for the measurement process).  Any higher than that requires a guy-line.  He then tested our newly threaded conduit piece by connecting the two pieces.

He found that the thread is a little off square and results in that section being a degree or two away from straight.  Hopefully this added bend will not get in the way of solidly clamping the mast against the house; otherwise we’ll have to ditch this one and thread a different piece.  It all depends on which axis the bend ends up at once everything is tightly threaded together.

The night ended with some rhumba review and a little swing.

Conduit cutting station

Conduit cutting station

The conduit is cut.

The conduit is cut.  Both pieces together equaled 20 feet; after the cuts – about 14 feet.

Weatherhead - this piece attaches to the top of the mast to prevent water from infiltrating. The 36" rise of the offset piece of conduit was measured with the weatherhead as part of the overall length.

The Weatherhead – this piece attaches to the top of the mast to prevent water from infiltrating. The 36″ rise of the offset piece of conduit was measured with the weatherhead as part of the overall length.

Saturday, 2/6
We started the day with an awesome sunrise hike.  We drove the dogs over to Boston Hill around 6:30am and hiked to the highest point.  After a 2 minute pause to enjoy the vista, we sped back down the hill(s) in order to get to work on time.

Good Morning Silver City! Boston Hill is awesome. It is a 2 minute walk away from our house (our property actually bumps up against it but we cut off access with our fence), has tons of trails so you can mix things up and is almost always devoid of other hikers.

Good Morning Silver City! Boston Hill is awesome. It is a 2 minute walk away from our house (our property actually bumps up against it but we cut off access with our fence), has tons of trails so you can mix things up and is almost always devoid of other hikers.

Our accomplishments for the evening included attaching the final bracket for the mast (the highest one), removing the one that was in the wrong place and replacing the screws to block the holes (complete with butyl rubber around the screw heads), and finally removing all of the other brackets and reattaching them with butyl rubber behind them.

After taking care of all that bracket stuff, we had probably 30 minutes of light left.  Seeing as how both of us had terribly cold feet, we decided to stop for the night.

We made bean dip! And ate wayyyyyyy too much of it.

We made bean dip! And ate wayyyyyyy too much of it.

Sunday, 2/7
We slept in a bit, ran errands, and arrived at the property around 11ish.  Here’s what we did –

Connected the two pieces of service entrance mast - the 'off' threads caused the bottom to be slightly crooked.

Connected the two pieces of service entrance mast with large ‘Ridgid’ (no relation to Home Depot) brand pipe wrenches – the off’ axis threads caused the bottom to be slightly crooked as you can see.

In order to tighten the meter base hub (without scratching the aluminum), we screwed on a long piece of wood and used it as our lever.

In order to tighten the meter base hub (without mauling its soft aluminum finish), we screwed on a long piece of plywood scrap and used it as our lever.

We used two pipe wrenches to tighten the two pieces at the coupler and the wood lever to tighten the hub. We then attached the mast to the house, evaluated whether or not it was sitting properly against the house and took it down again. We did this 3 or 4 times until everything was awesome - the mast was sitting at the center of the clamps and the offset was at the right place.

We used two massive pipe wrenches (24in & 18in) to tighten the two pieces into a coupler and the wood lever to tighten the hub. We then attached the mast to the house, evaluated whether or not it was sitting properly against the house and took it down for adjustments. We did this 3 or 4 times until everything was awesome – hub and offset square to house, mast snug against strut beams.  Note that if you were using a straight mast, you might not have to do any adjusting.

At some point in our check/fix process, we attached the weather-head. Trooper helped.

At some point in our check/fix process, we attached the weather-head. Trooper helped.

Sydney helped too.

Sydney helped too.

Fred contributed.

Fred contributed.

Nearly complete service entrance mast. We still need to build out the highest strut so that the mast is connected there and run the cables through.

Nearly complete service entrance mast. We still need to build out the highest strut so that the mast is connected there and then we can run the cables through the whole contraption.

Periscope, what?

Periscope, what?

Even though it was 65 on Sunday, the north side of the house still had some snow accumulation. Both dogs visited it often to lay in it/eat it.

Even though it was 65 on Sunday, the north side of the house still had some snow accumulation. Both dogs visited it often to lay in it/eat it.

Because we're working almost exclusively on the north side of the house right now, we're picking up TONS of mud. This was the view from my position on the lower portion of the ladder. The longer you work, the taller you get.

Because we’re working almost exclusively on the north side of the house right now, we’re picking up TONS of mud. This was the view from my position on the lower portion of the ladder. The longer you work, the taller and heavier you get.

Once we attached the service entrance mast for the (semi) final time, we headed inside to finish a task that has been pending for several months – the final furring strip.  If you recall from Day 103, the first cross-beam related furring strip (east side) was cut to fit between the spaces.  On Day 109, we changed our strategy on the west side – furring strips above AND below the crossbeams – which required fewer cuts.  However, after completing the furring strip above, we realized the wall panels needed a connection in the middle after all or else we’d have a big gap at the wall panel seam.

Since the insulation was held in place by the top 2×4, there wasn’t any real sense of urgency to cut another bunch of 2x4s and attach them between the cross beams.  Soooo….after about 100 days, we decided it was time to finish that side. With the light fading away, we set up our cutting station outside, took measurements, cut the lumber and attached everything.  Phew!  (Picture to be included on next post.)

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