dave and the skyjack…


Outer first floor logs, dormers and deck rails all stained, we could no longer put off staining the upper portions of the cabin. After giving it much thought, Dave finally decided that the best way to tackle this daunting task was to rent a Skyjack lift with an articulating arm that would enable him to reach the higher areas of the cabin. We arranged for one to be delivered by Reliable Rentals in Dinwiddie over Memorial Day weekend and drove down early that Saturday to get started. Dave’s goal was to have the outside work done by the end of the weekend so that as the weather begins to get hotter, we can move our attentions to the inside. When we arrived Saturday morning, we found the lift had been delivered as promised and Dave went about trying to figure out how to use it. It all started out fairly well but, unfortunately, the day did not quite go as planned…




Because of the position of the septic tank, the Skyjack had to be driven farther out away from the house (so as not to crush the tanks), where the side of the property slopes downward. The newly regraded soil is still relatively soft here and as a result, as soon as the arm swung out far enough to reach the house, the right front wheel sunk into the loose dirt, throwing the vehicle off balance and left rear wheel began to raise off the ground, tipping the Skyjack to the right. (Ah-ha, that’s what all that extra beeping was about!) Once it’s off balance, Dave discovered, the wheels won’t move forward or backward and it took some effort to figure out how to rebalance the basket inorder to release the wheels so that he could drive it back up onto flat ground. After much frustration, Dave realized that there was no way he could get the vehicle base on a flat area close enough to the cabin that would enable him to lift the basket into a position that would allow him to stain that side of the cabin.  Much discouraged, he gave up, thinking we’d just thrown $900 down the drain and would have to hire someone else to finish the staining after all.

Unable to do the staining as planned, but not wanting the day to be a total waste, we moved inside and began to put up wall in the kitchen.

After finishing the kitchen wall, we called it a day and drove back home.

We returned Sunday morning, and, as Dave had reconsidered his decision to call someone else to finish the staining, he went ahead and gave the Skyjack another shot. I had suggested, the previous day, that he try driving it around to the other side of the cabin, via Colemans Lake Rd, and up the old road where the ground would be harder and more level. Apparently he had mulled the idea over the evening before and decided to give it a try.

It took awhile, and other than a brief stall in the middle of Colemans Lake Road where he caused a slight traffic hold up, he was able to successfully make it around to the back of the cabin and on to firmer ground.  (Yay, Dave, we believed in you all along!!!) And, thanks to the video feature on my new camera, I have it all on video. I’ve tried to cut it down to a reasonable viewing length…


Successfully making around to the other side of the property, Dave dons his Amish hat and goes about staining the cabin. Nice look Jebediah, but at least your neck and face won’t get burned I guess. 😛


Categories: Follow the adventure as we build our log cabin | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “dave and the skyjack…

  1. Tim Love

    I will be building a log cabin in North Alabama in the next few months and was considering Battle Creek partly because they are only about an hour from my property. What do you think of the quality of their product? I’ve seen several reviews including the Better Business Bureau that has given them an F. Thanks so much for your great blog.

    • Tim,

      I’m glad to see you like the blog we have going. It’s rally been a lot of fun building the cabin and now that we see the end in sight, we’re looking forward to enjoying it.

      OK, I would say overall our experience with Battle Creek has been mostly positive. The quality of the home log and timber materials was very good. The couple of things we fell short on like log siding or damaged plywood from shipping, not the fault of the company but the builders, they went out of their way to replace. Freddie even drove 7 hours to deliver the extra siding we needed without a charge or a delay.

      Any little glitches we had were the result of the building crew. Although I will say they did an overall great job and worked sun up till dark, 7 days a week, until the job was finished 26 days after starting. Now, they did have a delay starting by about 3 weeks because they crew was tied up on another job. A big reason we chose them was because they offered the option of building the cabin as well. As you know, most companies only provide materials in this price range and you have to find a local builder. And believe me, after watching the construction, you want an experienced log crew and not a bunch of bubba’s who have only built stick home. A lot of special knowledge needed to put it together correctly. I did find out that BCLH has had a big demand for their homes and are short of crews to construct them. They actually subcontracted a log crew they hadn’t worked with before to build our home. But they were experienced log builders, just not BCLH employees.

      I would use them again with out a second thought.

      Now here are a few recommendations to make your life easier.
      Upgrade a step or 2 with the windows and exterior doors. The package ones are decent, but not top quality. It will be worth the extra money.
      When you’re customizing the plans with them, and you will customize the plans if only a little. Take your time and make sure you get everything you want done before signing off. Ask a lot of questions, and if in doubt upgrade or change things around.
      The plans don’t take into account where the HVAC ducts or returns are going to go. We lost a lot of closet spaces and half the laundry room to fit the ducts. If you’re going to do the heavy exposed timber package, which looks great by the way, remember you can’t run any ducts or wiring in the ceiling. Take the first plans they send to you to the HVAC guy you’re going to use and discuss where things will go. Then have BCLHs revise the plans to accommodate.
      We got 3 semi-loads of logs. READ your plans carefully, make sure you know what size and type of beams and studs are on the plans and then follow along as the construction crew is putting things up. They mistakenly used 2×4’s in the upstairs dormers when they should have used 2×6’s. We did realize until it was finished and they were gone. No biggie, and it still works. They also used 2×10’s for one basement beam instead of 2×12’s. The inspector caught that mistake and BCLH had to get an engineer involved to make sure it would carry the load. Fortunately it was fine, but if they had to rip out a beam spanning the length of the house, when it’s already built on top of that would have been a pain. They also almost used regular 4×12’s in the ridge and floor supports instead of the Lama-beams. They noticed they had those in the back of the log pile and wondered where they went. It took them 1/2 a day to change them out. SO what I’m saying is, follow along with the plans and double check that they are using the correct materials BEFORE they install them.
      If you see ANYTHING that you don’t like or doesn’t seem or look right, say something ASAP. They are very willing to stop and address your concerns or even make changes from the plans to make you happy or look the way you want.
      Make sure they put in ALL of the metal ties as indicated on the plans. And also every spline between the logs and the timbers and all of the caulking. Trust me, you can never seal the place up too well.
      Make sure everything the crew asks you to sign off on is complete and correct BEFORE you sign. Once they’re gone it’s your problem if you signed off. If you didn’t, they were very accommodating to make it right or deduct money from the final payment if it’s easier for you to get someone local to do something small.
      Get a dumpster and stone put down around the whole site ASAP. Before the logs arrive would be best. The mud gets everywhere very quickly. And the mud will take you weeks to sand off of the inside exposed beams before you can stain them!
      Let me know what other questions you have or that come up as you’re building. I have learned a ton of weird things that will stump you and found a lot of places that can provide the specialty materials you’ll need to finish. (like wood doors, T&G siding for inside, stone for the fireplace, etc.)


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