Method to jack up barn ceiling.

What is the best way to jack up a 10ft ceiling inexpensively? I have used a hydraulic jack under 4x4 on end, which works but is not that stable or safe.
We have an old 2 story with a very long lean-to attached, total size is 24 x 45. A corn crib at the low end rotted out and subsequently, the lean-to has pulled the 2-story section off square, off about a foot or so at the roof.
We have attached 2 horizontal come-alongs at the floor joists (2nd floor) and straightening is progressing by pulling away from the shift.
There is a center oak stud wall in the lean-to that is hung up on an uneven concrete floor, that is impeding progress. This wall needs to be raised about 3" to clear.
We will be doing a lot of other jacking later also, lifting to replace rotted sills plates, etc.
Just not sure of the best way to get a jack to raise a 8-10' height in one or more areas.
Thanks for any inpust
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Marty wrote:

... This wall needs to be raised about 3" to clear.

Right basic idea, just recommend a bigger timber than 4x4. I happened to have a bunch of old 4x6 around so used some of them, but any solid timber of sufficient cross section is ok. I also used corner posts trimmed to the proper lengths.
The other thing that helps is to support a heavy beam (like the 4x6) underneath the ceiling joists perpendicular to the joists and hopefully near the point they're attached to the rim joists. Then lift against it instead individual joists w/ as many jacks as needed dependent on the length. In doing the restoration of our old barn which included replacement of sill plates, we jacked incrementally from one direction and once got the needed height in the first section, blocked it securely and moved on, taking one jack from the end of the first section, leap-frogging one or more intermediates and continuing on past the last previous jack until reached the other end. This was a 38x66 barn 40-ft to the haymow ridge. Fortunate in our case that there is a good poured foundation and floor. If you don't have that luxury, you have to begin by getting a good footing for placing the jacks and subsequent supports.
Oh, one other little helpful piece when jacking--I took 4x4 squares of 5/16" thick steel plate and sliced a 1/4" long section off a 1-1/2" pipe and welded it to the plate. Drilled a small hole in each corner and tacked them to the bottem end of the timbers used for jacking to make it easier to set them on and keep them on the jacks.
Also, just be sure the jacks are heavy enough for the purpose. We have several 24T rated for the large farm equipment so that wasn't a problem here. Many of the house movers use the old railroad equipment screw-type jacks rather than hydraulic. Every once in a while one can find some of them relatively inexpensive at auctions, etc., but not necessarily when you really want/need them.
Of course, one can also use the commercial basement floor joist supports, but on a farm there should be enough "stuff" around...oh, and btw, when we were raising, we would sometimes take two or three days in a couple areas where the settling had occurred over a long time and a "set" was obvious in the structure. Overnight it seemed to come back to near straight in most cases, in a couple instances it took a little longer. As we lifted to get the working height, we would go slightly higher than necessary, then set back down on the supporting blocking rather than try to shim under blocks. We also used wire on nails driven in the floor joists to support the horizontal lifting timbers in place while arranging the jacks and vertical lifting timbers. All this was done w/ just myself and one hired hand.
HTH...good luck, but mostly just be careful and work safely!
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dpb wrote: ...
Was just out around the barn and something else came to me I thought I'd add...
On moving wall sections, same idea as suggested above w/ a horizontal timber across the floor joists above works well for the walls--use a heavy piece on the outside of the wall (if it needs to come in, otherwise, obviously turn directions around) and attach the puller to the ends (and maybe a middle if it's a heavy or really stiff section) and use it instead of pulling on individual studs.
This barn is 3-1/4" wood siding and some needed replacing anyway, so we already had it off to get access, but if you're replacing sill plates, etc., you probably have similar problems. I'd have removed some to get the access even if didn't actually need replacement.
Another "trick" I used a couple of times as a quicker expedient--I have a small JD 955 w/ a bucket on the front and hydrostatic transmission--about 30 engine hp, front wheel assist. W/ it and a 2x10 between the bucket and the wall I could as gently as you please nudge a section in place in combination of the bucket hydraulics and the tractor. If you've got the equipment and the access, it can work really nicely and be a lot quicker than the comealong!
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Marty wrote:

The safest way to do it, though its not the cheapest is with cribbing like this
http://www.blue-room.com/casadecrepit/images/beamgone2.jpg
Its not the cheapest if you have to buy the cribbing but if you have access to a bunch of 3-4 foot ties it is much safer that perching a jack on top of a long post or even worse putting the post on top of the jack. That is a disasterous way to jack anything.
A crude option for cribbing that I have seen used, though I have never done it myself, is to get a bunch of clean, stable, same sized pallets and stack them. You will need to crib up a bit on top of them to create a solid surface for the jack but if your barn is not terribly heavy this may get you up enough to resupport it. Be carefull however as the stack of pallets will have little lateral strenght and will want to act like a slinky.
I would try to track down some cribbing or perhaps go to a local sawmill and ask them how much 6x6's in the cheapest material they saw would run you. Many times you can buy rough lumber for 250-500$/Mbf or less. For 250-500 bucks you could buy 27 6x6x8', cut them in half and have 54 pieces of cribbing. This would let you crib up two 6' piers to jack from. If the barn is worth this amount of work its worth spending 500.00 to save it safely.
Mark
P.S. Around here Sam's Club sells Allied 20 ton hyd. bottle jacks for 19.99 all day long. A steal at twice the price.
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M&S wrote:

...
Really there is no functional difference if the supporting position is flat and stable and I would far prefer to be on the ground where I don't have to try to get down off a support several feet in the air as well as any other action needed.
If a load-spreading device as described is used to prevent the application of the lifting force in one very small point, it is actually quite stable. Once the lift is completed, the result is then blocked securely before work commences.

That sounds TRULY scary to me...

Obviously you live somewhere there are trees of a size such that it is possible to get such locally. :) Around here, I hate to think what it would cost to truck it in (and don't even know where I'd go to try). OTOH, when I was in VA/TN, mine cribbing was quite common and easy to come by, and, as you say, fairly inexpensive. OP may, of course, also live where it's possible and if so, would also be a good alternative. Most difficulty w/ old ties as cribbing is that unless they're pretty good shape still they tend to not be very square and don't stack all that well for the stability. And, if you stop at 5-6' crib height, you still have a 4-5' vertical column, anyway. After doing the barn here, I'm convinced by having a solid foundation and a square-ended (heavy) post/timber that doesn't flex and a heavy plate to spread the load on the post end from the jack end and assuming you can get directly underneath the lift point that the direct lift is quite safe. Again, this assumes the structure is basically sound and the worst thing that would happen is the jack tips and you start over. If the building itself is unstable and potentially liable to shift on its own or collapse, the individual homeowner is probably over their head to begin with.
Parenthetically, there are pictures of old barns featured weekly on the Agritalk web site--www.agritalk.com. I've not sent ours in yet, I intend to, but a few weeks ago there was one which had been restored from near total collapse. It was interesting to see the pictures of how it was stabilized and stood back up. Ours wasn't in as much need as OP's appears to be as far as leaning, but did have about 40 ft of sill plate gone and missing ends of studs along the wall where the milking stall urinal ran that we had to raise roughly the same amount (3-4") to replace the sill plate and get the height leveled back out to add cripples to the studs on the new sill. It is, by the description, probably quite a bit taller than OP's, hence I'm guessing quite a bit heavier per foot, particularly since there was added a set of grain bins in the loft in that corner that are roughly 20 ft tall from the floor of the haymow which add a significant amount of weight over the bare barn structure.
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dpb wrote:

I highly doubt anyone in the US who is rebuilding a barn is more than 2-3 hours drive from a sawmill of some sorts perhaps NYC, LA, or the desert southwest may not apply but I doubt many are rebuilding barns there. If they are, there are often individuals within a 100 mile radius who own and operate portable sawmills and often have access to logs to saw and sell for lumber. Even when I worked and lived a bit outside Boston I could be at a local sawmill in central MA within 2 hours. The US is developed, but not that developed. More than likley most people have simply never had the neccessity or really looked into locating a sawmill but there are numbers of them out there.
As far as the jacking with a post its a very precarious and dangerous way to go regardless just as I stated the pallet option would be. As you state "the worst thing that would happen is the jack tips and you start over" its clear that you probably learned first hand, perhaps several times, how little a misalignment it takes to result in the jack kicking out.
Having your jack at ground level with even a perfectly square cut 6x6 atop it with a 6x6x3/8" plate on each end is still very scary. I have been around such attempts many many times. The bearing area of most jacks is very small and the "lever" (post/jack combo) is very long. Even if the jack is sitting on dead level and stable concrete I would never trust it under substantial load raising it any distance (several inches). A few hundred pounds that cant go anywhere if it falls and your only raising it an inch or so, sure, but ton(s) worth of building that is already in a failing condition, absolutely not.
Also in most situations jacking a structure there is all sorts of shimming that has to be done to begin jacking. The jack may need to be shimmed level, top of post bearing surface may need to be shimmed level, structure above may need to be shimmed/braced, etc. This shimming is usually done with wood shims. The shims compress, the structure compresses, old joists and rafters roll, and so on, so no matter how plumb you get your post/jack alignment it will absolutely not remain plumb once jacking begins as you are moving the structure. With the bearing surfaces being so small and the lever (post/extended jack) being so long it only takes a very small misalignment of the axis (often times little more than an inch) to send everyone running. When the jack does kick out, and it will, if there is substantial load on the post its an ambulance ride waiting to happen. There is no telling where the post will go and catching an 50-100lb 6x6 that may jump 5 feet in any direction is well.. Couple this with being crouched down running the jack handle and again... As an exercise take two unsharpened pencils, but the unsharpened ends together put a finger tip on each eraser, and push them together. After that, cut one of the pencils down to one inch stand it on your desk and press on it. Which one is more stable. The desk is the cribbing.
All you have to do to find the true answer to your question is go on, or look at, any construction project where anything is being jacked by professionals (not insinuating your not a professional). You will likely never see the approach you are stating for two simple reasons. Its its unpredictably unstable, and its predictably dangerous. I agree its a technique used by many but its used because it is thought to be quick, and most everyone can put their hands on a single post and a jack.
Like I said, if the structure is worth saving its worth buying, borrowing, renting, some cribbing. Once you jack on some nice cribbing that just takes a short time to put up you will never attempt to jack with a post again.
Mark
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M&S wrote: ...

Never been west of the Missippi and east of the Rockies much, have you? :)
Not only are there _NO_ sawmills within a 100 mile radius, there aren't any trees to saw (which has, I'm told, quite a bit to do with there not being sawmills, but I'm not absolutely sure about that). It's closer to 300 miles to any sizable forested areas either to the east or the west, and a whole lot farther than that to the north or south.
The problem has nothing to do with how "developed" the US is, it has everything to do with geography and a part of that, precipitation.
And, there are certainly quite a number of barns being restored around, although given the relative population density to the east and that most farms here are much larger and still in production agriculture there are, unfortunately, a more that are simply abandoned as being too costly to maintain and no longer suited to the size of farm equipment to be actively used any longer. While still in the former, were fortunately in the situation of be able to afford to renovate grandfather's barn despite the fact it really is, economically, almost a dead loss in terms of generating any return.
...

...
Actually, no, I never had that as a problem during any time during all the jacking and raising we did on the barn. Now, while this was a fairly large structure, it is a simple frame building and as so is not _that_ heavy per linear foot. Also, as I described, I did not simply use only a jack and a post with only the single small point--I either used a heavy load-distributing plate which was attached or as suggested to OP, a large-faced railroad jack and was indeed, careful to make sure the load was directly overhead. Under those conditions, I felt (and still feel) no qualms whatsoever. If I were attempting to pick up and entire building at one time high enough to put it on a trailer to move it, that's something else again, entirely.
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