Re-roofing a barn


We've got an old arched-roof dairy barn (built in 1950) which obviously hasn't been maintained or used in *many* years (we moved here last year). The frame and three walls are good; the other wall's not so hot, it needs new windows, and there are several holes in the roof - so it needs some major surgery before re-shingling :-)
Fixing it up's a medium-term project though, as there aren't too many of those types of barn left around here (northern MN), and it'd be a shame for it to collapse (as I see so many have done).
I'm happy doing the wall work, and I'd be happy doing the roof too - except that it's so darn high, making access tricky. Must be about 40' to the very top. I'm curious as to what the best method is to work up there - a series of ladders*, scaffold, climbing ropes etc. (I'm not sure that a cherry picker would either go that high or be able to reach over the 20' or so needed to get to the center? Plus the rental costs for one are quite insane up here anyway - and they presumably didn't use one back when it was first built)
* shame I can't start at the top and work my way down when re-shingling, or I could physically bolt ladders to the structure as I worked.
cheers
Jules
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On Fri, 04 Sep 2009 09:36:36 -0500, Jules wrote:

http://www.diy-hq.net/outdoor/installing-roof-jacks.html
If working alone you need a minimum of 6 with 2x8 or 2x10's (you will have to measure or read the directions). I would highly recommend a fall prevention system with fall harness, etc. I helped out on such a roof in a strong wind and fall chill up in Iowa. MN will be much worse I suspect.
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On Fri, 04 Sep 2009 10:05:28 -0500, Michael Dobony wrote:

Interesting - thanks! As the roof is curved, I suspect I'm going to have to get some made up to match the curvature of the roof.
The description on that site implies that the jacks stay where they are nailed until the whole project's done ("Once the project has been completed, all you have to do is remove the board and the jacks along with it.") - yet in the photo it appears as though there's just a nail-hole in the jack, rather than a slot; I assume the hole must be larger than the nail-head so that the jack can be removed and the nail left behind (and hammered home)?

I suppose the 'trick' is to space them apart (vertically) at slightly less than my own height, so maybe every 5' or so. Right now I don't have an estimate really for the 'length' top-bottom of each side of the roof, though.

I think I'd recommend that to myself, too ;-) I don't particularly like heights, but when the need arises... I wouldn't want to wander around up there without knowing something will stop me falling if I did slip (I suspect it gets pretty windy up top, too)
It's not something I want to get stuck into this year - just looking for ideas and options right now. Maybe next Spring after it's warmed up a little, and if time and money allow (that amount of shingles plus all the lumber I'll need won't come cheap, I suspect)
cheers
Jules
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Jules wrote: ...

Given the overall cost and effort, I'll reiterate don't sell short the "find a cheap lift for the duration" option. If you have a place of any size at all the number of uses you'll find for it will amaze you once you have it. I intended to sell it as soon as got done w/ the barn but now it's become a staple around the place I'd hate to do without.
This old barn was still in solid shape (it's much drier here than MN so that helps a lot) but w/ what siding that did need replacement and some sill plate plus the roof material itself (got a year-end deal on 1/2" shakes at $95/square as was this time of year after two _horrendous_ hail storms in town that spring left the building supply w/ more on hand than wanted to store over winter) ended up into the $20K neighborhood.
Is this an open (not solid sheathed) wood shingle roof I presume? If so, while I used the shakes as noted because they made me a deal and didn't have sufficient of the sawn shingles in stock I would _not_ recommend them and would not choose them again for the purpose. Or, if do, instead of the straight installation as was common, you will definitely need a paper layer to stop the blowing snow infiltrating between when the wind blows. They're water tight just fine but let a lot of snow thru when the wind blows (and out here it never blows just a little--it's 30+ or more; last spring had "the real deal" blizzard again of 2 days of 50-60 mph and 2-ft snow (altho how they could make any guess as to the actual snowfall is hard to fathom given the drifting). Anyway, the upshot was the haymow as pretty full as well--didn't help that the wind blew so hard and long it managed to work the haymow door open along its sliding track either, of course. All in all, looks good, has a definite shortcoming that the flat shingles didn't.
--
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On Fri, 04 Sep 2009 12:39:54 -0500, dpb wrote:

Yeah, that may well be the way to go. I still think a standard cherry picker won't reach, but something a bit more heavy-duty might. Due to the curve of the roof, it's the middle section each side that's probably the harder bit; the bottom I can reach with ladders, the top's reasonably 'flat' if I can find a way up there - but the middle third's at quite an angle.
Given that I know I'll have wood that needs replacing up there it's not a quick job; I can see myself needing something for a week, and rental for cherry pickers seems to be about $300/day around here. Buying then selling (or talking myself into keeping ;) is probably a good plan.

Youch. I don't think it'll be that bad for me - I was guesstimating at $10k for shingles but I've seen a few good deals on lately and it'll probably be about a third of that for something that'll last (supposedly) for 20-30 years.
I do have the end-wall which needs completely re-siding (and insulating - basically strip back to frame and start again) so that'll be a couple of thousand I expect. The frame needs fixing there, too - they built this barn with a 3' tall concrete wall around 3-1/2 sides, but one half of one end wall has the framing extending right to the ground. 60 years later, it's all rotted out there, so I need to jack the hayloft floor and replace the framework (I'm looking forward to doing that aspect, because it doesn't involve falling off a roof :-)
It's an expensive project, and I don't even know what the heck I'll use the barn for when it's done - just seems a shame to let it all collapse!

Yes (if I understand you) - the curved framing for the roof's made up from a 3x6" laminate of 1x6" boards, 1x6" boards then nailed across that, then boring ol' asphalt shingles on top.
There seems to be a tarpaper layer lower down; I don't know if that's failed at the top of the roof (hence being able to see daylight in places) or if it simply doesn't run the whole way up. Possibly the latter - the way the barn's built it's as though they threw money at it when they had it, and just worked with whatever material they could find when they didn't.

Yuck. Ours has one of those huge hayloft doors with the hinges along the bottom (and a smaller door with vertical hinges set within it). There's a rail at roofline height with a rope/pulley system that's supposed to allow the larger door to safely lower, but I doubt it's worked in years (I know they had cows in there in '68, but I suspect it wasn't much long after that when the previous owners stopped using and maintaining it, judging by how bad the roof is)
cheers
Jules
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Jules wrote:

There's always a way--but the thing is that the amount of time you'll take rigging up jacks or anything else will make you wish you'd spent the money for something different! :) Not to mention what the effort of lugging all the material and so on is as compared to being able to simply pick up and put it where wanted. The telehandler somebody mention is another option.
As far as the curvature, don't believe it'll be an issue in the reach -- ours is a gambrel w/ 1:1 lower/1:2 upper pitch and even w/ the straight boom simply back up a little gives access to the upper above the break. Your situation is little different just a gradual change in pitch instead of sudden.

That was my conclusion -- there was no way the amount of effort required was going to be able to be done within a very few days so that the cash outlay was easily a choice vs renting. Even w/ a full-time hand, six-day weeks essentially full-time we were about 3 months from beginning the cleanup/tear-off of the roof until had last shingle on the cupola and the ridge cap down. During that time we essentially lived on the lift. Rental would, as you say, been easily $20k or more even on long-term lease arrangement as opposed to daily rental rates.
I tried to get thru the roofing part of the job w/ the leaky head gasket instead of taking time out to fix it but it finally got bad enough we had to. Had two or three days waiting for the parts where we schlupped bundles and climbed ladders and after only that length of time I'd have given twice the $5k in a heartbeat and felt it worth every dime... :)
I just did a quick look at eBay -- just now there are about 6-10 40'+ lifts under or about $5K that look like would be reasonable finds. There was one that I wouldn't have taken a chance on then but knowing what I now know I'd probably seriously consider for about $2K that needs a starter button and the dual-speed throttle controller. For the initial price after having had one for 10 years and worked on it some I'd take the gamble w/o too much concern. As a new toy I wouldn't have and can freely admit you might not want to either... :) Anyway, I'd just suggest keeping the option in mind as even if you were to decide it wasn't something you wanted to keep (and heck, you then have a use for the barn to store the lift :) ) you ought to be able to get most of the money back out of it.

Oh, that's sheathed but w/ 1x instead of ply. Ours was built in '18 so is quite a bit older and has 1x sheathing but not continuous. They're laid out w/ 2-3" between but on spacing for the nailing rows of 16" wooden shingles w/ 5" setback. Since the aforementioned change from shingles to shakes they were 18" but used 7" setback. Only had a spot or two that ended up having to fill in for nailing though, anyway.
How large is yours -- this is 38x66 ground all 2x6 frame construction of virgin-growth SYP--gorgeous stuff. Has 3-1/4" horizontal siding; part of the problem in the cost was that I couldn't find any of it any longer to match so had to have it milled. As well, part of the character of the barn is the bed mould detail at the roof eaves. The mould is attached to the fascia board and becomes the support for the overhang on both the drip line and the ends. A fair amount of it needed replacing and had to have it milled as well as nobody could _quite_ closely enough match the old profile.
IIRC, there were about 70 sq shakes @ $95/sq --> $7k and the millwork altogether was about another $4k or so. I remember the paint/primer was almost $8k alone. I'd guess another $5k in just all the other "stuff". We had enough old lumber that other than the treated sill plates we replace and a 1/2"x6"x12' steel plate we bolted into the rim joist under the haymow door/over the main driveway door to fix a long-term sag didn't buy much "ordinary" construction lumber other than the consumables.
As for the design, the large haymow door is of the vertical design rather than the hinged drop down. It's in a pair of tracks built up of 2x in an L shape and hung on a pair of block and tackles. It's 10-ft wide and about 12-ft to the peak that follows the roof line to the gable where the hayrack rail is mounted that extends out the front.
The hay rake is still there and my intent is to exercise it at least once when finally do finish up the haymow which is still waiting...
I took the liberty of sending a picture of the front as it was about the time first finished the bulk of the painting side-by-side of one taken sometime in the early 20s...
I'll try to scan some during the project and post them to one of the sites for anybody interested...
--

>> Anyway, the upshot was the haymow as pretty full as well--didn\'t help
>> that the wind blew so hard and long it managed to work the haymow door
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On Sat, 05 Sep 2009 11:20:22 -0500, dpb wrote:

Funnily enough (and I don't think I mentioned this already - I started typing the other day then things got busy) I spotted a truck with a telescopic cherry-picker style boom sitting in the back-yard of a neighbor to one of my son's friends on Friday evening. It looks like it possibly isn't in active use any more. I've made a mental note to go round there sometime and ask if they still use it, or rent it out, or want to sell it etc.

Yeah, someone had called it a gambrel roof before, but I think technically it's a "barrel-top" (gambrel being two straight slopes of different pitch on each side).

Yep. Plus I won't know how much work I need to do lumber-wise until I get up there, so it's not like it's a straight siding job. I know for sure it'll need a new 6"-wide run all the way along the top on the south side, and a good 2' on the north, and that's just from what I can see from inside. After pulling shingles, it'll probably turn out to be much worse ;-)

Sure. I'm happy doing mechanical stuff so long as it's not something ultra-rare that I can't easily get parts for.

Ours is *tiny* - I just measured and it's near-as 30' on all four sides, so even smaller than I'd estimated elsewhere in this thread. I'm yet to see another barn in that style that's so short (and it sits on a slight hill, so it's not like they were ever planning to extend it or anything, at least not without some major landscaping). It's about 11' up to the base of the roof, and 9' inside up to the hayloft floor.

I'm not sure what ours is, without going back out to measure - I think it's more than that though, around 4" (and the various other out-buildings we have are done with the same stuff). It's like that on three walls, but the fourth wall (end wall opposite end to the hayloft door) is all just rough-cut planks which has all gradually warped and shrunk over the years - lots of inch-wide gaps between the ends! Beautiful aged wood, but it'll all have to come down and be replaced on that side.

I'm torn between keeping it as original as possible and just replacing with whatever works. Part of the issue is that there's little consistency in the original anyway - they built with whatever they could lay their hands on (even the lumber for the hayloft floor isn't all of one single width).
Another aspect is that I've no intention of using it as a dairy barn any more (all the land that was part of the farm was parceled up and sold off), which might impact what I do to it (e.g. better insulation on the walls, and there's plenty of vertical space for another floor in the hayloft). It'd make nice workshop / storage / office space.

Ouch. Ours seems to be traditional "give it a whitewash once in a while" - which was last done who-knows-when. I would like to paint it "properly" - having just painted the house (which ate about 7 gallons) I think it could be done in about 12 gallons each of primer / top-coat, so not too bad (and our neighbor has scaffolding I can borrow to do the end walls - with a ladder on top it'd reach, it's just not useful for doing the roof work).

It's very much a mid or long-term project for me. The roof's really the urgent thing (although to be honest it's not doing anything other than rotting the boards on the hayloft floor, and those are easy to replace), then further down the line the end-wall, underlying wall framework and a fresh coat of paint, then after that I can just peck away at it (cosmetic things, rewiring, interior changes, windows etc.)

Interesting. I was misrembering ours and thought the smaller vertical hayloft door was built into the larger horizontal one, but it's actually lower down. D'oh!

Those are awesome! Really nice to have a 'period' photo, too. I should see if I could get some similar old photos of ours - some of the family who grew up on our property are still in the area.
I just braved the pigeons and took some photos of ours - I'll see if I can upload them somewhere later today.
cheers
Jules
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Jules wrote: ...

Certainly if you can find something like that for the asking or borrowing that's a lot cheaper... :) I looked at a couple of them and my complaint was the size of the one-man bucket -- it would have required some modifications to make it more amenable to use as a lift for shingles, etc. Certainly a doable venture if one's own, perhaps less so if borrowed. The thing I really like about the JLG is the cage is large enough for two piles of bundles on each side and still had enough room for the two of us (of course, neither of us was/is very big :) ). Then, as I noted, before, bolted the 16-ft "L" walkboard to the front to "land" on the roof and away we went...
...

Yes, the gambrel is two-pitched straight sections. Out here yours are called "arched" but I don't know what the true architectural name is. I looked in my barn book and it doesn't even show one in the several hundred examples...never noticed that before.

The only pita w/ JLG is that they're the only source -- stuff is available but it is somewhat pricey. :( I don't know about the bucket lifts -- our electric co-op has a repair service that works on stuff for others; maybe I'll ask them about whether there are brands/models to look for and/or stay away from for that reason.

That is pretty small but if the driveway is wide enough, the lift'll just fit... :)
For reference, the decorative corner boards on ours are 14-ft from ground to aw, crud, can't think of what want; the board around the base of the soffet. It's a 1x12 so it's about 15-ft to the underside of the eaves at the corners. It's just over 7-ft from floor to underside of haymow floor joists, little over 8-ft to the floor. That makes the lower level difficult to use for woodshop or similar because of low clearance. The pickup will just clear w/ a little to spare over the threshold.
I'd thought I'd like to move the woodshop into the mow and rig up some sort of industrial-style elevator but the aforementioned problems w/ snow and resulting damp put a little damper on the idea. If I could figure out how to do an interior enclosed area and take care of the water I might eventually do that--it's so large and open it would be impossible to even think of adding any heat to the thing as it stands which would be an objective if had the shop there...

May be 5+ -- that I could find still. It seems it was milled to dimensions from old "full-size" 1x4 or 1x6 stock. Part of the problem/expense w/ the siding was they couldn't get a full-width profile out of modern 1x4 stock so had to use 1x6 and rip it down. That was a significant waste unfortunately, but unavoidable because couldn't work in siding narrower than the existing or would either have a gap or it would be 1/8" short every row...

That and that it's not all that old would make it easier...this I tried to put back as it was. In part, of course, it's that this is our place--it was my grandfather that built it originally (and is the gent on the wagon in the old photo)...so, I wanted it to be as much like the original as possible.
...

If you do, I'll see if I can do some more of the construction/rework/roofing including a shot of the lift...
--
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Jules wrote: ...

Well, what I did when we moved back to the home place was to find and buy an inexpensive 40-ft boom lift(1) from eBay. Cost <$5K+$600 trucking from Chicago area to far SW KS. Best $5K ever invested w/ the intent of being short-term--had it 10 years now and use it around the place a lot from trimming trees to then roof repair/painting house (2-story old square farm house) to the TV antenna that was taken down by wind/hail to...
It reached the nearly 40-ft ridge and the lower eave of the cupola. To do the cupola roof I set up scaffolding a-straddle the ridge (2-high!) and used a walkboard across.
The way we roofed was I bolted a 16-ft 2x10 "L" to the front of the bucket and we "landed" that on the roof. Hired hand and I would work from opposite ends til we met in the middle and could reach about 3-4 courses each stop. By the time we used up the number of bundles we could put in the cage and get in ourselves we were ready for a break.
Spent most of the first 18-months in that puppy almost continuously by time did all the prep work and roofing followed by paint prep and paint...
(1) What I found was JLG 40H ca '88 vintage. It passed OSHA requirements prior to shipment and my minimum was the only bid. I did replace a head gasket on the Wisconsin 4-cyl engine but that was minimal effort and expense. In 10 yrs only other maintenance has been replaced one control lever electronics for the boom swing other than change oil, normal lube, etc.
If you're at all interested I'll look up and see which broker it was I dealt with--he's straight up; I just don't recall the business name otomh any longer. The broker was in FL, the machine in IL, I in KS... :)
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dpb wrote:

Can I borrow it? Damn I'd like to have one of those around here! I have a habit of doing oil changes on equipment I borrow as a little way of saying "thanks".
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Tony wrote:

Where you located??? It doesn't road well top speed being less than a walking pace.... :)
So far I've not done that for the potential liability issue. I do/have used it for many other purposes at church, County historical museum where board member, etc., etc., but I've always operated it myself rather than let it go to somebody else. I've never even asked what Mr Farm Bureau insurance man would say...
--
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dpb wrote:

I was just joking, I'm in eastern Tennessee. My son in law bought one for their electrical business, mostly for changing lamps in parking lots. Changing lamps isn't paying for it but the extra work it generates does. I keep telling him to bring it down next visit, it's only 600+ miles.

He would tell you to make friends with that Gecko.
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Tony wrote: ...

Where might that be?
Was in Oak Ridge for over 20 years before returning to family farm in KS...
--
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Jules wrote:

expandable aluminum planks for the holders. The holders are cheap relatively.
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I watched a contractor do one just down the road. He used standing seam metal roofing a foot wide and the length of the barn. He also had a reach forklift. He started at the peak and worked his way down.
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Pat wrote:

I've seen them re-roofed from the inside before, working from scaffolds in the loft. (Old skip-sheathed barn.) Of course that gets tricky when you get to the last section of the peak. Maybe that is why they put on cupolas? Or maybe put a plank out the loft end door and work from a ladder? (I'm getting dizzy just thinking about it...)
Ask around your local historical society or whatever, to see if there is an old barn preservation/adaptive reuse group in your area. They can point you to reference material and local vendors that could do right by the place. Around here is SW MI, they import Amish carpentry crews from northern Indiana Amish country, to do rebuilds of old barns.
I wouldn't recommend doing the high work yourself, unless you are still young and immortal, and have actually done high work before. Stuff that can kill you is a lousy place to save a buck. I did a little high work as a kid, and wasn't fully comfortable at it even then. Now, on the wrong side of 50, anything higher than the peak of my 1-story ranch, I pay somebody.
-- aem sends...
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