Friday, September 14, 2012

Guest Blogger

He doesn't know it but my Dad is guest blogging for me today. My Dad was "blogging" long before there was any such thing. He started writing out the life of our family in story form a long time ago. He doesn't publish them on line like the rest of us do, he types them out the old fashion way and then prints out a copy for whoever the story is about.

Last night Branson got one...



 Bryn Johnson

September, 2012

             Last summer I helped my grandson, ten year old Branson, build a platform for our backyard.  We have a trampoline and it is round and pretty good for kids to play on.  The problem is that the kids have no where to stand as they take turns bouncing and doing tricks on the trampoline.  Branson and I decided that we should build a table or a platform that could be placed next to the trampoline so that all of the kids would be able to take turns bouncing while other kids stood on the platform.  It was a great idea.  Branson and I had no idea what we were getting into.

The first day of the project was very exciting because we already had one piece of plywood, an 8’ x 4’ sheet that would serve as the top of the platform.  Branson and I started by drawing the plans.  We showed the legs, the bracing, the joist pieces and the support system.  We then made a list of materials that looked something like this:


4 x 4 posts for the legs, 38 inches tall:                        4

2 x 6 boards for the joists, 48 inches long:                 8                     

2 x 6 boards for the frame:                                         2 at 8’ and 2 at 4’

Joist hangers:                                                               16

Large Nails:                                                                 2 boxes

Small Nails:                                                                 1 box

2 x 4 boards fro the cross braces:                                8 long boards

Carpet for the top of the platform:                             1 piece, 4’ x 8’

We went to Home Depot and filled the dolly with all of the materials on the list.  $ 249.20 later, we headed home.  The rest of the day was spent cutting wood, nailing boards into place and setting the joists into the joist hangers.  Branson worked hard during the entire project.  The Millett boys joined us for a short time but they were soon lured away by the trampoline and the small inflatable back yard pool.  And by Brylee, Branson’s sister.  After a very long time, much longer than we had anticipated, the rough shape of the platform was finished.  We had no idea at that time how far from “finished” we actually were.

We had a platform that was not ready for prime time but Branson and I put it into use anyway by throwing the carpet piece over the top and by moving the platform next to the trampoline.  It was an immediate and hugely successful endeavor.  The kids loved it and swarmed onto to, jumping wildly back and forth from the platform to the trampoline to the pool and then back again.  The platform looked like a heavy duty piece of indestructible equipment that could withstand an atom bomb.  We soon learned that the platform could not adequately withstand 12 grandkids and four neighbor kids.  Maybe we should have dropped grandkids on Nagasaki to end World War II.  (Just a little joke, not a serious suggestion).   It was Branson who noticed that the platform “creaked” a lot as the kids jumped back and forth.  He did not like the sound and started to make a closer inspection.  After the structural engineering inspection, Branson reported that the nails were not holding up all that well.  He was referring to the large nails that held the entire platform together.  I had to see for myself so Branson gave me a tour of the structure.  He was right.  The constant banging of a thousand jumps per minute was causing the formerly tight bond between the various pieces of lumber to become loose and creaky.  We needed a solution.

Branson and I decided that each joint, all eight of them, needed to be reinforced with very long bolts.  Some joints needed four bolts, others needed only two.  Back to Home Depot.  Does anyone have any idea how much long bolts, flat washers, lock washers and nuts cost?  We also needed a very long drill bit to drill the holes for the long bolts to go into.  When it was all added up, I almost fell over.  $99.17.

Back at the back yard, Branson and I dragged out the drill and the extension cord and the bolts and washers and nits and other tools and we stared drilling and bolting.  Does anyone know how hard it is to drill all those holes and place all those bolts?  I didn’t know before but I know now.  It takes two different episodes and each episode takes a long time.  Hooray!  The platform is finished!  Wrong.  We soon found more problems.

The constant pounding of people and water had caused the top board, the 4 x 8 piece of plywood, to become loose and full of splintering pieces.   Branson and I studied the problem and decided that the top piece needed to be secured with deck screws.  We also felt that the entire platform needed to be painted to protect the wood from the elements (i.e. kids and water).   Back to Home Depot.  This time we purchased deck screws and more washers and paint and paint brushes and paint holders.  $76.10.  Home again and back to work.

The deck screws did not work.  The wood was not tough enough to hold the top of the deck screws so each screw went right through the wood and did not stop when the screw was all the way down.  The screws kept going, leaving only little holes in the plywood.  We needed another solution.  Thankfully, Branson and I were not the first builders to run into this problem.  Home Depot had deck screws with very large heads.  Big, round flat heads that would not go through the wood.  They worked, but they were very expensive.  They were specialty items so of course we had to expect to pay a premium price.  $43.27.

Branson could not stop himself from inspecting the structural integrity of the platform and sure enough, he found another problem.  One of the joists had cracked at the spot where it attaches to the frame of the platform.  I had to cut three repair pieces of wood, crawl under the platform and secure the repair pieces by drilling guide holes and using more deck screws.  It took 5 hours to repair one little crack that Branson just had to find.

Now it was time to paint.  On the scheduled day for this part of the project, I turned the platform up-side-down so we could get at the legs, the cross braces and the underside of the platform.  There are at least 20 different boards that make up the platform.  Each board has four sides.  This means that we had to paint 80 different surfaces.  It became a painting free for all.  Branson and Brylee and the Millett kids and several other grandkids, including 2 year old Brookie and 6 year old Mikey, joined in the fracas.  Paint was everywhere and some of it was on the boards of the platform.   Paint on kids, paint on clothes, paint in hair, paint on the dogs, paint all over the back patio and paint on everyone’s feet and shoes.  Through it all, one kid stayed at the work and kept painting despite the chaos and the heat and the noise and confusion.  Branson was steady and remained at his assignment until all of the paint was gone. 

I ruined my pants with splashes of paint drops.  $35.00 more dollars.  But that was nothing.  When I realized that I had not changed out of my good jeans, I ran to the laundry room and threw my Levi’s into the washing machine.  My fast thinking did not save my pants but it did kill my cell phone.  I had forgotten that my cell phone was in the back pocket of my Levi’s.  It cost me $100.00 for a new phone and another $100.00 to pay for all of the re-programming and re-setting of codes and information that I can’t do by myself.  But hooray!  The platform was finished.  Wrong again.

We ran out of paint before we ran out of places on the platform that needed paint. Back to Home Depot.  This time we needed more than just paint. The top of the platform had deteriorated so badly that we needed a large piece of carpet padding to go under our piece of carpet.  $29.95 for the paint and $39.99 for the carpet pad.

I sneaked outside at 5:00 a.m. on Saturday to do the painting.  I should have let Branson in on the sneakiness but I let him sleep in.  Three hours later, I was finished.  The painting project was almost finished as well.  I said:  “Good enough”.   But the platform was not yet finished.  We still needed to secure the carpet padding and the carpet.  The size of the padding and the carpet allowed several inches to hang over each side of the platform.  I showed Branson how to attach the material by using deck screws to secure long boards on each side of the platform, over the carpet and pad.  He did this part of the work by himself.  Now the platform was finished.  So was the summer.  It took us almost the entire summer to finish the platform that we thought we could build in one day.  But let’s be clear on one thing.  The project was a giant success because the platform was in constant use from the very first day.  All of the work, the reinforcements, the deck screws, the repairs and the painting did not stop or hinder the use of the marvelous platform.  It served its purpose on a daily basis during the hot summer days and sometimes well into the hot summer nights.  Branson did good, no question about it.

The platform and the damage it caused (notice how I blame the platform and not myself for the “damage it caused”) cost about $700.00.   I don’t care.  I am extremely happy for the experience of assisting Branson in building the platform and for the endless hours of fun that the platform has given the grandkids during the long hot summer of 2012.  Hooray! Branson Heywood’s marvelous platform is finished!      

I love my Dad's stories. I love my Dad. I love my hard working little Branson Man and I love the platform. I have spent many hours stretched out on it, under the sky watching my kids jump, ride bikes, play and laugh. That thing is genius.


Sarah said...

No doubt who you get your writing skills from! This was a hilarious post. I enjoyed every minute of reading about that troublesome platform. Which by the way was VERY clever.

Paul and Jenny Stoker said...

ya that sounds about how dads projects go. But he is right, I know he will always think it is worth it if it bring happiness to his grandkids.

Josh and Emily said...

I love Dad's stories and this one is no exception. It is even analogous to his "The Best Day of my Life" story.

Melanie said...

About halfway through this post I noticed I was reading in your dads voice.... I love love LOVE his stories! So fun that he gives them to the people he writes about!

Jedidiah said...

My favorite part was when he thought he was being so smart by washing his jeans right away but they were still ruined along with his cell phone. Perfect story of how dad sacrifices way more than anyone would ever expect for the happiness of his kids and grandkids.
I wonder if dad had that much trouble when he built the top secret entertainment center in the garage for Christmas.

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