Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dedication Ceremony Video!

Hi everybody!

I'm not really sure who I mean by "everybody," since I'm pretty sure that nobody (not even myself) reads this anymore. I think even my mother has taken it off her bookmark list.

Anyway, Dan Barnard '66 made a short video of the dedication ceremony from last fall. If anyone ever sees this, you can watch the video too! Thanks, Dan, and thanks to Peter Titcomb (also '66) for bringing it to my attention!

Monday, June 18, 2012

One more image

I've made several visits to the cabin over the past few months, sometimes with friends who had never seen the old cabin. I've loved sharing my special place, and I've loved even more that my friends are feeling inspired and making their own memories. Here's a cool sketch by aspiring architect Evan Greulich '10.
Titcomb Cabin 2.0, May 2012 (before wheelchair ramp)
Go visit the cabin and write in the guestbook.

Occupancy Permit!

Welcome back, faithful readers. It has been quite some time since this blog was last updated, and much has happened since then. I started writing several posts over the last few months about my visits to the cabin and new additions that the current club members had made, but I really liked where my last post ended: Chelsea and I were leaving New England for the world of "real jobs" and leaving Titcomb in the capable hands of the Ledyard Canoe Club. So I never posted any of them (obviously).

However, things have changed enough to convince me to post again. Also, as most of you know, I enjoy talking about this cabin more than just about anything else, so it's not that much of a stretch for me.

As the name of the post implies, the cabin finally passed inspection and got its occupancy permit last week, and as of Friday, June 15th, 2012, is open for business. Yours truly got the privilege of being the first registered guest. When I left, there was still some work to be done to get the cabin ready for inspection. The main issue (and the only one remaining until last week) was the lack of accessibility: according to the town officials, there needed to be a wheelchair ramp  to the cabin. In addition, the door, though wide enough for a wheelchair, needed to be flipped to open inward to pass inspection. According to Milo Johnson '13, current club president, Ledyard hired a contractor with log building experience to do the last few things, and the building passed inspection on Thursday June 14th.

Milo Johnson '13, esteemed LCC president
I had been planning a visit with some old (non-Dartmouth) friends for some time, and I was ecstatic to hear that our proposed date coincided with the anticipated opening date. I then got the call on Thursday from Milo that the cabin had indeed passed inspection, and that my group would be the first registered guests. I was thrilled.

Here is what it looks like, complete with the brand new wheelchair ramp:

Photo courtesy Ben Schreckinger, Brown '12, general miscreant and troublemaker
 I am incredibly proud of this cabin, and I think that every member of Ledyard over the past few years agrees with me. The current members really did a great job finishing it up, and our stay this past weekend created some of the first of what will certainly be many, many memories in this special place.
Lighting a fire in the stove

Call the club at (603) 643-6709 to make reservations. You can also email the club at

Friday, July 1, 2011

Wrapping up the season (with a floor!)

Well, it's about that time again. Warning: this is going to be a long post. Chelsea, Malia, and I have all talked about writing one more blog post at different points in the last month, but all of our lives have been as hectic as ever, with the Thayer School investiture ceremony on June 11th for me and Chelsea, Dartmouth graduation on the 12th for Chelsea, and both me and Chelsea leaving for the West on the 13th.

Though the last few posts have given some detail into the work we've been doing, I feel like we've left out some details about our goals and our mindset this spring. As crazy as it sounds, Chelsea and I would both be leaving for good after graduation, so the 13th of June was as hard a deadline as we've had yet for this project.

Our goal was to have the space inside the cabin be as usable as possible by the time we left. The cabin technically can't be rented out until it has passed a town inspection, but we wanted to have the cabin ready for that next stage. We had made a list at the beginning of the term of everything that needed to be done in order to call the cabin "complete." It looked something like this (in no particular order):
  • finish closing in the gable ends
  • install all the windows, including all the trim
  • finish building up the subfloor and install the actual hardwood flooring
  • close in the bottom of the loft
  • install the loft flooring
  • stain the outside of the cabin
  • put diagonal braces on the front posts
  • install a front door
  • install the woodstove and the hearth
  • find and/or construct furniture
  • install decking on the porch
  • construct a railing for the porch and a few steps to get up to it from the ground
  • build some sort of ADA-compliant handicap ramp on one side of the porch
Yeah, I know. That's a lot. Obviously we didn't finish all of those things, but in my opinion, we did a pretty incredible job this spring. We worked a lot and had many, many volunteers come out to help. Chelsea described the staining process in her last post, and at that point we had already closed in the gable ends and the loft. From there, we did a whole lot of things, often simultaneously. First, here's a shot of the front of the cabin during one of our spring workdays - note the diagonal braces, courtesy of Max Van Pelt '11, former Ledyard president, and Emily Yen '10. They did an incredible job. I say "incredible" too much.

Also note the front window. This is almost what the cabin looks like now, except that thanks to Conor Galligan '11, there are two additional braces on either side of the center post that hadn't been installed at the time this picture was taken. Diagonal braces, up close:

These smaller-diameter logs were taken from the woods behind the cabin, and they look really great.

In addition, all six windows have been installed, as has the trim on each window. Here's an idea of what the window trim looks like up close:

...and the whole east side of the cabin:

Our method of installing window trim is really interesting and unique to full-scribe log cabins. Each window has an identical board on the outside and the inside surfaces. To allow for settling, those boards at the top of the windows are connected to the upper portion of the window-hole, but not to the window itself. As the cabin settles, this will allow the boards to slide freely in front of and behind the window, and any excess will be trimmed periodically. Note the 1x3 accents to match the roof. Another important detail that isn't shown in these photos is that all of the white window casings have been painted green to match the roof. I don't have pictures of that yet, but it sure looks snazzy, if I say so myself. I don't have a good camera and Lucas and Max aren't around anymore, so I have to rely on visitors for pictures, which isn't that convenient. Most of the photo credit for this post goes to Kelly Mallery '11, who came out with Kodiak, who heckled and drank beer and didn't do much work. What a clown. Since I'm in a volunteer-thanking mood right now, I'll also mention that the window trim was done by a team of Chelsea's dad, Anne Brown '11, and Aoife Duffy '11. Aoife has too many vowels in her name, but that doesn't impede her painting skills.

Next came the flooring, which proved to be a bigger challenge than we anticipated. First, Chelsea very slowly and painstakingly cut a 3/4" notch all around the interior of the cabin into which we would slide the hardwood flooring. This would make the flooring look nice and flush. Then, we built up the subfloor with a layer of insulation and 2x3 supports, and another layer of plywood. Then we got to laying the hardwood:

Here you can see the notch in the lower right-hand side of the photo. The Outdoor Programs Office had a flooring nailer that we used for most of the floor. We improvised a bit when we were too close to the walls, though. After a few hard days, the cabin looked like this on the inside (my apologies for the poor-quality cell phone picture):

...and Malia and I looked like this:

The oak floor looks absolutely gorgeous. At this point, we decided not to install a real floor in the loft area so that we could continue to use that space for tool and material storage. It would be a shame to have to store tools on that floor.

So finishing the floor brought us to the end of the term. Of our original list, several projects remain. At this point, we've all unfortunately had to move on. I'll talk more about my personal feelings in another post, but I'm living in the Boston area now and this project is now fully in the care of the Ledyard Canoe Club. I'll help walk the cabin through the first stages of the inspection process this summer, but I have faith that the current club members will finish things up and leave their own mark on the project. It's been an incredible ride.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Staining and other shenanigans

Woot! My first blog post!

A lot has happened in the last week...quite a bit of which I missed, as I was paddling a canoe from Dartmouth to the ocean on Ledyard's annual Trip to the Sea. The ocean was amazing, but I'm glad to be back..

Greg and Malia had a lot of two-person days this last week, but they did manage to make a lot of progress. We have four windows now!

On Sunday, some volunteers accompanied them to the island, and everyone worked on cleaning logs in preparation for staining. Chris and Norah came out, and Chris showed everyone up with a chainsaw, perfecting our window-holes. Frances Davenport also came out and sanded logs for us. Thanks everyone! We'll be looking for lots of volunteers until graduation, as we've got a lot to do, so if this sounds fun, come join us.

On Monday, my first day back to the island, we stained the cabin! Milo Johnson, Kyle, and Benjy came out and helped the crew. It was uber-hot, and we all worked shirtless, and got stain EVERYWHERE. When we went swimming after work, the water ran off the stain in Greg's hair, and several showers later, I still have stain streaks on my stomach.

The cabin looks awesome with its new color. Malia took a picture with her phone, and you can kind of see the changed color - it's better in person though.

Today we weighed down the Dartmouth safety boat getting the hardwood flooring out (thanks Jeff!), so look for updates about a pretty new floor.

I'm also learning a lot about some of our frequent volunteers (one of whom also happens to live at our house. So, a list:

Things Kyle Is Good At Besides Staining:
-Singing along to the country radio
-Jumping off of very, very, very high trees into the river
-Causing the S&S boat to break down and drift into a sand bar for the second time in two days
-Jumping in the Connecticut to babysit a runaway skiff with lots of lumber on it

The next two weeks are going to be very busy, but we should have a mostly done cabin soon. More pictures to come.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

In case you missed it...

You can watch our TV spot here.

Woohoo! We're famous!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

We're on TV!

Sorry this is such short notice, but hopefully some of you subscribe to this blog and check it regularly enough that this will be helpful. CBS has decided to air our segment TOMORROW, May 29, on their Sunday morning news show.

The show itself goes from 9 to 10:30 AM, but we'll be in the last part of the show, sometime between 10 and 10:30. We'll be showing their correspondent Mo Rocca all of the steps involved with building a full-scribe log cabin, from peeling and drawshaving to scribing and chainsawing. Don't miss it!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Let there be Light!

Little steps have led to big things out on the island the last couple weeks. Every project is brand new to us all... how to close up the gable ends, what grade of shingles to buy, how to cut a window, and how to attach said window...
But decision by decision we've either looked it up, made a well educated guess, or just took a shot in the dark with hope. And somehow it's pulling together!

The filming with Mo Rocca and CBS went very well... take a look at the below link for great photos and more info.

We thought they would air the episode this morning but it sounds like they decided to save it for later this summer... it's that good. Check back in here cause we'll post the air date when we know it! Don't miss it... believe me, you'll want to see Kodiak's chainsaw biceps on the big screen, hear Max's secrets exposed in his private interview, and laugh at Kevin's witty one-liners.

What went on behind the scenes? Chelsea worked. and worked. and worked... surprised? nope.
Jackie the dog (our resident Island Beast) burst into scenes like a demon and they then had to retake the shot.
And we all ate delicious lunches of falafel provided by the camera crew. Free food!... hey, I think I could get used to this Hollywood lifestyle....

Mo Rocca and his new chainsaw skills may become CBS's big deal but for all of us, the big moment of that day was cutting a new window.

Take a look back at previous posts. All that time and effort and sweat and labor into laying log by log  those beautiful walls. And what do we have to do to get a window?! ... Stick a chainsaw in and carve away!

We all held our breath and screamed together 'stop!' when the blade neared a marked boundary.
A few cuts, a couple thumps of the sledge hammer and poof! ... we have a window!!

Well, kind of. We then had a hole in the wall. The steps following proved to be more time consuming than we first thought. We had to trim the window to the exact size, cut the angle iron (which we of course cut wrong and had to recut with a frustratingly slow hacksaw), cut vertical grooves into the sides of the window for the angle iron which is attached to a 2x4. Then haul the window up there and pray that it fits.

But we've been lucky I think! (knock on wood... of which we have a lot) We now have two beautiful windows installed!

The gap you see above the window is room for settling which the cabin will continue to do. Without that space, we'd come out one day to a shattered window! That's also why we are using the angle iron in a groove to keep the windows in instead of nailing it straight to logs that are going to be moving. We'll be covering the settling space with a nice finishing board soon.

Soon we'll have six windows in! Two on either side, one on the front and one on the back.

Titcomb cabin is no longer a little black box where we needed headlamps to see anything! We have light!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Titcomb 2.0 continues

I got into Hanover yesterday evening for a short visit and caught up on the work the crew finished this fall and early this spring.

Some things haven't changed. Greg remains a compassionate and dedicated crew boss who encourages his crewlings with a gentle guiding hand.

When someone begins to lose steam (as is bound to happen amongst any group of people who works hard as these guys do), he has Jackie to take exhausted workers, lift them to their feet, and give everyone the energy to pick back up and move on.

Late last fall and in the early few weeks of spring the crew got the gable ends of the cabin covered up. Although most of the process won't be visible once it's all done there are lots and lots of steps that go into this. First, the empty spaces between the vertical logs are "framed" with 2x4s. Then the frames are filled with insulation and roughly covered with plywood. Here's a picture post-insulation and pre-plywood:

The finishing process is greatly complicated by the unfortunate shape of our logs. Our finishing material is straight and symmetrical with right corners. Our logs are lumpy, asymmetrical and otherwise log shaped. On the inside we're using shiplap, and each piece has to be custom cut to fit the shape of the gaps. Max seems to have both invented and perfected a technique to get this done in the same day. On the outside we're covering the gables with tar paper (to keep moisture out) and then shingles. Most of the shingles can be used as-is, but we're having to custom cut some of them to get them to fit nicely around the purlins and odd knots in the vertical posts.
Here you can see most of what's going on: the plywood on the left, and the shingles over tar paper on the right.

On the to-do list for the near future:

- finish the shingles on the front and back
- cover the inside gable ends and the exposed parts of the loft
- a real door! windows!
- a nice looking floor for the front porch and the inside
- furniture! a railing on the porch!
- installing the woodstove and accompanying brickwork

Stay tuned for more photos, updates, and perhaps some exciting media coverage.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Spring 2011!

Hello faithful blog-readers!

It's been some time, but with the gradually warmer weather this spring, we've begun our spring work season. As of right now, we have a main crew of three people, including me, working four days a week, with many, many helpers.

Introducing the spring 2011 Titcomb crew:

Meet Chelsea Liddell '11. She grew up in Montana and Arizona, and has a serious work ethic which pretty much puts last summer's crew to shame. She came out to the island last summer to help put the roof on, and has continued to be a huge asset to the crew. Also, she's my roommate.

This is Malia Reeves '12. She's from Taos, New Mexico, and is a studio art major, something the crew was lacking before. So far she's been up to her shoulders in shiplap and shingles and she looks sharp. I like alliteration.

As for regular volunteers, we've also had Emily Yen '10 out a few times, as well as Kevin McGregor '11 several times a week. I might put funny pictures of them up later, but I'm pretty lazy right now. It's been incredible to have them both, though.

This week, in particular, is also special because CBS Sunday Morning News is coming to Hanover to do a feature on us. This opportunity has brought some familiar faces back into town: Max has been working with us for the past week, and Kate just got in today and is staying on my couch. Lucas has been around a bit too, and it feels nice to have everyone back. We'll have more updates on the CBS spot later this week.

...and then there's me, still here in Hanover. I'm all finished up with classes, so working on Titcomb is my first priority for this term. I'll be moving to Boston in late June to start an engineering job, so we're working hard to get the cabin into rentable shape by then. Stay tuned.