Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Timber Roof Trusses

Many log homes and cabins have trusses that support the roof structure. The trusses accent the open ceiling and give the log home a sense of "structure".

The choice of truss configuration is based on the skill of the workmanship, cost, joinery and, most of all, aesthetics.

Trusses are expensive as they are time consuming to build and are labor intensive. The joinery is the major consideration as the truss members are pieced together by a variety of methods. Usually the trusses are pre-built; that is, they are assembled off site or on the ground at the site and lifted into place by a mobile crane.

The trusses should be engineered. Calculations based on the prevailing snow and wind loads of the area should be determined along with truss member sizes and the timber specie. I like to use rectangular sections of timbers, such as 4"x6", 6"x6", 6"x8", or 6"x10". The timbers are connected together with 3/4" round Thru-bolts with 1/4" steel plates on each side of the timber members where connected to each other. Each connection should be calculated to determine the proper number of 3/4" Thru=bolts on each side of the joint.

Trusses are best used in large rooms. A room 24' x 24' would be an ideal space for one large truss that is spaced at approximately 12' on center. The span of the truss is 24'. Small roof purlins with a 4' spacing then can frame from the end walls to the truss. Of course, other truss spacing may be used, but aesthetics dictate a large spacing for the trusses with purlins at the underside of the roof slope providing a nice arrangement of the structural pieces.

There are many different truss configurations. Just to name a few; Queen, Fink, Howe and Pratt. If the truss span is in the 18' to 25' range, the most economical truss is probably the Fink truss as it has the minimum number of truss pieces; thus reducing the number of connections of member to member.

The Fink truss has a straight bottom chord and sloping top chords that follow the slope of the roof. The web members; that is, the members that tie the top and bottom chords together form a "W" shape with the center of the "W" connecting at the ridge.

Other truss configurations are also used to create a more aesthetic arrangement of the structural pieces. Check with the builder or the log supplier as they may have a favorite truss to build.

Friday, May 25, 2007

More Wildlife Art

In a previous post on wildlife art, I gave kudos to the great wildlife artist, Philip Goodwin. I believe he ranked with the great artists such as N.C. Wyeth, Charles Russell and other contempories of the past.

Several years ago, I worked with a fine architect named Scot Storm. From the very beginning I saw in Scot his artistic eye. He was very conscious of doing a good job for our clients. After I got to know him better, he showed me some of his wildlife art. Wow! Not only is he a great architect, he is a great wildlife artist. His art work of ducks is unbelievable!

I retired from engineering work, and shortly after, a colleague mentioned that Scot had gone on his own to do wildlife art full time and his work is now for sale. I knew he would succeed. He has received many awards & recognition including first place in the contest for the 2004-05 Federal Duck Stamp.

For a great visual treat, please take a look at his website:

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Wildlife Art

Some years ago, when I was a teenager, our family would visit the 'old' cabin on the present property. My father had wildlife art around the cabin walls. He always had the calendars with "predicament" wildlife art. I just loved those old calendars.

The "predicament" wildlife art was usually a copy of an original art depicting a hunter or fisherman with an encounter with a bear, moose or other dangerous animal. A female bear with two cubs running from a fisherman's cabin with a large chunk of bacon and sausages with the fishermen near by watching in surprise is an example of this "predicament" art.

About twelve years ago, I saw a similar 'old calendar' that had "predicament" wildlife art the same as I remember from my teenage years. The calendar was in an antique store. The price on the one section of the calendar framed was $200.00. I had to find out who the artist was who painted this "predicament" wildlife art. The artist's name was Philip R. Goodwin.

A quick look at the artist's biography indicated that he lived from 1881 to 1935. Philip was educated at the Rhode Island School of Design, Drexel Institute, and Howard Pye's School. He loved the outdoors and earned a living as a commercial artist. His most famous commercial trade mark is the horse and rider on the Winchester Fire Arms Posters and Advertisements. Philip was a contemporary of and knew N. C. Wyeth, Charles Russell and Carl Rungius, all great artists.

My search continued to find those great old calendars or posters painted by Philip Goodwin. It wan't long, when my daughter surprised me with a framed Philip Goodwin print for a Christmas Present. The print shows two hunters near their log cabin. One hunter is coming out of the cabin entry with a fry pan and the other hunter is reaching for his rifle as a mother bear and her cub are looking their way. I really enjoy that piece of art and all the art by Philip Goodwin.

One Goodwin print isn't quite enough! My search for a second Goodwin print soon ended in a gift store that catered to outdoor and wildlife art. The print shows two campers jumping into a birch bark canoe ready to chase a swimming bull moose. I bought it!

Both Goodwin prints are masterful in composition, subject and vivid colors. They are great examples of "predicament" art and are to be placed on the interior walls of any cabin or house.
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