Building My Very Own Geodesic Dome

October 1-15, 1984

Mon, Oct 1
I had hoped the septic permit would come today. It didn't. I have spent most of the last few days preparing the lumber for the struts. After I cut them all to shape I set up the saw to bevel the edges at 5 degrees so that the plywood skin could be nailed more easily. I first held the wood on the downhill side of the saw blade and cut about forty pieces that way. I soon noticed that the wood pressed against the saw blade and bent it out of line so that hardly any stock was cut off and the angle was not accurate. I decided to try holding the wood on the uphill side of the blade. The results were very gratifying. The bulk of the cutting action was now taking place from the top edge of the wood so the blade was getting a better bite and not being twisted out of shape. I was now getting a much more accurate cut and the wood was feeding through much easier. I was able to quickly finish the beveling in quite a short time.

It didn't take long to bore the four 11/16" holes I needed in each strut. I have now started cutting the plywood sheets into the needed triangles. That is proving to be more than one man can handle. I have managed to cut a few sheets by myself but when Toney helped me out the other day it made all the difference in the world. Working by myself I butcher the sheets pretty badly and blow the circuit breaker quite often. It's hard to keep the cut on a path that's perfectly parallel to the line and as you adjust your direction you tend to get the blade sideways in the kerf. This causes the blade to bind. Of course, when you adjust one way it doesn't bind that much, however, usually you adjust a little too much and then you have to adjust the other way. Now your blade is binding in two directions. It's not too long until the blade just won't turn anymore, your circuits get overloaded and you blow the breaker. When you have another man on the other end of the sheet it's much easier to start the cut parallel and keep it that way.

By the way I have noticed over time that the Shopsmith has been suffering under the strain. Somewhere along the way the transmission decided to refuse to change speeds so I am now stuck with a one speed motor. I just hope it will last to the end of the project. Then I may try to have it overhauled if I can come up with the money.

Tue, Oct 2
Today the septic permit came.

I called Charlie Cox this evening to get some ideas for people I could call to dig my well and put in my plumbing and electricity. He gave me several names and also a disturbing bit of news. His place had been broken into and burglarized just a couple of days ago. I had hoped I was moving into a low crime area. It looks like crime is everywhere.

Wed, Oct 3
I drove to Front Royal today to try and line up some contractors for the work that is now ready to begin. I stopped at Rappawan first to talk to Tommy. He wasn't there so I left a copy of the permit and left a message for him to call me. I then went to see Mr. Showers the electrical contractor recommended by Charlie Cox. He wasn't there either but I did find out that he also does plumbing work. I left a message for him to call. Then I went to visit LeHew the well driller. He wasn't there either but I left a copy of the permit there and a message for him to call.

Mr. LeHew did call that night. I made arrangements to meet him there on Friday morning.

Fri, Oct 5
I met Mr. LeHew and we drove up to the mountain. A truck followed us up and came to a stop at the lot just like we did. The driver got out and introduced himself as Mr. Showers. He explained that he had called my home and my wife told him that I was on the mountain. He thought he would drive up and see if he could make a connection. His timing couldn't have been better. They both gave me an estimate and it looks like the well, plumbing and electricity together will probably cost about $5500.

After they left I spent time trying to place stakes at the exact spots where I would want my foundation holes dug. I think I have got a pretty accurate layout.

Sat, Oct 6
Spent some time trying to cut some triangles from the 4x8 sheets of plywood. That is hard work for one person to do alone.

Sun, Oct 7
Tommy called this evening. I made arrangements to meet him on Apple Mountain at 11:00 the next day (Columbus day).

Mon, Oct 8
The fall colors are really beginning to look spectacular. Tommy says we'll have to clear the land where the septic system will go. That means cutting down several trees. Fifteen or twenty maybe. He says if we cut them he can get the stumps with a back hoe so we won't have to pay for a caterpillar. He says it will cost about $2100, that's more than I expected. He also said that he could get a rubber tired back hoe up there anytime I wanted to dig holes for the piers. The cost of that would be $32 per hour with a 6 hour minimum.

Tue, Oct 9
Drove up to Front Royal to place my application for a building permit. I thought I would be able to pick it up right there but they told me they would mail it to me. I asked if I could save some time by picking it up in person so the secretary told me I could pick it up on Thursday. I also made an appointment to see Mr. Derflinger at that time to try to solidify my plans for the foundation. Then I went to the courthouse to start a little work on the title search. The genealogy on the house starting with Ralph and working back so far reads like this. Ralph from the early 70's to the present. Price Radin before that for just a couple of years, long enough to subdivide and sell it. A family named Prieto from about 194 [date incomplete]. A family name Keyser from 1947.

Wed, Oct 10
Managed to finish cutting green triangles. Started marking yellow triangles. It appears they will be harder to cut than the green ones. I think I have to find another way. I am thinking about buying a hand held circular saw. Maybe that would do the job.

Thu, Oct 11
Drove to Front Royal to pick up the permit. First we went to do more title searching. It seems the Keysers bought the land from an orphanage. The orphanage got the land from the will of a man named Allie Smith. We have been able to trace Smith's acquisition of some of the land but are having trouble tracing the whole parcel. He evidently got it on more than one purchase. Then we stopped in to see Mr. Derflinger. I got some good pointers on the construction of the footers and a couple of names from whom I may be able to buy some of the hardware I need. I [have] been shopping for things like re-bars, column caps and bases and machine bolts with a 5/8 inch diameter with pretty poor luck.

Fri, Oct 12
Met the back hoe operator around 8:15. We dug about 16 holes. Unfortunately the back hoe is somewhat limited on the accuracy with which it can dig so I quickly learned that after he was finished I would have to go into each hole with a shovel to square and level the holes. He finished the digging in just a couple of hours. Since I was paying for six hours anyway I had him attack the infamous brush pile also. He managed to tear a good bit of it down. Work that would have taken me a couple of weeks by hand. After he left I proceeded to work on the holes with the shovel. I managed to get about 8 of the holes in pretty good shape by the time I was ready to quit.

Sat, Oct 13
It was 4:00 before I could get up to Apple Mt. to finish up the foundation holes. As it turned out the last eight holes were a lot easier to finish than the first eight and I was able to finish them off in about an hour and a half. Then I spent a little time working on the famous brush pile with quite a bit of success. The work that the back hoe had done a couple of days earlier helped a lot.

Sun, Oct 14
I spent some time this evening trying to build some forms for the footings. There are some pretty big scraps of plywood left over from the kit construction which will almost build all of the forms. I am really having a lot of trouble cutting the plywood. The saw blade binds like crazy. I am constantly blowing the circuit. I can't seem to get a straight line or square corners. I suspect that I have bent the blade under some of the terrific burden I have been putting on it. Plus it is getting pretty dull. At any rate I did manage to complete (after a fashion) two of the sixteen forms that I will need. They sure were a lot bigger than I thought they would be. I didn't get too much done before I had to quit. I was afraid all the noise was disturbing people who needed to sleep. I resolved to finish the job the next day.

Mon, Oct 15
I took the opportunity to go to Gainesville to find the place that I hoped would be able to sell me some rebar. They couldn't do it. But the secretary did mention Arlington Iron works in Manassas as the place to go. She gave me directions but they didn't work out too well. I drove all over creation trying to find the place. Finally I did find it. It worked out very well. Not only did they sell me the rebar, but they also agreed to fashion some column bases for me and they also had bolts in the sizes I was looking for. The price was great also. 69 cents for the 2 1/2 inch bolts along with the nuts. The best price I could find previously was 75 cents for the bolt and another 29 cents for the nut. I was real happy with the price. I spent about $750 there altogether. The material would not be ready until the following Wednesday so I made plans to pick it up then.

I had hoped to finish my forms then. You know the story of the best laid plans. A sudden seemingly endless array of errands popped up. I did manage to finish two forms so now I have finished 4 out of 16 and am resolved to finish them tomorrow.

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