Work in the Undercroft

As explained in the post “Carpentry Planning and Carpeting: Initial Discussion,” there were discussions on how to proceed with the painting in the nave. Moore Painting explained that it would be easier and less expensive for painters and others, such as the electrician upgrading the lighting, if an electric lift were available. Staging/scaffolding is expensive to rent and awkward to work with. Would the floor support an electric lift (about 5,000 lbs.)? This prompted us to request a structural survey of the weight bearing capacity of the floor in the nave. Hugh Savage contacted Michael Cunningham of Lincoln/Haney Engineering Associates, Inc. to request the survey. Good thing. We learned that several supporting beams have suffered from Powderpost Beetle damage and need replacing. We did not expect this, but better to find out sooner rather than later. Accompanying this report, there is a close-up of one of the rotted beams.

After developing an outline of the proposed scope of work, we contracted with Fraser Ruwet to begin work in November. His task is to replace some beams and “sister” (reinforce) others as specified in the engineering survey. Of course in an old building, somethings are not easy with unexpected obstacles to overcome. St. Paul’s is no exception. To make Mr. Ruwet’s job easier, part of the upgrade to the heating system was deferred until work in the undercroft was completed. It made no sense to install (hang) new hot water heating pipes that would then interfere with the repairs to the undercroft. Aside from that, there was a relatively new “electrical” conduit strung under the floor that needed to be temporarily moved. Upon inspection, we determined that the conduit houses connections for the speakers and electronics between the nave organ keyboard console and pipes and speakers. We received professional guidance from the firm (Allen Organ) which built the organ. Although disconnecting the lines was an option, there was enough excess cabling to enable us to simply lower the conduit to allow sufficient space (about 2″) to install the new beam.

The contractor was able to replace one part of a damaged vertical support post, saving cost and time. In other areas, new vertical support posts were needed, along with new foundations to support them. Quick drying concrete (45 minutes) was used for the foundations. The digging for these foundations uncovered some large boulders that had to be broken up and removed from the undercroft. They will be saved and “repurposed” to enhance our landscaping.