With spring in sight, it’s easy now to look back with pride at the frigid months spent repairing the frame of the Todd Farm Barn. Shawn Perry, Jesse Turgeon, Reese Crotteau and Brian Cox worked diligently to repair posts, tie beams and undercarriage of this large transitional frame in Rowley, MA. When all contractors have completed their repairs, the barn will expand space for Todd Farm antiques. Todd Farm flea market opens this Sunday, April 13th (experienced treasure hunters recommend getting there early, 6 am early). Below, Brian illustrates and describes PTF’s repairs, including photos of some sweet tie beam scarfs.
The Todd barn measures approximately 45’ x 65’. It dates from the early twentieth century and is a transitional frame, with little joinery. With the exception of the girts in the undercarriage, most frame elements are nailed. It has doubled top plates of nominal lumber, nailed together, studded eave walls, and as you would expect, studded gable walls above the tie beam. PTF was contracted to complete structural work, illustrated in the images below.
Lifting brackets were placed on each of the seven posts along the north eave, as the entire length of sill needed to be replaced due to extensive rot. Cribbing piles were placed under the center of the lifting brackets and jacks and jack posts were installed. The barn was lifted only a minimal amount in order to cut the nails holding the studs at the sill level.
The existing sills along the north eave were approximately 6”x 8”, with a 2” ledger on the inside face, which supported the joists. We repaired this sill using a bladed scarf joint, with the blade, or table, being 24”. The sill timber measures 8”x 9”. We chose to install an 8”x 9” based on the dimensions of sills in place in the remainder of the barn.
There were a total of five sill timbers cut and installed along the north eave. A marriage mark made in pencil was used for easy identification purposes. Upon completion of the sills being cut, they were fit and drilled with a 1” ships auger bit. Hardwood pins were driven after stringing the face of the sills and a straight line on all five timbers was achieved. Mallet marks are visible, where gentle coaxing was needed to drive the timbers into position. Knots prove to be great driving locations, when available.
We built piles of 6”x 7” hemlock cribbing to support steel I-beams, which were used to hold the joists and girts off of the foundation while a new foundation wall was built. The new foundation was a poured concrete wall topped and finished with brick. Hydraulic jacks placed beneath the steel were used to level each bay while eave posts were lifted using jacks, brackets and dead men. A 2″x 6″ ledger was fastened across the posts, and timber-locked to each stud in between. This ensured that the studs were lifted along with the posts and girts. Where viable, we left sheathing and clapboards in place. This makes the wall a little more difficult to lift because the sheathing and clapboards hinder fine tuning.
One end of the fix and original material shown in above image. The studs in this gable were cut away and compression blocks and sisters were added. Similarly dimensioned fixes and sisters were installed.
Water infiltration at the cupola lead to deterioration of the tie beam at bent #5. A tie beam fix, with a bladed scarf on each end, replaced the center segment of the existing tie. A 6” x 7″ bolster was then placed under the tie beam fix. This bolster is also in place at bent #4. There was a loft above this area that was removed prior to work commencing. Note the lack of bracing from drive post to tie. There are braces from the eave posts to the tie, and these are nailed in place, rather than connected by mortise and tenon. The rafters are full length from peak to eave.