Yet Another Side Project on Our Busy Costa Rica Finca

Another of my part-time side projects this year has been the construction of a small rancho down by our quebrada (creek) in the midst of our modest banana crop at the edge of our equally modest coffee "plantation." The platform is just to one side of where my small truck landed when it rolled down the ravine, the precise cause of which is still shrouded in mystery.

overhead shot of rancho floor frame
Rancho platform's steel frame
As I prefer to do, I make the floor foundation and frame from concrete and steel, which I presume will weather the humidity and bugs if no other part of the building will. The remainder will be built from wood, the same way I constructed my sister's house, but in a different style, since this is a rancho.

long shot of platform from other end of garden
Platform from other end of garden




The main difficulty with the frame was that I didn't want to go to the expense of running a 220V line to this location and my generator is not big enough to serve up my welder with enough juice to weld on location.




Thus, everything I could weld was done up at the workshop. I measured twice, sometimes thrice and put it all together with welded brackets on the beams to which the floor joists were attached with screws. It's like a giant erector set project.

The wood frame will be again eucalypto, harvested from my neighbor's farm. We still have a big stack of 1x3, 1x4, 2x3 and 2x4 rough cut lumber and planks for siding. Most recently, I bought a couple of long poles from him and cut them up into four 8 ft. posts for the corners.

Machine sanding eucalyptus posts
Sanding the posts after stripping the bark

He charged me less than 10 bucks each for the long posts. After I cut them to length and notched the bottom ends to fit over the floor frame, they dried under cover in the workshop for a couple of weeks before I went to work cleaning them up. Tamara removed all the remaining bark, I wire brushed them, trimmed a couple of rough areas with the chain saw, and then sanded them down with my trusty DeWalt orbital sander.

notched and sanded post
Notched end of sanded post
As of today, I've sanded all of them, treated them with preservative and one coat of polyurethane sealer. Next, I plan to stain them green and tomorrow apply the first coat of poly varnish, high gloss. At that point, they'll be ready to install.

Each one will key into two steel bars at their respective corner and be bolted into the 2x4 steel beams from the side. I'll have to shim them up about 15 mm to leave room for the flooring that will go in once I have a roof up.

I've been tinkering away at this project since about February or March. Progress comes in spurts when I have time and inclination. I hope to have a roof on in a couple of months, however, then the floor and then it's functional. That's always the part of any project where you risk not completely finishing the job, but I think my better half will see to it that I don't let it slide.

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