Last Roof Sheet Still Not Up

An Eccentric Anomaly: Ed Davies's Blog

I still haven't put up the last sheet on the south roof.

My last update in the middle of January ended with me hoping to get on with last sheet the following Friday (January 20th) but actually snow lying stopped that. The snow disappeared over the next few days but wind and rain continued to prevent further useful work.

On the 29th the other (left) front spring on my car went. It took me a few days to summon the enthusiasm to take it to the garage (Wednesday, February 1st) and got it back Friday of the following week (10th).

On Sunday the 12th I drilled the last sheet and left it on the south side of the house ready to put up but the next day but it was a bit too breezy so I put it back on the north side and just cleared some more whins near the entrance then spent some time debating the width of the entrance gate which would be appropriate and went and got the hinges for it.

Over the following days I put in blocking under the eves at the west end of the south roof. I'd deliberately left the ends of the sarking boards under the floor loose for ventilation but now the house is all but water-tight it's time to nail them in place. This is probably worth a separate discussion.

Friday the 17th was very windy (Storm Otto) with gusts to 34 m/s (122 kph, 66 knots, 76 mph) reported at Wick Airport. The next morning I arrived to find my remaining stack of roof sheets somewhat less stack-like:

That had been my three spare sheets directly on the wooden bearers on the right with the last sheet to go on the south roof on top, on the sack cart/transporter-erector vehicle. Conversation with my neighbour: “But you had that log on top to keep them in place”, “Yeah, I thought that would be enough, too”.

One sheet (the one at the back, behind the sack cart, by the container) is creased across the middle so unusable. The rest just have odd scratches which I've touched up with silver Hammerite straight-to-rust paint for now.

With the last sheet being quite complicated to put up and the days still quite short I was looking for two consecutive decent days: dry on both with the first being pretty much calm and the following one having not too much wind. The only real opportunity I've had was Sunday, February 26th.

I got the sheet up and in approximately the right position OK and put the steps up for access:

Looking closely I could see that the sheet was about 20mm too low, which was about as expected, but when I tried to pull it up the last little bit the rope went very tight and when I pulled a little too hard the rope became rather slacker and everything started to go wrong:

I think what happened was that the lifting block caught on the second-to-top batten and when I pulled a bit harder the knot holding to the pulley to the top batten, which had been flapping around in the weather all winter, came undone.

This presented a bit of a conundrum as there didn't seem to be any way to access the sheet to make an attachment to bring it down. I paced up and down, squinting up at it from various directions, for a while considering that the way the sheet had dug into the top of the ramp was a good reminder not to be in the way if it came down quickly.

Making sure my safety rope and fall-arrest harness were properly fitted I climbed up, pulled the sheet so it was closer to square again then, pulling on the ropes as they came out the side, fished the pulley back out again and tied it back on to the top batten:

Trying to pull the sheet back up, the lifting block caught on the second-to-top batten again. This time the lifting block must have twisted round, or something, because it came off the screws through the sheet. When the sheet started to fall I just ran away, very promptly, but it didn't go that far.

Now the problem was to get the sheet down the rest of the way while, in descending order of priority:

In the end I put some timber round the window to give that some protection, then straightened the ladder, climbed up keeping my fingers and toes on the top part of the ladder, straightened the sheet…

…then fed it down slowly under the ladder and took the ladder away:

In the end the only casualties were a few scrapes on this sheet and a small dent to its bottom edge:

Since then there hasn't been a day with good enough weather for me to have another go so I've been fiddling around with other minor projects.