Smoke, Mirrors and Physics

Our long walks always start with a visit to the memorial.

Uh oh, the P-word. For the Monday-math haters, the P-word is probably worse. Don’t hang up. Don’t leave, I promise, no formulas will be used in this post.

It’s Sunday, and I am looking ahead to what I hope will be the beginning of the end of the roofing project – shingling. If I’m lucky, shingles will be delivered later this week. As far as I know, there hasn’t been a run on GAF Timberline shingles, as there had been after hurricanes and tornadoes have struck other parts of the country. When we replaced the roof on our house, plywood prices spiked upward due to some bad storms in the south. Fortunately, our “mile of lumber” as The Editor dubbed it and our pile of plywood was already in the driveway.

I will be ordering 13 square – or enough shingles to cover 1,300 square feet. That will cover the garage, the workshop and the garden shed roofs, so everything will look the same from our back yard. That’s the only place you can see all three roofs. I’ll be ordering a bunch of other stuff, self-sealing membrane, felt paper, drip edge, step-flashing, ridge vent and starter course shingles. Oh, and nails for the nail gun. Yes, I have a nail gun for shingles, too. I gave up hammering a long time ago. See the illustration about the roof configuration if you have an interest. By the way, 13 square = 39 bundles of shingles.

A couple people complimented me on my ability to schlep a piece of plywood up a ladder and swing it onto the roof. Trust me, it’s all done with mirrors. Actually, it’s leverage, the kind of leverage practitioners of martial arts are familiar with. Held in the correct position, i.e. balanced, and swung over a bent shoulder, plywood flies into place pretty easily. Of course, doing this while on a ladder is not for the faint of heart or fearers-of-height, but neither is being on a roof in the first place. Still, when those shingles arrive, I’ll be sending them up the roof via a ladder-hoist.

Don’t pick on me, I’ve carried my fair share of shingles up ladders. When I was a kid, my dad taught me the secret to making a bundle of shingles easier to carry – break the wrapper. As I struggled with the first bundle I tried to carry, he stopped me mid-stride. He pressed hard on both ends of the rigid bundle, breaking the wrapper and causing the shingles to conform to my boney shoulder. Same weight, same gravity, but a much easier load. It’s like the way three sets of 10 is easier to do than 30 of some exercise – mind over math and / or physics.

When I was in college, I worked part-time for a home improvement contractor. One job he had taken was to shingle the roof of a house that was being built. This was in Pittsburgh, so the “being built on a hill” is implied. The shingles had been delivered to the top of the terraced back yard. A makeshift “bridge” made of 2x10s had been stretched across the gap at its narrowest point and my job was to walk the shingles across. I picked up a bundle, broke the wrapper over my shoulder and started off like the pro I was hoping to appear to be. A big fellow yelled over, “you only gonna carry one, college boy?

I was proud of the fact that I was getting an education, but that moniker always stung just a bit.

He proceeded to pick up two bundles, break one over each shoulder and hike across the bridge. I was impressed, but I wasn’t insane, “holy crap…yeah, I’ll carry one at a time.” I was 6’ 2” tall and 125 pounds (that’s 188 cm and about 58 kg) for you metric folk. It’s also about 5 pounds less than the weight of two bundles of shingles.

Before I started the addition on our house, I built a ladder hoist. I owned a 32’ industrial ladder (leftover from my home improvement business), and I bought an electric hoist from Harbor Freight. A little cutting, a little welding and I had a mechanism to carry shingles (and 2x8s and plywood) up onto the roof for me. The process was simple. The Editor (a.k.a. OSHA b-word) would mark the center of everything. I would load the hoist platform and then hike up to the roof. She would run the load up to the top, where I would unload it. She was obsessive about balancing those loads, because the remote control for the hoist is only on a 6’ cord. Too close for her to gamble with gravity.

Wish me full inventory at the lumber yard and fair weather on Thursday.


The gallery has a few pictures from the original project to build the hoist and the recent rebuild and simplification of the hoist mounting. There’s also some pictures from the weekend with Maddie (who isn’t feeling well today – Sunday).

71 thoughts on “Smoke, Mirrors and Physics

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  1. Wow. I am impressed. I had no idea what a “ladder hoist” was, but the little video made it much clearer how one works. I have to admit, Dan, that what caught my attention most was a probably inadvertent typo in your text. You made a reference to “martial arts,” but called them “marshal arts” when you wrote of “practitioners of marshal arts.” Now I grew up on a steady diet of Westerns like Bonanza and Gunsmoke, so my mind took off as I contemplated the question, “Of what marshal arts was Marshal Dillon a practitioner?” The art of drawing a six-shooter really quickly? The art of jumping onto a horse in a single motion? I’m already tired thinking about all of the work involved in your re-roofing job in the heat of the summer. Best wishes, Dan, and stay safe.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Mike – NOTE: for any other reader of this comment, I corrected the word. I will gladly give Mike the title of Auxiliary Editor this week, but I couldn’t leave it hanging there.

      Mr. Dillon was pretty handy with a six-shooter, but I think I did enjoy watching Kwai Chang Caine even more in Kung Foo.

      Thanks again, Mike!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. You gotta know I’m a friend if I read ANYthing with the P word in it. Of course I continue to read Archimedes to Hawking just for the brain exercise. 😂Good luck with all that. I never thought I’d hear myself say this but I think I’d have to just call a great roofing company. Again, you impress me. I think roofing is one thing hubby would leave to the experts although everything else he has done and most of it still does. Be safe up there, College Boy. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha – I will do my best to defy gravity on this project, and I’m pretty sure it’s my last major roofing job. It’s not that big, and, thanks to The Editor’s advice, there are no complicated parts to work around.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. First of all…awww, poor Maddie. I hope she’s feeling better today.
    Second…thanks for not adding physics formulas to your post, on a Monday.
    I continue to admire the DIY in you, Dan. I know you have had years of experience, starting with a dad who taught you the right way to carry a bundle of shingles. But it still fascinates me that you can do so much with your tools and a ladder hoist. I hope you have nice weather for shingling on Thursday and the shingles arrive on time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mary. After sitting behind a desk all week, this kind of work is a welcome release and a huge source of satisfaction. I may even smack a few things with a real hammer ;-)

      I do enjoy making things like the ladder hoist, but I’ll be happy to retire it after this job. The hoist can spend the rest of its days hauling stuff into the attic.

      We’re hoping Maddie has just been done in by the heat and humidity and thunderstorms.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I think it was the guy from the A-Team – “I love it when a plan comes together.” That’s the feeling I got when it actually pulled the weight up without injuring anyone. The Editor ran over 100 2x8s, 60-some sheets of plywood and 90 bundles of shingles up to me when we rebuilt the roof on our house 11 years ago.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your commentary about working in contracting and carrying shingles reminded me the stories my younger son would tell. For 6 years he worked delivering supplies to construction sites. I would cringe at some of the things he was expected to do – like carrying 145 sheets of drywall up 5 flights of stairs.

    Nice to see that the roofing project is coming to the final stages. Having all the supplies arrive when they are needed is always a bonus.

    Hope Maddie is feeling better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Joanne. I feel your son’s pain. That stuff is so heavy, and they expect it so fast. At least with my projects, I can sit and rest, have a sip of water or go inside to cool down. I want to get off this roof in the worst way, but I’m content to take it slow. The siding will take longer, but the work is easier and less dangerous.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I now know how to carry shingles up a ladder. For this I thank you, although I hope I’m never asked to do so. I figure this shingle carrying knowledge is like how to change tire knowledge– good to know in theory, so I can tell other people how to do it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha, yes, just like changing a tire. We taught our daughter how to do that, but we also paid for her to have AAA when she was in school. Some will tell you that bending them doesn’t matter, but this boy is a believer.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Is Maddie ok???!!! I’ll send best wishes through the ether. Dan, it is a testament to you that those of us non science people keep coming back for more. Maddie and MiMi never excluded!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Pam. Maddie has been out of sorts with the heat and the thunderstorms. I think it’s just been piling up to the point where her stomach is churning. Hopefully this weather pattern breaks soon. Yesterday, she didn’t even want to sit outside (she tried to crawl in my chair with me).

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I was concerned when I saw the word, physics, because I had already finished my coffee, and I knew I couldn’t handle it without coffee. But, I love the creativity and common sense of the hoist for the shingles. Way to go, Dan. Now, I’ll be hoping the weather cooperates. Hope Maddie is feeling better. This ghastly weather makes my stomach churn too. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Judy. Maddie gets so scared with the storms, I think maybe it has just taken a toll on her belly.

      Hopefully I get to pout that hoist to use pretty soon, and hopefully the weather cooperates.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. First and foremost, I hope sweet Maddie is feeling perkier today. Even in the AC, Murphy is not quite herself in this heat and humidity….not to mention daily thunderclaps and rain pounding so hard on the roof it sounds like it’s gonna bore a hole right through the shingles. Please give Maddie kisses and hugs and a nice belly rub from Murphy.

    Love seeing a man who makes sure he has the right tools for the job, and then does the job right. My dad always said, “You do the job right the first time, no matter the cost, no matter the time involved.”

    Hopefully supplies arrive on time and weather cooperates. Can’t wait to see the finished product.

    Beautiful cactus rose! The other flower looks like a plain old daisy. Judy would know!
    🔹 Ginger 🔹

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ginger. I knew Maddie’s fan club would be concerned, but all I had for this post was pictures of her laying down in weird positions. I think / hope it the cumulative effect of the constant storms and threats of storms. I think they feel the pressure, not to mention the noise.

      My dad was big on doing the job right and he was also known to make a tool he didn’t have or couldn’t afford. When he had his golf club repair business, he made a bunch of tools that simply didn’t exist.

      The cactus rose is at the end of our street. I thought the others look like daisies, but to me, everything like that is a daisy.

      Like

  9. Be safe on the roof and be grateful you are still agile enough to get it all done.
    Sorry Maddie is not feeling her best. Sometimes a good cuddle solves everything. I hope she doesn’t do like my Mimi – gets upset and throws up everywhere. On second carpet cleaner. Such is life.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I highly admire your hoist. We saw some roofing guys working with a couple of those, and I could tell Charlie was envious. He doesn’t do any roofing anymore, but he’d probably consider it, if he had a trolley hoist.

    Our cats are, as my mother and grandfather used to say, “droopy-drawers” from the heat and humidity. I’m looking forward to the cool fall weather. Hate to say goodbye to the fresh veg, but not to the sweltering closeness of the atmosphere!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. The hoist made both of these projects doable. It’s a silly thing, but it really made all the difference.

      I’m hoping Maddie is just at odds with the weather system of evil. It’s been so hot and humid for the past few weeks, that it’s just not right.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Believe it or not, I actually followed and understood what you are talking about. I’ve assisted hubby enough to do so. What you are doing, Dan, again I say, is commendable!! It is HARD work! That’s the thing though when you put yourself into a project the way you are. When you are finished, you will never forget what went into what you did, and you will feel so much pride for doing a job well done. Huge applause from moi!!! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Dan – I half understood – but had realised you were going to roof your garage and sheds – that’s good enough … and to realise you have sufficient common sense to get it done properly, especially with the editor’s masterly eye. Sorry about poor Maddie – hope she’ll feeling easier soon … take care and good luck with it all – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  13. That ladder hoist is awesome! Although I’ve never carried a full pack of shingles by myself, I did help roof our house after our major remodel about 20 years ago. I was trying to remember if I used a hammer or a nail gun… probably a hammer. Please be careful on your roof(s)… a fall wouldn’t be good. I hope Lady Maddie is feeling better soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I read the title wrong and thought we’d be reading about psychics. In contrast, I was relieved it was physics. Weird fact about me: I tutored physics. Formulas. I know.
    So that’s cool about the shingles, “College Boy” — makes darn good sense. Kinda how to carry a toddler on a hip. (Not up a ladder. But you know that now. Hahaha! Phew, I’m slap happy!) You’re clearly knowledgeable. Props to you on good DIY!
    I hope Maddie feels better :)
    The flowers you’re unsure of are called fleabane and most gardeners keep them.

    Like

    1. You’re right about carrying a toddler on your hip (I did take mine up a ladder, but…) We are trying to do some good DIY here. I’m having some fun and we’re making some progress.

      Maddie seems to be getting back to normal (for her). Thanks for the info on the flowers!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Aww. I hope Maddie is feeling better today. This heat and humidity are enough to get us all down. Be safe shingling your roof. I down like getting on a three-foot ladder let alone climb up to roof! I’m not fond of heights.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. My husband, a structural engineer, worked a crew of men on pre-designed steel building. He hated heights so the men were always finding reasons for him to climb up to the roof. While he was there they hoisted his truck with a crane. My husband still doesn’t like heights but loved that crew and the fun they made the work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No. I can’t carry two at a time at all. These will clock in at about 80 lbs per bundle. I’ll run two or three up the hoist and distribute them across the roof, roughly where I’ll need them. It’s the 2nd worst part of roofing (after stripping the old shingles off).

      I’ll appreciate your thought, Jennie!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Your engineering skills are remarkable to me! That hoist looks pretty neat, and your Editor has some fine skills too!

    Diva Dog isn’t doing to well either…must be the heat here, and her age.I hope the storms pass so Maddie gets to feeling better soon!

    Best of luck on Thursday, and stay safe, and please defy gravity!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Deborah. Maddie is feeling better. I’m hoping to be able to work around the storms.

      I think the heat and humidity finally hot to Maddie. We had a couple of cooler and drier days and she peeled up.

      I’ll do my best to defy gravity.

      Liked by 1 person

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