Kit construction.

The kit arrived on Saturday, 9/15/01, and the basic dome framework was erected by myself within a week. I got a little help from my wife and a friend who passed up some of the lumber, but most of the work was done alone. The first two layers of triangles fit together pretty easily, but a little exertion was needed to get points to meet on the next layer. As the instructions state, the kit does tend to lean in on itself as it's going up.

The instructions for the dome construction are very simple and easy to follow, and the color-coded system for the basic framework is pretty much idiot-proof. Even if you occasionally miss the color coding, it's impossible to put a strut in the wrong place - if you do, it just won't fit.

Along with scaffolding and a nail gun, the instructions recommend using a "drift pin" to help align the pre-drilled holes in the struts with those in the connectors. I found the drift pin to be very handy. It was possible to slip a strut into a connector, slip the drift pin into one of the two bolt holes, and allow the pin to hold the strut in place while I slipped a bolt into the other hole. This way, it was quite easy to do the basic frame by myself.

I also found the task of constructing the basic frame to be remarkably peaceful. Since no power tools are needed (or even a hammer), it's a very quiet process, and I really appreciated this time outdoors, away from distractions. The terrorist attacks had occurred while the kit was on route from Timberline, and my week spent out in the sun building my big Tinker Toy set was a blessed respite from the stress. I had brought a radio to listen to, but never turned it on - the day-long humming of the late summer insects was more appreciated.

By the time I got to the top, the five struts that make up the top pentagon all ended up perfectly in place. Slipping the final connector over these five pieces was a snap.

The next two steps in the kit contruction, installing the studs and the plywood shell, were more difficult. Unlike the dome struts and connectors, there's nothing holding the studs or plywood in place until they're fastened, and doing this solo was a real challenge at times. I ended up enlisting the aid of my carpenter Bob Shreve to help with the plywood installation.

From the time the kit was delivered to the time that the frame, studs, plywood, and extensions were done was a little over two weeks. By the 3rd of October, we were ready for the roof to go on.

more to come...

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