Latest project: Truck rack

This project has been in the back of my mind for a long time. My truck has approximately a 6′ bed and therefore longer items (lumber, ladders, sheet goods) either lean up against the cab, which dents it, or protrude out the back. The solution was to build a rack that would create more options for loading. Until very recently I was planning to make a long ladder rack, the kind that cantilevers forward over the cab. But I realized that something simpler would meet my needs and require less steel, making it lighter as well. The design I eventually settled …

Extremes

Week number 4 in Haiti, kay number 3, seems to be a week of at least two extremes. First, it’s hotter than it has been; we’re on an exposed ridge without any immediate tree cover, and the sun has been beating down. In the evenings, though, a brisk breeze begins to whip through and it cools down significantly. The second extreme is one of beauty; this kay is in the most spectacular setting of the ones I’ve built so far. The local road, a rugged dirt track, runs along the ridge and the house is right on the road. On …

A typical work day

Work continues to go very well on the second house. The crew is working hard and we’ve improved on some of the details that were missed last week. The trusses and purlins are up, the front and back doors are installed, and we’re looking at a good chance of finishing up tomorrow, ahead of schedule. Work days here tend to follow a routine. People are up early, around 6-6:30. There’s no full breakfast, but the family serves bread with very sweet strong coffee and sometimes hot chocolate as well — all grown right here. We work until lunchtime, have a …

Haiti: Week 3 Begins

I’m now in my third week in Haiti, and today was the second work day on the second of six kays (houses) I’ll be building. This will be an interesting week. It’s the only week for which I’ll have no American volunteers, just the Haitian crew. That’s fine, it’s just an extra challenge to have no recourse to English if a complicated issue comes up! On the other hand, I’m learning a lot, both language-wise and about the greater context in which I find myself. We took a long walk through the mountains after work today, and the homeowner proudly …

Haiti Days 1-3

Saturday, April 13. Arrived at the Port-au-Prince airport and through a crowd of red-shirted porters found the folks who were there to pick me up. With a stop for groceries and a SIM card the drive through heavy traffic to Léogâne, our home base, took about two hours. The amount of action on the street is incredible: tap-taps and motos weave their way around each other in constant near-catastrophe; men and women, well-dressed and shabby alike, line the sides of the road; endless vendors sell mangos and lottery tickets; lines build up at the gas stations due to the current gas …

Step 1: Installing side “bumpers”

  In order to attach my “mystery build” to the trailer, I have two main problems to solve. Most utility trailers are built to a maximum total width of 8′-6″. That’s the widest allowed dimension for road travel. And that’s measured to the outside of the wheel wells. Unless the trailer bed sits on top of the wheels (which mine does not), the actual trailer bed is smaller — typically 7′ or slightly less. To get the widest possible structure on the trailer, therefore, it needs to extend past the trailer frame on either side. But I didn’t want to …

Mystery Build

Today I got the first piece of a new project. I’m calling it the “Mystery Build”, because what I will be building is a mystery to others (and also to me). However, the first piece is not a mystery. It’s a 7′ x 18′ flatbed utility trailer, with a double axle and a total weight rating of 12,000 lbs. More to come.

Revising & updating my portfolio

I’ve been busy applying to graduate schools lately, and that has prompted me to work on revising and updating my portfolio. In addition to my traditional portfolio, I’ve been working to organize and document my work on the web, and the results can be found in the ‘Portfolio’ section of this website. Digital portfolios offer a means to display a much broader and deeper array of work, with no limit to the amount of content and a variety of formats available. However, working within the WordPress.com structure, I have kept the design fairly straightforward and uncluttered. I’m aiming for a …

Building an Incentive Kay

I returned this past Saturday from my week-long trip to Haiti with the Building Goodness Foundation (BGF). The trip was a great experience, although there are plenty of challenges involved in working in the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Not least, I was sick and well below 100% for three of our five work days, but luckily we had a great team of American volunteers and Haitian carpenters and the construction went without a hitch. The house is small by most standards, 12′ by 20′, although not too small because many aspects of Haitian life, such as cooking and …

Bonjou nan kreyòl ayisyen

Bonjou tout moun! (You’re not crazy, I’m trying to write in Haitian Creole. Scroll down for a translation…) Kom m’ te poste anvan, m’ pral ale nan Ayiti nan kat jou pou m’ pase youn semen la. Donk, m’ te panse, fòk m’ aprann yon ti kras kreyòl ayisyen (ou “ayisyen” tou senpleman). M’ renmen aprann lang yo, e kom m’ pale deja franse e gen anpil mo nan ayisyen ki sanble a mo franse, pètèt se pi fasil. Pou antrene m’ nan ayisyen, m’ te deside ekri kèk mo pou m’ prezante e pou pale sou efò mwen pou …