The Barn became a solution to a problem that was created in the fall of 2006. I have 23 POS cars parked in a back 40 of my buddy Tommy’s property. Then one day I get the call;

“You need to get the shit out of here”

I wasn’t surprised about the call, but it I still wasn’t ready for it. Now what?

I drove past this barn that was about a mile up the road nearly everyday. Then one day there is a “for sale” sign up. I thought to myself that might work.

I start trading phone calls with the guy who owns it, he also happened to be the selling agent for the house I live in when I bought it. My goal is to rent the barn, his goal is to sell it to me. After long rounds of waiting for him to call me back (this is a negotiation necessity) , I finally suggest that I would consider a “rent to own” concept. This is great for me, as I am more interested in the “rent” part, and he thinks the place is sold. The way the project is going, I might want to buy the thing…

Barn with snowThe barn has three levels: Basement with a dirt floor and poured cement (not concrete) walls, the main floor, and a upper level, which is really just a few barn board that run across the beams.

The bottom floor is currently storing the engines and transmissions. It would be sweet to pour a concrete floor and put in a workshop. It would be easy to insulate the ceiling and keep this area heated. The main floor could fit 8 vw’s if I really crammed it full, but right now I have 5 buses, and the squareback inside. The third level could be reinforced to become a perfect parts storage area.

There are two flaws with the space. The first is the barn wood floors; uneven, with holes and large cracks. This makes it a challenge to roll around on a creeper or move my tool chests. I could put in a plywood floor with shims to level out a “working area” and I probably will this summer.

Building the TroughThe second flaw is a bigger problem. The roof is tin and delivers a load of snow precisely in front of the doors after each heavy snow. Sometimes this just means that I need to shovel for half an hour to get in, but if we get pounded with snow like we have in February and March of this year, then a solid ice block is created. Add a few days of rain like we had, and forget about it . It has been 5 weeks since I secured entrance to it. Saturday was a nice day. Even though it was 22 degrees. I decided to try to get it open.

Loaded with 3 shovels, a hoe, an axe and a hammer, I dragged my kids out to work onOpen this. Now living in a mining town for 5 years taught me a few things; A) Anything can be removed with pressure and force. B) Rocks are harder than ice C) Most chain gangs are successful because they use free labor and the work is simple enough for anyone, even kids. I decided the first step would be to remove snow… this took the 5 foot mound down to about 3 feet. Next, create a trough behind the block of ice in front of the door. Then, start chipping the ice between the door and the solid block… This needed to be gentle work, because we could easily damage the thin steel walls of the barn.

minning

We chip and muck (a mining technique) and slowly, over a period of two hours, we get to within 8 inches of the ground, and hit solid ice. It is time for Calcium Carbonate. I purchased a large bag for this occasion. We put a generous heap across the edge of the block of ice and call it a day. Wine makes a wonderful muscle relaxant. My kids each took hot baths that night.

Heater meltOn Sunday, we return to find that the Cal Carb did it’s job, and the block of ice is now filled with holes. A little chipping with a hammer,we get the track clean enough that with a little pulling, the door opens. Then we can attack the ice with heavy tools… 70,000 BTU’s of heat can really finish a job off well. Once it gets fired up, the track, the block of ice, the channel all start to turn to water and wash away.

Clean TrackHopefully this will stay like this for a while, and I can start to work on the right door, which is still in the same condition that I found the first one in on Saturday… just a little pressure and force and it will be open. The best part: I now can start on the Squareback engine.