The Jim & Anne FreiburgerBarn

Bronson, MI

Jim recalls that it was May 2, 2005 when the Stitts’ Amish crew set up camp near the barn and worked steadily until their portion of the project was completed on June 22nd.  The balance of the work such as stairs, railings, electrical and painting was done by local contractors and completed the following October. 

Re-laying the Fieldstone Foundation.

Most of fieldstone foundation had collapsed and was rebuilt with the ample supply of stone found on most every Michigan farm—a gift of the glacier’s retreat.  The exterior ground grade on two sides of the barn was raised several feet to compensate for the soil “walked away” by generations of cattle. 

Except for the wagon drive-through and milking shed, the barn floor was compacted soil.  This was removed to the depth of 18” and replaced by compacted fill to 8” above the original level and concrete was poured over wire mesh. 

Wood siding, roof shingles and loft decking were removed to expose the timber frame.  This allowed the entire frame to be carefully power washed—removing a century of grime but preserving the patina.  Fortunately the timber frame was free of insect damage; otherwise a boron treatment might have been required.  The new siding is 1” rough sawn white pine painted with two coats of Sherwin-Williams “Duration”. 

Sometime after the barn’s construction “modern” hay handling equipment, namely a hay track and car were introduced.  As often occurred four critical tie beams were removed so that full hay slings suspended from the hay car could be pulled to any point along the steel hay track mounted at the interior roof peak.  Surprisingly the roof system did not fail with the removal of these tie beams.  Nevertheless, in the interest of structural integrity, the Stitts pulled the posts to vertical and used “old, new” beams were cut and pegged to replace the four missing tie beams.   The original roof boards were retained and covered with ˝” plywood, felt paper and metal. 

Preparations for a Concrete Floor.

Except for the wagon drive-through where once hay slings lifted loose hay into the mows, a loft covered the first floor.  About 20 percent of the loft was removed to better view the timbers, hay track and rafters of the “cathedral ceiling”.  The log joists of the removed loft were used for posts and handrails on the new stairs, and railings on the opening in the mezzanine-like reconstructed loft.  The loft floor features new 2 x 6 tongue & groove ponderosa pine decking.

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