The Cider House, part 3

Well, I thought the worst was over when Virginia and Michael replaced the 26 foot sill on the east side of the cider house in Part 2. Now I’m told that the most dangerous step is the next one, rebuilding the cripple wall on the north side. The sill above it was repaired in Part 1.

The first step was to jack the sill up off of the old supports and then remove those supports, which included an ancient rusty jack that was cemented into the foundation wall.

Removing the old cripple wall

Michael cut a bunch of studs that flare at the top so that they will support both the sill and the joists on the inside. Then they assembled the cripple wall on supports just outside of the foundation wall.

Assembling the cripple wall

Once assembled, the pieces were pegged together.

Before the cripple wall was slid into place, Michael cut a cog into it.


Then ever so slowly with a lot of banging and pushing, the cripple wall was slid into place between the foundation wall and the sill. You can see the cog in the upper left hand corner of the picture.

Cripple wall in place

With the sills now at the proper height, the corner of the cider house has been raised about a foot.

Old height of the bottom of the sill

This is why this step of the restoration was so dangerous. Over the course of several days the corner of the cider house was jacked up an inch or so at a time and allowed to settle into the new position before being raised any higher. If it was raised too quickly, something could have snapped. It had to be coaxed ever so gently back into a position it hadn’t seen in decades.

The final step was to cover the opening with siding. The old flooring that was pulled up on the upper level was power washed to remove over a century of paint and crud. These boards were then used for the siding.

“New” siding

Tar paper was slipped under the old siding above the opening and in front of the bottom timber of the cripple wall. The siding above was bevel cut underneath so the “new” siding could slip behind these boards to keep water off of the upper edge of the new siding.

And if, someday, someone should remove the siding they will discover the initials and date: VG MMXX.


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