SOLON & BEYOND: The art of tearing down barns

Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percyby Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percy
Solon, Maine 04979

This is the second time that I have had to write two columns in one week for one reason or another. This one is for October 15 and I didn’t get what little recent news I have received in time to get them in the paper they should have been in. Anyway: in order to let you know what has been going on I am going to print them.

As you know, I have been using articles about events that happened mostly back “in the good old days,” such as the one on dowsing, that I got an e-mail offering me a job. And have received other interesting comments, many thanks go out!

Have received two wonderful visits from a friend who has a business of tearing barns and buildings down. Perhaps some of you know Jeff McAllister who grew up in Caratunk and now lives in Bingham. He has been collecting old things like bottles, etc., for many years and has a business of tearing down old barns and buildings. He has visited us a couple of times and it is very interesting to hear about what he enjoys doing in his job. I asked him how many buildings he had torn down and he said 34 buildings and two dozen barns, within 52 miles, he chuckled and said he gets a “minimal wage!”…but you can tell, he loves every minute of it!

Being at the age that I have now reached, I love hearing about his interest in old things. Guess he could see that, and yesterday he brought down three pages he had written about “How to Tear a Barn Down,” that he wondered if I would want to write about in this column. Right off quick, I said “Sure”, but then I asked him if he wanted to share this information because it might take some of his business away when they learned how to do it, he still said “Yes.” I told him I was limited for space so all of it won’t be in this time.

In Jeff’s words, “Anyone can tear a barn down. Simply hook a chain onto a girder or plate and pull with a 4 x 4 truck. Every action has a reaction. If the barn is post and beam and mortised and tender the reaction of pulling with a 4 x 4 from either a girder or plate will be damaging to all lumber involved. The pinion with a hand made wooden peg which goes through the beam will tare wood out from connected beams, this being done this way is TEARING the barn down.

How Jeff Dismantles a Barn.

My number one objective is to salvage all useable lumber. I prep the barn for what I call a controlled pull. The general public doesn’t give me barns in good shape. Either the roof is bad or foundation has given away. First I look over the barn for safety sake. Is it safe to go into? Is the barn spreading, meaning the walls are kinking out. Are all the pinions and pegs solid? If the rafters are solid and still pegged into the plates it’s O.K to work on the roof.

The following is my way of prepping a barn for my controlled pull. First I take out both gable ends. If it’s too high for my ladders I push out the gable ends so as to bypass when I pull the roof down. Next I take out all supports that are vertical up to all rafters. Now after all this is done, I am now ready to hook my chains for my controlled pull. I run my chains along the inside of the plates behind all the rafters. Now I am ready to pull, and 90 percent of the time the roof will collapse flat onto the girders, Then I am happy it’s not now a big barn.

That is the first page of the article about How to Dismantle a Barn, by Jeff McAllister. ( I’ll be waiting to hear how many of you are going to try it?) Will be putting in the rest of it next week if there is room.

Just so you know, the Neighbor to Neighbor Thrift Shop in Embden is NOT accepting donations for the next two weeks until Wed., October 21.

Please note the Thrift Shop is open Wednesdays 9 a.m. – noon and Saturdays 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. When the library is open the Lending Library is open. Also the People Who Care Food Cupboard is open on Saturday from noon – 2 p.m. Also on Wednesday is: Sewing 10 a.m. – noon and Bone Building from 9 – 10 a.m.

Also from Carol: We are cancelling the October 12, 2020, Embden Historical Society meeting on “Embden’s Changes Over the Last 200 years.”

And now for Percy’s memoir from a clipping when I was writing for the Somerset Gazette back in 1996, before Percy! This week I’m going to end with some more advice from Boogar Hollow. Now keep in mind that this book was published in Lindale, Georgia, so the dialect is different from ours. As a reporter I believe strongly in this one… “You can lose plenty while jumpin’ to conclusions, but muscles ‘n strength come from diggin’ for facts.”


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