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I have been thinking a lot lately about how I would love to have a remote cabin somewhere that I can boat to just to completely unplug. Here in southeast AK there are very few interconnecting roads, and there is only 2 within 300 miles that actually go to the outside world so a boat would be needed which I have. There is land that comes up for sale now and then and I am going be looking for some. Anyway, the purpose of this topic is cabin building, trying to mostly use just the raw trees for building materials perhaps because of transporting or financial issues etc. I have a chainsaw mill, which I consider the bare minimum for making lumber. I have used it to make the timbers for a timber frame I am building in Haines, http://www.marlinowners.com/forums/index.php/topic,71863.0.html and while I like that place, That is to be our primary retirement residence. It is on the road system, and has utilities, neighbors, taxes, etc etc etc, not really my idea of remote wilderness living, the edge of wilderness definitely, but still not quite it. And I don't want a full diet of roughing it either, just a place to get away.

I think building a log place is out for me, as it takes too many trees that need to be felled, pealed, drug, lifted, fitted etc etc. I aint getting any younger! I think I would go about it by using my chainsaw mill and make dimensional lumber and stick frame it. If it was too hard to transport plywood I think I would make "ship lap", which is what they used to use before plywood was invented. It is basically 1 by6 or 1x8 planks with a notch, or lap cut along the side of the board so when nailed down the lap of one covers the lap of the next. These are nailed down at a 45 degree angle, both on floors and walls to get the shear strength needed, like so many triangles. I would make the roof with metal roofing so it would shed snow, and probably steep pitched with a sleeping loft above.

Details like making the cabin bear resistant would need to be incorporated as they can make a major mess of things! Propane lights and refrigeration is very handy and not hard to set up. Maybe since this is rain country, having a rain collection and filtration system with a cistern would be nice. While I don't have anything against electricity, it can be a pain to maintain batteries and solar panels, so maybe just have a pitcher pump.. Anyway that is just my dream, in my area. I hope that this thread might turn into a springboard of ideas for building sturdy shelters off the grid. I know this is a dream of a lot of folk and I would love to hear more about their ideas in their own areas, of what has been done or what people would like to have for themselves..
 

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I have been mulling over the same idea. Being a park ranger is almost like being in the wild but not quite. I have a small field in my back woods that I have thought about building a sample cabin. Something to practice on and perfect my skills. Then when a pice of property comes along I will be able to build what I want. Like you I have a chainsaw mill and quite a few trees. I also have the advantage of a tractor and modern tools very close if I need them. I figure building a small cabin will teach me what I need to know and I can build a real size one later. As for your situation I would think planking the trees is your biggest problem. Once you have some dry workable lumber then its just a matter of time. Build a small drying shelter first and then start working trees. I have seen the post with your other projects, your skills are outstanding.

I don't know if any cabin is bear proof. I think high windows and doors that lock in multiple places is a must. I know nothing of propane refridgeration but it sounds like a plan.

This looks like the makings of a good thread.
 

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Your chainsaw mill is a good basic plank maker. Larger table saws can be gas powered and do cut very efficient.

Far as basic buildings are concerned you could build it pole style, basic framing lumber need only sized on two sides with the edges just peeled. If you overlap boards for interior or exterior no need to trim the edges there either.



Far as the electric is concerned, don't bypass the solar 12v charger, combine that with a few LED automotive bulbs and 12v radio, plus a CB or other two way radio and one battery lasts a long time, figure you could put a fresh charged extra on your boat when your going to the cabin. Add a 700 watt inverter and you have AC for emergency if needed.

Gas reefer and lamp would be all the light you would need. There are also combo units that can be salvaged from motor homes that run on gas, 12v or 110v ac.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
ochretoe said:
I have been mulling over the same idea. Being a park ranger is almost like being in the wild but not quite. I have a small field in my back woods that I have thought about building a sample cabin. Something to practice on and perfect my skills. Then when a pice of property comes along I will be able to build what I want. Like you I have a chainsaw mill and quite a few trees. I also have the advantage of a tractor and modern tools very close if I need them. I figure building a small cabin will teach me what I need to know and I can build a real size one later. As for your situation I would think planking the trees is your biggest problem. Once you have some dry workable lumber then its just a matter of time. Build a small drying shelter first and then start working trees. I have seen the post with your other projects, your skills are outstanding.

I don't know if any cabin is bear proof. I think high windows and doors that lock in multiple places is a must. I know nothing of propane refridgeration but it sounds like a plan.

This looks like the makings of a good thread.
Sounds like you have a pretty good gig as far as occupations go! I suppose there are downsides, but compared with the A/C office cubicle life, even the worst day out there in the park would have to be better.....

Yeah, the bear proof cabin has got to be built like a fort! ;D In interior AK when I was growing up we had a cabin about 35 river miles from the hwy and my Dad had built some strong bear doors and shutters that did the trick. Bolting angle iron around the windows and then having 1" plywood fit inside the angle so the bear couldn't get his claws behind and rip it off worked. The bear door was made from WW2 surplus steel called "landing mat" that was used to land bombers on right over mud in the Aleutians. Our cabin never had a bear inside, lots of swat marks tho! It was usually about October if there was a bad berry year a bear would get the idea to open up a cabin, and once started he would go up or down river hitting one after another, each one tore up worse than the last. A bear can build up a rage pretty quick eating bloody busted mayonnaise jars and the like.. Usually someone would go up after the first snow and put it down.

I agree about milling green wood, it does need to dry before it is usable. Covering and stickering will dry out 1 by in a few months, 2 by longer. I think it is best to fall the trees in late winter, at least in the northern areas before they start pulling water in the spring.

That sounds like a great idea to build a cabin on your land, just to get ideas when the time comes. It can be used for lots of things, guest cabin, storage or a small shop/reloading room.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
swany said:
Your chainsaw mill is a good basic plank maker. Larger table saws can be gas powered and do cut very efficient.

Far as basic buildings are concerned you could build it pole style, basic framing lumber need only sized on two sides with the edges just peeled. If you overlap boards for interior or exterior no need to trim the edges there either.



Far as the electric is concerned, don't bypass the solar 12v charger, combine that with a few LED automotive bulbs and 12v radio, plus a CB or other two way radio and one battery lasts a long time, figure you could put a fresh charged extra on your boat when your going to the cabin. Add a 700 watt inverter and you have AC for emergency if needed.

Gas reefer and lamp would be all the light you would need. There are also combo units that can be salvaged from motor homes that run on gas, 12v or 110v ac.
Yeah I never thought about it but get one of those old Delta Rockwell table saws that was belt driven and hook a Briggs to it.. When I made 2by lumber with my chainsaw mill I just ripped slabs, and then snapped a chalk line and used my old worm drive Skillsaw to get an edge and then ripped whatever I wanted with the table saw.

Having a small 12v electric system might be a good thing if you didn't get tempted to go too elaborate. My brother ended up doing one that probably cost 10 grand by the time it was all said and done, with a propane heated building for his batteries and inverter/charger and a diesel generator that would automatically start up and charge the batts when needed etc etc. He spent all his time away from his "cabin" worrying about it! But he had everything you could want, refrigeration, entertainment etc. I always thought he might as well stay home! ;D

I have fond memories of the old Coleman lanterns that made that particular sound when burning. With those you could turn the gas off and have enough light to see to get into the sleeping bag before it went dark!..
 

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Good old fashioned candle or oil lamps still get the job done and do double up with a mirror behind them.

Here is something I'll share, a single green LED bulb on my phones charger gets me around after dark, can't imagine what 10 white ones would do. Going say from my bedroom using that one LED, then out in the hallway another on my smoke detector, and another on a cordless toothbrush in the bathroom I don't need to turn on any lights at night to get around.

I have seen a 40 inch round blade powered by a two cylinder snowmobile engine, around 40hp they do the job.
 

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Any plans for a connected fireplace or other type of heating? Perhaps an old fashioned wood burning stove?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
mt1761 said:
Any plans for a connected fireplace or other type of heating? Perhaps an old fashioned wood burning stove?
I think I would go with an older air tight pre EPA stove for a smaller cabin. I have a new Jotul Black Bear in the house I am building and it is a real marvel at what a well designed EPA stove will do. When it is up and running there is zero smoke, it all gets ignited in the secondary burn. The problem with those stoves is they don't like to be choked down, a lot of them wont, even with the air shut off. In a small cabin even the smallest EPA stoves will want to run too hot for my taste. I think a kitchen stove with oven would be great in a cabin, or else just a box stove with something to increase the length of the flame path.
 

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Sounds like a great idea!
The camp we use has coleman lanterns, propane stove, propane fridge, and pot belly stove. Been around since the 30's. The propane stove and fridge are fuel efficient. The fridge is normal size, but has a much thicker door, door has a clasp handle, and sides are insulated (it has been there for 50+ years and still works just fine). The bunks are all in the loft. No problem keeping the entire place warm with the pot belly stove even in the deep of winter. The tin roof without gutters works great for letting the snow slide off.

The whoosh sound of a Coleman lantern is one of the best. The small size coleman liquid fuel single mantel lanterns are nice for indoors and don't give off the heat of the large version.

Problem we are dealing with now is mold / mildew. After all the decades of seasons with limited use, thick tree coverage and limited airing the place out, it is in everything, furniture, walls and floors. No real way to dry it out for good.

If I was building a small cabin (for limited use), one room with a loft. It would have some 'air space' (not a crawl space by any means) under the floor for building ventilation (keeps everything 'clear' after a few decades in the woods. A decent stone footer around the perimeter, layout/tack heavy wire screen mesh under the rafters to keep the little critters out as best possible, and solid corner posts to build on. Would go with a iron wood burner stove rather than a fire place for efficiency and heat.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
mikem2 said:
Sounds like a great idea!
The camp we use has coleman lanterns, propane stove, propane fridge, and pot belly stove. Been around since the 30's. The propane stove and fridge are fuel efficient. The fridge is normal size, but has a much thicker door, door has a clasp handle, and sides are insulated (it has been there for 50+ years and still works just fine). The bunks are all in the loft. No problem keeping the entire place warm with the pot belly stove even in the deep of winter. The tin roof without gutters works great for letting the snow slide off.

The whoosh sound of a Coleman lantern is one of the best. The small size coleman liquid fuel single mantel lanterns are nice for indoors and don't give off the heat of the large version.

Problem we are dealing with now is mold / mildew. After all the decades of seasons with limited use, thick tree coverage and limited airing the place out, it is in everything, furniture, walls and floors. No real way to dry it out for good.

If I was building a small cabin (for limited use), one room with a loft. It would have some 'air space' (not a crawl space by any means) under the floor for building ventilation (keeps everything 'clear' after a few decades in the woods. A decent stone footer around the perimeter, layout/tack heavy wire screen mesh under the rafters to keep the little critters out as best possible, and solid corner posts to build on. Would go with a iron wood burner stove rather than a fire place for efficiency and heat.
Propane refrigeration is really a great idea. They do last just about forever and isn't hard to bring fuel to it. The mildew is a problem, especially in damper locations. I like cabins up on pilings with plenty of air circulation, and storage under. Then it is good to get a little sun on it as well so limb the branches up 20 feet or so if they are tall trees, and to use the cabin regularly so as to warm it up and also circulate fresh air. Try to cook with a window cracked open just to let the release of moisture from being trapped. Some of the more drier climates don't have the problem at all, but some it is bad. Maybe in place of mattresses, the use of inflatable mattresses might cut it down, and to for storage, put the bedding in those vacuum bags that you can suck the air out of by using the reverse air fitting on those big hand operated inflatable air pumps.
 

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Lots of good ideas here. I have always wanted a retreat of this type as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Digger said:
Lots of good ideas here. I have always wanted a retreat of this type as well.
I have really been getting the hankering for this lately as well. I have lots and lots of fond memories as a kid of going up to our Salcha river cabin on the weekends sitting out there listening for a boat coming up the river or laying in the bunk with the rain on the metal roof. Now when people think of a getaway they build a friggen house! With utilities, satellite TV and whatnot. Just want a basic 1 room cabin, maybe with a few bunks, small counter with a dish pan and cook stove, if possible a hand driven well with a pitcher pump. NO TV! ;D
 

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eaglesnest said:
laying in the bunk with the rain on the metal roof. With utilities, satellite TV and whatnot. Just want a basic 1 room cabin, maybe with a few bunks, small counter with a dish pan and cook stove, if possible a hand driven well with a pitcher pump. ;D
This makes me want to build a cabin. I want the same thing, simplicity. And a porch where I can sit with my lever Action, a drink, and watch the sun set in the rockies. Life is too short friends, lets do it.
 

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desertdog said:
This makes me want to build a cabin. I want the same thing, simplicity. And a porch where I can sit with my lever Action, a drink, and watch the sun set in the rockies. Life is too short friends, lets do it.
+1!
I think it is something everyone needs whether they know it or not.. We simply weren't meant for this overcrowded 21st century!
 

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This makes me want to build a cabin. I want the same thing, simplicity. And a porch where I can sit with my lever Action, a drink, and watch the sun set in the rockies. Life is too short friends, lets do it.
I have a friend we was raised together when young,He has built a whole town ;D,There was a write up about it in our local paper,He even built his own sawmill,Last time I seen hinm he said he was going to have to get the motor back off it & put it back on his wifes lawn mower before she missed it,LOL.
Anyway he has 2 house's 1 of them has an up stairs with a huge fireplace.A Church,Blacksmith shop,
He built all of it by hand & most of it by his self.Even dug a 40' well & cased it with rock.
Several of the local church's come in the spring & summer to use his church.It is amazing to see it.
 

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That is what I have finally got for myself. In Montana, it's dry enough we don't have much trouble with mold, mine is build on metal framework, barn style roof, 16'X30' with an 8' porch on a 30' side. Second floor is the same size with a pull down attic type stair set-up. I'm running 12 V with inverter for some lights and radio, no TV and NO CELL SERVICE! ;) Picked up some solar panels to install this year and may try to put together a small wind generator. If I'm up there long enough to run out of juice for the batteries, I fire up the generator to charge them up, little Honda 650 is quiet. Picked up a 3,500 Watt to use for running electric tools to finish off the inside, problem is I get up there and spend to much time setting on the porch drinking coffee and watching the herds of elk and mule deer around the place. that and I have to haul water. Sounds like wells may run deeper than 1,000 ft. around the area, gonna be cheaper to put in a cistern and haul water up each trip. Stepping out the front door, I look across a valley to tree'd ridges 1500 yd away. To my left is a ridge of trees dropping off 35 yd away, behind me is another ridge with trees 200 yd away and to my right is can literally see for several miles with Buttes off in the distance. Found muddy elk tracks on my porch last fall, and counted 128 head starting 4 properties over and ending up with 7 cows and 5 elk calves behind the cabin. West end of Fort Peck lake is 28 miles down the road to the east of me for some great fishing. My little piece of Heaven guys, thanks for letting me share. DP
 

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Sounds wonderful dpe.ahoy! I have never actually been to Montana, but it sounds like an awesome place to me.. I have had quite a bit of experience working with off the grid stuff, worked a few years on the North Slope doing battery and UPS maintenance. One thing that will kill a lead acid battery is if you take too much out of them between charges. I always went as a rule of thumb, take 1/3rd out and then charge em back, 1/2 in an emergency. If the battery is 1000 amp hour, only take 300 out. Use a hydrometer, or better yet an amp hour meter that reverses when you put the charge back..
Sounds like you have a little paradise going, good for you!
 

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Yah, I learned that lesson with the RV battery the first year, it didn't make it till spring. Now I have 3 of em I rotate out, as soon as the gauge starts to creep down on one, another takes it's place. I only get up there for weekends most of the time, the first week of hunting season and when ever other bits of time come up I can steal away. I do like to read alot at night, but the batteries last quite a while. Once I get the solar panels hooked up, (90 watt total) they should keep everything topped off fine between trips. DP
 

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dpe.ahoy said:
Yah, I learned that lesson with the RV battery the first year, it didn't make it till spring. Now I have 3 of em I rotate out, as soon as the gauge starts to creep down on one, another takes it's place. I only get up there for weekends most of the time, the first week of hunting season and when ever other bits of time come up I can steal away. I do like to read alot at night, but the batteries last quite a while. Once I get the solar panels hooked up, (90 watt total) they should keep everything topped off fine between trips. DP
Using solar will be good for your batteries, especially in sunny Montana. The last few amp hours topping off is the most important part of recharging and that is where solar panels shine, no pun! 8)
 
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