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Old 04-22-2018, 04:26 PM   #1
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Replacing old notched main beam 1867 kitchen


I am hoping there are some folks out there with old house experience. Our home is a 1867 post & beam house on the first two floors and then a balloon frame built onto it for the second and attic floors. The main kitchen beam 6'x6' appears to have been a repurposed beam with a half dozen mortise holes, multiple cutouts that basically cripple the beam and to top it all off is barely attached/notched into the supporting vertical beam 8'x8'. I am fairly certain, the workmen who installed this disaster were intoxicated or thieves back in 1867. We will be consulting a structural engineer, but is it possible to cut this beam out (with support on either side) and replace it with an engineered beam? Question: Should we notch it into the existing vertical beam and outer wall beam to maintain the rigid structure or not worry about replacing into the mortises? Trying to decide best and safest way to proceed before spending $$ on consultations from builders & contractors. Thank you.
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Old 04-22-2018, 04:58 PM   #2
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Re: Replacing old notched main beam 1867 kitchen


There are way to support the structure while doing structural work. However, hiring an engineer is a good start. It might help if you post some wide angled pics.
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Old 04-22-2018, 05:01 PM   #3
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Re: Replacing old notched main beam 1867 kitchen


Now that you have a couple of posts under your belt, could you post pictures of what you are seeing, so we can see it too. May help with us giving better advice.
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Old 04-22-2018, 05:08 PM   #4
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Re: Replacing old notched main beam 1867 kitchen


Please forgive...new user. Posted pics to my "album"

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Old 04-22-2018, 05:12 PM   #5
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Re: Replacing old notched main beam 1867 kitchen


I submitted pictures on my album. Thank you. We will get a SE. But I am trying to get an idea first of what's involved.
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Old 04-22-2018, 06:20 PM   #6
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Re: Replacing old notched main beam 1867 kitchen


Don't be so hard on the original builders. If you had to go the bush, fell a tree, drag it back, square it and install it, all by you lonesome or with a horse or ox, you would likely re-purpose as well (oh, and go get somebody to forge the nails for you). It's not that uncommon.

You don't say what the problem is. It has sat there and carried its weight for 150 years. My experience is that old houses were often over-span in a lot of their construction practices, but often beams were fairly oversized. Not a knock on the builders; there just wasn't the science behind it back then. If there is an actual reason to replace it, you engineer will guide you. He will determine the approved way to temporarily carry the load and permanently tie it into the rest of the structure so the load is carried to the foundation. Don't be surprised if you have no footings - the foundation may have been just dry stacked on undisturbed soil.
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Old 04-22-2018, 06:24 PM   #7
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Re: Replacing old notched main beam 1867 kitchen


I appreciate your reply, but if you click on my album, you will see the half dozen mortise holes and the lack of a tight mortise and tenon to a main vertical post. I'm not knocking old builders...just this particular choice of a structurally unsound beam as a main support beam for a large house.
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Old 04-22-2018, 06:33 PM   #8
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Re: Replacing old notched main beam 1867 kitchen


Looks to me like that Beam was originally a floor beam and is currently upside down in its placement.
Those notches look like they would have been used to carry floor joists originally. No way of saying for certain.

As for replacement, it would be impossible to have a new Beam complete with Tenons installed since the tenon length would not allow for placement due to the overall length. The solution would include using Loose Tenons were a mortise is cut into both the Post and the Beam then the Beam can be positioned and pinned into the Loose Tenon. As a load carrying beam, this procedure would only work if the post mortise was Haunched or Recessed to give the beam a place to rest and allow the load transfer to to post. The Tenon itself should only carry lateral loads, not the vertical load from the beam. Make sense?

Your profile does not show where you are located. There might be someone from the Timber Framers Guild in your area available as a consultant (possibly for a fee) or maybe contact one of my friends at www.tfguild.org who can recommend a solution suitable to your question.
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Old 04-22-2018, 06:37 PM   #9
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Re: Replacing old notched main beam 1867 kitchen


Thank you so much for the explanation! Extremely helpful and it did occur to us that we would not be able to replace the entire length. We are located in central Massachusetts, US. Would definitely appreciate a recommendation for this.
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Old 04-23-2018, 06:54 AM   #10
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Re: Replacing old notched main beam 1867 kitchen


Jihaslip, Could I take you up on your offer to contact one of your friends thru tf.org? There is a company in Leyden, MA connected to the guild, but would like a recommendation from you. Tried to pm you but we don't have enough posts yet. Thank you.
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Old 04-23-2018, 11:21 AM   #11
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Re: Replacing old notched main beam 1867 kitchen


Will do that this morning.
The fellow I have in mind is also from Mass, I think, so it might work well.
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Old 04-23-2018, 11:31 AM   #12
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Re: Replacing old notched main beam 1867 kitchen


If the post at both ends is good enough you could consider just another beam below that one with hangers off the posts.
Looks like my dad's house built out of used lumber.
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Old 04-23-2018, 02:00 PM   #13
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Re: Replacing old notched main beam 1867 kitchen


Thank you for the reply Nealtw, but the ceiling is already low. An additional beam below that would cause us to bend over trying to walk in the kitchen lol.
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Old 04-26-2018, 10:30 PM   #14
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Re: Replacing old notched main beam 1867 kitchen


Looks like a barn made into a house.

Looks like over the years people did whatever they wanted.

I would have a pro who knows about the era take a look at it.

If I had to make a guess.
I would say a milking barn underneath and a loft above.
I would think that part of the structure is in the ground that would allow you to back the wagon load of hay and tractor in from level ground.
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Old 04-29-2018, 12:44 AM   #15
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Re: Replacing old notched main beam 1867 kitchen


How do I find the pictures on your album?


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