I looked up the word, "friend" in the dictionary, and this is what I found:
friend /frɛnd/ –noun
||a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
||a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter: friends of the Boston Symphony.
||a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile: Who goes there? Friend or foe?
||a member of the same nation, party, etc.
||(initial capital letter) a member of the Religious Society of Friends; a Quaker.
While I can't speak for the first definition, I can say without hesitation that Bill Dahlenburg and Matt Green demonstrated the second definition to me this Saturday. They gave up their day to work up in the observatory in the chilling wind to help me put together the dome.
Bill and Matt
The first part of the installation was to install the rectangular skirt, which makes the transition from the square walls to the circular dome. As it turned out, the walls were about as square as a quarter, so we had a heck of a time installing the skirt. It took us an extra two hours getting it together, with Matt filling the gaps with caulk for now. I still have more holes to patch.
Once that was complete, we brought up the four pieces of the base ring, and that went very well. Since it was pre-assembled, it went together very quickly and we knew we had it level. After a trip to the local hardware store for weather stripping and stainless steel lag screws and washers, we secured it tight to the octagon frame. Well, that was after we discovered that my cordless drill was too big, and my right angle drill battery was dead. But after we fixed that minor setback, we were okay.
The next major activity was to bring the four dome quadrants up from the ground. Given that they were too big to bring through any windows, we had to lift them up by rope from the ground. Fortunately Matt the brilliant idea to use a "C" clamp to attach to the dome piece and then tie the rope to that. Here's the view of him from the bottom as we're about to lift the first piece:
Matt from Above
The plan was that Matt was going to lift the piece up from the bottom while Bill and I pulled up the rope. Matt came up with the idea of lifting it up the ladder, which he also offered to do, for which I was EXTREMEMLY grateful. Matt attached the first piece and Bill and I started hauling it up the side of the house. I had this vision that the clamp would slip off, the dome piece would come crashing down on Matt and knock him off the ladder. Fortunately, nothing like that happened, and thanks to Bill muscling each piece over the edge of the observatory, we successfully got each piece up the "mountain."
Matt and the Dome Pieces
Now we had the adventure of trying to figure out how to put all of this together, four stories up in the air, with about a 20 mph wind, with frozen hands. Logic would have suggested we wait until next weekend, but that wasn't an option, so we made some adjustments to the method the manual suggested (yes, we were reading the manual) and built each side. It went together very well, thanks again to the pre-assembly, and before we knew it, it looked like a dome.
The real trick was trying to figure out what we needed to do before we put a piece together, as it's very hard to reach parts of it from the outside or inside. Fortunately one side of the observatory has a roof that you can stand on, so Matt went out there about four times while we rotated the dome so he could work on parts of it from outside.
In the end, we were rapidly running out of daylight and time, but the shutter went on perfectly. We stationed Matt out on the roof in case something went wrong with the shutter, but it all went together very smoothly. When I pulled it closed for the first time, Bill and I could hear Matt say, "Wow, look at how COOL that is!"
We climbed down from the observatory, turned off the flashlight, and had a beer to celebrate. Bill and Matt rushed home and Andrea and the gang and I rushed off to our daughter's first cheerleading competition. It was a long and very tiring day, but it wouldn't have been possible without the support and assistance from two very special people. Thanks again Bill and Matt - I hope we can share many nights seeing the the stars from the Bel Tor Observatory, or rather, Bertha Sees Uranus.