'The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because He loves what is behind him.' -G. K. Chesterton

01 November 2011

Pirate Ship Play Area For The Kids

As if I don't have enough on my plate. I decided that since DO and the kids are visiting for a couple of months (they'll be here on the 23rd 24th!) we needed a nice play area for the kids. Right now they're into pirates and a few years ago they went nuts for a play ship at the Wharf in Monterey. So my play area will combine swings and other play stuff with a pirate ship theme. It'll be pretty big so it's going to take me a while to get it finished. We started last Sunday.

First up was to make some kind of a plan, buy some materials and put in the base. A clumsy sketch, a rough materials list and a trip to the Big Box Home Store and we were off.

I started with 4 pier blocks. I want the base to be 10' long by 6' wide. The sill plate is 2x6 with 2x4 floor joists. I dug pier blocks down about 10 inches. It's most important to get the sill plate square and level as the rest of the structure will follow.
 I nailed the 2x6s together at the corners but they'll be carriage bolted to the 4x4 uprights later.

It's going to be 2 stories with the second floor at 6 feet. After finishing the leveling and squaring of the first floor I put up the 4x4 uprights. I then built the second floor sill plate on top of the first floor and slid it up into place. I temporarily nailed it in place after making sure it was also square and level.
 The cross pieces you see are for lateral support until I can get some skin on the frame.

The uprights must be level on both sides before I bolt them to the sill plates. I'll have some flexibility later but it's a lot easier to check level and square at each step..
 If you click on the image you can see the bubble leveled.

After I was satisfied it was true we bolted the whole thing together at the corners with 8 inch long 1/2 inch carriage bolts with washers. You can see them at the corners here. There's 2 at each corner, 1 from each side. Each sill plate is now nailed and bolted to the uprights. The structure is actually pretty solid at this point.

My helpers, Lu, Sarge and MiL. It's so much easier with good assistants.

Next up is floor joists and flooring. I used 2x4s for the joists and OSB for the floor.
First floor is done. That's me skinning the second floor. The 4x4 uprights are 10 feet tall so you can see how big this thing is going to be. The second floor is 6 feet above the first with the uprights an additional 4 feet over that. Each floor used exactly 2 1/2 sheets of 4x8 OSB. I love it when a plan comes together.
 Each OSB sheet is nailed to the floor joists and the sill plates. You can also see that we've buried and tamped the pier blocks. It's just some additional insurance against the thing moving around. We also put 4 mil plastic under the first floor to guard against weeds and bugses.
 I love power tools. I'm using my pneumatic framing nailer to install the floor. It makes things a lot easier.

I bought a 10 foot long 2x6 beam for swings, a rope climb and some monkey bars. I placed it so I could see how it was going to work and whether or not I needed to raise it above the level of the second floor. It'll stick out an additional 5 feet from what this picture depicts so there will be plenty of room for stuff. I'll bolt it to the floor and have a 4x4 A-frame at the far end for support. It's just shy of 7 feet from the ground. Lu and Sarge think that will be fine for swings. I tend to agree but I only want to do this once so I have to get it right the first time. Opinions?

Imagine if you will. To the left of the frame, as viewed here (where the ladders are), I'll add in a ships bow. It'll be about an additional 10 feet long and 3 feet high. It'll be surrounded with gravel we're going to paint ocean blue. There will be 2 ladders/stairs from the bow to the second floor (one on each side of the bow). The bow will have a mast for the raising of the pirate's flags. There will be a door into the first floor cabin between the 2 stairs. I'll put the ships wheel on the second floor, just above the bow. The second floor will have a hip height banister with vertical rails with all the way around it.
The back, where the OSB is standing at the fence line, will be sheathed with climbing points (think rock climbing wall).
The right side, nearest the camera, will also be sheathed with port holes.
The front, under the 4x6 beam, will have the swings and a knotted climbing rope. Right next to the structure and running across the face will be monkey bars at the level of the second floor.

I'll probably use lattice here and there both to give some structural rigidity and as a safety feature. There will be an additional door into the first floor at the right front, leading from the play area under the beam. I'm considering putting in an adults stair on the right side leading to the second floor with a gate at the top.

I'm sure I'll change and add things as we go. That's the nature of such a project and I'm not working to a set plan. I'm designing as I go. I'd appreciate any input anyone would care to give.

I'll update as we go with a full write up when I'm done. I went through a lot of web sites and saw a lot of stuff I liked. I kinda stole what I liked and improvised the rest. Man, I hope they like it.



Sarge said...

I wanna be first assistant instead of Lou!!!

Six said...


The DO said...

Er.. 24th. Hate to have to add a day, but it would suck to drive all the way to Vegas and not have us there! And the play area looks awesome! I'm jealous, seriously. I think that they will lose their minds when they see it all done!

The DO said...

Alrighty, went and measured our swing set and heres the facts. 7' 9" tall, with the swing pivot point at 7' 7", and it's more then tall enough. I think around 7' will be plenty high. The seats of the swing are at about 19" and that's about as low as I'd go. You probably need around a 3 ft distance between each swing, but I forgot to check that. I'll do that (with Brendan's help, but I won't let him in on the surprise!) and let you know that bit.

LauraB said...

LOVE IT. LOVE. Of course, I think it only proper that the grownups have a nice glider nearby, too...

I have dreams of replacing the one lost long ago - you push it with your feet...two seats on a platform...very old fashioned.

I cannot think of another thing that design needs! Did you have rope nets for climbing already listed? OH - a PLANK. Someone has to walk the plank, of course.

Six said...

Thanks Jen. Those measurements are just what I need. Pass along anything you get.

Thanks Laura :) A glider would be awesome. I'll have to see if I can find a nice drawing or plan. You are right. A plank is an absolute necessity. I can't wait to see Jaina make her little brother walk it.