One of the items that tops the Eichler owners' to-do list is exterior beam repair/maintenance... and with the recent rains a few weeks ago, I was reminded that it was time to get busy in the atrium.
I was worried that our exterior beam was dry-rotten on the top from exposure and lack of maintenance, but we got lucky -- perhaps the old-growth redwood is indeed a good thing (thanks to Casie's brother Matt for the sanding). That said, there were still a good number of cracks on the sunny side and the top needed some TLC, so the products we ordered from "The Rot Doctor" were put to good use.
Matt sanded the top of the beam with a random-orbital sander and the paint pretty much blew right off. On the sunny-side of the beam, the paint was a bit more adhered so I took out the the big guns -- the angle grinder with a sanding wheel. The entire beam took about 20 minutes or so to sand to bare wood, but it certainly takes a steady hand and it makes an epic mess.
After sanding came the sealing. We ordered the CEPS (clear epoxy penetrating sealer) to help seal the beam and it definitely seemed to do the trick -- the beam soaked up a quart of the mixture easily (CPES is a 2-part potion). The top was a pretty easy paint-on/soak-in application, but the side took a bit of trickery. Using a brush loaded with the mix, I had to let it dribble into the cracks -- presumably the same way water would (so sealing was indeed a good thing).
We had called several folks about a beam-cap, but no one returned our calls, so I ended up heading to Big Orange for some stock sheet metal. 3 pieces of 1inX2in roof-edge flashing did the trick (2 long pieces + 2 cut pieces) along with a generous bead of PL-brand flashing sealant. While not as ideal as a one-piece cap, the metal was less that $10 for the 3 pieces and the sealant was $5, so for $15 plus a few screws, we have a beam-cap that looks very non-obtrusive and will protect way better than the non-existent coat of paint that was up there.
We'll sand the rest of the beam in the next few days and give it a good coat of 1-2-3 primer and exterior house paint.