A full moon pour

The concrete was scheduled to arrive at 2pm Gordon and I got to work at 7am – and scrambled most of the morning to finish up the ‘details’ before the pour. Like making cleats that would tie the forms together at the top so they don’t spread out. And installing bracing – also designed to insure that the formwork stays put against the massive pressure of the concrete being dumped into them. Austin hauled material into the pit for us to cut up. He pounded stakes for the braces. He gathered the hose and made sure we had a source of water nearby. Around 12:30, we felt we were pretty well ready, so we sat down for lunch. Francis showed up. After eating, I started gathering the anchor bolts – and distributing them around the site for ease of placement after the concrete was poured and finished on the top. And that’s when I discovered there weren’t enough bolts. This could be a serious problem. The window of opportunity for wet-setting bolts is slim – and because this was a hot day – the concrete would surely set up and be too hard to push the j-bolts into the mud within 45 minutes of being poured. Amazing Austin to the rescue! He went to the lumberyard while Francis and Gordon and then David K and Troy helped build a form for the center pier, and install steel and brace it. Ilgvar arrived and pitched in where he could. We were still buttoning up this center form when the pump arrived. Fortunately for us, Bryan is a mellow and experienced operator – and set the rig without any input from us. And then the first concrete truck arrived. Troy was on the hose again, Francis was handling the vibrator motor, Austin was the cord wrangler, and David K took over dipping the stinger. Ilgvar took pictures, Gordon was ground control and I tried to stay out of the way – and look important at the same time. The forms creaked and strained – and thankfully Troy suggested that we pour the walls in several lifts, rather than fill them up to the top at once. This reduces the strain on the bracing and cleats and minimizes the possibility of the forms giving way. So, it came as a surprise to Gordon and I when David called BLOWOUT! We raced over to the area – and sure enough, the outside form was leaning a good 2 inches away from the interior of the building. NOT GOOD. The concrete walls need to be pretty much dead-on for the floor and wall panels to fit precisely over them. But wait! The boards that lined the form structure were still pretty much intact because the cleats at the top held them to the interior formwork. With some creative carpentry and a little bit of persuasion, we ‘addressed’ the problem, and stabilized the form from moving any further out of line. And while Gordon and Austin were dealing with this issue, the pour continued – without a hitch. Oh , except when the center pier was being filled. It took over a yard of concrete, and it was a great place to empty out the hose….but the pressure to push that last bit of concrete out of the hose is about 4000 psi (pounds per inch) – and those blasts are what did our makeshift center form in…one side blew out, the concrete poured out and around one wall (like lava swallowing up a house) – fortunately it was against the bank… and Bryan came down into the pit and helped pull the formwork out of the mud, and smooth it out …. Ilgvar and David K and Austin and Francis were already starting to screed the top of the forms when I came behind them installing foundation bolts ( AKA anchor bolts, J-bolts). There were about 80 bolts to push into the mud, wiggle around and straighten up – so it was good that Gordon grabbed a handful and worked from another part of the foundation. The mud was beginning to get stiff by the time Gordon and I placed our last bolts. Troy came after us and tapped and straightened every bolt as the mud got stiffer and stiffer. All in all – it was a good day – thanks to the work of many hands and lots of joie de vivre and the camaraderie of a band of friends. We celebrated afterwards with cool drinks and chips laid out on the tailgate of Gordon’s truck, and watched in wonder as he fashioned a stabilizing contraption for his oxygen tank right there in the truck bed. (more pics here)

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