Sunday, August 29, 2010

Where's the Beef?

Friday morning I went to the lot and did a pre-inspection inspection.  I saw that the wall forms were now complete, except for the panels removed so that the inspector could see all the gorgeous rebar.
And it really was something to behold.

Notice how this tall wall has double duty rebar both vertically and horizontally, but

this short section has but one layer.

It was while looking at this short section of wall that I began to wonder.

I wondered how they would stop the flow of concrete once they filled up the lowest step?

Everyone knows that all kinds of stuff flows down hill. 
Doesn't it stand to reason that the concrete will come down and just keep on coming?  I don't see a lid on this lowest step, do you?

Well, soon enough the inspector came -- and left -- and then the pumper truck arrived.
They started pumping concrete in right here in the corner.
Then they waited for it to trickle down.   It was like Reaganomics only hopefully it'll last longer.
The crew was ready.  I was still unsure what they were ready for.  How were they going to stop the flow?
"Preserved Killick" here has gotten his beefy mates to put a board atop the lowest step and stand on it. 
But wait!
He's giving a hand signal.
I've politely ignored some of the hand signals I've seen on the job site, but I have picked up that the closed fist means stop pumping concrete.  I guess the guys didn't eat enough breakfast.
At any rate, they moved around the corner to work on the next section while the concrete set up.
Only the concrete wasn't the only thing setting.
The two thoughts I had were:
1. I know a couple of people who would be great at this job.
2.  I think I've just found the answer to the question,
"Where's the beef?"

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Twisted Tail of Walls and Cracks

Today I was able to hang around long enough to learn a thing or two about putting together wall forms.  It was kind of like a grown up version of legos crossed with tinker toys with a twist.

First they had to put all the bent rebar around the curve and tie it in place.  I learned right away that they don't actually twist the wire ties with their thumbs, as I had imagined.

They had a little hook like a crochet hook that they used.  They call it a pig tail, and they wrap the wire around the two pieces of rebar they want to join, pass the hook through the loops on the ends of the wire and then it's all in the wrist.

Five or six rotations and it's snug as can be.

These guys really didn't like my curves.

Except that's not what they called them.  In construction speak it's a radius not a curve.  The plural of that would be radiuses, never radii, because Latin is not a language, it's an adjective.

Before long, it was time to hand up more side walls for the forms.

One for you and
one for me and

a bump of the bolt,

a triangular wedge of steel through the slit, and it's right as rain.

Since I'm getting so up close ane personal with my photos today, I thought you might like to meet some of the fellows that were working on the walls.  We'll call them the wall family.
Here's Harvey Wallbanger.

This, of course is Captain Hook.

At first I thought this was Willie Nelson's little brother, Timmy, but then I thought his bandana and pigtail made him look kind of nautical and his scampering around on the wall was somewhat like scampering in the rigging.  So, I knew just who he was when I came back later in the day to see the wall all ready for the inspector in the morning:

One glance at the still unfinished wall and the voice in my head took on a decidedly Jack Aubrey tone, as it yelled,
"Killick!  Damn your eyes!  Light along there, Killick!"

So, the bandana wearing pig tailed fellow is "Preserved Killick" from the Patrick O'Brien books.

(Don't worry about the voice in my head.  I poked it with a Q-tip and it went away.)

And finally we have Sparky. 

We need to have an intervention with Sparky.  He has a pretty serious crack problem.

And I hope the Physics teachers out there will explain the phemonemon of those pants.  How do pants belted below the rump and carrying a hammer and a 25 ft. tape measure not fall down?

And speaking of falling down and the Wall family, did anyone else ever do the Wall family crank call?

May I please speak to Mr. Wall?
I'm sorry.  There is no Mr. Wall here.
Oh, then may I speak to Mrs. Wall?
No.  There is no Mrs. Wall either.
Johnny Wall?
No. There are no Walls here.
Then how do you keep the roof up?

Taking Form

This week the foundation crew has been hard at work forming up the retaining walls. 

There was so much steel to be tied together to make the walls stout enough to hold all the dirt.

And they had a long way to carry it from the staging area down to the retaining wall.

And this curve was bit of a problem.  All of the steel had to be bent to the radius of the curve.

And the forms had to be set in little bitty sections...

...all the way around the curve.

The straight parts seemed to go up a little faster.
They are making a rebar sandwich.  I don't think it will be very tasty, but it should hold together.

Mid-week we had a visit from a guy whose job is a real grind.
 He had shields and earmuffs and all sorts of protection,
but I don't think the yellow jackets nesting in this old stump were very impressed by his armor.
He didn't seem to be fazed by it all.  I guess for him it's just part of the daily grind.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mud Pie Delight

Thursday, having passed the inspection for the retaining wall footers, we passed the time waiting for the concrete trucks by meeting with the geothermal contractor.  He was a little unsure if we would have enough room in the front for the geothermal wells.  But after coming out and seeing it in person, he determined it would be no problem.  Since they will make a collosal mess drilling the wells, they will come after the house walls are backfilled and before anyone else needs to get in to do work.

When the pumper truck got there it tested its reach out to the back retaining walls while it waited for the concrete trucks.

The concrete trucks got there before too long.

By adding an extender tube (or two) they were able to reach all the way to the back,

which was a pretty long way!

Ever noticed that you can tell the rank of the construction worker by his level of activity?  The job supervisor is sitting on the dozer, the crew foreman is standing with his hands on his hips, and guess who is doing all the work?

Actually, everyone pitched in.  Here's the job supervisor poking extra rebar into the footer.

Still, holding onto the hose as it spewed heavy concrete by the cubic yard seemed like the hardest job.  The hose seemed to have a life - and a mind - of its own.

I have a confession to make...

All this concrete work has been making me connect with my inner mud pie maker.  Is it wrong to want to play in the wet concrete?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Onward and Upward

When I headed over to the lot today, the sparks were flying!
They were hard at work adding the rebar grids and verticals for the retaining walls.  At least they had cooler weather for it this week.

By the end of the day, they had really come a long way.  It looked like a rebar jungle out there.
Some of their configurations were very pretty and geometrical. 
I remember doing someting like this with nails and string in a Math class along the way.

I kind of liked the way the curve in the wall looked with all the rebar grids and orange bedecked vertical supports.
Now  they are all done with the footer prep for the retaining walls.  Tomorrow we will have an inspection and if all is well, we'll proceed onward and ... (you guessed it!) ... upward with *more* rebar and then the forms for the walls.