All over bar the shouting……

27 06 2018

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The last block….

Another milestone has been reached with the construction of Mon Abri MkII…… Mark finished all the block laying last week with the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle laid while he wore his Master Brick Layer bowler hat…..  apparently brick layers deemed to be masters at their craft used to wear bowler hats in the UK, and well before the well to do in Fleet Street did, or so says Mark anyhow…

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Done……….

The next big job was core filling all those walls. Because the large retaining wall at the back has a big job ahead, supporting many many tons of wet clay and soil, it’s engineered with miles of steel and all 1655 blocks had to be full of concrete. The plans called for a 20MegaPascal mix, but I ordered 32, because you can never overengineer something you want to last, and I was concerned that in the event of a morning frost the morning after, I might lose some strength. If within the first 24 hours any water still not finished reacting with the cement freezes, the resulting expansion can crack the concrete permanently, not a good idea….

I had no choice but to use the same crowd who poured my slab – there’s not much choice

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Formwork dynabolted to blocks

this far from ‘civilisation’ – and as usual, not everything went according to plan, though this time there were no disaster such as happened at the end of that pour…. though one driver actually managed to veer off my track, getting bogged in the drain… luckily, the previous truck was still there, and they pulled him out. I knew something was up, but even from my perch up the ladder I didn’t find out until it was all over.

Between the last block being laid and the core filling, I had to do quite a few preparatory things, mainly forming up gaps behing the rear wall caused by the 135 degree bend in the wall and the impractibility of closing those gaps with blocks. I was a bit worried that there would be so much pressure at the bottom of the wall my forwork would blow out, but it all went perfectly. Then I suddenly realised – after saying for weeks that once cast in concrete, any forgotten wiring or plumbing could not be fixed – I had forgotten to put an electrical conduit from the yet to be installed switchboard to the ceiling for the installation of lights!  Aaargh….. fortunately, that too went smoothly after drilling a hole in the wall and feeding the conduit down the wall….. the elbow found the ledge of the hole while I was blindly working up top; you honestly could not do this if you tried on purpose….

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On the day Robbie Page set up his pump out the front of the house with a much smaller hose than used for the slab. The core filling mix consisted of 7mm aggregate and  was very runny, as it has to be, to flow between all the steel and from block to block.

When I last did this many years ago in Cooran, the operator had his own remote control to stop/start the pump and avoid – as much as possible – overfilling the walls and causing spills. This pump didn’t work like that, Jack had to yell out to Robbie to stop, and of course there were time lapses, and the result was a bit of a mess…..  it was lucky that didn’t happen in Cooran, because I had no water or power at the time, whereas this time IMG_20180626_131140around I actually had a gerni to clean up the mess with……

The result was that I had to climb up and down ladders for the duration, trowel in hand, to scrape off excess concrete and try to get as smooth a result as possible atop the walls.

Then, Caleb whom I’d hired again to help, cleaned the dags off the walls with my pressure cleaner, and later dropped the last of the steel bars from the top to finish off the reinforcing and assure maximum strength.

Disappointingly, there was an excess of maybe three quarters of a cubic metre of concrete, and this time it wasn’t my bad maths because I got Duggans to work out the volume from the number of blocks laid. I got them to pour it all out in a zigzag fashion all over the ground, and I will have another massive job breaking it up later for the rubble drain that still needs to be put behind the wall.

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Cleanup required…

Apart from that, I also have a huge cleanup job ahead of me getting rid of all the slops on the floor. Such is life, building is not for the faint hearted….

Next morning we did indeed get a frost, but the air temperature didn’t drop below 4 degrees C and no ground puddles near the house site were frozen. The walls even felt relatively warm, so, fingers crossed, my concrete will still reach its 32MPa maximum strength.

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Frosty morning after