Morgoth waited. In his underground fortress of Angband he and his most trusted servant, Sauron, waited and planned. Sauron the keeper of the great Eye did not see all though.Even though they reinforced the dreaded Northeast corner with balrogs and evil that does not sleep they did not see the assault coming. Until it was too late. The free folk of Middle Earth unleashed a hell that they were unprepared for. And the Dreaded Northeast corner fell and was overcome forever.
What just happened? I think I just had a momentarty lapse of reason. Ok I admit it, I am a secret Lord of the Rings nerd. Every once in a while my mind wanders and I think of stuff like this.
Well where were we anyway? Ah yes, the pouring of the great East and West walls of Hobbit Hollow. What a week I had trying to get this ready. I worked every day after working in Queens except one this past week. I worked until about eight at night. I actually brought home halogen lights to work in the dark Friday night because I didn’t think I was going to be ready. I didn’t use them though. Terence came and helped me Friday night to line up the walls. He really bailed me out. It was pretty dark when we finished.
There were a number of things I was worried about before the pour but the line up was one of them for sure. Line up is a matter of checking the ends of the walls for plumb, bracing them, and then using a string line to line up everything in between. It sounds simple enough but if problems arise it can be quite labor intensive. We spent about 2 hours lining up the main walls. We also did the line up on the North wall too. I had to come up with a special offset block to line the walls up with. This was because the styrofoam in the walls was blocking the string line. Here’s a picture of Terence using the little offset block to line up the walls with.
If you look closely you can see the offset block we nailed to the form at the corner of the wall just above Terence’s left arm. The string line has to line up right over the offset block Terence is holding. To get the wall lined up you just turn the turnbuckle brace until the wall is moved into the exact spot under the line. Like I said it’s pretty simple until you can’t get the wall to move. We had to readjust most of the turnbuckle braces and that is why it took so long.
Once the main line up was done I knew we weren’t in such bad shape. I figured it would be better to get a good nights sleep than to stay really late. Jude had football practice til 8PM so he wasn’t available and Ethan was working. I told the boys we would have to start at 6:30 AM to get ready for the pour though. I also moved the pour back to an 8:30 start time to give us a little extra time as well.
I thought I was going to get to bed early but the “Godfather” was on. I had to stay up and watch the scene were Michael shoots the guys in the restaurant. Classic. I really don’t know why they don’t make movies like that anymore. You know, like realistic movies. Where you can actually believe that the stuff in the movie can actually happen. Unlike when Rambo fell 500 feet off a cliff into that tree and he just had a flesh wound. Can we get a little real here? One morning I walked out of my house to go to work and I stepped in a bowl one of my kids left on the porch. My feet went in the air and I landed on my elbow. My elbow hurt for three years after that …I’m not kidding. Maybe I should start wearing a bandana and carry a Rambo knife.
I’m really starting to get off track here so let’s press on shall we.
5:30 AM Saturday morning: I begin. First I do a concrete take off for the pour. I initially told them fifty yards but that was on paper. I wanted to measure everything that we formed because it wasn’t exactly what I had on the drawing. I came up with 47 yards. I added an extra yard for the dreaded northeast corner and figured another yard in the pump line and hopper. 49 yards. When all was said and done we had two shovels of concrete left. I did get a little nervous when we started the last truck.I didn’t think we would have enough to finish. I figured we would do the south knee wall last so if we were short I could pour the balance without having to rent a pump truck again.
The other thing I had to do was put a grade on the north and south knee walls. I used the laser level and was able to set the grade pretty quickly.
The boys and Kevin got there promptly at 6:30 and began a small host of little things we had to get done before the pour. Kevin and Jude closed up the remaining walls, put in a few mising ties, wedge braced the bulkheads and checked every single tie to make sure that the pins were installed correctly. I told them if we have a blowout because we missed a tie they would be paying for the concrete we lost and the clean up as well.(Jude said he had a dream the other night about a blowout. I guess I’ve been a little over focussed on that particular item) Nothing like a little incentive to get things done right? I had Ethan and Terence clear the site, make room for the pump, get all the equipment we needed and then I wanted to add extra bracing on the inside face of the two main walls.
The scaffolding we have set up on the walls is what they call an A-frame bracket and creates an eccentric load on the formwork when you are standing on it. In other words when three or four people are standing on this scaffold the formwork is going to want to lean over. To prevent this from happening I had Ethan and Terence add a metal post shore between the turnbuckle braces. This was actually a lot of work. They had to get them into the site open them up secure them to the waler and then add a stake behind them so that they won’t move when everybody is up on the scaffold. Here’s a picture of everyone working before the pour.
I was doing a million things that I hadn’t gotten to. But all in all it went pretty smooth. The pump got there early and it was the same operator we had last time.That was great. When I called in for the pump I asked the dispatcher if Lee would be coming. When she said yes that made me sleep better. When everybody knows the site and what is going on things just go smoother. He had a smaller pump than last time so he didn’t need any help setting up at all. His one comment was “Are you ready?” To which I replied “No, but we will be shortly.” Actually I could have used another half a day to be honest but we had to make the pour this weekend. We’re taking Ethan to college next Saturday. Here’s a picture of the pump on site before concrete arrived.
We were ready for concrete a little after eight. Albert had to work in Queens Saturday so I didn’t have any experienced help with me. Even though the boys couldn’t understand a word he said because of his Irish accent we still missed him all the same. One of the problems we ran into last time was with the concrete mix we had. They supposedly gave me a pump mix but it had some really heavy stone in it and I don’t think it had enough fines in it either.( aka sand.) When I called in the order I asked for a 3000 psi mix with smaller stone. He said he had a mix with 1/2 stone and I think that was the ticket. We had no problems with the pump jamming or the hopper getting clogged like last time. Whew! Lighting those candles at church the night before paid off.
And so it begins. And begin we did…at the dreaded northeast corner. Sometimes it’s best to start at the place you are most worried about first. This way if there is a problem you can move the pump and still get rid of concrete. I braced the you know what out of this corner so I didn’t think I would have a problem. We filled it up straight away. Here’s a picture of the back side of the corner all braced up.
We did the main walls in two passes. The first pass was about four feet high and then we topped off the wall on the second pass. I had Jude take care of the hose and Ethan and Kevin were on the vibrator. Terence was helping me with odds and ends and assisting with the pour when they needed help. Here are some pictures from the day.
They got the hang of it right away. Lee was there with them just making sure they were doing everything correctly while I ran around like a chicken with my head chopped off. You always seem to start remembering the things you forgot to do once concrete starts getting poured. This headless chicken started remembering quite a bit.
It will be interesting to see how the concrete came out once we strip the formwork. We had a small problem at the retaining walls where I had put the cover over the really steep part of the wall. The concrete was a little stiff while we poured the walls so it didn’t flow like I had wanted it to into the lower reaches of the retaining wall. Lee came over to me and said the wall wasn’t filling up at the one end. I told him to loosen the truck up by adding some water and see if that would help. That was the ticket.We had to do that at both retaining walls. I’m just hoping there won’t be any voids in there because we did it in two lifts.Soon we will see.
Usually after you pour a wall you go back and check the line up. I really didn’t have the time to do it. We took a look after it was done and it looks pretty good.
One of the other things we did was add some rebar into the pour after we topped out the walls. I added some #4 bars to the north wall that will get bent into the slab when we pour later. I added #8 angles to the top of the main walls, just to stiffen it up a bit and give it some extra shear strength. I had the bars so why not put them in.Check it out.
All in all it went really well. Here’s the crew at the end of the day.
Jude had an acne breakout the day before. Embarassing for pour day but he was a trooper about it.
Oh yeah, I forgot all about the dreaded northeast corner. Here’s a picture from above.
We wrapped up right around noon. What a great day we had! I can’t wait to start taking the forms off. Here’s a picture of the site from a different angle. Check it out.
Lee said he saw a bat in the bat house we put up. Man that would be terrific. I forgot to check it out. Natural pest control. I love it.
Town carnival this past week: Terence spent $10 trying to win a 15 cent goldfish…There’s an economics lesson in there somewhere….and he’s the only kid in town not to come home with a goldfish. Thank God.
Have a great week!
And in his underground fortress Morgoth’s wrath was great….for his defeat at the Northeast corner was humiliating and there were some who now questioned his dominance.
And so he waited…………….