Monday, June 25, 2007


This weekend was very productive and some noticeable things are going on at the house. My mason buddy (Charles) came Friday and Saturday and started closing up the underside of the house. We ran out of block so it's not completed but I hope to be able to scrounge up some more soon. Now, when completed, this block will not show on the outside of the house. A stone planter will be built in front of the block and stone will top out the wall above the planter. I got the block for free and am trading for the labor to lay it, so I thought it would save me time and rock gathering labor to do it this way. If you notice the bright pink ball of string in the bottom right of the photo, Charles said he bought that just for me and this job. It takes a manly mason to use pink string. I wonder if he will carry to any other jobs though.

Due to lack of planning more than poor planning, lots of cuts had to be made and so that is why this little bit of block took 2 days to lay. I had originally thought the whole wall would be stone and so footing steps, column lines etc. didn't matter. They matter a lot if you lay block. But he was very kind about it and did a beautiful job. I told him it didn't have to be so neat but he wouldn't have it any other way because he said someone might see it before it got covered up. And I thought I was obsessive-compulsive.

I welded these ties on every 16" vertically (to hit in every other joint) and then painted my welds with primer. You can see that the ties have a slot that the little wire can move up and down in so you have about 3" in case the tie isn't in exactly the right spot. This block has been "buttered" and is waiting for the next block to be set on top.
I also had to serve as the laborer because a mason usually does not mix or carry any mud, block or tools. So, after proper instruction, I mixed the mortar, kept it on the boards, kept it wet, carried and placed block, made some cuts and generally tried to keep Charles from having to do anything but lay the block. I did not succeed on everything. I cooked lunch for him and welded a fender back on his trailer too so maybe I did my part for the weekend. He claims that he has not laid block in about 10 years (2 back surgeries) so I said this was sort of like a limited edition wall then. I'm proud to have it at any rate. At the end I also provided some comedy for him because he wanted me to try laying the last couple of block. Let me tell you, it's much harder than it looks. But I did see the tricks to it and, as I told him, I learned a lot. I learned I don't want to be a mason.
We had some friends visit who have been watching the blog for a while and that was fun although I didn't get to talk with them a whole lot due to work. Allen got most of the pump house framed and we both worked on wiring it on Sunday. After a pain in the butt ordeal we finally got the wire pulled and the connections made and he set the pump today. We may try to move the pressure tank tomorrow.
I'm still out of work. Maybe that won't last much longer because things are getting pretty slim as far as being able to buy materials for the house. But it will all work out fine.


karl said...

looks like things are progressing nicely. that block work looks great. your mason friend is right. the entire blogosphere is seeing his handiwork right now.

Floridacracker said...

Catching up ...
I read the last few posts and you guys do incredible things there while I'm away! Your progress is amazing.
Having mixed alot of cement bags for walkway projects, I know how bushed you two must have been after those 28 bags.

Your comment at Rurality about the girly-girls and the DR mower cracked me up!
As the father of two strong girls, I salute you!
Hope work fires up again soon.

edifice rex said...

Hey karl! You know, I'm so dense sometimes, I didn't even think about people seeing the block on the web even though I knew I was going to post it. I guess because you can't really see it up close.

Hey FC! It didn't really hit about the concrete mixing until about 9:00 that night when we sat down finally and then it was like, we can't move. It still doesn't seem to be much progress to me though. I guess I'm too impatient.