Saturday, May 10, 2008

All Our Past Times

I have been going through some old work photos to try and find some that might show form work for slabs and more specifically, the rebar specs, but have not been able to locate hardly any. Ron over at Homesteading Hickory Hills is about to form a slab roof for his root cellar and I am trying to get him some photos etc., although I think he is already on the right track. I haven't forgot about you Ron and will still send that little sketch for the outside forms. I did come across some funny and interesting photos though from waaay back though. This one above is obviously me but about 7 or 8 years ago. I was a journeyman at this point, working on a hospital. It struck me how clean and neat I look then. I mean, we try to all keep ourselves neat looking at work, as best we can, but my ol' hardhat is much more battered now, with a lot more stickers. Many construction workers collect stickers from the jobs they work on as sort of a record. I have 2 now that I prize highly with the NS logo; given to me by a major sweetheart. My nail apron is held together in many places with tie wire. I guess I am going to have to break down and buy some more. That hammer is still the same one I carry now but it is needing to go into retirement too. It has just gotten about impossible to find a 20 oz. leather handle, straight claw Estwing though. I don't wear suspenders anymore. Actually, that did not last long at all. Most of the guys wear them because our pouches are so heavy but let's just say, they don't have anything up top to "get in the way" of suspenders. I found them very irritating and I have enough caboose to keep my apron up, unlike most men! A lot of people ask me why I don't wear my nail apron when I work at home. Well, ours are a little different than what these guys on This Ol' House wear! Ours are longer and can weigh 15-20 lbs. if carrying all that we do for form work. When we get a chance to take them off, we do!
Turning 40 also has gotten me thinking a lot about where I've been and things I've done. I guess I've had a very different life experience than most women. This was a job I was on in North Carolina. It is not one of my favorite job memories because I was married at the time but it was interesting. It was who I was married to, not the fact that I was married btw. This is what we call a tilt-up. Basically, you pour the wall slab on the ground, as if it were a floor slab, and then you stand them up and secure them to the building frame. You can stack them up like cards on the ground and you spray a release agent on each on to (hopefully) keep them from sticking to one another. These are about 8" thick and weighed about 35 tons apiece. They have more rebar in them than a regular slab to withstand the stress of movement. Pouring the panels is fun and interesting but setting them is very dangerous and nerve wracking, at least to me. Generally, you have a separate contractor come in and set the panels. These guys make "danger pay" which is a higher rate when they are doing this because it is so risky. Many men have died because the wind will get up quickly and snatch the panels around or various other problems and break the straps to the crane.
With these big openings you would have a slight chance of getting through a hole but with the solid panels, well, at least it would be a fairly quick way to go. I was just a little apprentice on this job and had never been around anything like this before. We had a crew come in, mostly Hispanics, and began setting the panels on a Monday. Well, that night they all went out and just got really hammered because they were all too sick to come in the next day. Some of these guys are kinda rough. Anyway, we couldn't wait on them so we had to start setting them ourselves. Fortunately, our bosses had experience with the panels but it was still very scary to me and the other apprentice boy because we were the ones that had to climb up on the panels and secure them after they were put in place. We were very happy to see that crew come back in the next day. I think they were a little surprised to see that we had set a bunch without them.
I'm still working on siding; it's going pretty slow but it looks good. Maybe some photos of that soon. It has rained some more so I've had to stop now and again because of that. I did take the time yesterday morning to plant a good bit in the garden before it just got too late, so am very happy about that.

*Eric Clapton/ No Reason To Cry album


Robbyn said...

Missed saying Happy Birthday on time...Happy Birthday!!!!

edifice rex said...

Thanks Robbyn!

hillbilly2be said...

Wow, Annie, those are interesting photos and stories! I sure would not want to be anywhere near one of those big vertical slabs!

It would be great to see photos of the rebar and sketch of outer forms, but please don't worry about it if you cannot find any. Thanks again for all of your help.

Enjoy your time away from the job, working on your own place at your own pace. :)


Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

Very interesting post. When I was in trade school I used to ask "Where are to women. they deserve to make the big bucks" A few years later women began to work in the trades. I remember reading about the first woman electrician in Ontario. Her father was a contractor who was willing to take her on as an indentured apprentice. It is a good trade for a woman and pays well.

You look good in your kit. I am surprised you still have most of it. I was bad for losing tools, particularly hammers.

edifice rex said...

Hey Ron! Thanks and I have really enjoyed my time off but it ended way too soon.

Hey Philip! Yes, electrical work is a good trade for women and most people assume I'm an electrican when they see me on site if I'm not wearing my tools. In fact, the electrical contractor on the railroad job offered me a job several times but I would have had to take a big cut in pay as I would have started over as an apprentice. I keep up with my tools prety good because they are expensive to replace but am bad to lose cold chisels. Don't know why. My hammer has great sentimental value and everyone knows it as mine so it stays close to me. ;)