Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Last Time

OK, this is my last post on tilt up panels, I promise. I think subjects like this are just extremely boring to most people or kinda weird. I think most people look at heavy construction like this and just say, why would anybody even want to be around that? One slip and you're flat as a pancake. Yes, quite a few men have been killed by these things but it is still a relatively safe way to build. Anytime you go into a Lowe's or similar warehouse type store, you are usually in a tilt-up building. There are even tilt-up houses on a small scale. Anyway, this photo shows the guys attaching the shackles to a panel, getting ready to pick it up.

We pour these nice smooth panels and put a pretty finish on them and then bust these holes in the face of them! The lifting eyes are set in the panel, wired to the rebar, and then the concrete poured around them. They have these little plastic caps set just slightly under the surface that will form a little void around the eye and allow you to finish the mud smoothly over the whole panel, with just about 1/2" of concrete to span over the lifting eye. This lets you to get a smooth finish on the next panel poured on top and still be able to bust out that thin layer of concrete over the eye.

Sometimes the panels need a little encouragement to let go of the one below it. We spray a bond breaker between panels but the concrete can sometimes still stick. The man there takes what we call a spike and jams it in the crevice between the panels, prys just a little while the crane holds a little pressure on it and POP! it lets go.

Then they just pick it on up. You might think that in this position the weight of the concrete would cause the panels to break right here but they are actually quite flexible. I saw a very large panel bow, what looked like, about 16" without breaking.
When they get the panel up and out of our area, we run over and jump on the next panel down to bust out the lifting eyes etc. and prepare that next one to be picked up. We needed our small jackhammer so I ran over to get it (they had borrowed it for drilling) and saw that it was laying just about in front of the panel they were now setting. They had the panel resting on the wall but no braces on it yet so I thought to myself, well, it's safe enough, those guys are all around it and it didn't look like they were attempting to move it any, just preparing to put the braces on. So I start towards the drill and about that time the panel shifted, the end closest to me swung off the wall about 2 feet and hit the panel next to it which I was directly in front of! This makes a loud noise as you can imagine and the whole row of panels shake. I didn't think I was still able to move that fast. What made me move faster was when I looked behind me and saw one of the panel crew right behind me. He was hauling ass too and I didn't stop until I was about 50 feet away. Of course, the guys asked me later what was I getting so excited about.

This guy is a worker that you hardly ever see anymore, if fact, I wasn't sure who he was until later but he is an "oiler". An oiler's job is to look after the crane. He stays on it's back most of the time, except when it's walking, and he cleans it and feeds it and obviously, oils it. He gets down when it moves to another location and walks along with it to make sure it doesn't step on anything and has plenty of clearance to get where it's going. I'm not sure why you don't see oilers too much anymore, and you might in other areas such as up north, but they don't use them much here anymore.

One other story for you: Yesterday, I was talking to the panel crew foreman while standing next to his truck. During the conversation I happen to notice several watermelon laying in the bed. I guess I kinda smiled and he asked me if I wanted some. I tried not to start laughing; I knew he meant the watermelon! **(Long time readers will know what I'm talking about) He picked out the prettiest one and gave it to me. I thanked him kindly and put it in my cooler. When I hauled it out at lunch and presented it to my guys they all looked surprised.
"Where'd you get that?!"
"That nice foreman gave it to me".
They all started snickering and cutting their eyes at each other, "you and your watermelon...hey, wasn't it about this time exactly last year that.....?"
"Just hush and eat the dang melon!"

** New readers go here, to read the original story. It's worth it.

* The Rolling Stones


Anonymous said...

Gawd you work in some dangerous places woman! I'd have had a coronary and dropped on the spot LMAO!

BTW, you're going to have to spill the watermelon story again at some stage LOL!


myamuhnative said...

I think this tilt up stuff is fascinating.
An engineer friend tells me that it is more hurricane resistant than other building processes too.
So I have been wondering why they don't build houses this way down here in hurricane land?
Oh and please don't quit the explanations until you show us how you tie those things together in the corners...

Floridacracker said...

What is it with guys and melons?

Anyway, yes, keep up the good how its done stuff. I didn't realize these were poured on site, but then ... duh, it seems kind of obvious that they would need to be.
Am I right in picturing you all pour them one on top of the other?
Is their some liner between them ... cause the bond breaker is after the fact right?
Deconfuse me if you can :)

edifice rex said...

Hey molly! Well, it keeps me on my toes anyway!
Yeah, I may have to elaborate some on the watermelon story; it's good for several more laughs. lol!

Hey mya! Yes, I would imagine that it is quite wind resistant. I guess the cost is probably the reason they don't build more but how much does insurance and rebuilding keep costing in those areas, ya know? Since you are interested, I'll show how they connect them to the building.

Hey FC! Yeah, I've wondered about that too! ;) I know I'll never live that whole thing down for the rest of my life though. lol!
Well, a lot of precast concrete is poured elsewhere and transported to the job but these are so wide they can't really be hauled.
Yes, we stack them up like pancakes, sometimes pouring as many as 6 or 7 in one stack. There is no liner, just the bond breaker; you pour your first panel and form the next one on top. Then, before you put the rebar in the form, you spray about 3 coats of bond breaker on that bottom panel (now the floor of the next panel), then lay in your rebar and try to pour quickly before it rains! Does that make more sense? Kind of like spreading butter between your pancakes as you stack them!

pablo said...

The man who built my dam now builds houses with this technique. (Hope he does a better job than he did on my leaky dam.)

Floridacracker said...

That makes perfect sense.
Thanks, I got it now.

edifice rex said...

Hey Pablo! Ha! Yeah, I hope so too.

Hey Fc! No problemo!

Ed Abbey said...

I've been reading your blog for awhile but this is my first comment. I had to go back and search out the watermelon story you alluded too in this post. It was worth the effort!

edifice rex said...

Hey Ed! Happy to hear from you. Yeah, the watermelon incident has gotten a lot of laughs! It's a good story.