Lessons Learned (Part II)

Where was I?

On the workshop porch are ten newly poured exposed aggregate panels, total mass around 1600 lbs. Nine of them seem to have worked out quite well: the exposed pebbles are evenly distributed, there are no cracks, holes, or other uncorrectable disasters. The largest panel, however, completed in a rush on Saturday evening, does not look so good: the aggregate does not seem evenly exposed, but there's a possibility that it might look OK when cured. (I have it on the ground near the shop, and it does in fact look quite reasonable).
Although this panel will have to done again (!), nothing will happen for a few days because J. & I are sailing off on the Sunday afternoon tide to cross over to Canoe Cove, where Prana, the family sailboat, will be hauled. From there J. will fly to Montreal, and I'll be back on Saltspring on Wednesday with a freshly painted boat.

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So, Wednesday morning arrives. I've done this before: remove the sides of the form, lever up the panel, slip a rope harness underneath, lift the panel with a come-along, and by cautious swinging and lowering, balance it on the back of the pick-up on two 2x4's. Then back up until I can drop the panel more-or-less where it can be usefully disposed of. Remake the form, head to Windsor for cement and new re-bar, to Gulf Coast for new sand and gravel, to the rental store for the pencil vibrator, and back home to pour the panel (number 4 of this particular size). All goes well, and nothing more need be done for a few days as it (and the remaining nine panels) have cured enough to be safely moved.

A week later, and we're ready to move the panels up to the table (which is already delivered and in situ). This will need help, and Roger is the key to this. On Thursday (now the 16th of July), R. will be here with his trailer, and with the help of Daniel and Nigel the panels can be loaded and transported up the hill, which is, remarkably, exactly what happens:

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Roger, Illtyd and Daniel maneuver a medium-sized panel onto the trailer.

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Daniel watches Roger unhook the large panel from the engine hoist, and a smaller panel is carried in by Garry and Daniel.

There was of course a final surprise: with the exception of the largest, all the panels were very slightly oversize, by no more than a sixteenth. Concrete, we confirmed, cannot be squeezed or cajoled or persuaded or jumped-up-and-down-on to force it to fit. So, a rather tense run down the hill to pick up a rebate plane, a one and a half inch chisel, and back to carefully relieve the teak frame where needed. This was not a difficult job, except that the panels had to be moved several times to 1) mark the tight spots, 2) moved aside to plane and chisel, 3) moved back to check the fit - well, you get the idea. The secret weapon here was the floor jack - a bolshy specimen with a very stiff and unpredictable release, which would not lower the panels smoothly and slowly, but could only manage a series of sporadic and hazardous (to fingers) jerks.

In the end it was done:

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Harold poured champagne, we tidied up, and went home.


There were some more details to look after the next day. The concrete edges were slightly damaged in a couple of spots, and I returned the next morning with cement, sand, gravel and epoxy resin. The next morning (Saturday) J. & I went back to paint a coat of clear sealer on the top (a light acid wash had been done before delivering the panels). The sealer darkened the concrete somewhat, which made a better match with the patio, and, more importantly, sealed the surface. Oil stains are oil stains, after all, whether caused by your car dripping oil on the driveway or the salad dressing tipping over on your concrete table.

Time to go sailing.