Friday, November 13, 2009


The shotcrete crew actually arrived early, having left the city at something like four in the morning and apparently mounted JATO bottles to their truck. That was pretty weird, but when the first concrete truck arrived dead on time, we knew something very, very strange was happening. Things were going right. We really don't know how to deal with that.

And they spoke not a word (of English, anyway,) but went straight to their work. Spraying all the way around the bottom of the dome, then mounting scaffolds and going around again. These guys mostly do swimming pools. Nobody out here has a swimming pool, but if you think of M's Dome as a sort of upside-down, inside-out swimming pool, then these were the right people for the job. Certainly the unfamiliar geometry didn't seem to bother them. I love it when a crew knows what it's doing and just does it.

In accordance with the instructions from the manufacturer, M had turned the inside of the dome into a maze of braces and chains to take out as much flexibility as possible and support the burlap and mesh against the very considerable weight of the wet concrete.

This became essential at the beginning of the second pass, which was high enough to exert some real force on the steel, which promptly started flexing. For a few minutes, until we rearranged things, braces were falling like dominoes. But no damage was done.

I really wondered how the burlap was going to react to all that wet concrete on top. I know it's been done before and works, but...well, it just didn't seem natural. But it works great! The concrete permeated the cloth but never once blew through it.

And then...right at this point...they ran out of concrete. It took three hours to get another truck, and I went home. But sometime right around dark M showed up at my lair with a bottle of good rum and a shit-eating grin, looking for somebody with whom to toast Successful Completion! It works! The dome is now comprised of concrete, not just burlap and steel. Yes!

Now the wind's been blowing all night, so if you'll forgive me I have to go help wet down a whole bunch of concrete before it cracks and falls away. :-()


C.M. said...

I have to confess Joel that has been a fascinating build, I have been enjoying it immensely.

how is fritz doing lately?

Anonymous said...

You guys are awesome!