Friday, February 15, 2013

Sunny... Concrete & poultry

Weather was beautiful today.  Got to the farm earlier than usual to do some of the chores, and then prepare for a concrete pour. 
 I was working with 3 guys today; Sean and Loren, and Shawn, who's the nephew of my farm neighbor, Hussein.  Hussein called me earlier this week to ask if I had some work, and I explained that I wasn't sure -- if I close on the new farm, yes, probably another full-time position or two, but I didn't hire anyone without the chance to work with them, so I hired Shawn for the day to see how he would work out. 
 This section of the driveway is 10' wide x 115' long x 6" deep.  It's got reinforcing mesh in it, and it's the main driveway for the farm, and the main working area.  I've found that concrete is expensive to put in, but in the long run, saves you money on gravel.  I'd put $600 in gravel into this driveway, only to have it disappear.  With concrete you do it once and that's it for the next 20 to 30 years.  It's much more durable than asphalt. 

We clean the concrete by running the tractor bucket up and down it, and/or pressure washing it, and it makes moving equipment much less messy.  No more lakes of mud. 

The preparation is the hard part; the pour itself is a little like an afterthought.  I ran the chute on the back of the concrete truck, and directed the driver with hand signals; forward, lock the chute, turn on the concrete, turn it off...  I'd wave the chute back and forth, putting down an even layer of concrete, as close to level as I could get it.  Behind me was a crew of 3 guys; two on the "scree", a long board that spanned the slab, sawing it back and forth to get the concrete to a rough level, and a guy with a shovel, that alternately added or subtracted concrete from the area being screed.  I'd pour a 5 to 8 foot length, we'd scree and shovel, and then I'd move the truck forward.  At this thickness and width a concrete truck covers about 55'. 

The guy running the chute is actually the key player in this little drama.  If you pour it on too thick, or too thing, the concrete has to be moved by hand.  The chute is heavy, and it takes a little practice to get the hang of it.  I like laying concrete slabs like this in 8 to 10' widths because it's easier to screed and finish than wider slabs. 
Our slab is customized by poultry prints all over it.  You can get mad about it, but really, it's kind of cool to have turkey tracks on it; it is a farm, after all.  They'll eventually get worn down by the tractor bucket anyway. 

Beautiful day to be out working in the sun.  50 degrees, smells like early spring, things are growing.  Promise of the new year. 


Unknown said...

How much did this 8 to 10 foot section of concrete cost you?

Bruce King said...

Concrete is $100 a cubic yard, delivered, inclusive of all taxes, fees and costs.

I pour a 6" deep slab with steel reinforcing mesh because this particular driveway is the main farm driveway, and we have heavy trucks (40 ton trucks) go over it, and I'd rather it hold up to the wear and tear.

I could go with a thinner slab, say 4", if I were pouring a floor in a building, or in areas where I didn't expect heavy trucks. a 4" slab is strong enough to hold up a 12,000lb tractor, for instance.

an 8x10' slab, 6" thick would cost:

1.48 yards of concrete - $150 + whatever they charged you for a "short" load

at 4" thick you'd need 1 yard of concrete, around $100 + short load fee.

For that small a slab, you could do it with sacks of concrete. you'd need 60 sacks at about $3 a sack, plus you'd probably want to rent a mixer, at about $40, for a total cost of about $220.

Buying concrete in bulk, delivered, is much cheaper than buying it in sacks and mixing it yourself.

Bruce King said...

Total cost of that bit of driveway, with steel, concrete, form boards and labor, around $2700.