June 11, 2012


The Pearl has come a long way in just a couple of months. The north wall has been our focus this spring and we recently completed the third section. I'd like to take you on a trip through time sharing the joys and challenges of working with concrete. Most of the pictures of the Pearl are looking south so West is on your right.

A view of the progress as of May 2

Here is the two-foot "short" form all buttoned up on the western wall section. The next pour allowed us to finish this section of wall as well as adding height to the center section of wall.

The two-foot form awaiting concrete

A new 4' tall form has joined the party allowing us to pour up to 12 mixes in just one afternoon of concrete work. This really increased productivity of our afternoon work projects. We typically work for about an hour and a half depending on the intensity of the project and pouring 3-4 mixes takes only about a half hour.

Jeff is making a few alterations to the 4' form

Jeff and I learned the importance of the grid layout of snap ties. When all the snap ties line up then moving the form up the wall goes quickly and smoothly. When things don't line up then more time and energy has to go into setting the forms.

Billy and a Muscovy drake keep us on task

Billy keeps an eye on us as we continue to prepare the forms for concrete.

The new 4' form ready for concrete

Concrete Pour Day: we mixed about 10 cubic feet of concrete using two 94# bags of Portland cement, 30 gallons of sand, and 50 gallons of gravel. Our little mixer can mix about 1 CF at a time then it is poured into a wheel barrow and we scoop it up and pour it between the forms. We also add fist-sized rocks to extend the mix and increase the volume.

Finish height for the western section

Here is the finished western section (looking east) smoothed with the cement trowel. Turns out that the top was not level (between the piers)so for the next wall we decided to use a 10' long 2x6 to smooth the entire length.

Keys set

We stopped short of finishing the center wall so we set key stones in place to help the two sections of wall mesh together. We did one more pour a couple of days later and now the center section of wall is complete.

A four foot section of wall

Jeff stayed busy with several ditching projects as well as building a rock wall in the garden when he was not working on the Pearl. I mention this because the eastern section of wall was on hold until the waterline could be re-routed around the eastern edge of the Pearl structure thus allowing us to place the forms without needing to pour concrete around an existing waterline.

The Eastern section is ready for forms

Jeff and I quickly set the 2' form at the base of the wall and we spent an afternoon pouring the first section of the eastern wall and finishing the center section.

With Jeff's time at Windward winding to a close we spent his last week finishing the eastern wall. One day we would move the forms and the next we would pour concrete.

time to move the forms up

We finished pouring the final section of wall on Jeff's last full day on-site.

The last section of the northern wall continues to cure

The next morning, a few of us removed the forms while others gathered this year's little ones and recorded this date with some smiles.

This spring's concrete crew in front of the finished northern wall