Ramped Up


Truck Jump

In order to save the $600 per day charge for the concrete pump truck we took Nick’s advice and built a ramp for our next several pours.

The idea is the concrete truck will drive up to the top of our 450′ driveway near the cottage. From there it is almost a perfect straight shot down to the ramp I constructed at the curve of the driveway. This will give him about 50′ of vertical head to gain momentum.

The operator will spin the barrel of the concrete truck up to full speed before releasing the brake. This gives a gyroscopic stabilizing effect like the rifling inside a bullet barrel. (There is one catch which I’ll explain.) The truck will then plummet down our steep driveway and hit the ramp shooting up into the air and over the 30′ gap to clear the building. As the driver flies over the building he’ll dump the concrete and then land safely on the apron down slope of our driveway, 40,000 lbs lighter than when he took off.

We are looking to do the fastest concrete pour in history. As such we’ll use a superplasticizer for express pump-able flow-able fill with extra cement and air entrainment giving a slump of 12. Without this the concrete won’t shoot out of the truck fast enough to exit the truck before he is beyond the far side of the building. We’ll also use 1% retarder/yd to gain extra time once the concrete is in place.

It is slightly more complicated than that. You see, due to the dumping rate of the concrete, the rotation of the drum and the centrifugal effect of the concrete diminishing over time the body of the 12 wheel concrete truck will slew 22.5° before it gets to the landing zone. This is why the ramp was built slightly off center. Otherwise the operator would miss the landing zone. There is only so much he can accomplish with his stunt driver skills in a machine that big.

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This is much like the run-out at a ski jump but with a half full spinning beer keg on your back. Like with a ski jump landing it will be important that the driver crank the wheel around for a hard turn to make a skid stop. Spectators are asked to stand off to the side and give him plenty of run out room. I do hope he misses the mailbox – I just put a new one in and planted flowers around it.


Divided Highway

Our town just graded the road, creating a divided highway for a while, so his landing should be very smooth and he’ll have plenty of room. As long as he doesn’t hit the granite piles or the big maple tree on the other side of the road.

This is the theory. Soon we’ll have the big test. We’ll find out if Nick was right. What’s the worst that can go wrong?


Early Morning Stone Delivery

In the mornings we’re often in the clouds or mists. This is our local truck guy Sidney delivering a load of inch and a half stone for making the jump. This load he did in a pile where I needed it after backing up around our buildings. Sidney is very good. Sidney helps with ramp building but Sidney does not do ramp jumping.


High Bed

Sidney tailegated the next load down around a double-S curve. By the time he got to the last curve the bed was all the way up in the air. Tricky with a 10-wheeler on a narrow mountain road! He makes it look easy.


Hope on Stone

Hope rock climbing. This is the real reason we get all these loads of stone. Hmm… Stone delivered to Vermont. Sort of like selling ice to eskimos? Sidney is gooood!


Base Stone

Base slabs of granite that Ben and I laid in the uphill ditch of the driveway. I had widened the driveway to make room for the trucks to get past the jump for their heroic run down. The uphill side was soft so we put in large chunks of granite slabs to spread the truck weight and then spread a layer of 2 1/4″ minus – that’s stones that are two and a quarter inches in size plus the fines. This packs hard and makes an excellent road bed – just what you need when building concrete truck jumps. The granite slabs are waste from the local quarries and stone carvers. Those slabs can be a little sharp – not good for truck tires – which is why we want a nice covering of gravel over them.


Pipe Washing

Ben and Hope washed the insides and outsides of a lot of drain pipes to provide perimeter drainage inside the insulation of the reefer. One of the failure modes of big freezers and refrigerators is that frost builds up in the walls and floors or that water soaks the insulation reducing its power to stop heat. Neither is good and I aim to stop both. One of my tricks is a drain around the perimeter of the insulated walls so that moister can be removed. That same drain system can be used to make the insulation breath – passing cool dry air through the system. We have a free source of cold dry air every winter supplied by Mother Nature. Using a thermo-siphon we shouldn’t even need to run fans to pump it. Voila – a zero energy dehumidifier.

As a side benefit a similar effect will be used to chill the building’s enormous thermal mass, cutting our refrigeration costs. This saves energy, reduces our carbon footprint, keeps more money in our pocket and means green pork. Hmm… That last part sounds odd. Even Seussian.


Wood Hangers

As we’ve peeled the forms off the already poured parts of the butcher shop there has been the challenge of where to put all the walers, forms and other materials. These are useful things we need to save for the next stages of the pours and we’ll use them on future projects. In fact, some of them have already been used on the greenhouse and our tiny cottage.

Will came up with the great idea of building shelfs to hang the walers and various other things off of the outer forms which are still bolted in place. This gets the materials up off the ground, avoiding rot, and keeps them neat, organized and out of our way.

If you look at the “Truck Jump” and “Pipe Washing” photos you’ll see two cubes of pink foam hung from sky hooks. Chains and strapping attached to the rebar pins at the top of the walls inside the reefer are holding them up until we need them after this pour.


Trench Mouth

This is the form that guards concrete from going into the plumbing trench. Reefer plumbing exits stage left in one controlled manner and area. PEX slab piping to control the temperature of the various slabs will pass through conduit here too.

Ducting it all through the channel to pumps in the warm areas allows us to keep the heat generating motors outside of the reefer which further saves energy. No need to put hot motors in a cooler where we are already expending energy to remove heat. The heat that is pumped out will then be able to be used to heat the administration and abattoir sections of the building.

Another trick I’m planning is to use compressed air powered saws rather than a standard meat band saw in the cutting room. Again, this helps keep heat out of the cold spaces and they’re easier to clean as well as being quieter. Primarily we’ll be doing knife work rather than intensive saw work but the air saw will be useful for chine off and some other tasks.

We had thought we would make this pour last week but with weather and the change of building the ramp the date got pushed around. We have some flexibility since we are doing all the work ourselves.

Outdoors: 72°F/50°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 72°F/62°F

Daily Spark: Nothing is permanent until it is set in concrete. Wait. I take that back. Remember, we cut granite.

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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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11 Responses to Ramped Up

  1. David Lloyd Sutton says:

    Walter, re: that concrete truck jump. Are you sure you don’t work for Congress as a financial planner?
    Nice to see you engineering to use your environment as an integrated part of the structure. Impressive foresight!

  2. Lindsey says:

    Watching this building going up is quite something.
    I guess I need to think of you guys when I have a particularly hard professional hurdle to get over and remember – well, at least I don’t have to build a concrete structure today!

  3. Faith says:

    Wow! I’m trying to picture a flying concrete truck in my mind. Can this be video taped??? You are amazing.

  4. Michelle says:

    Youtube! You’ll be viral in an instant!

  5. Mel says:

    This? Made my morning. Good luck to your stunt driver!

  6. karl says:

    air saw? sounds interesting… my google-fu failed me here, perhaps you could elaborate?

    • An air saw is a better method than breaking wind. This way there are no ragged edges or farting sounds. :) Just joking.

      An air saw is a high speed rotary saw like this. It uses compressed air so there is no electricity plus it is quieter and cleaner. This means that you aren’t playing with electricity in the wet environment of the abattoir and butcher shop. Nothing kills the joy like standing on a wet concrete floor while holding 240VAC in your clammy little hands.

  7. SoapBoxTech says:

    If the concrete driver should happen to chicken out, you should pitch the idea to Mythbusters. Those crazy buggers are just liable to give it a go!

  8. Fantastic post. When I read your blog it makes my life here on our farm a little easier. And oh yeah, “Seussian” is now my new favorite word.

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