Steel Workers – Sky Walkers


Will Welding Chiller Rebar to Socket Rods

Writing about what we’re building may well wait for winter as we rush to close in before the snows. Today we had a taste of the weather to come, waking to an inch of white covering the landscape. Here are a few photos which will give you a peek at what’s happening on the butcher shop. In the background above are a plethora of piglets in the north home field – beyond is Sugar Mountain.

Welding is a skill Will has been learning this past year in preparation for doing the butcher shop. In addition to lots of little things, another big project he did was building a new animal transport space in our new (to us) extended body cargo van. We went from being a zero-welder family to a three-welder family in one year.


Ben Tying on the Rail Beam Spine

Ben is up on the catenary arch of the cutting room tying together the steelwork for the beam that will run down the center. The load of the meat rail will be carried both by the arch and the 14′ long steel reinforced concrete beam. Rebar in the top and bottom, spaced by 661010 mesh, provide tensile strength. Additional mesh overlays the rebar ribs. The concrete will have fiber in it. This provides multiple layers of graduated reinforcing for strong ceilings.


Will Welding Lowerator Sockets

The tall chiller ceiling is a barrel vault which gives it added strength. It also has a tall spine for the 20′ long steel reinforced beam and ribs of pre-tensiled steel that are cambered for extra strength. On top of the ribs sits more welded wire mesh.

The foil-bubble-bubble-foil provides a compression spring for the period when the concrete shrinks a little during curing. This will let us get the forms out of the ceilings more easily and help prevent cracking.


Rooster Tail from Cutting Rebar

Usually we cut rebar with nippers but that only works down on the ground because the “nippers” are so huge. Up in the air an angle grinder makes short work of the steel.


Cut Rebar End

It’s a piece of artwork. Beautiful colors in the oxidization. Sharp too.


Cleaning House

This monkey is up very high but not really. On one side our facility is nearly 20′ high but on the other side it is just a hop up to the wall because we’re set into the hillside. This makes the building look very small when we look at it from our house but very tall when viewed from the road. Life on a mountain side. Earth-sheltering the building is one of the little details that will help to moderate the building’s temperature. Additionally safety for hope comes because she is surrounded by about 50’x40′ of scaffolding that rings the site. No worse than climbing a tree.

So what’s Hope doing up there? Picking off maple seeds that the surrounding trees have donated to our project! Perhaps some will get embedded in the concrete with other artifacts for a future archeologist to find.

Outdoors: 72°F/43°F Sunny, 1″ Snow in the Morning which melted
Tiny Cottage: 65°F/63°F

Daily Spark: When killing a vegan vampire should you use a beef steak?

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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5 Responses to Steel Workers – Sky Walkers

  1. Jamey says:

    Your family does such amazing work! Your kids are growing up to be very skilled. I am thrilled to watch how your farm your family your projects develop!

  2. David B says:

    No ferrocement on this vault? I really liked how you did the expanded metal lath with the concrete on the tiny cottage roof.

    • Well, actually the vaults are sort of half way between ferro-cement and reinforced concrete. We use a concrete with a much smaller stone size than usual, more towards ferro-cement levels. We also use a lot more steel in varying graduations as well as fiber – all of this makes it have characteristics of ferro-cement and characteristics of reinforced concrete. It’s a spectrum and this is an example of a project where they merge.

      On the vaults of the Admin section we are using the expanded metal lath, giving three graduations of steel plus fiber. The lath is on the bottom layer so that it will be exposed in the interior allowing us to parge the ceilings. Cement and sand will come through the lath to a degree creating a rough surface but the small 3/8″ stones and fibers will be held up above the lath.

  3. David B says:

    Makes sense, thank you! Really looking forward to how this all is turning out. I’m confused about the “attic space” talked about, but I’m sure you’ll write about it as it happens.

    • I’m not sure which attic you’re referring too. In the cottage there is a front loft which is used by kids and then a back ‘attic’ which we just made more useable with a decking of floor boards. In the butcher shop there will be an attic space which is a low room above Admin for the storage of extra equipment, parts, etc. I’m also planning on a ‘coolth attic’ where we’ll store cold energy, that is to say, the lack of energy. This is a space where we’ll dump heat out of it during the winter and then gradually transfer the heat of the reefer spaces into that coolth attic. Think of it as a battery that we charge up each winter and then gradually use during the warm months to lower our electric energy consumption.

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