25 November, 2007

Resting on the Beams - Finally!

Friday was our biggest day so far. The house was lowered onto the concrete beams of the foundation - finally! It really didn't take too long either.

The first shot is of the supervisory committee, supervising the goings-on.
Dianna, Esidoro, and Franz
Just to make things interesting, the night before (Thursday night), it rained mightily, and as this was the first substantial rain since completing the side fences, we were surprised to find that Elsie had put in a swimming pool over night. Her lot had a good six inches of water on it. This will come into play later on in the day.
Elsie's Swimming Pool
On my way over to our property that morning, I almost forgot. Pastor Doug, a couple of weeks ago, asked if I would have Franz get in touch with the Mennonite well drillers and have the one who drilled his well come back as he was having some severe problems with his well.

Low and behold, there they were. I hit the brakes and snapped the picture below of their rig. There is a certain resemblance to the one that drilled my well, except this is much older. This one was built in either 1917 or 1918, whereas, the one that drilled my well was built in the early 50's. I thought you'd enjoy seeing this one.
The Other Well Rig
Also, another side-bar... Dianna and I stopped off at the furniture makers to see how our sectional couch was coming along. At this stage, they're waiting for the fabric to come in from Mexico. the pieces of the sectional are essentially done.
Our Furniture Up in the Attic of the Factory
(Not responsible for the pinup!)
Our Furniture in Comfort Rest's Attic
Here's Dianna resisting temptation to give the couch the "nap test". We're also having footstools made for it.
the Rest of the Pieces
Ok, now to the business at hand. First thing Franz's, or rather his brother, John's crew did was jack it up a smidge with their hydraulic jacks and remove the jack-stands.
Pulling it away
Keeping Very Heavy Timber From Falling
Once the jack-stands are out of the way, then they still need to remove the massive timbers. These are some very dense, very heavy wood beams.
Prizing the Timber Out
Novel Use for a Ladder
I mentioned the hydraulic jacks, here they are. Little 10-ton jobs, I'm guessing.
Tweaking the jacks
Watch Your Fingers
Part of the process involves removing supporting pieces of timber to get the jack-stands out of the way. It's all heavy, hard work.
A Nudge Here
A Nudge There
Taking down the jack-stands involves removing all the supporting timber then getting the hell out of the way as it falls. And, it doesn't bounce when it hits. It just goes "thud".
Removing Supports
Picking Up the Jack-stand
And then, you have to put it away. John and his crew must have had another building to move, as they wasted no time loading all their stuff into his van and hitting the road.
Lift That Barge
Tote That Bale
Of course, writing about putting it in the van is the easy part. It is no slouch project to get all this stuff into the van - which, when it was all said and done, was seriously overloaded. But, Belize being Belize, that never caused anyone a bit of worry. They did tack an empty red laundry soap bottle (where'd that come from?) to one the timbers that was still hanging out the back end as a safety feature.
"Push, I say, Push!"
Here's a nice sequence of them getting the huge beams out. It's immediately after this piece that my batteries failed - naturally, for the most critical part of the lowering process...

I zoomed off to New World Market and got a four-pack of Duracell AA batteries. My camera takes two at a time. Well, each set of batteries lasted for about 4 or 5 pictures before dying. So, I zoomed back to New World and bought a four-pack of Eveready. These didn't even make it to one picture. I'm guessing they got rooked with some counterfeit knockoffs, real POS batteries (A fairly common occurrence down here, unfortunately).

Anyway, I zoomed again, this time to D's Super Store, and bought a two-pack and they were the genuine article. Still going strong!

After getting back, I shot the rest of the proceedings, as you'll see.
The Timber Being Nudged Out
And Nudged Some More
And More
And a Bit More

And... Here It Comes
Here's one of Franz's crew plastering the inside of the utility room walls. Looking mighty nice.
Our back stairs actually do work. They feel really comfortable going up and down.
Back Stairs in Use
The master of the stairs is Franz's finish carpenter, Ruben. He's the one usually wearing the jaunty topper.
Hard at Work on the Stairs
Actually Notching Out to Lower the House
Ruben wasn't real happy about doing the stairs, he would much rather be doing the inside trim. But, he said he likes to have fund and does the best job he can - which turned out really nice.
Ruben Trimming the Back Wood
Working on the Front Stair Rebar
Here's a shot of the Posts for the front stair landing and a shot of the stairs and landing itself.
Stairs involve lots of measuring, and looking and cutting and measuring.
Measuring for the Front Stairs
Working on the Front Stairs
Esidoro and Ruben consulting about a technical issue - either about the stairs or the fence, or perhaps something else entirely.
Ruben and Esidoro
Here's the trenches for the canal-side fence.
More Trenches
And Still More Trenches
Here's Esidoro also doing a pile of measuring, getting ready for the pour on Saturday (which didn't happen - no mixer was available. It was actually done on Sunday morning).
Canal-Side Fence Work
Canal-Side Fence Work
More Canal-Side Fence Work
Remember I mentioned about Elsie's swimming pool? and that I'd have more to say? Well, in one of my dumber moments, I thought it would be a good idea to have the gravel truck with 10 yards of gravel in it, come into the place through Elsie's gate and just drive up onto our fill, turn, back up and drop his load right where we wanted it.

Apparently, the fill right at that particular spot wasn't as firm as I though it was. Everything was working out well till he hit the fill and proceeded to nose-dive into it. At that point, I just about dropped a load!
Boss, We Gots A Problem...
Stuck But Good... And With A Full Load Too.
Of course, the more he worked at it, the deeper the truck went (again by the nose). Not that the rear end wasn't sinking either. It's just the front was really dramatic.

Dumping the load to lighten the truck really wasn't an option at this point as he'd be doubly stuck then. So, as we jockeyed him back and forth, one of Isidoro's guys jumped into the bed and began dumping buckets full of gravel into the ruts.
Feeling Like the Tar Baby
Myo Working to Give It Some Traction
Eventually, after a bit more than an hour, we were able to get him free, up another part of the fill that was firm, turn around, and actually dump the load of gravel right where we wanted it, as you can see below.
Perfectly On Target
Now, to get him out without diving into Elsie's pool, meant that he'd have to exit between our new steps and the tree that Dianna really wanted to save. We did have to chop a branch, but, as you can see, he made it just fine.
Chopping the Branch, But Saving the Tree
A Narrow Fit
The clearance isn't much, but it's enough. In fact, Saturday morning, he brought a load of sand and came in the way he'd gone out with no trouble at all.
Suck In Your Breath, You'll Make It
Suck In More, You Might Make It
Don't Breath Yet
So, here we are Sunday afternoon. The mixer was available, the pour took place, and all's well, for now.

You may be wondering, if you're the observant kind like me, why Isidoro didn't just use Franz's mixer, which was sitting right there. Turns out, he did ask Franz if they could use it. Unfortunately, it broken. That's why the front stair isn't poured as we speak. It's waiting for a part that is supposed to be in Monday.

And, so it goes.

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