November 13 - 19

November 14 - James and I return with the last bit of rebar and also start stuffing the foam in the rebar. This turns out not to be too hard, but not exactly easy. We spend almost the entire day on this task, tiptoeing through the rebar cages, scraping hands on the wire ties - the usual drill working around rebar.


November 15 - We stay overnight and work through Monday as well.  James spends another thankless day in the rebar adjusting where the conduit all comes up. This requires sawing the conduit down in the cages and gluing elbows to angle it to a new place. As luck would have it, the biggest cluster of all comes up right where one of the roof trusses will sit, giving James fits. I  spend the better part of the day assembling 1/3 of the photovoltaic system. This will charge the batteries day-in, day-out, reducing our use of the generator and the associated gas to fuel it. Given the weight and awkward size of most of the components, this really should have been a two-man job, but I did manage to complete the task without breaking anything and without getting hurt.  All that's left at this point is to wire the panels to the inverter, which needs a component to be installed to properly control the charging behavior. That will have to wait a few days.

Lonnie and his crew arrived late on the 14th and get to work early on the 15th doing some final prep on the forms. By the end of the day they start on leveling the ground in preparation for the slab. These guys start working at about 7AM, break for breakfast at 10, which Lonnie cooks for the whole crew. They're back at work until lunch at 2PM, and then back to work until dark. That is one hardworking crew - all Mexican nationals that Lonnie communicates with in Spanish.

November 18 - This is the big day. James gets to have all the fun this time. The concrete pumper arrives from Albuquerque around 8:30, while the concrete, which only has to come from Cuba is an hour late, arriving around 10.

For those of you who have never seen a concrete pumper, you just haven't lived. With the 4-link boom, the pour was completed without moving the truck. The boom operator has a wireless remote which allows him to work from a spot where he has good visibility.
The pour starts with one guy guiding the hose. The next one in line spreads the concrete in the form. The third man has a large, mechanical vibrator which encourages the concrete to fill all the voids, avoiding "honeycombing" at the surface of the form.  The fourth guy starts the final shaping, and the fifth trowels the concrete. Afterwards all five come back for another round of troweling to provide a smooth finish.

Gary came up today to pick up more of his gear. He indulges James' growing interest (obsession?) with guns by bringing an AK47 for James to try out.