Friday, September 5, 2014

Barn: sawing concrete...

Barn: sawing concrete...  Compared with the hectic events of yesterday, today was a very quiet day.  Well, except for the gas-powered concrete saw running for hours at a volume that makes a jet engine seem almost silent.  Before the sawing started, the builders rolled on a second coat of curing sealer.  After waiting a while for that to dry, they broke out the concrete saw.

The point of sawing 2" deep cracks in the concrete is to encourage the inevitable shrinkage cracks to occur in an aesthetically pleasing straight line.  This doesn't always work, but it usually does.  The cracks are harmless, but some people apparently think a jagged crack that wanders randomly across the surface is less attractive than a straight crack.  Go figure.

You can see the little beast of a saw in the photos below, but there's no way for me to share the earth-shaking (literally!) acoustic volume of this thing with you.  The little engine isn't the source of the noise – you can barely hear the engine.  What you do hear, though, is the diamond saw blade cutting through concrete at an incredible pace.  It sounds something like 100 billion pieces of chalk simultaneously drawn across 100 billion chalkboards, only louder.  That would be the diamond chips scraping across the gravel and sand in the concrete.  Through a mechanism I don't understand, the saw also sets up a low-frequency (roughly 5 to 10 Hz) vibration in the concrete.  When you're standing on the concrete with the saw running, it feels like the earth is shaking – and not in a gentle fashion, either.

Toward the end of the day, Ray was running the saw by himself.  That's a bit tricky, as you need to keep the saw running straight while dribbling water on the blade (water both lubricates and cools the blade).  This particular saw had some quirks that made it even trickier: one wheel was “sticky”, and the engine had a propensity for randomly struggling to handle the load.  Sometimes it even stopped.  So I took mercy on Ray and gave him a hand with the part I was competent to do: dribble water on the blade.  They wore out four diamond-coated saw blades doing this work, and there's still a bit more to go.  Ray will return early Monday with a pile o' blades, plus he's planning to tear down and rebuild the carburetor on the saw (he's pretty sure that's why the engine was struggling today).  If that all works, it shouldn't take more than a couple hours on Monday to finish the work.

The frame materials are on order and should be here by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.  At that point the sides start going up.  Woo hoo!

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