Nov 24, 2011

The Machine Age

In our five years here in PaaMul and before that our travel up and down the west coast of Mexico, we have had opportunity to observe many building sites. Actually it is hard to miss them if you are traveling through a village or here in the PaaMul park, because of the tradition and practice of mixing concrete on the ground, right out front, on the road or street. First comes the piles of gravel and sand, then the bags of cement and stacks of re-bar.
Then come the workers with their short handled shovels who portion out the ingredients in a pile and adding water, start to mix it all by hand. This works fine when making mortar, which in only needed in small quantities and are transported onto the work-site in pails, but for mixing up larger batches of concrete, even if they are mixing a large batch of sand, gravel and cement, there is only so large a mix-patch you can handle with short shovels, so it takes a while, mixing and pouring over and over again and makes for lumpy, patchy surfaces.

Well much to our surprise, two pieces of motorized equipment showed up at our build. The first was a gasoline riven thumper to tamp down the calica fill that is the base for the floor. This replaced the hand tamper and water hose technique that went on for days when we first were building the other side of our palapa floor a couple of years ago. The thumper hopped around our casita base for several hours, but it compacted very well, I think.

The bigger deal was the arrival of a motorized cement mixer. The first one any of us had seen in PaaMul and attracted a lot of attention. With a crew of four to keep the mixer going, running in and out with the wheelbarrows, and another guy “screeding” the pour, we got the whole floor done in one day. And to top it off, the floor was very level and quite smooth. The modern techniques didn’t go as far as “floating” the surface to get a finished surface such as we would have in our basements or garages up north, but at least is was quite level, and will be quite easy to lay a finished floor.
Yes these motorized tools went faster, and did a better job, but it sure was noisy for a couple of days.

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