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SPRING!!! and a new project

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  • SPRING!!! and a new project

    We did a spur of the moment pizza party this weekend (16 pizzas). By the end of the evening, the temps were dipping back into the high 40's. Observing the traffic flow of my guests and where everyone was huddling up, its led me to my next project.... a monster fireplace unit made of ferro-cement (hey, its worked for my pizza oven, so why not?)... Think basically a huge Chimenea on steroids.

    I've got a lot of terrain issues to deal with around the party area: Last year, this was a totally unusable slope on the back side of my pond's dam. Through a little judicious cutting, digging and terracing, I've been creating flat space for gatherings. The pizza oven is part of a larger oven complex with countertops that now form a retaining wall holding up part of the dam. Just beyond the oven complex, I've created a a small terrace about 16 feet long and 10 feet wide. Right now the terrace is held up by a temporary system of pine logs and it’s always been my intention to replace them this spring with permanent construction. The working plan up until Saturday has been that a small metal Chimenea (we've had for years) would sit in the middle of the terrace.. The idea has been that seating would be built into the uphill and lower terrace walll facing the chminea for those cooler evenings.

    Well, the little chimenea was roaring away Saturday, but it didn't really attract the party. Looking at how people were gathered, there simply is not enough room on that portion of the terrace for the number of folks with the chimenea plopped in the middle of the space. That, and it doesn't throw enough heat to allow people to sit back from it...so after a few quickie measurements and a beer-fueled consult with one of my engineer friends at the party, the decision was reached to construct a fireplace in the upper terrace wall so it would radiate heat out onto the space. The fireplace and counters on either side of it will form a retaining wall for the remaining section of the dam in that area.

    Initially, my thought was to get a couple cubes of bricks delivered and do a full masonry unit… but I learned to really hate laying brick when I built the oven complex because I don’t have the patience to do it right. A little more thought about the amount of concrete I would need for the size of foundation that I’m envisioning (plus, it has to all be transported down there by hand) and just the sheer cost of a brick structure convinced me that’s not the way for me to go.

    Sunday morning it came to me…use my old favorite ferro-cement. From my pizza oven, I know it can take the heat plus this won’t be running anywhere near as hot. After a few sketches, I headed out to garage and started bending some hog-wire into the preliminary frame. Between the time Sunday and a little bit of time this evening (maybe 4 hours total), I pretty much have shaped the armature into a close approximation of the final shape. I’ll have to spend a few more hours fine-tuning the shape before I cover it with chicken wire but everything should be ready for the concrete in a couple of weeks.

    The monster ought to weigh in around 600 pounds once its finished. I’ll do the wire framework in the evenings in the garage, but I’ll have to set it up in its final place before I do the concrete. I figure it’ll probably end up costing ~ $150 for wire and concrete for the fireplace and chimney…and I’ll have get wire mesh doors made, but that shouldn’t be too bad.

    I’ll take a few photos once its covered with the chicken wire because the hog-wire frame doesn’t show up too well on pictures. With everything else that is on the to-do list, it really won't be finished until late Summer, but I probably don't need that amount of heat again til Ocotober.
    Paradise is where you make it.

  • #2
    Re: SPRING!!! and a new project

    Looking forward to the pics. You paint a great picture with words, but one photo would explain a lot.
    GJBingham
    -----------------------------------
    Everyone makes mistakes. The trick is to make mistakes when nobody is looking.

    -

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: SPRING!!! and a new project

      What's the latest on the outdoor heat source? I am peaked with interest.
      An excellent pizza is shared with the ones you love!

      Acoma's Tuscan:
      http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/a...scan-2862.html

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: SPRING!!! and a new project

        Right now the wire armature is still occupying space in the garage. I got it covered with the chicken wire ...one layer on the inside and two layers on the outside. Went out to shoot some pics of it, but the batteries were dead in the camera...
        Now I'm having to tie the layers together to make the thickness less than an inch. Using some galvinized electric fence wire for the ties... a little too stiff to do easily, but the stuff is too hard to use around the yard so its either use it here or toss it completely.
        I'm about half through with the tying step...haven't been working on much as I would like because the wife's insisting that I help weed all the flower beds I put in years ago, then she's going turn me loose in the veggie plot too (side note: she's doesn't like the idea of me just being R&D and her being O&M...figures that if I create something, I'm supposed to take responsibility for the upkeep )
        So far cost is $21.00 for the chicken wire. The hog wire for the armature was picked up off a neighbor's trash pile, so nothing there. Probably 10 hours invested so far. Right now its 7 feet tall (height of the garage door)...once I get in place, I'll need another small roll of the chiken wire to extend the chimney another 4-5 feet.
        Kid coming home for spring break tomorrow. Don't know his plans for next week, but if he can be drafted for a day, I may try to get it mortered. It'll be a lot easier if I can have him on the inside as I push the mortar in from the outside. Of course, also have to replace the pool liner so I'll to figure which job I could best use him on....chance of getting him to work on both is not too high.
        Paradise is where you make it.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: SPRING!!! and a new project

          Decided that I would take advantage of my son being home from college this week by enlisting him to help mortar the monster chimena. The way I figure it, I can get friends to help with the pool liner a lot easier than trying to get one of them to climb up inside the chimena while I apply mortar to it. Towards that goal, spent a few hours today doing all the wire tying. See attached picture. Still have a little bit of wire tying to do at the bottom of it and around the door opening… maybe 2-3 hours at the most.

          Plans for the week are that I’ll do the rest of the wiring over the next couple of evenings and then take off the last half of the week. Wednesday, I’ll make the foundation and then do the mortar packing on Thursday. Unlike typical ferro-cement projects that have to be mortared all in one day, I’m thinking I can do this in a few stages. I’m planning on doing a skim coat of fiberglass-cement on both the inside and outside after its all mortared…that should counteract any weakness from doing it in stages.

          Right now the monster is 7 feet tall and 33 inches front to back. Total width is 42 inches. The door opening is 36 inches wide and 38 inches tall. The chimney opening squeezes down to 14 inch diameter… the next sections will take it down to 12 inches so that should be right ratio of chimney to opening size.
          More pictures to come as progress goes on.
          Attached Files
          Paradise is where you make it.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: SPRING!!! and a new project

            Very interesting project CV. Kids come in handy now and again.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: SPRING!!! and a new project

              Interesting, this is about what I'd planned for my grill/firplace thing sometime in the hazy future... What kind of cement are going to be using?

              And in an asside, do you know of any good sites on Ferrocement by any chance?

              Keep the pics coming, I'd love to see how this turns out!
              "Building a Brick oven is the most fun anyone can have by themselves." (Terry Pratchett... slightly amended)

              http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/p...pics-2610.html
              http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f9/p...nues-2991.html

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: SPRING!!! and a new project

                The concrete to pack into the wire will be just standard pre-packaged mortar mix. After that cures (a couple weeks of slow cure under plastic), I'll use the fiberglass-reinforced surface bonding concrete to skim coat inside and out. At that point, decision time...when I made the pizza oven with the ferro-cement, I coated over the inside with a mixture of fireclay,sand,powdered kaolin and portland (my own mixture). I'm waffling about repeating for this. I don't know that I really need the inside coating, by why argue with sucess? I don't have enough fireclay or kaolin on-hand to do all of the inside of this project. Only place in town that sells fireclay is one of those places open only monday-friday during the day...and about 30 miles from work so highly inconvenient. The local feed and seed sells the kaolin, but only during shrimp season in the late fall, which may work out okay, becasue I probably won't need the heat output til then anyway,but I would like to mark this finished before then.
                I haven't found any good sites on ferro-cement but there have been a couple of good books in print on the subject I was able to get though my state library system.
                BTW, had a chance to ride by our old house last week and was able to peek over into the backyard. The first ferro-cement project I ever did (24 years ago) was a free-form retaining wall holding up a sand-concrete patio. From the looks of things, both have stood the test of time well.
                Paradise is where you make it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: SPRING!!! and a new project

                  Sourcing materials is always a bit of an adenture, isn't it? I'm going to use some of my left over fire bricks for the inside of the grill.

                  Do you remeber which books on ferrocement you found most usefull? My favourite at the moment is Sherri Warner Hunter's "Creative Concrete Ornaments of the Garden" - but it'd be nice to have more info, especially on larger instalations...

                  The problem here is, there don't seem to be many books on the subject in German, and English books I have to buy outright before I can read them...
                  "Building a Brick oven is the most fun anyone can have by themselves." (Terry Pratchett... slightly amended)

                  http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/p...pics-2610.html
                  http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f9/p...nues-2991.html

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: SPRING!!! and a new project

                    I know I read everything on the subject in our state library (I can have them sent to my office so its convenient). When I get on kick for somthing, its not unusual to go through 40-50 books a month. Some of these are pretty old (dating from the late 40's) and I can't remember if any were particularly useful.
                    Don't limit yourself just to the garden books...same techniques for boats, roofs etc.


                    Just looked at their card catalog... Titles they had that I must have read are

                    Reinforced concrete : mechanics and design / James G. MacGregor.

                    Reinforced concrete fundamentals, with emphasis on ultimate strength.
                    Ferguson, Phil Moss,

                    Simplified design of reinforced concrete, by Harry Parker ...

                    Ferrocement : building with cement, sand, and wire mesh / Stanley Abercrombie.
                    Reinforced concrete reservoirs and tanks / G. P. Manning
                    Design and construction of concrete shell roofs [by] G. S. Ramaswamy
                    Basic reinforced concrete design : a text-book for students and engineers / by Chas. E. Reynolds
                    The theory and practice of reinforced concrete [by] Clarence W. Dunham.

                    Ferrocement boat construction.
                    Cairncross, Chris

                    Concrete boatbuilding; its technique and its future, by Gainor W. Jackson, Jnr. [and] W. Morley Sutherland. Illustrated by Gainor W. Jackson, Jnr.

                    If any catch your eye, let me know and I can obtain it for a quick browse thru to see if it has value.
                    Paradise is where you make it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: SPRING!!! and a new project

                      Okay as promised, took the day off to work on the monster chimena project (henceforth known as the Beast).

                      Recall from first posting, the beast will be part of a retaining wall system in the back side of the pond dam. Also recall that last year I had somewhat leveled the area off and am using old pine logs to hold things in place until I complete construction. Picture 1 shows the area where the beast will go. There are 16 feet to work with between the edge of the oven complex at picture right to the walkway down to the pool.

                      So, this morning got out there and cut the logs out where the Beast will go. Had to do just a slight bit of digging to further level off the area (pic 2). Did a really quick form out of corrugated tin held in place by the clay dug out of the hole. Poured 4 & ˝ bags of premixed concrete (360 pounds total) to about a 7 inch thickness. Then scooped out the inside of the form into a depression to aid with combustion air flow when the beast is finished (pic.3).

                      Finished doing all the wire tying on the Beast’s armature. Once the concrete foundation had started to set up, set the Beast in place and drove a couple of pieces of rebar down through the wire around the door opening (pic.4).

                      Got 6 bags of pre-mixed mortar sitting in the back of the truck and the kid’s on notice that tomorrow is mortar packing day…

                      So far...cost is 74 dollars (assuming I use all the mortar) and 16 hours of my time
                      Attached Files
                      Paradise is where you make it.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: SPRING!!! and a new project

                        What a georgeous area. I love the lush landscape! Keep going, not a waiste of a day by the looks of it.
                        An excellent pizza is shared with the ones you love!

                        Acoma's Tuscan:
                        http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/a...scan-2862.html

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: SPRING!!! and a new project

                          The boy and I spent 3 hours out there mortaring in the beast so I guess I have to count this as 6 hours more to the total ...bringing it 22 total hours. Had a few snags along the way but nothing major. Because I never use any rigid steel in the framework, there is a lot of bounce to the armature. had a few spots that wanted to develop holes in the contcrete as the wire bounced the mortar off. Once things harden up, it'll be easy enough go back an patch them. Had some sagging of the frame when we started mortaring up the chimney, so had to stick in a wood brace til things set. Also, did not dig out the dam far enough behind the beast to allow me to get my hands behind it to pack in mortar so there is a big hole in the back down low. Think I'll be okay once the rest hardens, then I can pack mortar more aggressively from the inside.

                          Also, didn't attempt to mortar around the door opening and the front face...left about 8 inches at the top un-mortared so I can tie in the chimney.

                          Used 4 of the bags of mortar so have 2 left. Figure one will take care of the hole in the back and the remaiing one will be more than enough for the chimney that I got to fabricate...love when my estimates on quantities seem to work out, but may need one more just to smooth thing up a bit.

                          covered with wet blankets and plastic for the remainder of the day.....
                          Thinking about taking off tomorrow too...don't think it'll be hardened up enough to support me putting the chimney on, but after two days at home, can't get too excited about going in for one day.
                          Attached Files
                          Paradise is where you make it.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: SPRING!!! and a new project

                            Progress on the beast:
                            Friday, the boy heard the surf was up, so grabbed his board and headed to the coast, leaving me to deal with the project by myself.
                            Added on the next two-foot section of wire armature for the chimney. Involved a lot time up on the ladder making the connections. The mortar from Thursday was still sort of soft and the ladder could only be put on the front side of the beast because of how the dam slopes behind the thing. So a lot extended reaching and balancing. This was a tricky operation and I realized halfway through that I should have added all armature while I had the frame laying down in the driveway. Live and learn.
                            So after the addition of the chimney section, there was about 3 feet of wire armature sticking up that needed to have mortar packed into. Always a problem with ferro-cement is that the cement has to be supported on one side while packing in from the other. Because the chimney was overhead, even if the boy had stuck around he would not have been able to help out to support the mortar. Finally hit on the solution to wrap the outside with plastic sheeting and then wrapped rope around that to give some support, but knowing that this is gonna make a pretty rough outside shape. Then mixed up some mortar and squeezed up inside the beast to pack mortar from the inside to as high as I could reach. About a third of the mortar that I was shoving in was staying, and the rest was just raining down on me. Took a few minutes to learn to keep the eyes closed… plus I should have taped my shirt pockets shut as they were filling up with wet mortar. Finished off by packing in the upper section of the chimney from the ladder…more balancing act.
                            Saturday did not work on the beast. The boy returned with 4 bushels of oysters so did a combination oyster roast and pizza party (19 pizzas and 3 bushels roasted).
                            After shucking out the remaining bushel this morning and cleaning up from the party, Unwrapped the beast. The pictures show the distinct difference in texture between the area where I was able to pack in mortar from the outside (lower 7 feet) and the inside against the plastic. Got one bag of mortar spread over part of it as the first smoothing coat. Everything’s wrapped in wet burlap and plastic again to cure slowly.
                            Attached Files
                            Paradise is where you make it.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: SPRING!!! and a new project

                              You should have gone surfing too. Good exercise! I lived to surf in So. Cal 15 years ago. The beast is coming along nicely. Great pics. Keep 'em coming.
                              George
                              GJBingham
                              -----------------------------------
                              Everyone makes mistakes. The trick is to make mistakes when nobody is looking.

                              -

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