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Posted by Mary in PA on 10/29/2010

Mary has been the author on our project so far, and I offered to write up the slab post while she worked on the house plans. As she mentioned before, we decided to use a trailer-mounted concrete pump to place the concrete because of the difficulty of rolling wheelbarrows and concrete buggies over the top of the rebar.

The contractor provided a crew of seven men. Controlling the three-inch-diameter concrete hose is about like wrestling a giant anaconda snake. 

 The biggest workman took the ‘head’ using a rope tied to a tee handle. He then stood on top of the anaconda and pulled back with both hands. The beast’s head reared up as the man directed it left and right. The pump operator had a remote-control switch on his belt to turn the pump on. With each stroke of the pump, the “snake” writhed as if in pain, and then belched out a big glob of 5½-inch slump, liquid concrete. The other two men helped alternately drag the giant into position or stand on it to hold it down.

Some of the rebar chairs got flipped over or stomped down into the vapor barrier and gravel. The workers set them back into position as they retreated without my asking them.

Four men handled the spreading. One made a pass with a vibrating screed. This had a ten-foot-wide bar and was equipped with handles like a motorcycle. The operator backed up slowly while the others pushed the concrete in or pulled away, as required, with occasional checks with a laser level. Then they did one pass with a bull float with a twenty-foot-long handle.

It only took about one hour to place two truckloads of ten yards each.

At this point the crew left, except for two finishers who said that they planned to be there until late into the evening because the weather was so cool (55 deg F) and the concrete setting would be delayed.

I decided to omit the control joints and allow the slab to crack naturally. In my employer’s shop, the control joints were ineffective and also became chipped out from the traffic of carts with metal caster wheels. I think that small hairline cracks will be easier to deal with, and I am not concerned with the cosmetics.

The crew did a great job except when they sprayed their tools with oil (to prevent sticking) and got some on the rebar. The finishers gave the floor a hard-steel-trowel finish with a helicopter-type troweling machine. It came out very smooth and shiny, and we’re really pleased with it.


Pump trailer, waiting on concrete.
Ready mix arrives.
Crew & anaconda start battle.
Half done.
Second truck arrives, circle driveway proves useful!
2nd truck backs in, 1st one pulls out.
Meanwhile, John pulls sample for slump test. Fill cone, rod it down...
...Remove cone...
...and measure slump. 5.5" - good.
John also gets samples for later strength testing. Just for fun.
Finishing with vibrating screed.
Working as a team, everyone retreats to door, finishing as they go.
Only one hour to place the concrete. Well worth the pump trailer!
Two guys stay for finish work.
Then wait for setup.
Little critter intruder, oh well.
Helicopter screed next, which took place late in the evening. This crew had a great work ethic and did a fine job on the slab.

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