Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Brick Arch–Last Wall to Go Up

 

Here we go with yet new workers… but these are here to last, I hope. They are both very industrious, professional, and incredibly multi-talented. I will introduce each to you on the job.

The very last wall to go up, and it’s a beauty! A while back I had recalled some of the old but beautiful apartments and houses in Old Montreal and NDG, many with a whole wall made of bricks. Even though it isn’t usually done here, I decided that the wall separating the living room from the kitchen/dining room area would go up in bricks. I had plans to have both sides in bricks but had to opt for one side only because of many factors—time constraints, solidity and durability of wall, and its being combined with the entrance door opening in the dining room. So that side will be covered and painted.

Luis is the artist that was elected to build the arch. Below is a photo of the starting point. First a beam resting on studs and absolutely level. On that beam are blocks that will be the base over which the arch will be built. As you can see, there are bricks that constitute the form of an arch over which some mortar is applied. This base will be temporary. The rounded part is determined from a wire nailed in the center of the bottom beam and stretched from one side to the other.

Brick Arch 013-1

If you double click on the photo on the right, you’ll be able to see the wire hanging down from the beam against the middle stud. The photo on the left shows the form that is the temporary basis for the arch.

Brick Arch 008

Here is Luis, a master mason in my view. Brick Arch 003On the photo below, he shows how a number of strings strategically placed will keep the shape of the arch constant and the whole thing level. He constantly checked the proper placement of the bricks by means of a string that he would run against the structure as he was building.

 

The photo below shows the strings that Luis has strung from side to side to remind him of the proper height and level. I tried to coax him into the bright smile that he usually has but I think that he was a bit shy or the sun was in his face.

Brick Arch 004

Once the mortar has sufficiently hardened, it has to be “cleaned” by scraping some off to a regular depth everywhere. This was done by a homemade implement consisting of a nail in a piece of wood. Thinking that it would make the job easier, Yvonne brought a tool that is used in Holland to do a similar job on the left. But in the end, Jesus went back to using his self-made tool that he exhibits in the photo below on the right.

Mason's tool 002

Further down on the right is Jesus in front of his handiwork with the tools. The smile says it all!

Mason's tool 001

Jesus’s job is to mix the mortar and carry it to Luis, to water the bricks before they are used, this to ensure proper “sticking”, to prepare the planks that will be used to make a form into which concrete will be poured for the castillos. The castillos serve to cement together the walls, around the door and window frames.

Whenever he runs out of things to do, he helped me mark the places where electric outlets will be located. He marked the contour of each box, then indicated whether the wire would come from above or from the floor. Here’s an example:

The photo on the left indicates a box for a wall switch in the bedroom wall with the wire coming in from above. With the help of my new generator, he then sawed right through the bricks or blocks and chiselled each by hand, as shown on the photo below.

Brick Arch 006-1Brick Arch 011

As I’m finishing this, both Luis and Jesus are preparing to pour concrete into the forms to unite the brick wall to the side ones.

This will be it for construction in 2011. I will post before next year and will resume the construction tales at some time in January.

I will post the costs separately as I have to gather up my bills.

From an idea, then to a rough sketch followed by a more detailed plan… and now to walls standing solidly on the Mexican soil. What a journey … and it’s not over! 

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1 comment:

Pleinguy said...

Great progress and looking good. So glad to see your casita taking form. Thanks for sharing the progress with us.

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