Remember that big black slab of rock in “2001: A Space Odyssey” that the monkeys flocked around, holding up the bones? Now we can dance with bones in our new sun room.
What seems like eons ago, we poured the slab as the foundation (and floor) to our sun room addition, and we fashioned a form for any extra concrete using plywood and a 2 foot by 8 foot corrugated plastic sheet that Alison found at Home Depot. The concrete for the slab was dyed black, and we wanted to capture any overflow from that batch because it might be impossible to match in a separate batch, and ultimately we wanted to add more solar mass to the sun room in the form of more concrete to soak up the winter sun. Thus, when the State Sand and Gravel concrete mixer still had concrete in the hopper after the slab form was full, we had them fill the additional form about five inches.
After a week of curing, we ripped off the form, poked our giant steel bar under it, and barely barely managed to flip it over to look at what we had — I was afraid that the weight of the concrete would have completely collapsed the plastic corrugated material. Instead the “front face” was a perfectly even wavy form with an incredibly smooth surface. The concrete was still “wet” so it was dark and deep and it looked like a beautiful object…albeit a half-ton object of beauty. [To calculate its weight yourself, concrete is generally 145 pounds a cubic foot…]
There, across the driveway from what became our new back door, the object sat through the fall, and into the winter as the construction continued, as the installation point for the object kept being pushed back.
Finally we had a plan: the masons would build a concrete block wall to form the back of a pantry, as well as to add thermal mass to the space. On the end of that wall we would put the object.
The masons built the wall last week, but the object remained frozen to the ground. When the masons took their pry-bars to it last Friday, they couldn’t budge it. But weather reports predicted a warm spell (“possibly above freezing!”) over the weekend, so we agreed to keep trying to pop it off the turf as it warmed up. Sunday morning, with the air temperature in the forties, I poured three buckets (15 gallons) of hot water onto the slab as the sun came up and fell on the slab. A few hours later I leaned on a steel bar wedged under the object and it suddenly but surprisingly easily GAVE. I quickly dragged Alison outside so that we could get it up off the frozen ground and ready for the masons to move it inside for installation.
Today the masons arrived at 7am as promised, and immediately set to drilling six holes through the object for bolts that would fix it to the concrete block wall. Once the holes were drilled and the edges were cleaned up they got the object moving toward the sun room on steel rollers.
I helped them move in through the door (without destroying the trim work!) and into the sun room, then retrieved a bunch of old beam sections that we have in the barn. We used the beams to create a crib work below the object, lifting it six inches at a time until we could lean it down at about 30 degrees above the floor. At this point we couldn’t build a crib-work strong enough to allow it to lean any higher, so the four of us got behind it and pushed. One two three UP it went, but not fast, and I had a brief thought of where I could go if the bottom gave way. It didn’t and we got it vertical.
Back and forth we carefully twisted it, a pivot on one corner, careful not to whack the glass block corner along side which the object would stand. We quickly got it set two inches in front of the spot, and then bit by bit, with some careful prodding with the pry bar, we convinced the slab to back into the exact space. From there the masons drilled matching holes into the concrete wall, inserted threaded rods, and bolted the object fixed vertically in our space facing the morning sun. Dancing bones will need to come next.