Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Breaking Rock

This week we’ve run into some ‘interesting’ snags while working on our house foundation. First, we discovered that due to the degree of slope we’re building on, if the back corner of the house is level with the ground, the front end veranda would be about 2 meters off the ground! Yikes! There will be several levels in the house anyway, but rather than add even more, we decided to sink the whole house plus 5 meters of the back yard. This means we now have to build a retention wall. We’ve never built one of those before, so here goes another learning curve.

There are a lot of rocks in this area, and as luck would have it, there are some large ones right where we need to dig our foundation. At first the guys tackled it with sledge hammers and picks (we don’t have a rock-crusher or jackhammer out here). But the rock was steadfast and they only managed to pulverise surface. The rock stood its ground! One of the workers suggested we light a fire on it to heat it up, then, pour water over it. So we did. We built a nice bonfire, let it burn several hours, then sprayed it out with a garden hose. The guys went to work pounding again, but to no avail. They wailed and smashed with all their might, but the hammers just bounced off. That rock was invincible! Then a structural engineer told us we had done the right thing, but we have to light a VERY HOT FIRE on it (a whole lot hotter-than-hot-has-got type fire). Then dump LOTS of cold water on it. “It’ll crack every time…” So at 8:00 the next morning, we made the hottest fire we could with special flammable materials only we in the African bush have (very hard wood), and let it burn all day. Next, we were to DOUSE it with water, lots. Forget the garden hose sprinkle. So we got five 25 litre buckets and filled them with water. At 4 p.m. the logs were pulled off and the guys dumped water on the rock as quickly as they could. Well, the first 5 buckets were quick. After that it we were back down to sprinkley hose speed.

After a lot of sizzling, hissing and thick clouds of smoke and steam, it was time to check things out…first with a hammer of course, then a shovel. Sure enough, the rock had cracked under pressure! Just the top few inches could be chiselled away, but hey, it was a victory nonetheless! So, what do we do with the remaining rock? We’ll build another VERY HOT FIRE, douse, and pound some more. This could take awhile.

BTW, I found some old pictures yesterday that should have gone in the blog post (July) about our Toyota bakkie.
Fixing it again. This was on our move to Mozambique, about the time our engine troubles started.

Hauling precious cargo on one of our many moves in Maputo, Mozambique. Cute kids!

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Pat Nelson said...

WOW & Eric thought he had it rough moving many kilos of gravel around in a wheelbarrow & lugging 80 lb alan blocks back & forth. I'll have to tell him to read this blog so he'll feel like his job is easy :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Lynn- sounds like "fun" - you guys are in constant construction mode- cant wait to get out there to help you! Just make sure your not piling all that dirt your digging up where we are gonna build our house! :) whenever that may happen! God Bless,
rick and heather

Anonymous said...

Hey Lynn,

When you are breaking up all of those rocks I hope you find some diamonds on them! Be sure to dig them out... If you do it could pay for your expantion of your mission. wouldn't that be fun?! your blog is great! (Luke typed this for me...)

Take care...

Auntie Alma.

Amanda said...

Aw, cute kids. It seems to me that every time we traveled anywhere, you and dad would make "towers" on either side of the back of the bakkie that would come crashing down as soon as we hit the first bump or rounded the first corner. Russell and I started to automatically flatten everything out after you closed the back but before we started moving...just so we could avoid the avalanche =P

Russell said...

Oohhh, here it shows you using water. I'm confused, I was sure you said you didn't on MSN...