Today, we started the process of bedding down the timber Footplates on the external wall so it is set at a precise height and level above the floor.

It took us all morning to prepare the equipment (cement mixer etc.), laser level gadget, tidying up air hoses, sieving 3 builders buckets of soft sand (we are using our own sand we have bug out of our ground!), finding old bags of cement and getting the water out ready for the mixing of the mortar.

We decided that we needed to lift the timber planks up by 10mm to accommodate the variations in the height of the block wall, most of it will be that thick but some will only have 3mm or 4mm of mortar to fill under the plank but in some areas, it will be as much as 15mm thick.



After lunch, we mixed up a load of mortar using a 10 litre metal bucket for the cement powder, and the aforementioned 3 builders buckets (making virtually 40 litres) which is our 4:1 ratio mix we wanted. We included a dollop of the emulsifier which adds tiny air bubbles to the mixture to make the mortar easier to work with.

Then, we undid the concrete screws a bit so we could lift up the timber high enough so we can shove in the mortar underneath the plank. At this point, we wanted to double check the measurement and height and using the laser detector on our little stubby foot pillar, we had some difficulties in making sense of the numbers coming off the measuring pole and the laser. It was saying that we needed even more gap under the footplate. After double and triple checking the laser, moving the laser from the adjustable platform in the middle of the house concrete floor, back to the reference shelf on the garage and back again. it turned out that we needed to make use of a steel rule with millimetre markings to accurately measure the laser level. The old sighting pole we have been using doesn’t have any millimetre markings on it only 5mm wide blocks of colour, alternating between white and black. It was a bit of a guess work to get to the millimetre level of accuracy. The steel rule sorted out that confusion and we got sense back with our numbers! Phew!
But it took us an hour of doing this process to solve it! Oh Well, at least, we know what to do next time now!



(picture of the sighting pole with the white and black block markings)

We then got going with the repetitive task of handful of mortar, pushing it under the footplate, and then coming along afterwards, to bash down with a club hammer so it pushes out excess mortar and set the height and level to within 1mm of accuracy. The excess mortar was scraped away and used to fill under the next timber plank. And So On!

We probably did about half the distance (total of 77 metres) around the external wall, in about 2½ hours with the load of mortar we made. Tomorrow, we will do another load in the morning and then finish off in the afternoon.

By Shaun

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