Category Archives: Installing the lift

Concrete in! Let the wait begin!

Testosterone reigned once more in Larry’s Groj today. They may look like empty 4-foot squares in the Groj floor, but they’re oh-so-much more. This step involved refilling those selfsame squares with concrete that was Altius, Fortius, Citius. The new concrete is 5,000-pound test, and will be 6 inches deep instead of the measly 4 inches of the garage floor. Olympic concrete, if you will. The lift demands nothing less!

The Concrete Brothers never did call back, nor did the other concrete guys we called. Finally, Josh returned Larry’s call, texted that he was on his way, and just generally stayed in touch. He’s worth his weight in gold.

As predicted, Larry did devise a safe and practical way to mix the concrete: rent a little mixer and mix up batches from bags. Pat and Larry and Josh started at 8:30 this morning, and I’m told all went well.

I wouldn’t know…because I was engaged in a sanity-preserving venture: hiking over at Margo’s place. She’s a hiking friend with acreage that rivals a state park, and a bunch of us had a lovely morning, including coffee and cookies. It was so civilized.

Paul, Margo's husband, gallantly helps us "little old ladies" across the stream.

The lovely little trillium were everywhere!

So when I returned, except for the presence of three trucks, two trailers, two cars, and a cement mixer, the house was relatively serene. Men friends seem to find a reason to stop by and check on the progress. Male pheromones, I believe.

Anyway, by the time I got home from my hike, the concrete had been mixed and poured, and now all that mattered was Josh’s talent for finishing it.

Josh called back, showed up (on time, even), and did a great job at a fair price. I'd call that a home run!

Now all that needs to pass is time. Textbook answer is that it will take 28 days for the concrete to cure enough for Larry to install the lift. However, he is all over the Internet trying to find out how soon it will REALLY cure, how hot it has to be, what the humidity has to be. He wants the REAL answers!! For now, I understand he has to wet the squares every day to make sure the concrete dries hard and strong.

Strong enough to support a 1600-pound lift and any vehicle he can put on it. Yikes.

Some have speculated that Larry could open his Groj as a business to help defray the costs here. Couple of problems with that line of thinking. While Larry is an exceptional mechanic, it’s not something he loves. It’s just something he’s good at. Furthermore, I’m sure the Homeowners’ Association would frown on the comings and goings of random cars and trucks to our  self-described “tony” neighborhood. Up our awesome (as in “fear-inducing”) driveway.

More likely, our neighbors will view our new Groj addition as something “tonier,” like, say, a car elevator. Those Romneys will have nothing on us!


Mixing ze concrete

“What’s that noise?” I asked.

“Huh?” said Larry, looking up from his iPad (formerly my iPad, now appropriated for a higher purpose, I am assured.)

An Armageddon-like rumble emanated from the iPad’s tinny speaker, the sound of a cement mixer. Over the unbearable, grinding noise of the mixer was a thin, barely audible, German-accented narrative.

“Now ve add ze bag of pre-mixed concrete. Jusst pour it in like ziss!”

It was a YouTube video of a fellow of apparently German descent who was demonstrating how to empty bags of concrete mix and water into a small cement mixer, in the right proportions to make good, strong concrete.

This was a victory of sorts.

Remember how I said that Larry would figure out a way to get 2/3 of a yard of concrete up the fear-inducing driveway practically and safely? Well, rather than have the big cement mixer truck show up tomorrow morning at some appointed hour, and shuttle the wet concrete up the driveway one trailer-load or one excavator-bucket at a time, Larry made a different decision. He decided to rent a cement mixer and install it at the top of the driveway, close to the point of work in the garage, and mix small batches as needed.

Oh, it solves so many problems, not the least of which is manpower. He had scheduled a work day today with concrete contractors, two brothers, but then his helper, our shirttail relative Pat, couldn’t come. Larry had to cancel with the Concrete Brothers and reschedule for tomorrow (Saturday). Alas, in the absence of a return phone call from the Concrete Brothers, we have no idea whether they received the message, and whether they will show up at the appointed time tomorrow. Or any time at all. Reliable people in the building trades are as rare as a sunny weekend in the Pacific Northwest.

If Larry had ordered a concrete truck full of wet concrete, ready to pour and finish? Well, imagine the stress of not being 100% sure that concrete finishers would actually, truly, honestly be here!

So Larry decided to rent a cement mixer and purchase thirty-five 80-pound bags of concrete mix. I think it hurts his pride a bit. If he had it his way, he would go the to the quarry and procure the aggregate himself, using his micrometer on the occasional pebble to ensure its optimal diameter. If he had his way, he would rappel down the white cliffs of Dover to chip off just the right amount of limestone.

“Did you know that concrete goes back to Roman times?” he asks me every time the job involves concrete.

In this case, I’m sure he feels he is really casting his fate to the wind, relying on the pre-mixed bags of stuff you can buy at Home Depot. The indignity.

But then again, merely ferrying thirty-five 80-pound bags of pre-mix up the driveway involved some derring-do. Larry used Pat’s heavy-duty trailer and friend Bob’s truck to load it all up and bring it up the driveway. Then things got interesting because once again, it started to rain earnestly. Getting the bags wet would have been disastrous.

Larry had to squeeze both Pat’s trailer and Bob’s truck into the garage (which already holds the lift and the Corvette, remember). You can see from the picture that it’s a tight fit. But no problem. It just meant that our two family cars had to spend the night outside.

So now Larry is listening to Dieter on the iPad instruct him on how to mix ze concrete. Pat will show up tomorrow. We hope the Concrete Brothers do as well. If they do, Larry will be busy in the Groj all day. If they don’t, then we will actually get to enjoy the predicted sunny weekend in the Pacific Northwest.


The Lift Has Landed!

It wasn’t enough that it was pouring rain. Or that the delivery guy showed early, and off-loaded the 1600-pound lift at the BOTTOM of our awesome (as in “fear-inspiring”) driveway. Look closely and you can see the excavator and Pat’s truck and trailer rig waaaaay down at the bottom of the driveway. To take this picture, I wasn’t even standing at the tippy-top of the driveway, but about 10 feet down. (Yes, we hear a lot about our steep driveway. But the bocce ball court, there on the left? Just for the record, that’s flat as a pancake.)

Intrepid friend, Pat, was there with his major truck and trailer. Using the excavator to gingerly pick up the whole package, Larry positioned the lift in the back of  Pat’s rig. And just like that…thar she blows!

Here is a shot of the lift safely inside the garage, nestled next to the Corvette, with which it will soon be well acquainted.

The next challenge will be to get the thicker concrete pads poured into the holes that Larry has punched, with the radiant floor heat hoses he has repaired, and which he has so exquisitely rebarred. To me, the rebar looks more like sculpture…too bad to cover it with goup. So look quick. It’ll soon be gone!

Glad I got a shot of Michelangelo sculpting his rebar (above), and a shot of the result (below).

So the holes are ready for the concrete, that’s true. Later in the week Larry and Pat and the concrete guy will figure out how to transport 2/3 of a yard of concrete up the driveway. Many options “on the table,” except NOT bringing a big concrete truck up the driveway. We’re looking for an option that is both feasible and safe. Stay tuned.

Once the concrete is in…then will come the hard part for Larry. You can tell the man’s excited when he takes a photograph of the instruction manual for the lift. Right?

Well, sad to say, the concrete must cure for 28 days before the lift can be installed. That’s 28 days. Same length as one entire menstrual cycle. But I must say, I’m trying to remain in a better mood than THAT!

Meanwhile, Larry must be patient, hard as that is. He will have to WAIT to install his lift. It will be about as much fun as watching concrete cure.


The Guy who Swallowed a Fly

You remember the nursery song where there was an old lady who swallowed a fly? Thought she might die? She then swallows all manner of things to take care of that initial problem, until, in the last verse:

There was an old lady who swallowed a cow.
I don’t know how she swallowed a cow!
She swallowed the cow to catch the goat…
She swallowed the goat to catch the dog…
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat…
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird …
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wiggled and wiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
But I dunno why she swallowed that fly
Perhaps she’ll die.

Let me see. I have a version.

There was an old guy who wanted a boat.
I dunno why he wanted a boat!
He sold a Corvette to get a boat…
He fixed the Corvette in a major way …
He needed a bigass Garage Lift to fix the Corvette…
He cut up the garage floor to install the bigass Lift …
He reinforced a huge patch to pour the concrete…
He used the excavator to drag the bigass Lift up the ridiculously steep driveway…
All in the service of selling the car…to get a boat…
I still dunno why he wanted a boat
Perhaps he’ll float.


Hurry back from the healthcare forum! The garage needs work!

Larry attended my big healthcare conference in Las Vegas! He did get a lot out of the program, because the ideas for safety in healthcare (my field) are totally congruent with safety in aviation (his field). He was interested, but very antsy to get back home because he had received important news: the Rotary Lift was actually en route.

He quickly said goodbye to Las Vegas and swung into action preparing the garage floor. “Preparing” is a euphemism, however, for demolition! He rented a big, walk-behind diamond-bladed saw and cut two 8-foot squares in the floor, which by itself isn’t thick enough to support the lift.

Getting rid of the broken up concrete entailed digging a hole with the excavator and burying it. (It also entailed a bit of work on the excavator to get it running again.) Pat came over to help and, if Larry is any indication, he went home very sore.

Larry rented a walk-behind concrete saw to make the holes in the garage floor. He and Pat worked all day.

Now the holes will have to be extended, dug out beneath the floor on all sides, so that when they pour new, thicker concrete, it will flow beneath the existing floor all around the hole, “keying” the new patch for strength. Sounds like physics. I listen patiently, even if this isn’t exactly my thing.

Ah, but here it is–the first complication! When the garage was built, Larry had radiant floor heat hoses run through the concrete. He tried to account for the future installation of the lift, and tried to make sure the hoses went AROUND the possible holes. He almost made it.

Radiant floor heat hose needed repair. It was more of a project than it seemed, but guess what? Larry figured it out.

Alas! In each hole, he severed one hose. Today, the retrofit begins.

As I start Spring cleaning inside the house today, the concrete job in the garage ensures a steady supply of new white dirt and dust that promises to permeate everything. I never thought I’d look forward to a concrete pour, but at least that will put an end to the dust.

To make sure the concrete pad for the lift is locked into place forever, the new concrete pour will be deeper, and needs to extend under the floor around the edges. Here Larry removes styrofoam in wedges, so the concrete will create this "key."

Yes, he removes his boots at the door...and yet that white concrete powder permeates everything! Who ever thought I'd be GLAD for a concrete pour??