My Shop ~ Part 4 ~ Walls And Beams

Prognosticators who get paid to make scientific wild guesses say that we are in a wet La Nina weather pattern. This time they seem to be right because the rainy season shows little sign of giving way to the nearly constant sunshine of the dry season that usually starts like clockwork on December 15th. But still, we are making some construction progress, just not as fast or in as pleasant conditions as we would like.

For my shop, Armando has been working his way up the block walls.

Concrete block walls in Panama are topped off with concrete beams to strengthen and level the top of the wall. I set aside my work on the windows to help Armando get the rebar and forms for the beam in place on the back wall. You can see the wooden form work on the back wall in this next photo, and you can see that he has a few more rows to go on the front wall. Jabo is dog tired from all this activity:

Because of all the young man physical labor needed to pour the beam, I asked Armando to bring another guy for a while. He brought his cousin Sammy, who being low man on the totem pole, got to mix and haul the concrete. Here they are pouring the beam at the top of the back wall:

Jabo wants to help, too. He can easily make the four foot jump to the staging:

After the beam was poured, Armando went back to finishing the blocks on the front wall. Then we stripped the forms from the back beam and formed the beam at the top of the front wall.

For the big door, I’ll bolt a sliding door track to the inside of the concrete beam. I’ll build the door out of 2″x2″ square metal tubing and some of the scrap metal cut from the containers. For security, I have purposely not put many windows in the shop, so the big door will provide a lot of light and air while I work inside.

And by the way, out from the front of the shop will be a large carport roof, so if I am working on a large project, I can easily work undercover in the driveway.

And, that big blank wall to the right of the big shop door looks like an opportunity waiting for some sort of custom art piece. Wait… In the meantime, Cynthia says we can hang a piece of her artwork. For a Breast Cancer Awareness Week art exhibit with friends at a local gallery, Cynthia made a bra to represent what she says the contraptions actually feel like. Looks to me like Madonna would be green with envy:

Made from aluminum window screening, plumbers hanger strapping, pop rivets, washers, and other fittings, this is Cynthia's interpretation of what it is like to wear a bra.

Back to our program, here’s the front beam being poured:

A steady light rain yesterday kept us wet enough and cold enough and muddy enough that after the beam was poured at noon I sent the guys home with a full day’s pay. I went home and took a long hot shower. They don’t have the luxury of hot water in their houses so with perpetually wet clothing, unless they dry the clothes over a wood fire which makes them very smoky smelling, it is likely that they will have “refreados” (head colds) when they return on Monday morning.

That’s all for now. I’ll write another short post about progress on the windows. In the mean time, stay warm and dry.

3 thoughts on “My Shop ~ Part 4 ~ Walls And Beams

  1. I already made a custom piece of art for that space! You need to remain focused on the construction process. When that’s finished, THEN you can consider a different art piece. Be sure to post a photo so everyone can see the interim art decoration.

  2. Hi Unc and Cyn, Love the bra it looks just like they feel! Just want to wish you both a peacful holiday with no rain. Miss you much. Love Colleen

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