My Shop ~ Part 5 ~ Rafters & Repello

Try as I might, I just can’t get to spend much time working on the windows in the house. Armando has been working at a good pace now that the rainy season is on its way out, the transition to the dry/windy season seems nearly complete. A week ago we had five days of full-on rain, then it stopped and it has been sunny and breezy most days with brief showers now and then. With Armando’s speedy progress, the shop needs more of my attention.

The concrete block walls are now all up and the last beam has been poured.

The walls are up and the last beam is curing.

Main beam: In my last post, Three Reasons Why I Like Panama, I brought home on the roof of the Honda two, 40-foot 2″x4″ metal carriolas. I’m still glowing from the experience. These carriolas are for the center beam in the shop. I spent one entire day cutting them to 35-feet, then welding them together with inch-long welds every foot or so to make a 4″x4″ beam. I made caps for the ends to keep bees and other critters from occupying the inside of the beam. To make the caps, I took a scrap piece of 2″x4″ carriola and cut two, three-and-seven-eights-inch pieces off of the end. I tapped these pieces into the ends of the beam and welded around the perimeter. A light grind with the angle grinder finished the seams. Then I wire brushed all the welds and applied a few coats of polyurethane red oil primer. Here’s the beam:

The shop is 20-feet front to back, but I made the beam 35-feet so it would overhang the front of the shop 15-feet. This overhang will be part of the carport roof later.

The next day Armando, Sammy, and I lifted the beam into place and I welded it to the rebar protrusions that we had embedded into the concrete beams at the tops of the walls.

Repello: As I welded, Armando and Sammy started stuccoing (repello (rey-PAY-oh) in Spanish). The repello is simply a cement rich mix of cement and fine sifted sand. They applied the mix with trowels. After it set a while they struck the wall smooth with a length of 1″x3″ board, then using a wooden float they swirled the wall with big circular strokes to even everything out. Later they steel troweled the wall.

While they troweled the wall, some areas were a little dry so they sprinkled them with water, and other areas were a little too wet so they tossed a bit of dry cement at the areas. The finished repello has a mottled two-toned effect. I kind of like the effect and I am not yet sure if I will paint the walls a color or coat them with a clear polymer. I asked for a baby-bottom smooth finish and this is pretty much what they are doing. Here’s the repello underway:

Roof framing: While the guys applied the repello, I got busy welding the metal carriola roof joists to the building. When we made the forms for the two side walls, I cut four-inch lengths of wooden 2″x4″s and nailed them between the form boards every two feet. This made pockets for the joists to sit in. After we stripped the forms and knocked the wooden blocks out, the beams looked like this:

Before we nailed the wooden blocks in place, I had already welded together and placed in the form work a rebar assembly that would embed in the concrete beam and have a four-inch length of rebar sticking up right next to each of the wooden blocks. The rebar looked kind of like this: |_______|_______|_______|_______|_______|_______|_______|_______|_______|

This is so that I could weld each end of the joists to the rebar, thereby firmly connecting the roof to the walls and keeping it from blowing off. We get some pretty wild gusts here and it is not uncommon for an entire roof to blow off.

In fact, there is a Panamanian joke. Most Panamanian houses are relatively small. Tiny, in fact. The joke goes like this:

  • Armando: That was a really strong wind we had last night. It blew the roof right off my house!
  • Me: Oh no, how awful! What will you do?
  • Armando: Oh don’t worry, I found it and put it back on.

Here’s a photo of the roof joists all welded in place:

It took me two days to get all the joists welded into place. I still need part of a day to clean up the welds and apply a few coats of paint to prevent rust and corrosion.

Dealing with rain running off the roof: When it rains, a lot of water will get dumped at the back side of the shop where it would no doubt seep through the foundation and wall into my shop. So while Armando doesn’t need Sammy to mix and deliver repello or to work a trowel, we have him digging a drainage ditch across the back of the shop and then down hill to the front of the lot.

At first his ditch was like a line of wet spaghetti, but I asked Armando to straighten him out a bit. Now Sammy can be proud of his ditch that is totalmente recta (totally straight).

We are finding that a lot of our plants are not doing well because the soil is so very soggy so much of the year. So Armando directed Sammy to dump the excess dirt in the big garden at the front of the house. Eventually the plants will become elevated above the high water table.

Overview: Some time ago one of the Lynns who comments regularly wanted an overview photo of the job site. Here you go. This photo was taken from the road to the east, through our neighbor’s lot. I sure would like to get some unifying color painted on the exterior of the containers and my shop, but that will have to wait.

That’s all for now. Happy new year!


4 thoughts on “My Shop ~ Part 5 ~ Rafters & Repello

  1. I liked your video of the drive and the overview photo. What I would really like is a video overview of the site. A walk through showing each building and the overall plan. That would be cool.

    Happy New Year!

  2. Your welding seems to be getting faster and better all the time. I also liked your video of the drive and the overview photo. What I would really like is a video overview of the site. A walk through showing each building and the overall plan. That would be cool.

    Happy New Year!

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