TowerBloke

                                                    CONSTRUCTION ~ HISTORY

 

                               

                                   TowerBloke Dream                                                                            TowerBloke Reality

 

In late 2003 TowerBloke was dragged off to France, England & Scotland by Mrs TowerBloke to visit famous gardens.  TowerBloke was mildly interested in the gardens, but he became fascinated with the historic abbeys, cathedrals, castles, eye catchers and other ancient structures in Europe.  Then and there TowerBloke decided that he wanted, nay, NEEDED, to build his own castle.  TowerBloke’s only problem was that he had never designed or built anything in his life.  Not even a chicken shed.  And coming from a long line of White Collar workers who didn’t understand the use of their hands or even realize the existence of tools, TowerBloke was a DIY Disaster waiting to happen.  So, he started researching ideas and came across a book entitled “Follies, Grottoes and Garden Buildings” by Gwyn Headley and Wim Meulenkamp (available second hand on Amazon for about twenty quid).  This book set TowerBloke’s mind on fire… from that moment on he could think and dream of nothing else but his own custom-made Tower….

 

To cut a very long story very short, TowerBloke decided then and there to build his very own Tower.  It would be a superior Man Shed, a creative Man Cave; a thing of beauty & wonder towering into the stratosphere.

How did he do it?

Realizing that his DIY capabilities were marginally above zero, TowerBloke knew he had to keep it simple.  So, unencumbered by the training and skills possessed by qualified Tradesmen, he devised his own plans and his own building techniques.  These were mostly developed in his head while lying in bed at night.  It became a little like watching a nightly movie, step by step as the building progressed, solving one challenge after another.  Things like:

 

Unfortunately not all disasters were avoided by in-head-in-bed planning sessions.  The worst of the disasters was revealed when a Builder friend inspected the finished Tower and asked TowerBloke “how will you prevent condensation on the inside of the roof?”   Gulp, TowerBloke hadn’t thought about that!  However the subsequent application of spray-on urethane foam insulation to the interior roof helped avoid loss of face.

THANKS:  During the years TowerBloke spent building his masterpiece he was besieged by offers of help from many friends, all of whom understandably wanted to insulate TowerBloke from what could well have been the ultimate DIY disaster; a collapsed Tower.  But, being a stubborn bugger, he accepted help only when absolutely necessary, because he wanted the satisfaction (and pain) of doing everything himself.   So a big THANK YOU to Peter R for his “good ideas” as well as the curved custom-made top floor table (beautiful), to Peter & John & Nigel for helping to cut and lift the massive Stringybark floor joists into place, to Trevor & Peter for electrical work, to Peter R & Nigel for helping install the large curved safety glass windows in the top floor (scary), to Lance for fabricating the 1.5mm gall steel sheet conical roof (brilliant), to Hillbilly for craning the roof into place, to Dave for swinging the main door, and Mrs TowerBloke for saying “be careful” over twenty two thousand times.

SAFETY:  Safety of course was always of paramount importance during construction, and only two events occurred that are worth noting.  The first was when an open Stanley knife fell off the top of a step ladder and hit TowerBloke on the head,,, luckily blunt end first.  The second was when TowerBloke swallowed a swig of Mineral Turps when he grabbed the wrong bottle while laying blocks under the summer sun.  (He burped Turps for 3 days, but made a full recovery)

PROGRESS REPORTS: In order to fend off the constant enquiries from friends and associates during the construction phase, TowerBloke sent out regular progress reports to those interested.  Some of the key milestones were recorded for posterity in these emails, and they are included below for those who have absolutely nothing meaningful to do with their sad, boring, dreary lives.

EMAILED TOWER UPDATE REPORTS

EMAIL May 2006

Each day sees an increasingly large crowd of inquisitive people milling about at my front gates, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Tower site now that is now under construction in my top paddock. 

"What is it?" is the most commonly asked question.  (Muslims in the district are hoping it's a prayer tower!)

In order to help YOU, my friends, avoid the crush but yet stay right up to date on progress, I will now be sending regular Tower updates.  This is also a means of forcing myself to "get stuck into it", because if I don't I will be forced to face the embarrassment of having to confess laziness to you, my Tower Emailing List.

I should say at the outset, PLEASE DO NOT sell these images that I send to you to Womans Day or other media outlets, as I wish to avoid the glare of Press and TV for as long as possible.  We are simple people living simple lives, and we wish to keep it that way (unless a VERY large amount of money is involved).

The last image I emailed to you was a picture of an excavated hole, and I understand that this created a high level of excitement.  The general feedback was that it was one of the nicest holes in the district, and many people assumed that the Hole Digger (i.e. me) was a person with years of experience.  Not so.  I managed to dig this hole with almost no prior practical mining training or qualifications.  I did receive one critical email, claiming that my hole was rather dirty at the bottom, but I'd like to point out that all holes dug into the ground are dirty at the bottom; there's simply not much alternative.

The past week or so has been spent welding up the steel that will go in the concrete slab at the base of the Tower.  This may sound simple, but there is about 400 lineal metres of 12mm steel rod in the structure.  There are eleven rods that have to penetrate the slab and then run INSIDE the walls up to the roof, where the roof bolts onto the top of the rods.  This all means that the rods have to penetrate the slab at very precise points, within a few millimeters of the correct position.  To achieve this accuracy (and to hold the rods in position when the concrete slab is poured) I welded up a "ferris wheel" with the rods poking upwards at the pre-measured places. 

Never having welded before, this was a painful and complex task.  However after taking a crash-course on welding on the Internet, buying a cheap Chinese welder, and persevering, it somehow all came together.  The worst part was probably catching the welding spatter in my boots, or copping a flash when forgetting to drop the welding shield down over my eyes fast enough. 

Anyway, my feet and eyes are now healing (I can see!!!), and I am ready for the next phase,,,,,,, which shall be revealed to you in my next update.

Until then......
TowerBloke

 

Email June 2006
It's been a week of high Tower activity, and the milling crowds have been relentless.  I may soon have to erect barricades to hold them all at bay.

After completing the general excavation of the Tower site, I needed to dig EIGHT pier holes, each 400mm in diameter and 2 metres deep.  These will be filled with reinforced concrete and covered by the concrete slab to avoid the "Leaning Tower of Pisa" effect once the Tower points skyward, and wind power exerts its sideways pressures.

I tossed up on whether to attempt to do dig these holes myself, or hire a professional "Hole Man". 

I have a PhD (Posthole Digger - it's on my tractor), and could have hired a 400mm auger and an extension shaft (I only have a 300mm auger and no extension shaft on my tractor, but my specifying engineer Trevor, a cranky old bloke with a life-long interest in holes in the ground,  said "no, MUST be 400mm".)

Being basically a timid man who is afraid to leap over tall buildings or down into deep holes, I decided to pay a Professional Hole Man to produce my holes. 
Well, all went well, and now I am the ONLY person in the district with eight perfect 2 metre deep holes. 
My biggest challenge now is to avoid falling down these holes while I excavate the rest of the footings by hand.  I've suggested to Mrs TowerBloke that if I am late for dinner any night, please come and check to see if I'm wedged in any of the holes..... I don't want a Beaconsfield situation .... there are enough people running around here already.... 

Rds
TowerBloke

 

EMAIL #5

Hi

I am eager to report another few days of high excitement on the Hill!!!!

Master-Elecricians (and Old Mates) Trevor & Peter, suppliers of electrical services to Her Majesty and Others, arrived on site to hook up the Tower Power.  (This "Trevor the Electrical Wonder" is not to be confused with "Trevor the Cranky Engineer" referred to in earlier reports). 

Our first prob came when Trev asked me to belt in a star post to support the temporary electricity supply box.  The ground felt spongy as I whacked the star picket, then whoosh, water!  I had hit my own 2" Tower water supply poly pipe!  "Not to worry", said Trev "happens all the time."  We dried ourselves and moved to the front gate from whence I had previously dug a 100 metre trench to the Tower (900mm deep) and installed the three power cables, one telephone cable, and "spare wire for whatever they invent next" (as wisely advised by Trev), all encased in three conduits.

We then needed to dig a trench to pick up the existing phone cable.  "It'll be between 300mm and 600mm deep" said "Trevor-the-Electrical-Wonder", not to be confused with Trevor-the-Cranky-Engineer.  I took a good swing as Trevor and Peter watched.  "Oh noooooooo" Peter and I cried in unison as I chopped through the phone cable, a mere 150mm under the surface.  "Not to worry, happens all the time" said Trev (not to be confused with.....)  .....  "Can't trust %$&($##@ Telstra to do anything right".

After some fancy meter work sorting through numerous pairs of tiny wires, Peter finally found the right ones, joined them, and reconnected our phones.  However the join is now encased in a garbage bag, and we praying that it will not rain until proper repairs can be undertaken.

Finally, a vote of thanks to Old Mate Alan Mc, who kindly offered to donate his wife Marg for inclusion in our Time Capsule.  "If you popped Marg in the Capsule, when they dig her up in 1000 years she'd still be talking, and she could explain all about the Tower" he said.   Thanks, but no thanks Al, we do not want to run the risk of human sacrifice if anything went wrong (as it well may, after this week's experience)

Until next time,,,,,,,,

Rds
TowerBloke

PS - If these ramblings have become too onerous, feel free to "un-subscribe" by sending me 2" rural poly joiner.

 

EMAIL #6
Hi

Dawn had been cracking for barely an hour when the throbbing of a large V8 caused the Swamp Hens to suicide off the bridge and into the mist and reeds. 

A low red Pontiac GTO snarled to a halt outside my garage, all 400 horses shuddering to a halt as a pair of blue jeans, tucked into cowboy boots, swung horizontally out the driver’s door.  The blue legs kicked in the air for maybe ten seconds before gravity pulled them earthwards.

It was Trev the Engineer (not to be confused with Trev the Electrician) who had come to check my Tower excavation and steel work.  I needed Trev’s signature on my plans in order to proceed to the next step in the project (pouring the foundations).

On the phone Trev the Engineer was fiercely abrupt, verging on the abusive.  He didn’t suffer fools gladly, especially fools like me who didn’t know a theodolite from a theologian. It appears $605 (plus GST) for foundation design didn’t cover the cost of questions.  Fortunately, in person Trev was less of a threat; thin as a whip, lots of facial scarring, dandruff, varicose nasal veins, (plus who knows how many internally deficient organs); he walked with the bowlegged gait of a Tombstone gunfighter who’d been up late at the saloon.  Hard to fear such a man, especially when he was so short he had to look through the steering wheel, even if it was a GTO.

“G’day Ol’ son, here to see the hole” he said grimly as he shook my hand and lost eye contact, which he never regained.  “Gotta mirror? Forgot mine.”

I rushed inside, found a hand mirror.  As I handed it to him I tried to break the ice with a little bit of humour; “Need the mirror to adjust your lippy?”

“Nah, eyebrows” said Trev, trying to go one better.  I felt mine was best though, because I had taken the initiative, plus Trev lacked eyebrows.  It was such an obvious lie!

“Seriously, what’s the mirror for?”  I asked, trying to give the impression of a raw student basking at the feet of a seasoned professional.  “Wait ‘n see” he said, not wanting to divulge trade secrets prematurely.

We climbed the hill to the Tower site in silence, and arrived at the hallowed site. A beam of sunshine broke through the clouds, directly from heaven; a good omen!

Trev straddled the first two metre deep hole, held the mirror up in the sunlight, and reflected the beam of light down into my amateur excavation.  “Hmmm, nice hole” murmured Trev “but you’ve got the steel touching dirt.  No good, no bloody good at all.  Rust… decay… wind loading… safety… disaster… gonna havta fix that Ol’ son”. 

Trev hopped from hole to hole, popping light beams everywhere he went, and muttering the same thing.  Eight holes; eight repeats.

Trev handed me the mirror and started striding back to his GTO, shivering in the icy wind.  What had he decided?  Was he going to say goodbye?  Was that it?  Had I failed?  Would I be fined for digging a defective hole?  Eight defective holes? 

I couldn’t stand it any longer.  “Well, did I pass; do I get a certificate for my foundation?” I almost wept, my words being blown sideways into the neighbours paddock.  My whole future Tower construction depended on the whim of Trev the Engineer, tottering in the soft turf with only the adhesion of his stiletto cowboy heels preventing him from flying home on the wind gusts!

“Yeah, it’ll be OK Ol’ son, I’ll sign orf on it, juz get them bloody bits of steel up off the dirt… right up orf the dirt... completely orf the dirt..... I mean a good three inches orf the dirt.  OK?”

As the burble of the 400 horses disappeared up the street, I was inwardly thankful that that was the last time I would need to have an inspection performed by Trev the Engineer (not to be confused with Trev the Electrical Man, who will feature again in a future report.)
Love
TowerBloke

 
EMAIL #7 (5th June 2006)
Well,

RAIN!!!! 
Who would have thought that RAIN would delay anything, especially Tower building!

The steel is almost finished, and we are getting very close to the pouring of concrete.

But now comes one of the bigger challenges, which is to calculate the CORRECT quantity of concrete required to fill the foundations. 
If I order too little concrete, I will end up with a strange floor, and obviously a sloping floor or one with gaping holes would cause me to be even more of a laughing stock than I am now. 
If I over order, my family shall be eating concrete for months or even years to come....

Now I realise that we each have unique gifts and skills..... some of you will want to encourage me as I labour in the sleet and snow, some will visit me in hospital as I recuperate from lack of OH&S facilities on site, some will want to send large cash contributions, some will devise devious and intriguing gifts for the finished structure, while yet others will want to sing in the Tower choir at the opening ceremony.
But,,,, I know that there are also a few very clever individuals out there who would relish the task of calculating the CORRECT volume of concrete required to fill the foundations.  So, for those who feel so inclined, here are raw statistics that will enable this calculation….

Calc One:  There are 8 piers.  These are each 200mm in radius, and 1500mm deep.  (They are actually deeper than this, but the tops of the piers are included in the outer Ring below)

Calc Two:  The Outer Ring of concrete is 500mm deep.  The external diameter of this ring is 2500mm radius, and the inner diameter is 1900mm radius.

Calc Three:  The inner floor is 150mm deep, with a radius of 1900mm.

Finally, I feel it only fair to include here a word of warning.  If you get this calculation wrong and I end up with too much concrete, I shall require payment not only for the money wasted on excess material, but also for jack hammering, removal and tipping fees….  (Of course, I shall not allow this to impinge on our friendship very much)
So, to those with nothing better to do (and an urge to be involved in a cerebral capacity) I await your NUMBER (expressed as “cubic metres of concrete”).

Rds
TowerBloke

PS - I should mention that I have already done my concrete calculation, but it would be great to be able to cross check this for obvious reasons!

 

EMAIL #8  8th June 2006

Helloooooooo

Your feedback from my last Update proved the truth of Proverb 24:6, which says:

"It's better to be wise than strong; intelligence outranks muscle any day.
Strategic planning is the key to warfare; to win, you need a lot of good counsel."

There were a couple of very valuable bits of “good counsel” forthcoming from some of you, such as:

•       Trev the Electrician said “don’t forget to deduct the volume of the steel from the volume of the foundation hole.”  When I worked this out, the steel accounted for about one quarter of a cubic metre of concrete!  So thanks Trev, you have helped me avoid having a pile of excess concrete.

•       David B offered a number of tips regarding the ordering and delivery of concrete, all aimed at ensuring “quality” and timely delivery. 

So, to Trev (“the Electrician”, not to be confused with “Trev the Engineer”) and David, and also to those who sent me concrete calculations (all BLOKES by the way!!) a BIG THANK YOU.

At this point I must also record the significant personal sacrifices made on my behalf by certain selfless individuals.  Just one example is contained in the following email received from Steve (New Zealand):

After much deliberation on whether I should spend a portion of my Queens Birthday holiday on fishing or doing cerebral gymnastics….you won…..my initial calculations would have seen enough concrete, not only for the footings but for a driveway….not just out to the highway but stretching down the mountain & joining up with that new freeway development on the other side of Windsor….It allowed for your own personal off-ramp with sign posting including a holographic image of your edifice….

However….with Mr Microsoft’s help…a small spreadsheet was conjured up and I came up with the humongous quantity of 7.37m3…..if there is any mistake….I will forward the complaint onto a Mr Gates based in Seattle…..I’m sure he can afford to cover any cost….

Blessings from a frosty Godfreyzone………Steve


So, blessed with accurate concrete calculations, many pithy tips of how to proceed, and with bucket loads of goodwill (some of it thinly disguised as sarcasm and derision), I now proceed towards “concreting”.

So,,,,,,, the concrete trucks will not be able to access the Tower site, because the terrain is too steep.  Therefore I am engaging a truck mounted concrete pump, which will park in the street and pump the concrete about 50 metres into the Tower site.

Based on the fact that I am only a Small Boy who doesn’t really know what he’s doing, and because the potential for disaster at this crucial stage is great, I am engaging the services of two friends (Don & Son) to assist me with the concrete pour. 

So now the Tower site sits in silence, formwork and steel in place, ready to receive concrete... sort of like a glass-eye staring blindly into the blue sky!

At this stage “concrete” is planned for Friday afternoon, weather permitting. 

My fingers are crossed; I wear my prayer shawl at all times, and I try not to move without facing Mecca whenever possible.  

I shall communicate again when the deed is done….

Rds
TowerBloke

 

EMAIL #9  10th June 2006

Howdy !

A quick email to announce the blessed arrival of a brand new BABY SLAB !!!!!!!!!  Let me tell you how it all happened…………..

The Mid Wives arrived at 1.30pm yesterday and set up their birthing equipment in the street outside my front fence.  They were both wearing matching T shirts emblazoned with “East Coast Concrete Pumping”, so as you can imagine, they set a professional tone for the Big Event.

Their truck mounted birthing unit was attached to the Labour Ward by an umbilical cord, which was about the biggest and most robust umbilical cord I have ever seen – some 100mm in diameter and 55 metres long!!!

About half an hour later the Mothers arrived, each very pregnant and with extremely large tummies.   Labour commenced immediately.  (You may think that having “two mothers” for a single birth is a tad unusual.  However both were named “Boral” and they looked identical, so I feel the Child will be able to live a normal life without confusion about parental issues.)

Initially, the Mummies spent a time rapidly rolling their tummies and making a lot of noise; it made me sick with apprehension.  Labour had only been under way a short time when the waters broke.  Fortunately it was only a brief drizzle, after which the grey skies withheld further rain until after the birth

The next hour or two flashed by in a blur.  Luckily the Mid Wives, and concreting mates Don & Mike, all knew what they were doing, leaving me to rush around performing useless tasks, expending huge amounts of energy, and generally getting in everyone’s way. 

Finally, Brett the Chief Mid Wife yelled out “Who did the calculation?” because he was highly impressed that we had only two barrow loads of left-over after-birth.  All of the Nurses on site (which included Don, Mike and “Trevor the East Coast Pumping Mid Wife”, not to be confused with “Trevor the Electrician” or “Trevor the Engineer”) all yelled out “I did”, as they selfishly sought to claim the glory for the extreme accuracy of the calculation.  However being a peace maker I kept my trap shut, secure in the knowledge that those that really deserved the glory were MY mates David, Steve, Bryan, John, Travis and Trevor the Electrician (not to be confused with “Trevor the Mid Wife” or “Trevor the Engineer”).

 Anyway, I digress. 

After some two hours of pushing and panting (but absolutely no swearing), Baby Slab emerged in all his glory. 

You’d love him!!! 

He is a cute little feller, grey in colour, just like his father after all the stress, running about, pushing and panting.  He weighed in at 7,4923kg, with a head 15,707mm in diameter.  His eight long legs are tucked underneath him, with eleven tiny fingers poking up in the air.  Slabby does have one birth defect though; a sewer vent connected to one side of his head.  But as a father I can learn to live with this and love him, warts and all….. after all, he IS my son!

As you can imagine, the actual birth is followed by lots of clean up activities, including the severing of the umbilical chord, which deserves special mention.  As the last of the after-birth left the umbilical chord, one of the Mid Wives placed an oversize sponge in one end and cranked up the air pressure to “max”.  Seconds later the sponge burst from the other end of the chord, accompanied by bits and pieces, together with a noise that sounded like a jet passing through the sound barrier.  KAAABOOM – and it was over!   The umbilical chord could now be cut, disassembled, and taken away. 

Fortunately, during all this excitement there were no accidents, so no stitches were required.

As the Mid Wives drove off in the birthing unit, and Don & Mike packed their Ute and departed, I was left alone at last; just me and my Baby Slab.  As I gazed at him, I wondered what the future held for him.  Would he cure to be a strong rock-solid foundation?  Would he live a good life, serving others and being prepared to be walked all over rather than fighting to be top-dog?  Would others misunderstand him, and look down on him?  Most importantly, was I ready to take on the responsibility of slab fatherhood?

As dusk gathered, I found I was standing there emotionally and physically bonding with my eight-legged-eleven-fingered-sewer-head-vented Baby Slabby.  I realised I had wet stuff around my eyes… was it congealed mist, or had I shed a tear??? 

No, not a tear, I’m a MAN (or at least I used to be?)….

I suddenly remembered that I had failed to bring flowers, and that I didn’t have a single cigar to hand out.  Overcome by emotion, I trotted off down the hill to take my wife to see Irish singing duo, Foster & Allen ….

Rds
TowerBloke

PS – I will probably never be the same again after such a profound experience.  If ever you get the opportunity to witness the birth of your own Slab, go for it!!!

PPS – Do I need to worry about this verse?

Suppose one of you wants to build a Tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? Luke 14:28

EMAIL #10  21st June 2006

Greetings!

In response to numerous phone calls and emails asking “where’s this week’s Tower Update?” I shamefully admit that progress has slowed.

This has been caused primarily by my having caught a cold (from one of my grandchildren!), and quite frankly, combined with inclement weather, I have slackened off.  However as you can see from the enclosed snapshot, my shovel is by my side constantly, reminding me of my direction and purpose.

Accordingly, I will attempt to make further progress in the next few days, and shall then report accordingly.

Thank you for your forbearance and patience; it is truly comforting to be surrounded by friends like yourselves.

Rds
TowerBloke

 

EMAIL #11  25-6-2006

Several things happened this last week.

Trevor the Electrician, together with “Son-of-Trevor” and “Son-of-Son-Trevor” (son and grandson) turned up and repaired the phone line that I chopped through, and which had been lying in a garbage bag the paddock.

Son-of-son-of-Trevor, one of Australia’s youngest Apprentice Electricians at just eighteen months of age, helped a lot by throwing dirt into the new phone Pit, and almost falling into the hole several times.  However the bottom line is that the phone works fine, so we’re all happy. 

Since the Slab arrived, I have been VERY eager to start laying blocks for the Tower, but when I really thought about it, I felt I first needed to work on the retaining wall that is to surround the Tower.  By laying the outer retaining wall first, I can use the centre point of the Tower to measure the arc of the retaining wall.  This meant I had to dig out the foundations and mix/pour the concrete footings, which is now about 70% finished.  The footings have steel rods protruding, which will add strength to the retaining capacity of the way.

So this week the job is to finish the footings, and start laying retaining wall blocks…. dull, boring, but necessary.

Maybe this week something entertaining and interesting will happen (?)

TowerBloke

 

EMAIL #12  12-07-06

Winter Greetings!

Nothing spectacular has happened (yet), only slow progress in building the retaining wall around the Tower base. 

The Tower site doesn't get any sun at all during winter, so it's a tad cold working there at this time of year. 

I am driven onwards by the sure knowledge that as the Tower finally rises from the Earth, I will finally reach sunlight and warmth (probably about mid summer at this rate).

Well, that's your bloomin' lot for this Update, but my next Update will contain exciting news about my special friend "Pete"!!!!!!!!!!!

I hope you can hang on without passing out from anticipatory excitement.....

TowerBloke

 

EMAIL # 13   21-07-06
 
There was movement at the Tower, for the word had passed around
That construction at the site was underway
And the tools were left lying scattered – they were worth a thousand pound
Nasty thieves were attracted to the fray.
And the local louts (all minors) from their homes near and far      
Climbed the Tower fence in dark of night
For local lads love hard climbing where the tools and shovels are
But a neighbour spied the break in with delight

His name is Tapping, he heard the thieves, his dogs were acting up
German Shepherds with hair as white as snow;
The thieves could not avoid him when his blood was fairly up-
He would chase intruders where ever they would go.
So in the dark the neighbour went with flashlight in his hand
No better neighbour went to such pains;
For never thief could throw him while his flashlight rays would scan
He’d caught many blokes and beaten out their brains

He sent the bad boys packing, as they ran into the street
They dropped the stolen shovels in full flight,
And the neighbour near the Tower, his heart hardly missed a beat
It was great to see that friendly neighbour fight.
Through the stringy barks and saplings, on the rough and broken ground,
Down the hillside at a racing pace he went;
And he never stopped the pursuit till he landed safe and sound,
At the bottom of that terrible descent.

And up there in the mountains, where the pine-clad ridges raise
Their torn and rugged battlements on high,
Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze
At midnight in the cold and frosty sky,
And down around the Tower the tools and shovels stay
Quiet and calm, work goes without a sigh
And the man from across the road is a household word to-day,
And the workmen tell the story eating pie.

(Actually, due to the break-in, my Update regarding “Pete” has been shelved until next time!)

TowerBloke

 

EMAIL #14   28-12-06

G’day

((First of all, I am pleased to announce that TCC (Tower Construction Corp) has approved your FREE subscription to Tower Updates for the forthcoming twelve months.  This privilege carries a responsibility, in that any criticisms, sniggering or snide comments behind the Corp’s back about any Tower matters will cause immediate and swift revocation.))

Well, it’s been almost five months since the last Tower Update email (Update #13).  Why the big gap?  Why so slack?  Have I lost interest?  Did I run out of anti-depressant pills?  Have I perhaps given up?

Well, almost, but no, none of the above. 

I was kidnapped by my daughter Kris to help her renovate an old cottage she purchased back in July, and now that’s completed (well, almost), I am free to return to my beloved Tower project once more.

In the last week I have completed laying the blocks that form the retaining wall around the base of the currently non-existent (but soon-to-exist) Tower.  The capstone blocks were tricky, as the rectangular blocks had to be cut so as to follow the radius of the wall.  However with a $99 Bunnings/GMC drop saw (masonry blade $6 extra), plus a bucket of the masonry equivalent of “No Gaps” (actually called Timbercrete Final Filler), I have managed to create the impression of perfection!  (No close inspections, pleeeeease!)

Behind the wall I installed a drainage pipe surrounded by gravel, covered with a membrane to prevent dirt clogging it up.  The next tricky step was to backfill behind the wall; “tricky” because this involved driving my tractor, with front end loader full of dirt, between the steel tie down rods that are poking a few inches above the surface all round the perimeter of the slab.   Having done this without staking my tyres, I am now actually ready to start construction of the Tower itself.

In preparation for this momentous occasion I needed to arrange a few Construction Aids, one of which was a template for the main door, which is to have an “olde englishe” style radius on the top (see enclosed image).  What I wanted was a timber mock up, the exact size of the door opening, to form a guide to ensure I lay the blocks accurately.  Realising that I am a pretty hopeless “carpenter”, particularly when it comes to anything approaching precision, I caste around for someone who had the necessary skills.

I immediately thought of Old Mate Pete Rosenhain, who, being a Professor of Dentistry with over 120 years of experience, is capable of engraving the entire Bible on the horn button of a Gold Wing with both eyes shut and his left leg tied behind his neck.

Well, Pete responded with great enthusiasm!  Throwing open his portable dental clinic, assembling all his woodworking tools, and chewing on a used toothpick, he belted up the required door template with an accuracy of plus/minus 0.000000000001mm in just a few seconds….. Well maybe I exaggerate a little, but you get the picture.

So, with slab complete, with all the blocks now on site, my timber door template secured, and with my BRAND NEW T.S.P.P.T.S.S.A.B.L.D. (Top Secret Patent-Pending Tower Sizing Swinging Arm Block Laying Device) on hand, I am ready to commence in earnest!

Let the Tower begin……………………….!

Regards
TowerBloke
TTT (Tower Tactician & Technician), TCC (Tower Construction Corp)

PS -  More details on the highly desirable and utterly unique T.S.P.P.T.S.S.A.B.L.D. will be revealed in the next Update.  Can you wait????

PPS – If this is the first Tower Update you have received, it is because a close friend (or perhaps an enemy?) suggested you be added to the mailing list.  Should you perceive this communication as just another bit of spam, please add me to your Blocker Senders list.

 

EMAIL #15   03—10-07
HAPPY NEW YEAR…
....... and welcome to 2007, which coincidentally happens to be the South East Albanianyear of the tower” !!!!

Well!

Wot a week this has been.

It seemed that as soon as I was ready to really get stuck into construction, the heavens opened and a week of rain ensued (and it is still raining).

I was able to get the eleven steel tie down rods (12mm) welded to the steel stubs poking out of the slab;  the bottoms of the stubs are embedded 400mm deep into the concrete slab. 

The tie down rods are intended to extend up, through the walls, and become the points at which the roof is bolted to the top of the walls.  The challenge is to keep the rods to within about 10mm of exact perpendicular, so that they fit inside the blocks OK.  To assist achieve this, I have joined the tops of all eleven tie down rods at their tops (3 metres above ground level) with temporary timber stays.  Once the walls reach 3 metres, I will then weld another 3 metres of tie down rods on top (with temporary timber stays on top), and so on to the top of the wall level.

In spite of the rain, and wearing only a loin cloth, goggles and flippers, I laid the FIRST Tower block on 1st January.  I didn’t want to miss this memorable date!!! 

After laying only six blocks, I got washed out.  Next day I tried again, and got a further 22 blocks down before being washed out.  With only three more blocks to go to complete one whole course, I found that there was a limit as to how long I could hold my breath under water, so I now eagerly await the next fine day….

In the meantime, I know that hundreds of you are eagerly awaiting details of the highly desirable and utterly unique T.S.P.P.T.S.S.A.B.L.D. as promised in my last email.

Well, my BRAND NEW T.S.P.P.T.S.S.A.B.L.D.  (Top Secret Patent-Pending Tower Sizing Swinging Arm Block Laying Device) is clearly visible in the enclosed image. 

It is in the very center of the Tower, and comprises a vertical steel pole welded to a checker-plate steel base, with holes drilled every 180mm.  These holes correspond to the height of each course of blocks (including the mortar joint).  

Swinging off the vertical pole is a horizontal aluminium arm of an exact and meaningful length.  This arm swivels in a circle right around the center pole.  Why is it so?  How?  For what reason?  

Well, the length of the aluminium arm is the EXACT radius of the circular Tower. 

When I lay the blocks I position them so that the tip of the horizontal aluminium pole just touches the centre of the top of each block.  As I move up each course, I move the swinging arm up 180mm too (to the next cunningly positioned pre-drilled hole), so that I always have an accurate guide as to exactly where to lay the blocks.  Theoretically, my T.S.P.P.T.S.S.A.B.L.D. should guarantee that the Tower is straight and plumb; otherwise it may become the Leaning Tower of Bilpin! 
It could be said that my T.S.P.P.T.S.S.A.B.L.D. it sort of the equivalent of a string line as used on straight walls.  Yeah?

Oh yeah, and at this stage I STRESS that you should not send money, as the T.S.P.P.T.S.S.A.B.L.D.is simply NOT for sale; no matter how much you offer!  (How much were you thinking?)

OK, so that’s probably enough information at this stage.  Don’t forget that you are automatically bound by a Confidentiality Agreement signed by My Good Self on Your behalf, so any divulgence of anything about anything will form the basis of a possible Law suit! 

Until fairer weather permits more progress…….

Yours truly,
TowerBloke
TTT (Tower Tactician & Technician) & TCC (Tower Construction Corp)

 

EMAIL #16   05—10-07

Hi

I regret to inform you that all Tower activity has been forced to a standstill due to legal action initiated by a jealous and unscrupulous group in Pisa, Italy.  The much feared Piserean prosecutor, Mike “Sulky” Paderrewsulki, is spearheading this vicious attack.  He is known to attack anything that HE didn’t think of, and usually operates from a position of extreme envy.

The text of the obscene threat is quoted verbatim below:

Subject: T.S.P.P.T.S.S.A.B.L.D.

To the TTT (Tower Tactician & Technician) & TCC (Tower Construction Corp)

I have been requested to contact you on behalf of the Pisa construction group of Italy to inform you of a possible infringement on their construction technology systems.

We ask you to immediately desist your blatant attempt to replicate our proven design which, whilst it may require considerable time to fully replicate, our lawyers insist could seriously damage the economy of Pisa, Italy and indeed divert a statistically significant percentage of the tourism traffic of Europe.

Secondly (or alternatively) we believe you are recklessly and criminally conspiring to create a new Babel type monument and have alerted the relevant religious authorities franchise manager to the Blokesville Bilpin Australia activity and have forwarded to them satellite photos obtained from US Homeland Security sources of the site. We may add our research and information pooling policies with the US of A and the Wilderness Society has unwittingly prevented a proposed air strike.  

If however you refrain from your present construction methods and revert to a perpendicular design and use the appellation Bloke's Perpendicular Richard in all promotional materials used outside the Australian continent we will consider the grant to Blokesville of twin town status with the municipality of Pisa     

Mike Paderrewsulki

It is obvious that my Tower design and construction represents a major threat to a number of powerful “vested interests” but never fear, I shall fight back!!

I shall be enlisting the assistance of my Good Aussie mate, Mike Padden, whose sharp incisive mind and ebullient personality (not to mention boyish charm and good looks) will give the Pisereans a run for his money.

I shall keep you informed……

Regards
TowerBloke
TTT (Tower Tactician & Technician) & TCC (Tower Construction Corp)

PS – It may be necessary to gather a war chest for the legal battle ahead, so please earmark an initial contribution of (say) $1000.  Do not send money yet – I shall call when the time comes!

 

EMAIL #17  5-1-7
Hmmmm

My last Update advised of a vicious legal challenge mounted by a so called Mike “Sulky” Paderrewsulki from a “Pisa construction group” in Italy. 
This unprovoked attack so angered some of you that suggestions for counter attacks have been forthcoming. 

A couple of such suggestion are reprinted below:

In response to this outrageous attack may I suggest an immediate counter attack taking the form of:
1.      All pizzas in Australia immediately be stenciled with the succinct message appearing below.
2.      All Italian cars, motor bikes, scooters and children's prams be likewise stickered


“pisa off!! - capiche!!

Ciao,
Leonardo d'Angry

(I believe Leonardo, an Italian by descent but now an Aussie citizen, works for Ian Lucas at Windsor)

And what about this one from a “Man of The Cloth” in an unnamed overseas country, who, by virtue of the company he keeps, must remain anonymous!!!!

Dear brother; please do not despair I have made the necessary arrangements for my GREEK friends {The MONGA’S} to eliminate this small Italian problem!

However, counter attack is not now necessary, as good news is now to hand!!!!

Here's what has happened.......
I had a meeting with Old Mate, the flamboyant and effervescent Mike Padden of Bowen Mountain, who is recognised as an expert in creating and/or countering spurious commercial claims.  During the course of the meeting, as we started discussing a strategy for dealing with the Italian threat, Mike broke down and started blubbering.

As his tears started to fall into his red wine, Mike blurted out that HE was Sulky Paderrewsulki, and that he had concocted the entire Pisa fabrication in a vain effort to become famous and to pander to a dark psychotic secret. 

It turns out that as a child, Mike’s parents often disciplined him for turning mole hills into mountains.  As a consequence anything to do with “height” such as mountains, aero planes, tall people or towers, cause him to hallucinate and fabricate wild stories.

Mike has begged for our collective forgiveness, and has promised not to indulge in “tower scams” ever again.

Tower construction is now back on track….. (see latest progress in enclosed image)

Regards
TowerBloke
TTT (Tower Tactician & Technician) & TCC (Tower Construction Corp)


PS – Mike suggests that building a war chest for possible future litigation is in fact an excellent idea, and has offered to place the money in trust if you would care to send him your $1000 contribution.   (He also asks that you add $100 for GST, please, plus a further 10% for postage, photocopying, and E&EO.  Thanks Mike!)

 

EMAIL #18    14-1-7

Phew!

I can handle the summer sun, heat, sweaty eyes, palpitations, flies, parched lips, thin blood, blockout, dehydration, and mouth froth. 

But I cannot stand shortness of breath!

Last time I had a checkup, my GP got me to blow into a hi-tech bag, and told me I had the lung capacity of a thirty year old, in spite of being an ex-smoker.  So why am I suffering shortness of breath as I stumble around my Tower site?  Could it be Ying or Yang, or both?  Or maybe Freddie Feng or Susie Shui are to blame?  Whatever or whoever it is, it appears to have transcended the physical and entered the unchartered realm of the metaphysical…

In an effort to acquire a diagnosis for my shortness of breath, I engaged the services of a local Tribal Elder, who came over and had a squiz at the partially erected Tower. 

“Mate” he said, “yer circular walls are endless!  No good, no good at all.  Try and find a beginning and an end and you arrive at infinity, in an eternal, never ending spiral.”

“Is that serious” I naively asked.

“Circles, circles, circles…….   like a dog about to lie down in long grass, yer spending yer days wandering in circles, circles, circles.  Clockwise is OK, but when you try to work in an anti-clockwise direction you are sure to suffer shortness of breath.”

“Crikey, how can I avoid anti-clockwise.  There are times when I have to go anti-clockwise.  Am I destined to suffer shortness of breath for ever?”  I was starting to panic!

The Tribal Elder looked at me with his head cocked to one side, leaned over really close and whispered something.  I couldn’t quite catch it, it sounded like a hiss.  But I could smell that he’d had goanna for breakfast; putrid.

“What?” I muttered, not really wanting another burst of goanna breath.

He squinted and leaned even closer, his large rubbery lips now so close that my ear hairs tickled.  I made a mental note to trim them at the first opportunity.

Circular breathing” he repeated, ever so quietly.

“What do ya mean ‘circular breathing’” I asked, surprised that I’d never heard of such a disease before.  “How did I catch it, and how do I get rid of it?”

“Mate, ya haven’t got it, THAT’s ya problem.  You’ve gotta learn how to do it.  It’s what real men do when they become real men.  They learn to play the didgeridoo, and in the process they learn circular breathing.  And if you’re going to keep building never-ending circular walls which have both clockwise and anti-clockwise directions, you’ll need to indulge in circular breathing to combat the Ying and Yang and Feng and Shui that builds up”.

So, after I’d paid the Tribal Elder and he’d left, I got on the phone and booked into the Didgeridoo classes that start at the North Richmond Adult Education Centre on 27th February.  Once I start circular breathing I hope that Tower construction will surge ahead.

But right now I have done exactly HALF of the ground floor.

Regards
TowerBloke
TTT (Tower Tactician & Technician) & TCC (Tower Construction Corp)


EMAIL #19    0-2-7

Well….

Heat, sun, flies, and today storms and a bit of hail!  It was a mad scramble to find plastic sheets and tarps to cover the freshly laid blocks as the rain tumbled down this afternoon.

Anyway, as you can see, the Tower is rising slowly from its launch pad. 

Progress is slower than expected, as I’m finding that I have to cut a lot more blocks than I’d anticipated (to take the tie down rods, electrical wires etc).  My personal goal was to finish the first level by the end of January, but now it looks like I’ll get there by the end of February if I keep at it. 

To date I’ve laid 315 blocks out of an estimated 1244, but these are the easy ones, because I’m still working at ground level.  Wait until I’m hanging up there in space!

Several unexpected visitors (always welcome!) have marveled at my “workmanship”, but everyone needs to understand that parallax error is largely to blame.

Until next time…..

Regards
TowerBloke
TTT (Tower Tactician & Technician) & TCC (Tower Construction Corp)

 

EMAIL #20    19-2-7

The next time you see me you may mistakenly think you are looking at Sylvester Stallone; that’s what laying blocks on the top of the ever-increasingly-tall Tower wall (2.5 metres) has done for my biceps! 

As you can see from the latest shot, I have finally completed the first level, and this week will be attempting to install the first level floor.

Numerous mini-challenges have kept progress at a slow-but-steady rate, not to mention the rain. 

A particularly messy problem was that my centre swing-arm pole was one brick course (180mm) too short.  My fault, as I didn’t plan it properly.  I had to build a sandpit underneath the bottom of the base to raise it up the required distance.  I did this after unsuccessfully welding an extension to the top of the pole, then cutting it off again because I couldn’t get it straight.  It’s very annoying being a techno-goose!

You’ll notice the arched doorway, thanks to Pete R’s door template.  Speaking of Pete, I have decided to appoint him my official Insulting Engineer; that’s like a Consulting Engineer, except he tells me what he REALLY thinks of my ideas and progress!

Another highlight was the recent inspection by overseas visitors, who had heard of the Tower and included it in their Australian travel itinerary.  Graeme & Lee E (from Tassie) declared the Tower “a flamin’ hoot!”

Until next time…..

Regards
TowerBloke

 

EMAIL #21    4-3-7

The First Floor is now a reality, as shown by the accompanying “inside” and “outside” shots!!

If I was a more humble man I would have included in the photograph both TowerBloke Neff and Peter Rosenhain, who each donated a day of their time to provide invaluable assistance with the installation of the floor joists.  But why should anyone else get any kudos??

The work went very well, except while I normally measure once and cut several times, Peter has a habit of measuring twice and cutting only once….. a waste of measuring time in my humble opinion!

The joists are 200x100mm milled Stringy Bark hardwood, in lengths of between 3 and 4 metres.

These big chunks of timber will give the interior of the Tower an “old rustic feel” (I hope), but it’s quite heavy when lifting each bit two-and-a-half metres off the ground. 

In fact when I went up to Culual Mill at Colo to collect the timber my Ute tray actually bent when they forked it on.  I decided that I didn’t want to drive back down the Putty Road with my headlights pointing skyward and my front wheels in the air, so I had the mill deliver it on a Hiab equipped truck last Tuesday.

Anyway, after a day of huffing, puffing and grunting, John & Pete & I got the joists cut to length and lifted into place.  I gave Pete a Gift Voucher for a custom made hernia belt as a token of my appreciation for his efforts, and he appeared quite chuffed. I think he has a bit of a leaning towards wearing strange medical devices; gives him something to talk about at dinner parties. 

Each joist is supported by a 6mm steel “joist hanger” at each end, which in turn hangs off a plate bolted to the top course of blocks.  On top of the joists I have installed a temporary floor as a working platform, made from weather-proof 22mm thick chip board. 

I have left an access trapdoor for “man and materials” in the floor, accessible by half an extension ladder, which for some strange reason, Mrs TowerBloke refuses to climb. 

”Just climb up several rungs so ya can poke ya head above first floor level and have a squiz at the excitement up here!” I yelled down the hole at her. 

Nothing!

It looks like she shall miss out on much of the remainder of the project, so I have now added her to my emailed Updates so she can see what’s happening from time to time.  (Hiya honey!!!!)

But then again, maybe TowerBloke’s right.  He suggested that perhaps a Tower is no place for a woman anyway, and that it may, in the long run, become a more peaceful place if one can reside there in a degree of solitude… hmmm….

Well, I’m now ready to get stuck into laying the blocks on the second story. 

Please join me in prayer that I shall not fall off the edge… it doesn’t like very high, except when you’re up there!

Until next time…..

Regards
TowerBloke

 

EMAIL #22  12-3-7 
“Wot ya need Sunshine” said Trev the Electrician some time ago, “is a bloomin’ scaffold… something to get you up to where the action is.  Although yer a long streaky bloke, if this Tower thing takes off you’ll need all the help you can get…  I can tell ya”. 
Even though Trev had supervised the rupture of the Tower water supply as well as guiding me as I chopped through my own underground phone cable, he had a point. 

So I started checking out aluminum scaffolding, but to my dismay anything close to useful was going to cost somewhere between $5000 and $6000; money I didn’t have in the budget.  So I sort of gave up on the scaffold idea, hoping that in the meantime a distant Rellie would die and leave me at least a Cherry Picker, or better still a Scissor Lift. 

In fact I had assumed that Trev had forgotten all about my height and scaffolds, when one day out of the blue he called up and said: 

“Listen Bozo, there’s an auction on down at Grays, and I’ve spied a scaffold that’ll do the trick for ya!  Get yer bum into gear and meet us down there”

Itching with excitement (and a wasp sting that was healing), I met Trev down at Grays on the appointed day, and sure enough, there was a 4.8 metre high scaffold listed for auction (2400mm x 1200mm deck).  I figured that I could put a 2 metre ladder on the top of the scaffold deck, and when I added my two metre reach, I could poke around up to almost 9 metres above ground level!

Although the scaffold was covered in paint, it was aluminium, so as far as I was concerned it was in perfect condition.  I noticed several other blokes checking it out, all of them looking as sleazy as me ‘n Trev! 

It seemed the standard procedure was to look at the item, scowl, kick it, and pretend it was the greatest load of junk on offer.  “Only an idiot would bid on that” one bloke said in a loud voice to No One… funny though, he was the bloke who made the second highest bid!

"Watch that bustard there!" mumbled Trev, fidgeting as the Spruiker’s spittle started to spray the crowd… but I wasn’t sure which of the several dozen potential bidders he was talking about.

Well, after a bit of bidding I got the scaffold for $830; not bad considering a new one would have been six times that at least. 

“Now when ya're finished, ya can sell it at a PROFIT” predicted Trev.

I hope Trev’s right… it’ll help defray cost of plumbing and phone cable repairs.

Anyway, in spite of all that, the Tower continues it’s upwards trajectory, WITH the help of a scaffold…. (which later turned out to be COMPLETELY USELESS…thanks Trev)

Regards
TowerBloke

 

EMAIL #23  16-4-7 

Floored!

Today was an exciting day in Tower Land - I picked up all the flooring timber! (At the moment I have temporary chip-board flooring on the first level of the Tower, but this will come out when the permanent floors get installed.)

A few months ago we cut down ten huge Brown Barrel ("Fastigata") gum trees, ranging from 30 to 50 metres tall. These were overhanging my daughter's house, and Council approved their removal.

I had the main trunks taken to the local saw mill, where some Old Mates milled the timber down into 6" x 1" boards. These will become the floor boards on levels two and three of the Tower after the timber dries out!

I have chosen to use the timber in thick "planks" rather than tongue-and-groove for a couple of reasons:

First, I want the whole structure to look old fashioned and rustic, and big chunky floor boards will help create that "feel".

Second, there will be cracks between each of the floor boards when installed, and this means that dirt and grit will filter down THROUGH the floors. This means I will never have to clean, vacuum or sweep the two upper levels. All I'll need to do is apply a broom to the ground floor where all the dirt will automatically gather, once and year, and that's my annual housework done in under 2 minutes!!!! (Why don't women use these these simple techniques??)

I have flat stacked the milled floor boards, with spacers between each layer, to allow the air to circulate and dry the timber. I am hoping that it will be OK to install in about 4-6 months from now, when I figure I will be finished the walls and roof.

It's quite attractive timber, being an almost white hardwood. I had planned to stain it black, but am now rethinking that in view of the attractive aesthetics of this species of Aussie eucalypt.

Regards
TowerBloke

 

~COMMENTS ON RECENT EMAILS, FROM VARIOUS FRIENDS ~

TowerBloke
What on earth are you doing digging holes & erecting a tower on a hill.
Aren't you high enough above the rest of us? Are you emulating your forebears of Babel? We have enough problems already in this world communicating with each other - don't make it worse.
Worried
RH

TowerBloke
If you build a horizontal extension to the tower, say at the 25 metre mark, I'll sell the wife to you as a resident tower watcher and media manager.  Just think of the huge favour you'd be doing the world and especially me.  Regards to the chook lady and you. 
AM

Hey TowerBloke, what did you say it was going to be? An observation deck for extraterrestrials? How long did you say that welding took?
Good effort TowerBloke, I'm behind you all the way. Yell out if you need a hand. RW

TowerBloke
I have an idea - turn it into a mountain still and call it Bloke's Hooch ......(plenty of rotten apples up there to get it started!)
SD

Hi TowerBloke
Thanks for the update. I will enjoy watching the project take shape.
Perhaps the large group of on lookers has something to do with the fact that the shape in the picture attached bears a striking resemblance to something out of the Da Vinci code. Just a thought.
MW

TowerBloke
Did you receive the communication that we made the pilgrimage to see the tower progress last Monday week but were told you had heard of our visit and had fled. So we got some local apples and went home!  Words fail me! Well, not really but there's not much more to say.  Keep us posted. We need a laugh down here every now and then.
See ya LD  (Note:  We frown upon people who try and jump the queue!!)

TowerBloke, you really are an odd fellow, aren't you............ KW (relative!!!)

TowerBloke - more publicity than a miner from Beaconsfield. Got the movie rights sold yet?
SB

 

Thanks TowerBloke
There must be other ways to make a tower HOLY.  Never mind... you seem to know what you're doing. 
So... what's going in the holes?  I mean, they will ultimately be filled with concrete.... but what is going under the concrete?  What "treasures" will lay buried under the foundations of the tower?  In Millennia to come archaeologists will be looking through the rubble of the foundations for some sort of clues to your existence.  Will you leave them a time capsule?  Will it include a used oil filter from the Gold Wing?  An old Country & Western CD?  A dead chook? (Archaeologists would be excited to discover you were carnivorous.).  A clean pair of undies? (leather of course.)
I wait with bated breath!
(Ps give us plenty of warning of the future date or the opening ceremony!)
VB

 

EMAIL #24  24-6-7

Hello

It’s been TWO MONTHS since my last update, which indicates a huge amount of inactivity…… been away for four weeks total…, followed by rain, rain and frosty cold. 

Anyway, I’m back into it, and ………

One recent highlight was when a Stanley knife fell off the top of a ladder and hit me on the top of the head.   Very very very fortunately it hit me BLUNT END FIRST!  (Thank you Lord!)

If it had fallen “blade end” first I would have experienced instant Nirvana and cancelled further Tower building; and possibly have ceased Human Racing as well.  I’ve never been so grateful for a dull smack on the noggin! 

Bunnings Hard Hat Emporium, here I come!!!!

After finishing the block laying to the height of the third storey floor (about 5 metres high now), the challenge was to get the four 100+kg Stringybark bearers up onto the 8mm thick gal steel “Z” shaped bearer hangers that I had bolted to the top of the wall. (Had these fabricated to order.)

To this end I invited Old Mate, Boyhood Hero, and all round Good Bloke “Nigel” Nippard up for a beer.  In his younger days Nigel would have whipped up the ladder with the timber in his teeth, sipping Ale and telling jokes out of the sides of his mouth.  But alas, he has aged in the past 60 years. 

So to make up for Nigel’s lack of muscle fiber and rotting teeth, I purchased a 600kg capacity electric hoist (Chinese, $249).  I cut out a section of the temporary first floor so that I had clearance up the centre of the Tower. 

Then, with the hoist whining and Nigel groaning, we managed to hump the four bearers into place.  Then Nigel went home, mumbling something about a holiday on the Nulabor.

Left to my own devices, I then needed to get four 3600x900x22mm sheets of Red Tongue flooring up onto the bearers.  This was a slow job, as I kept cringing, looking skyward for falling Stanley knives!!

Anyway, with two step ladders balanced on the top of the walls, with a 6 metre lump of timber balancing across the top of the ladders, and the hoist lashed to the timber, I managed to get the flooring up and on to the top of the bearers.

WHEW!

Now it’s all systems “go” to get more blocks laid to complete the third storey walls. 

This’ll be an extra tricky part of the Tower, because I have to incorporate four Arrow Slit windows, as well as three large panoramic windows, AND make sure the top layer of blocks is absolutely accurately positioned so that the roof will eventually fit in place. 

As a man unaccustomed to doing anything that requires “precision”, this could be the end of the road… or the start of a whole new career (I must remain positive, I must remain positive, I must……)

Until next time………

Regards
TowerBloke

 

EMAIL #26  21-8-7

Hi

Blocks are still being laid regularly, but it’s slow due to the fact that everything has to be lifted to the third level.  Also, the 120mm of rain in the past few days hasn’t helped progress…

Now, do you want the EXCITING news, the VERY EXCITING news, or the VERY VERY exciting news???

Well the EXCITING news first:   

 

…… the VERY EXCITING news:

 

…… the VERY VERY EXCITING news:

 

So there ya go, until next time………

Regards
TowerBloke

 

EMAIL #27  03-09-7

Hi

Ya know someone was rude enough to complain that my last Tower Update didn’t include a piccie of the Tower itself… pathetic huh?

I’m only three courses short of finishing the top of the third level, but this will take a couple of weeks to complete because I don’t have the correct shaped blocks for the very last course.  These special blocks are coming from Old Mate Max (Nowra) who just happens to have a rare “sill block” size that will form the last course, upon which the roof will be secured.

In the meantime the twenty 1.5mm gal steel sheets for the roof has been cut, drilled and shaped.  On Wednesday this week the eleven steel “hoops” that will give the roof its “cone” shape will be bent to the correct diameters by a specialist “pipe bender”.  Then the steel sheets will be welded to the hoops, followed by “shingling” (and that’ll be a challenge!).

Also in the next week I will be installing the steel lintel and window posts, which have been received back from the galvanizer.

So there ya go, until next time………

Regards
TowerBloke

 

EMAIL #28  22-09-7

Hi

We could hear the grinding of gears long before we saw the smoke, but then down Powells Road chugged the monstrosity, piloted by a Bilpin original known as “Young Billy Johnson”. 

The multi-colored “Hillbilly” emblazoned on the truck doors almost said it all. 

This wasn’t so much a truck-mounted crane, as a crane-mounted truck!! 

The whole 17.3 tonnes of it! 

Because the Tower site was only a couple of kays from Billy’s underground home, the Hillbilly truck engine hadn’t yet heated the foil-wrapped meat pie sitting on the manifold.  Nevertheless, even without breakfast Billy was his usual cheerful self, assuring me that backing the monstrosity across an almost perpendicular slippery paddock to the Tower site would entail the sum total of …….. “no worries”.

Prior to Billy’s arrival, Lance B (MMM = “Master-Metal-Man”) and I had been toiling for many days preparing the Tower roof, which was now sitting in two sections next to the Tower. 

Lance deserves special mention…. a young guy who had not only fabricated the Tower roof, but had also come up with an ingenious design which resulted in the 5 metre high, 4 metre diameter) steel structure coming in at only ONE tonne!  Very strong and very light and very cost effective!  Smart fella that Lance – and a REAL worker to boot!

And oh yes, also deserving special mention were mates TowerBloke Neff and Geoff Nippard, who had been involved in physically man-handling various bits of steel into position prior to the roofs completion!  THANKS!

Anyway, with the agility and speed of an Old Bloke grabbing a free beer just before Pension Day, Billy lobbed the crane-mounted truck in position, hooked up the top section of the Tower roof, and popped it directly on the bottom section.  Voila!!!! 

The cheering in the background came from a crowd comprising only Mrs TowerBloke, who had struggled up the drive in her pajamas, just in time to see the whole thing through puffy eyelids!  (After all, it was only 7.30am!)

Anyway, Billy then lifted a 10mm thick steel lintel up onto the top deck of the Tower, packed up his gear, and within a total of about 45 minutes all that was left was the pall of blue smoke and the acrid smell of diesel. 

Yes, Billy had come, Billy had performed, and Billy had gone,,, all with “no worries”!!!!!

So there ya go, until next time………

Regards
TowerBloke

PS - The challenge now is to apply “cedar” shingles to the Roof, before calling on Billy a second time to come and pop the roof on top of the walls….. (which I have yet to finish!)

 

EMAIL #29  14-10-07

Howdy

FINALLY, the walls of the Tower are now complete!!!!

The last course consisted of bull-nose blocks that protrude 50mm outside the walls, to assist rain run off the roof.  These were pretty hairy to lay, as I had to stand on the top of a step ladder, with one leg dangling backwards to retain balance.  Of course I was wearing a Hard Hat, so the risk of an accident was minimal!

I just have a few window sill blocks to go, which will take a day, and then that’s the end of the mortar.

The next challenge is to start the application of shingles to the roof, and this will be interesting in terms of how long it’s going to take.

Mrs TowerBloke has a bunch of people coming to see the garden (she participates in the ABC Open Garden scheme) on 10th November, so I am going to see if I can get the roof on by then.

So there ya go, until next time………

Regards
TowerBloke

 

EMAIL #30

G’day

The “shingling” has commenced!

I started out using a cheap Bunnings hand operated pop-rivet gun to affix the shingles, but after two days my hands felt like they’d been trampled by herd of stampeding Mammoths!  I hastily purchased an air-driven rivet gun (thanks Woofy!), and things are now a lot easier.

Overall the roof will have about 1200 individual shingles.  Each shingle is fixed at the top with two pop rivets, the holes for which have to be drilled through the 1.5mm steel roof.  Then the bottom edge of each shingle is fixed in four places using a special adhesive which sticks to the bituminous back surface.  This is supposed to ensure that the shingles will not blow off in high winds.

Before being stopped by rain, I managed to install five courses of shingles over a three day period; five down, fifty to go, so it’s slow and tedious.  And I expect it will get harder and slower as I rise above ground level where the surface of the roof slopes inwards.  I am checking Bunnings for a pair of stilts with magnetic tips with which I can walk up the side of the sloping roof….

The other difficulty I encountered was that I needed to apply shingles over the trap-door that had been cut into the side of the roof for internal access.  But this meant I could no longer get inside the roof to apply silicon sealer to the back of the rivets.  The only solution was to dig a tunnel under the edge of the roof, which I’ve done.  It works OK except visitors now get covered in mud as they slither under the shallow depression in the ground.  (See photo for shallow tunnel under lip of shingled roof)

While we are grateful for rain, I now await clear skies so that the shingling may recommence!

So there ya go, until next time………

Regards
TowerBloke

 

EMAIL #31  28-11-07

G’day

Hi hooooo, hi hooooo, a shingling I shall go…..”

… well, rain has been the major obstacle during the last month, not that we (or the garden) is complaining.

The progress on the shingling has slowed now due to the height of the roof that is being shingled. 

I had a steel frame made up which attaches to my tractor’s bucket, which gives me a working platform up where I need to go.

I would love to get the roof on within the next two weeks, but it now depends mostly on the weather, as I cannot apply the adhesive to the shingles if they are wet or damp.

Hi ho hi ho hi ho hi ho, hi hooooooo hi ho hi ho hi hoooooo

Regards
TowerBloke

 

EMAIL #32  18-12-07

Hellooooooooo !

Another milestone …………the shingling is finished!!

I had trouble reaching the last two rows with the tractor-platform set up, so I tied the dog’s bed to the ladder to protect the shingles and finally got to the top.

Next job is siliconing the back of the 2500 rivets inside the cone to ensure I’ll never get leakage, but that shouldn’t take too long.

Tomorrow I collect the small top cap which will hold the lightning rod, and bolt to the top of the cone.   As soon as that’s painted (to match the shingles) I’ll be ready to pop the roof on.

The curved glass for the three large windows leaves NZ on Thursday, and should be available for me to collect in about 7-10 days.

Getting close to “lock up” !!! (And of course “lock-up” automatically means “lock-out” too,,,,,,, exciting!)

Regards
TowerBloke


EMAIL #33  2-1-8

Happy New Year !

,,,, 10,,, 9,,, 8,,, 7,,, 6,,, 5,,, 4,,, 3,,, 2,,, 1,,, LIFT OFF!!!!!!!!!!

One year and one day after laying the first block, the Tower yesterday reached “lock up” with the installation of the cone roof!

We had a couple of false starts due to the ground being too soggy to allow truck and crane access, but a week of fine weather saw the ground firm up enough to give it a go.

I felt like a woman giving birth (with contractions coming every couple of minutes)! 

Would the roof fit?  Had I made a mistake with any of my measurements??  Were the blocks flat and positioned in a perfect circle?  Were the twelve protruding tie down rods in the exact positions?

As the crane swung the cone up onto the top of the walls, we experienced one glitch, where the top of one of the tie down rods prevented the roof from seating squarely.  A few minutes with an angle grinder saw the problem rectified, and the roof finally settled down perfectly.

After unhitching the chains, we lifted the small top and copper lightning conductor onto the top of the cone, and the job was done.

I now have a weather proof interior, and the fit out of floors, stairs, door and windows can commence….

Trust you had a safe and peaceful Christmas break….
TowerBloke


 

Tower Windows!

My big panoramic windows arrived from New Zealand last week.  Even with freight and Customs clearance they were a fair bit cheaper than buying them in Oz (some of which actually come from China!)  

These were made to order to fit the radius of the Tower, fabricated from curved, toughened, smoked glass (6mm thick); about three and a half lineal metres of glass (1300mm high) all up. 

I engaged local Nick Lo Presti (“Rollin’ On Site”) to roll some aluminium “U” channel to the same radius as the windows to form edging for the glass. 

Nick is a character!  He has a mini-factory set up in a double-axle trailer that he pulls behind his Landcruiser.  He pulls on a rope to start what sounds like a lawn mower engine, which then drives his hydraulically operated home made “rolling machine”. 

To save him time (and me money) I met him down at North Richmond, and he set up his factory at a roadside RTA dump, and did the job.  “Sure beats paying factory overheads huh?” he grinned!

Yesterday I coerced two Mates (Nigel and Peter R) to lend a hand, and with the assistance of a hired Cherry Picker, we got the three pieces of glass into place with no real hassles. The largest (centre) pane of glass was too wide to carry in the Cherry Picker work platform, so we strapped two bits of wood underneath the work platform, and lashed the glass down cushioned on pillows.

The next job is to fabricate and install the thirteen Arrow Slit glass windows.... until next time…

Regards
TowerBloke

PS - THANKS again to Nigel & Peter R – if it wasn’t for you, the Tower wouldn’t have windows….

 

EMAIL #35  4-2-8

“Let There Be Light!”

I know that no-one has ever considered me a cheapskate (????) but I have to make a confession.

Around the base of the Tower I had built a retaining wall, and into that wall I inserted the wiring to run spotlights.  My intention was to mount six spotlights that would show off the structure at night, as they do with famous and not-so-famous buildings all over the place.

Well, when my mate Trevor the Electrical Genius arrived with his crew to complete the Tower electrics, he was aghast that I was going to install cheap and nasty $20 Bunnings spotlights.

“Yer mad!” he bellowed “They’ll look %$*(^% terrible, leave it to me Sunshine…..”

A few nights later Trevor (and wife Judy who approves, and maybe gives him, all his good ideas) arrived just on dusk with a set of whopping great SODIUM spotlights that throw a very even, very mellow yellow, glow right across the external walls of the Tower.

These lights are now installed on a timer, so I can turn them on and off whenever I want.  And I must say that Judy’s (I mean Trevor’s!) good idea really is a very good idea; those lights sure rip your eyeballs out of their sockets at night time!

On ya Judy (and Trevor and son Peter, and Fellow Sparkies Cameron and Terry)!!!!

Regards
TowerBloke

EMAILS TO TowerBloke FROM UK

Hello TowerBloke, This is truly amazing stuff. I would very much like to feature this new build on my web site www.towertowers.com  when it is finished. As my site only covers follies in the UK I would have to create a new category for it to fall into. If one day I get to visit oz I will certainly come and see it for myself. Bloody marvellous.

Hey can you build me one!? <grin>

All the best Carl Curtis

 

Copyright ©2011 John Bryant