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at concrete

John G. Richardson

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A practical look
at concrete

John G. Richardson FlCT

The Concrete Society

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A practical look at concrete

John G. Richardson

ISBN 0 946691 83 5
Ref: CS 132

0 John G. Richardson

Design and Production: Jon Webb

Published by The Concrete Society, 2002

Further copies and information about The Concrete Society, including membership, may be
obtained from:
The Concrete Society,
Century House, Telford Avenue,
Crowthorne, Berkshire RG45 6YS, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1344 466007, Fox: +44(0)1344 466008
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under current legislation no part of this work may be
photocopied, stored in a retrieval system, published, performed in public, adapted,
broadcast, transmitted, recorded or reproduced in any form or by any means, without the
prior permission of the copyright owner. Enquiries should be addressed to The Concrete



Although The Concrete Society (limited by guarantee) does its best to ensure that any advice,
recommendations or information it may give either in this publication or elsewhere is
accurate, no liability or responsibility of any kind (including liability for negligence)
howsoever and from whatsoever cause arising, is accepted in this respect by the Society, its
servants or agents.

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The issue of Concrete in which the page first appeared is shown in italics

A few words about Cubco man


few words about the author

Publishers Note


Excellence 1
Excellence 2
Quality assurance
Efficient construction
More testing
The Concrete Society

Jub/Atgust 1991
Septeniberl October 1996
Stpteniber 1982
Azgust 1981
Jub/August 200 I
Jatzuary/ February 1993
Jub/At/gr/st 1996
January 2000
October 2002


Geometry 1
Geometry 2
Detail: the need for communication
Detail: peoples input
Detail: concrete
Methods and communication
Panel joints
Computers in construction
Computers and design

November I98 1
Janiiary 1982
February 1982
October 1983
April 1981
March 1981
Jub 1979
June 1980
March 1999
June 1997


Setting-out points
Detail: formwork
Kickers 1
Kickers 2
Nibs and corbels
Cores and formers
Ramps and intersections
Circular work
Props and propping
Striking formwork
Aluminium forms
Trough and waffle floors
GRC formwork
Formwork failure
Formwork systems
Falsework 1
Falsework 2
Falsework 3
Formwork and falsework 1
Formwork and falsework 2
Formwork and falsework 3




January 1979
June 1984
Septenzber 1977
October 1977
November 1977
December 1977
February 1978
June 1983
August 1979
December 1980
August 1982
November 1980
October 1980
March 1983
January 1981
October 1982
November 1982
Deceniber 1982
March 1998
May 2001
June 2002



- --



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Reinforcement 1
Reinforcement 2
Reinforcement 3
Reinforcement 4
Reinforcement, fittings and accessories
Reinforcement and accessories
Cast-in fixings
Locating inclusions
Reinforcement accessories

Jatiuay I999
JanuaryylFebruary 1994
October 1978
M q 1979
M q 2002
March 2001
Janualy 1978
September 1983
Jub 1984
M q 2000
September 2002


Preparing to concrete
The pre-concrete check 1
The pre-concrete check 2
Production, plant and equipment
Construction joints
Production and handling
Placing concrete 1
Placing concrete 2
Concrete mixing and batching plant
Ready-mixed concrete 1
Ready-mixed concrete 2
Ready-mixed concrete 3
Ready-mixed concrete 4
Slab construction
Hot- and cold-weather concreting
Winter workmg
Concrete in adverse conditions
Placing, compacting and caring
Self-compacting concrete

February 1979
March 1979
April 1979
Februay 2001
November 1978
Jub/August 1994
Jub 1978
January 1983
Jub/August 1998
September 1997
February 1997
September/ October 1992
February 200 1
June 1999
M q 1981
September 2000
Juh/Aigust 1999
September 198 1
Mq/June 199s
April 2000
March 2002







Surface finishes 1

M q 1977


Surface finishes 2
Surface finishes 3
Surface finishes 4
Surface finishes 5
Surface finishes 6
Fixing to concrete
Surface retarders
Architectural concrete
Concrete surfaces
Maintaining concrete finishes
Protecting concrete
Cleaning concrete
Repairs and remedial work

June 1977
Mq/June 1993
AuguJt 1977
September/ October 1993
ANgtlst 1980
September 1980
September 1979
November/December 1998
September/ October 1995
February 1999
January/Febmay 199s
Januay 1998
June 1981
December 1978


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Lifting equipment
Sitesafe '83
Moving loads
Cranes - communications
Getting things moving
Safe working with small dumpers

December 198 I
June 1982
October 1979
Februay 1983
Jub 1980
October 1981
August 1983
December 1979
J M 1983
Murch 1984
December I983



Precast concrete: samples and prototypes
Precast concrete 1
Precast concrete 2
Precast concrete 3
Prestressed concrete 1
Prestressed concrete 2
Prestressed concrete 3
Prestressed concrete 4
Concrete moulds for precasting
Mould design
Polymer moulds and liners
Flexible moulds
Concrete ingredients
Concrete as a mould material
Precast erection 1 - general
Precast erection 2 - site factors
Concrete sculpture
Decorative concrete and finishes
Lightweight and foamed concrete
glass fibre-reinforced concrete
Tilt-up construction
Slipform and tilt-up construction
Bridge construction


October 2001
October 1999
Nolieniber/ Deceniber 1991
Februay 1984
M y 1978
March 1980
M q 1997
Mq 1982
June 1978
April 1980
March 1982
A p d 1982
Mq 1998
March 1978
Noveniber 1979
Januuy 1980
Noiieniber/December 2000
Jtily/August 2002
NoveniberlDecember 1996
April 1984
April 1983
March 2000
Noveniber/ December 2001
NoveniberlDeceniber 2002



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A few words about Cubco man

Cubco man was employed by Cube Company
Limited (trade name Cubco). Cubco originated in
the Leonard Trotter* series of articles published
in the Journal Precast concrete (now Quality concrete) in
1972. The firm was a small (imaginary) manufacturing concern whose entrepreneurial spirits
foresaw a market for concrete specimens of such
a standard that they would have a 99.9% chance of
meeting any given specification. Rumour has it
that, long before fibres of any kind were used
elsewhere in any concrete application, Cubco
introduced micro-fine and virtually invisible fibres
into the specimens they produced, thereby
ensuring the required pass rate for the product.
Jack Barfoot, then editor of Concrete, saw these
illustrations as a means of conveying practical information to his readers and the page was
born. Since May 1977, in the pages entitled Ilooking atitpractka/&, we have attempted to convey
the practicalities of the use of concrete in construction. We have detailed methods for forming,
casting, handling and finishing concrete, and touched on planning and organisation as well as
critical details of safety. Early pages consisted of simple details, with few - if any - people to
be seen in the illustrations. In 1978, the need arose to introduce the human element and Cubco
man was pressed into service.
Cubco man has developed with age. It could be said that his character has become rounded over
the years. Initially he was concerned with the intimate details of construction, kickers, starter bars,
stripping fillets, noggings and suchlike. These days, while still maintaining his interest in the finer
detds, he is involved with greater things, industry-wide. Cubco man today appreciates such things
as the advantages to be obtained from new materials and methods, the benefits to be gained by
applying techniques such as networking and value analysis and even the use of computers in
design. Although his ability to appreciate the marvels of new technology and the seemingly
infinite range of products designed to speed construction and improve quality has advanced over
the years, he sull retains an essentially practical attitude to such developments: a feet upon the
ground approach, as he would put it.
The page Looking atitpractica4 has been used as a training aid by major contractors. The author
used it as such for many years in the course of nearly 20 years working as a lecturer in
construction topics at the Cement & Concrete Association (now BCA) Training Centre at
Fulmer Grange. near Slough, Berkshire. As well as these applications, Cubco man has variously:
advertised the Advisory Service of The Concrete Society, appeared in exhibitions, illustrated
research reports and information bulletins, popped-up in a series of CD Roms for Continuing
Professional Education of Engineers, and instructed site personnel on the installation of
precast elements.
Since 1978, he has gone from strength to strength to the point where his image is to be found
on notice boards on construction sites, within works, offices and laboratories. The pages are
often annotated with names of persons with whom, in the mind of the viewer, he has been
associated by deed or action.
Over the years, several people have suggested that a compilation of the pages would make a
useful book, recording the practicalities and introducing possibilities of emerging techniques to
the reader. The suggestion was taken up with enthusiasm by Nick Clarke, Publications Manager
and Managing Editor of Concrete. So here it is!

John G . Richardson FICT

* Pen name of

High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire November 2002

Philip L. Owens HNC, MPhil, FICT, MCIWM, and n o connection with Del Boy or any of his

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A few words about the author

O n leaving school, and before joining the Royal Engineers, John worked briefly as a n
architectural draughtsman, meanwhile studying architecture which in those days involved tuition
in mechanical and still life drawing! Following an introduction to army life with the Infantry, and
the Mons Officer Training School, the FE16 RE OCTU at Newark provided an education in
construction, erection and demolition.
After the army, employment as a
draughtsman and study at the renowned
Brixton School of Building served to feed
Johns interest in concrete work and
prompted a specialisation in formwork.
During this time, further education was
received from contact with his all-time
hero, Cyril Parry, a formwork consultant
whose works included the floating jetties
used in the Normandy landings of World
War I1 and the notorious Sellafield
Formwork design and detailing with
Holland, Hannen and Cubitt, a major
contractor of the time, embraced mould
design for precast and prestressed
concrete leading to a move into precasting
as a mould shop supervisor. What seemed
a natural progression led through site
supervision of formwork with Scaffoldmg
(Great Britain) 1,td to formwork manufacture and then employment as a
production engineer with Trent Concrete
Limited, at Colwick and Hoveringham
Works, Nottingham. A move to the lecturing staff of the Cement & Concrete
Association followed some years as works
manager for Concrete Limited at Iver,
Bucks. These latter employments afforded
the opportunity to study works management at evening classes and as a dayrelease student.

John at work on Cubco man ...

Concurrent with the service at the C&CA

and during the following ten years as a
self-employed consultant and lecturer,
John worked as Technical Assessor for the
British Standards Institution in their
Firms of Assessed Capability Scheme. A
varied (somewhat chequered) career has
provided a wealth of contact with all
manner of people in construction, from
the man on the job to top management,
from steelfixer to designer and from
consultant to concretor, both on site and
in works. Indeed, much of these worthies
knowledge has been incorporated in the
pages Looking at itpractical4 in Concrete!

... and Ctlbco man returns the compliment!


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Publisher's note
John R~chardson's Looking at it practica& pages published in Conmete magazine
since 1977 cover a wide range of topics and present a wealth of advice on safe,
practical concrete construction. Some of the pages were prepared to draw
attention to a new code of practice or guidance document, and new editions of
some of these documents have since been published. Some of the site practices,
materials and systems shown in these pages may also have been replaced or
improved by more efficient approaches. Mmor amendments to the captions
have been incorporated to highlight these but as far as possible the pages have
been retained essentially in their original format, reproduced from the printed
pages of Conmete magazine.
Readers should make sure that any standards, codes or guides they refer to are
current and relevant to their situation.



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he general acceptance of quality assurance in construction processes and products

has focussed Cubco mans attention on standards of performance, Unlike the past
where h s only measure of accomplishment was comment - or, even worse, lack
of comment - on his product or outputs, there are now published procedures he observes.
His work is carried out using these and incorporating h s suggestions. No longer are thngs
done the way that our Mr Smith or our Mr Jones always did.
In his home life, he has become accustomed to awards and award ceremonies for
everything from television soaps to good housekeeping, so that the existence of accolades
for Excellence in concrete comes as no great surprise. Cubco man has always felt pride in
his work. He is aware that, as well as earning his living using concrete to build a bridge,
hospital, or somethmg as down to earth as a road or drainage scheme, he is contributing
to the welfare of the community as a whole. Thus an award for Excellence in concrete
seems wholly appropriate and more meaningful than many other awards.

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Excellence 1

111 /i,& of n i e Coiicrete Society Awards, our bnejivas to consider E X C E L L E N C E

inputs necessary to achieve the standards exliibited by the i u i u n i t ~ ~prqerts

ENCIhEERIiVG skills and


E X T E N S I V E plaizirin~qevidenced by die outcome




operations . .

We pondered

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Excellence 2

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We are using the word in the uppearunce


No, don P get excited - we know the word

sturidard is e.rtrenielv eniolive!

._.and, while a lot is said ut nieeriiigs arid


.._we clre well u w r e that people are


disuppoirited wheii they see the

real thing!

E.speciully rvheri they have taken coruideruhle

cure over desigii mid detail.

_..about the dangers of sniull samples products of the sample-maker i skills...

... it reconinieiid.y that. using site riiuterials

intended equipn~ent...

Where there are speciul detuils, feattires,

day joints, tie holes. kickers. strrrters.
retirrris ctnd so on ...


U niodel shotrld he mude to emitre that

stundurds are established for cletuil,Jeuture
und jiriish.

Of cotme. not every

. .job cuii ,qet (111 rnvard but at least evetyoiie knows what the
ucceptahle staiiclurds are.


The Formwork Report* has some good

advice to off..

._.especially the skills on site. ..

* Concrete Society Technical Report No. 13. Since revised as

Forinwork - U guide to good practice , The Concrete Sociery, 1995.

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Quality assurance

F i r m wisliing to become regi.stererlJrin.s of

assessed cupubiliijv within /lie BSI scheiiie
first tlrrash out [heir quulity po1icie.s and
nominute resporuihle people.

The qiirrlity niuiiiiul produced by /lie/hi

Iias to he ~sirbinitted...

Theri an ussessnient of the conrpuny 1s people.

proc/uct.s rind systeiiis will be nifide to ensure thut.

eyuipnrent is up to scrcrtcli.

... rrnd upproved by BSI Qirolit)~

Asslrrunce Depurtrnent.

... /he qirulity coritrol system of checks is

ripercited us it shoirld he...

.slrlckirlg. stocks.

... clruwing office uric1 orguriizution of qiiulity

procednres [ire in orcler:

4 7
... loucling proceciiires, mid the...

Tliut routine testing

... segreplion und disposul of.suhstondurd

units w e ull curried out in the upproved

The resir// i s Certificutiori - und N continuing

surveillarice to ensiire [lie niuintenunce of u
reudy supply of Q u r r l i ~Assirrecl
speedy und economic constr~rctiori!

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Efficient construction

With developments in information technology and coinpiiter

applications proceeding apace, never has our mail been so aiuare
o f t h e POW of information i n the desigii and planning stages of
a Contract ...

... nor has

Rationalised details are ensuring speedy reitiforcement installation

and economic reiise of expensive formwork iuith II rediiced
learning cycle for. ..

... the skilled workforce, many of whom are certificated, and

operating sophisticated eqiiipnient at previoiisly tinimagined

Materials obtained from approved, quality-assit red srippliers

contribute to the maintenance of qiiality standards ...

... con1bining at site ivith state o f t h e art technology iuhere, for

example, magnetic impulse arid iiltrasonic piilse readings provide
immediate rneasiires of performance.

All these fentitres make for sotind and efficient comtriiction.

ensiiring that gainful work for all disciplines is available throrighoiit
the uarioiis stages of the constrrictiori process.

As a resiilt o f t h e rediiced incidence of snags on completion, and

he enjoyed SiiCh high levels of comnniriication oii site.

Indeed, the term information overload may yet appear in his
le.xic01i of comtriictioii terms!

with less cutting and re-remaking during construction, the use of

electric hammers and ciittirig tools has become something of a lost
art to oiir niflti!

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TTiere appears to be tio end to t h e tests w e are

required 10 apply to corrcrete i n irs various states.. .

We may have to 'slump ir'. . .

break it, in a variety ofititeresrirg ways

Orr site u x may be called upotr to buzz thirgs

through i t . . .

Jigq' it..

It's a salutary thought, however, that although we

put a lot ofstore by the results ... atid whatever the
boy$rrs come u p with next,

as u d l as the samplirg procedures, u h a t we mostly

test is.. . the specimen producer/selector, the tester
and the test equipment!




',iIll11 $,

Botrtice thirgs o j i t , and getrerally mistreat it!

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More testing

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The Concrete Society

Although his firm had not yet won an award for excellence in
concrete.. .

our man was prompted to find orrt more about The Concrete
Society. I n the magazine CONCRETE, he found descriptions of
the varied activities ...

such as site visits to prestigious contracts around the coimtry

(safe. bitt not always for the faint-hearted!) along with ...


He noted that seminars and meetings were held both locally and
nationally, often in cooperation with other profcssional bodies, and
that the Society participated in, and coordinated, research and
development programmes.

He realised, too, that many of the reports and current practice

sheets that had proved so helpful with his knowledge of concrete
testing and interpretation of results were Concrete Society
piiblicatioris ...

and that the chap who had come onto site the day he had a
probleni had been an engineer from The Society's Advisory

With all these benefits in mind, our man decided to join and, not
being inclined to hang about, filled in his membership application
form and posted it straight away!

exhibitions and deminars providing a forum for demonstrations

methods and eqiiipment.

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Learniiig of the factors assessed by the judges while considering

submissions for Concrete Society Certificates of Excellertce, our man
visualised.. .

the difficulties rbey would experience in comparing the (excellent)

achievemeitts of one team of architects, erigitieers and coiistructors, with
those o f similnr teams!

is unlikely that the ground worker, impressive in action, ...

or the crane driver. workiiig with his bauksmnn and slinger t o meet t h e
demands of the ~ ~ ~ i ~ t r i i team,
c t i o ~...i

or the team members busy assistrng the rendy-nti.ued truck driver t o

deliver the right mix t o the right place at the right time ...

or the fnlseworkrrs arid formuiorkers, together providing safe support,

access arid working co?lditlonS atid determirlhg the Shflpe and fiplish O f
the completed structure, ...

or even the concretors, responsible for sound compaction, would have

had much time during construction t o consider the importance of their
contribution t o the excellence o f the structure.

But, of course, whatever their task, everyone involved in a Concrete

Society award-whining project will he proud t o have shared in the
achievement mid will enjoy the reflected glory!

On sire,



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uring h s working life, our man has seen great changes in the way contracts are
organised and the skills of the individual are developed. H e worked on site for
some time before he was told how to judge good compaction, and longer before
he was instructed on the importance of weighng the constituents of the concrete mix
rather than batching by volume. Much of the learning process and acquisition of skills,
apart from trades such as those of the carpenter, depended on observing the work of
others, not always the best s u e d examples!
The tide has turned and these days many employers carry out training on site as well as
encouraging training by sending staff on courses. Certification is now an essential
requirement of many facets of construction, particularly where the safety of others
depends upon satisfactory performance.
Our man is aware that knowledge is strength and is always keen to learn of new materials
and techniques. Technical representatives of the firms servicing the construction industry
make a major contribution here by demonstrating their wares, instructing on their use, and
providing a follow-up to their supplies.
Computers have become an essential tool in the construction process and are used by
workers at all levels. The batcherman, the designer and the production engineer all use
computers in the course of their day. Cubco man still has his reservations but has to admit
that drawings and schedules are more legible than in his youth, that goods are delivered
when required and machme maintenance is better organised than ever before. It seems that
even his wages are dispensed more accurately than when they were calculated by a
timekeeper with a calculator in his hand and a pencil behind h s ear!

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?\ dimAi-T


Our eight yews 011the drawing board

warned of the dangers of over-riotatioii
- the criticul bit might be missed!

We trust you w i l l excuse our presrmiption in

warning against such things as redundant
dimensions.. .

.._uti-informative notation and revisioii - ut

this stage uiiarchy sets in!

Handing was always a problem.

It ivas often /ielpJirlto try to sketch the item we

had just drawn to eiisure enough information

And the iiote which said all us MK13 RH

but ... !

We were sometimes caught out by the thickness

of a h e... oii a 1.1 scale things (ire a little
differeii t.

dimensions were usefirl where linear

work was concerned.

We learned that the check in the oJke ~ v ufar

eusier than the oiie made 011site. Often thefirst
time a drawing is checked is rvheri the carpenter
constructs his forni!


had beeii given.

Try to remember that the draughtsnian (or

draughtsperson) caiiriot possibly foresee all the
site problems.


Ajier all. often the only time they get to site

is when there are diJficcUlties.

Such as when some unintended geometry

creeps into the system.

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Geometry 1



As we were saying ... i t k sonietiines rlifficuli to

visualise the inzplicaiions of a line on the


Crrreful sectioning reveuls we vegained two more

firces than were originully uppureni -plus sonie
fbrniwork problems. although tlze resirlis in the
Reading Centre are excelleni.

Take a balcony - squure in p h i wiih

upsiand wall - niodify the plan (tlie
urcliiiect j.prerogative!)

Change /he section (/he engineer will be niirch

happier with this thickening at tlze rooi of tlie

The result - ifnot ccrrejiilly plumed - is problems in


Well, w e could either construci spiral

cohrniris. set them on an a.ri.7 independent of
/he tower geometry - or make iheni circulur:

Le: :s wuich our circulur work. However; setting

constnrction fabric nornzal io /he uxis avoids iricln,
form munilfaciitre, such as development of ellipses
cznd bevelled members.

We re rlealing wiih well knowii (to us)

principles ... how /hough can we help the

Well, le/ :s remind hini to look f b r true lines and

dimensions: these und sonie carejirl thought
allow developnient of&zce.s.

Now just forfirn, design somefiwniwork for this cas/ in two 1iJi.s. Eusy with our nice ~lastic,,fieslz
concrete. We veto niuke euch face icleniicul in

OK, so now if :s puzzle time - how do we

produce /he suine appearance wiih hvo
separuie precust elenienis A & BY
(Possible but highly iniprobable!) Answer
on nexi page.

Let :s go back to an old bogey ... raking

colirnins on U cooler .._iliere:s a /rap

form worker?


Geometry 2
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Continuing from the previous page ... you

could precast them this way. Possible but
improbable - the trick is the diagonal double
dovetail! We could improve the joint by
tapering the dovetails.

Seriously though -previous precasting of the

critical bits ofien resolves tricky problems.

The precast pieces are assenibled into the base

of the main mould, Here we are casting the
bottom block upside down.

Moisture curing silicone rubber sealant

applied by gun can be used to seal between
mould sides and concrete, and so on. Carefirl
about waste - its expensive st~@

The cured rubber strip can be peeled froni

the concrete. When the casting is completed,
the concrete will be unmarked.

Now lets consider the nuts and bolts. You see,

when precasting we con (structural clesign
permitting) cust elements in U variety of ways.
to overconieproblenis ofjinish, cornpaction. etc.


Theres no right answer, but an essential

feature is a stable base which ifcombined with
a side or sides governs geometty.

Stopends deterniine the section and length.

Seals are iniportant, particularly in moulds
fortning visual concrete.

Lijiing eqtiipinent is a separute topic precasting is a mechanical hoiidlirig-iritensive


Steel must be accurately locaterl - sockets

bolted to sides and ends can position lacer
bars -failing that, there are always plastic
spacers - choose the right shape and niuterial.

Precasting today implies mechanisulion in

some form or other - watch the geonietty hinged cornponents clew US in door

A good casting term coupled with a rigid QC

arrungement and our main worty will be
where to stuck the product!

* The manager :s responsibility for safety , The Industrial Society, London, 1979.


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Detail: the need for communication

Whai :v ihe extension?

Whui toe board?

The salesniun said it was thixotropic!


Hard whai?


d Q ' Y 0

d o

Are you sure ihe dosage wus 5000ml?

When :s the nexi sire nieeiing?

The nianual said 7 tonnes!

These high-frequency vibraiors niake

all ihe diference io ihe produci!

Who checked ihe drawings?

Where b the nieihod staietneni?

There nnist he anoiher type!

Perhaps ii k ihe plunib bob ihai b 'our'.


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Detail: peoples input

Of course there has ulways beeri the problem

of ideiitrjcation with the product!

Although such sitiratioris do provide un

exercise in coriiniunications


Of coiirse formwork is an urtfonii in its own


It must be renternbered however tliut trrilike

other iridiistries where =+0. 05 nim will
do, w e have to be spot on!

i- -.

And the sl~upesthat the dedicated steel man

can achieve have to be seeii to be believed!

Regarding concrete... the way we mix it...

and compact it, huve a vital impact on the

finished product!

Otrr service iridirstry is second to nom; this
despatcher was calculuting the lady :s

reqrrirerneritsfor her jsly~orid!

We do get a bit blosi however. The passing

comnieiit was - l f l was pimping 25m3/hour
1d want to know where the other end is.


The comment here was - I said all along

it said ntmiher 5 1 !

When all is said and done, how eve^ we huve

a great spirit of cooperation.

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Detail: concrete

Badly-located drips can cause a loi of

problenis - etiswe adequate space for
aggregate and sufficient substarice to
avoid damage during striking.

The 'joiriersfiietid', ihe quirk, is a usefir1

device to help in curtailing exposed
aggregaie - watch coricreie cove<

A layer ofresiri-itipregiiated glass niat on

ply nioulclfaces assisis in reducing crazing,
otherwise occurring on sniooih faces.

Slightly undersize kickers allow insertion

of foam gaskei to ensure groui-tighi joini
wheri casting column.

Recessed kickers can look well and

solve diJficirliies of colutnri/kickerjoint.

The implication o f lines on drawings spring to

light on site - we don P ruie the chances of
survival of t h i s deiuil very highly

Norniul variabiliv can upset the most

nieticulous of details. remember forms arid
mould spread arid growili ' down P alwuys
occur outwards.

Filled iie boli holes look well whenjill is

kept jusi below surjuce -plastic filler plugs
get pinched' and are noi reconinierided!

Talking uboirt pinching - watch out for grooves

und features which trap fornis - expensive
damage rnay result. toform face and concrete.


Surface reiurder 011 face offeutures which

ure Iaier to be iooled stripping and
frrcilitates tooling.

Forrners casting deep ji.aiures such us light

recesses, cable entries and so on, strip eusier
with returder applied by brush or roller:

An odd one from ihe deseri! Plastic downpipe

proiects plirnib line froin wind - what about
danipirig bob in j a r ofwatec then!


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Methods and communication

The most inipressive chart is useless fi it

cannot readily be interpreted by the
siniplest per.son to be infornied.

Cliarts are conipletely useless fi out of

date or not niaintuined!

Overlaps ensuring continuity of work

are essential

Histograms identify peaks and are easy 10

Out-of date drawings are dangerous,

inark tlieni careful1,v - keep one set
for reference.

Keep those 'dim ' books and site diaries too they w e vuluable sources of basic dim.

To check a drawing for full information

to draw the elenient or detailfroni
inforniution given.

Siniplicity improves cornni~rnicatiorinuniber 1iji.s and operations an master

sheet, rind use numbers us reference in


Work at severul levels ut one time ensures

continuityfor all trades.

,. ,

, ,




Don 'r leave stairs behind, however - the

aniount of deck rapidly diniinishes.


A method statenierit or hundbook

avuilable to all provides the knowledge
essential to safe working.

Even U blackboard on the wall in the site

office is a start towards more coniplete

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Pane1 joints



of corners will resrilt in

rugged uppearunce ofjoints - .some

The use of chunfers rind margins 'tidies lip

joints ' und makes for N better production.

The iritrodiictiori ofcliunlfers cind

bitllnozing also a v o i h ragged edge.s allowing aggregute to fill the nioiild - the
corners are ulso susceptible to duniage.

urchitects like this.

Regurdirig joints - we shotild renieniher that

inaccuracy in any one panel may afect the
perforniunce of any of the 24 other panels or

Movenienrs are mother considerution. We

huve been aniozed how IJiohik concrete
cun be in e.rtrenies of teriiperatiire. how it

And how it bows when restruined... these

moverrieiits must he considered in design


cifects other eleiiierits.

Joints which are nurrow do not necessurily

work well - the sealants cuii onlv ucconiodate
niovenients of about 25% of their owii width.

Where possible. serilunt set into the

thus, works well.


Where seulurits [ire used, defects cuused by tl~e

moulds uhsorbing conipactive efort arid
cuusing eritrapnierit of air arid writer: niust be
filled and a siiituhle primer applied.

Norniul vuriubility of production can also be a

prohleni. Look ut the nianufiicturing dates pre-groding of panels is possible - and
"visucil adjtistnient will avoid local
exceptionul joints (if it was OK for London
Bridge it niiist he acceptable elsewhere!)

Drflerentiul citririg resultingfroni orientation in

tlte stuck can resiilt in iricicciiracies.

Use the snnie .sealant teain throughout the

constrnction. Their pride in their work is S O I J ~ ~
guaruritee of sulisfactoni work.


Computers in construction
Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society


Our man is impressed by computer-aided design techniques,

but hopes that the people in the office fully understand the
implications of their output.

He appreciates the ease with which details can be produced (and

modified) and wishes that revisions could be made on site with just
a click of a mouse!

I t , / .

He is aware'that databases ease the work of the estimator...

and has always done his utmost to work within the rates they set,
as well as meeting the production demanded by the network
experts. However. ..

while realising the economics achieved by computerised stock

control of the product of repetitious processes, such as flooring and
block manufacture, as well as in warehousing and similar tasks...

and noting that many demanding operations - such as comparing

process data in the course of slipforming operations ...

and element checking in precasting - can be computer controlled,

our man is at a loss to know why...

as they are in industry, computers aren't able to predict the lottery

numhers that would transform his role from that of producer to


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

! I


I L,
. .I ,k

The irripact that niicroprocessors ivoiild have ori oiir

indiistry becariie opparerrt with thefirst aritorrratic
batclziry arid iiiuirlg plnrit!

Sirice tlieri aiitoriiaied cirttirg arid beridir!q


arid die skills

of the rriari sprayiyy-trp GRC being

by rohtics, are arrrorg app/icatioris that
have cor$rriied their poteritid.

Nor orily lras C A D revoliiiioriised the draiviry



At tlreforrnworkfabricators, the CAD systerii trot

orily prodrices desigrr and derail.. ,

6irl also coritrols triadiirres iri the works, re-orders

riiaterials arid plaris the iise o f ~ ~ c i i t s !


cor?mil/ed arid recorded checks or1 precasr



With all this, it ioori/dri'~be siirprisirtq tofirid oiir

clrap o r i site 6qyitiriirg to ivoiider iiil~erihe is to be
replaced b y a 'chip'!


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Computers and design

Our man k briefJlirtatio,i with his home PC

had come to an end and, although they were to his way of thinking -part of 'hew
technolog '...

.., he had to admit to a srieaking admiration

f o r the CAD operators he met in his work!
Onefirm had seveii CAD statioris operated
on shifis!

His thoughts went back to the days when

most design arid detail work was done lorighand ...

... when engineers used the techriolog of the

day - slide-rules arid calculators in many
sliapes and sizes - all claiming to get the best
approximatioii to a result!

He only hoped the present-day CAD man

could recognise an approxiniatiori when he
eiicoimtered one.

The last approximutiori our man had met was

while coririectirig up a pipe behveeri silos!

.._such a pleasant chungefroni the

drawings of yesterday, especially in had
weather or exposed conditions.

He thought to himself ' I should Jirid out

more about tablets. layers, overlrrys cud so
on. The way things are going, a little bit of
extra know-how will stand me iri good stead
for theJirttrre '.

Mainl,v, however: he recognised the benefits

of computer output such as handy-sized
drawings (many including the bending


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society


ur man has seen reports produced by experts on all manner of formwork and
falsework matters such as safe loads on props, the development of concrete
pressures, achievement of surface finish, wind and friction loadmg and so on.
These and many other topics previously comprised the folk lore of formwork. H e believes
that the publication of the collective knowledge of such committees must have made the
site a safer place to work.

As well as seeing permissible lift heights change from a few feet to many metres, he has
witnessed the emergence of sophisticated equipment and methods. H e estimates that, as a
result of the adoption of equipment such as table forms, jump forms and slipforms,
outputs per man-hour have increased more than tenfold. Safety, particularly at heights, has
similarly improved.
Much of his work has been simplified -by kickerless construction, for example, and by the
adoption of expanded metal stopends in even the largest lifts of slab and wall. In the
simplest of construction tasks, he is aided by the huge range of accessories such as small
panel systems including ties and spacers as well as disposable forms for use in the ground.


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Setting-out points

Perhaps we may he excused for

metitioning the 3, 4, 5 triangle iri
estuhlishing right-angles!

And the use o f u n equi-marked batten

to divide spaces into equal purls.
These are well known techniques arld
very practical. too.

Perhaps less well known is the ply

square used to describe semi-circles
a given radius and ...


_..the batten to plot arcs of large
radius kriowirig the chord lengtli and

When usirig builder k level and a

board to traii.fer datums. rotate
hoard to average out any
discrepancy in either.

We have seeii checks for square made hy

measuring diagonals! The small figure has
equal diagonals, check side lengths as well!

When setting up datunts. initial and

date your level and record meaning
A record ofirzaccuracies may save
time in months to come.

Thejlewing surface is widely misunderstood,

where one coriter is out ofplurle ofthe other
tliree theii we have aflewing surface. Watch out
-forms and coristructioii are expensive.

With hoppers and mitshrooms rememher

to deal with true lerigths - the splay cut at
X i s determined by 90' cut set out ajkr
top arid bottom bevels have beert struck.

Cones mid caps are easily developed

usirig radii ah and ac - visualise
unrolling slieathirtg until length of top
liiie equals circunference.


Ellipses caii he plotted by intersections of

horizontals and verticals run ji-om points where
comnioii radii cross circunferences of circles bused
on major and miiior axis - otherwise use a tratnmel
with ama and ami marked and travel these points
along vertical and horizontal axes.

Tlie mortar dot 011 concrete improves line

accuracy and the cost of a permuiient opticul
base will ofreri he amply repuid hy ease of
setting out. Provide lockable cover to keep
intruders away!

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Detail: formwork

There's not a lot to say,for the results of (I

planted ' chamfer fillet!

Built-in features. wliile more costly originally,

cast crisper detail and provide grout-tight

Bull-nosed corners can he neatlyforiiied

and the orrisesfilled with aggregate rather
than paste.

Precasters find the extruded plastic or allo,v

sections ideal f o r forming small chamfers.

Featurefillet just blanted' onto tlieforni,face

becomes displaced arid trapped by infiltration
ofpaste but .._

... a secondaiy layer of thin ply or hoard

avoids the problem and provides butt joints
to resist grout. The )>encil' rounds help in
striking operations.

Wherefillet must remain in the coiicretefi)r

sonie tinie, saw kerfing aids eventual

I f square sides clre speciJied to recesses, a

two-piecefornie E . .

... aid.s striking. Half the feature reniairis

fixed to the forni and the reniaiiider is
stripped out as a secondaty operation.

Larger foriners,Jirhricated and bolted to the
forni face using tapped plates or plates with
welded nuts at the concrete/form interface ...

... eau he fieerl

afler inairi form renioval by

reinserting bolts. Thejacking action against
the concrete Juce gently yetjrmly strips
,former: Renieniber end splay or draw!

Detai1er.s can assist in uchieving excellence

b,v masking horizontal joints in striated
work in the shadow of a recess but they
ninst he alert to maintenance of cover


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Kickers 1

Kicker forination is an ersentral .part of" the

constriictioii process. Whenever possible
kickers should be cast monolithic with slabs

Kickers are essential in circular and

geometric work -providing a check 011
accitracy of setting out arid governing line of
fornis above.

Shallow kickers of what would be scrap

concrete form possible points offuiliire.
15Onini + depth of kicker allows correct
coinpaction. Ruled joints should be
included fi a fen tiire of general

Kickers brought to iiniforni level help to

simply$ succeeding lijis.

Depth of kicker provides scope for levelling

Kickers provide restraint. ensure grout-tight
of forni and assist in locating openings.


Kicker blocks set in blinding can he used provide bearing for props and pages

Where coniplicated columns are set on rake,

kickers provide acciirate location and simplify
fornis above.


. .
Siinple cast criiciform concrete blocks..


Space forms arid govern floor zone as well

Providing Jixing for urigle steel kicker



Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Kickers 2

Kicker foriiis coil be siiiiply secured

bv V-slotted ply cleots driveii onto

A plute bolted iiito tie udjoceiit to kicker eusesjbriii


A soc~iidlyconstrircted re-usohle kicker foriii

puys oflwlieii iiioii,v kickers liuve to be foriiied.

steel reiiiuiii us periiiuiieiit foriiiwork.


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Ni bs and corbels

Nibs are to walls as kickers are to slabs they provide grout-tight purchase f o r return
bay formwork ... cross-wall locations

Nibs CUII be simply formed within first layer

of form carcass.

Corbels ofren determine the horizontul

cons/riictionjoint position. Corbels at top of
lift ullow good compuction and control of
sleel location.

In precast arid i n - s i t ~ iconstruction, it is oJen

permissible to insert previously cust corbels
into the main casting.

Corbels in precast elements present

dfjculties in fill.

Rotate the unit to bring corbel to top: mould

must be free to drop away u s urrowed.

JScastface down, mould must allow unit to

slide when form is rota/edfor stripping.

Striking pieces allow the in-situform to be

struck largely by own weight ...

,.. so slow clownfill arid inspect for

Bolted pcids within main form allow corbel

casting without damage to main form. Thiri
p1,v forms template to locate projecting steel.


.__and where spandre1.s spari between


compaction frequently in locality of corbel

and don 'Iforget strippingJllet!

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Cores and formers

Tiniberjilleis ciiid ply diuphrugiiis foriii

economic cores: pins ihrough hoiisecl
buiieii preveiii tiplift. *

Coiicreie blocks loccrie siressed wires: U wruppiiig

polythene or crujk puper conipleies core. *


Meiul pluies locuied ( I ) by ritbber inotrldirigs

(2) by irljlaied iubes, ure eusily collupsed
for recovety *

Sieel iuhes und fubricuied c0re.s renioved hvo hours cfter cusiirigforni cuvities ecoiioniicully fithe is
hvisied to strike. Boih c m be pulled itsirig rutcheibourd mid lever:

Throitgli holes cuii he foriiied usiiig iiniber

bohhiris, dowel reduces size of hole in form
Spiral woirrirl curd iiibe peels from wuriii
greeii coiicreie.

Tiinber,fornier depend.7 on wedgiiig actiori

witliiiiforrii uperture to inuiriiuin shupe.
Eusy to strike.

Fouiii-plusiic-filled po[viheiie iuhe restruined by

siressiiig wires. *
Expuiideleclpolysiyrerie wrupped with plusiic
bourd resists inipuci of pokers. Adequuie

resirairit is esseritiul.

Coricreie blocks w e iridestriictihle. The wruppirig of ihiri e.vpuiided polysiyrerie simplifies release.
niper erisiires ihui block does iioi full ihroirgli sluh ut time ofstriking.

* Puieriied

Oiiejor the iiiriovuior! Root veg shririks oiri US

ciiririg proceeds. Sirgur retards fuce of cuviiy!

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Ramps and intersections

Forms for spiral ramp sofits are dificult, especially

when splayed sofJt is involved.

Set radialb, the trusses resolve the geometry and simplify
shealhirig operations.

Simple standard trusses of timber uiid plv cull he

prefabricated on site or in yard.

Where special unit or table type forms are required,

constnrctiori is eased by assemb1,v over Jiill-size set-out on slab
or plv deck.

Tumiel inlersections with shujis cari present problems of formwork

geometty. Here an oflset intersectiori is set out uwuy from the
actual job. ProJles spot tuririel h i e s relative to section of shaJ

Tumielformers built over projles allow sheuthiiig-sh(~t

lining iiiter.section to he plotted urid shearhing

Chocks generate otherwise difficult-to-generutefairing.

Fairing is sheathed usiiig multi-layers ofthiii ply or


* The uuthor is indebted for this to E

Consdale of Edmimd Nuttall Lid.

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society


4 15-4

On a riuniher ofsite.s, stuir construction
governs overall progress in constructioii

highlighring the need for eurly provisiori

ofthe drawings

Geonietry aiid varying thickness of head

finish are trapsfor the U I I M J U affecting
concrete profile ...


a capuhle sraircuse hand is riecessary

He has experience on his side and niuny

tricks up his sleeve. Keep an eye on the

wuy he achieves support, however!

Machiiied or pressed sections can save tinie

aiid iniprove coricrete profile where it is

use offornis as a right of ~ q ~ , . ,

and the use of reiiforceinent as,footholds!

Alternative nieuiis of uccess should he

Our friend is hest used as a specialisr. moved

fioni job to j o b os he is needed

Precasting offers econoniy in speed as well as

simpifying the inclusion of special finishes,
riles, Iread~s,carborunduni for non-slip

Edge casting eiisures two faces and one

striiig of ex-niould finish, as well as allowing
gang casting about afixed centre f o r m Doli P
forget rheflrrt-lij points by the wa,v!

Site precasting is best carried out where it

provides hospitalwork and where concrete con
he siniply placedfroni the truck,for example.

To avoid rhe prohlenis resuliingf,.oni the


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Circular work, even with all our urniouty of

materiuls and techniques,first sight of the

drurvirigs is oJen startling!

However, we have managed for years using

traditional lined rib arid laggirigforms...

Although we understand thot the Romans

used greut heaps of eurth...

The carpenter has many ways of deuling

with corners arid curves.

Recently we even smv Iiorsed concrete

nioiilds f o r special elenients.

__.timber arid ply for camhers, concrete

for skewed camhers.

Ply or liardboard. a double diugorial hoard

over radial ribs gives double curvature spun steel skeet provides mould liners.

Thin sheet glass-reinforced plastic and

glass-reinforced cement, either used as
standalone materials or backed with
concrete, provide excellent mouldsfor
shuped elements and products.


Modern materials, extruded hollow sectioris

arid polyurethane can he used to cast detail
work. The casting poly allows us tofeature
sphericul sheathing.

At the other end ofthe scale, lightweight

expanded plastic coated or sheatlied witli derise
plastic is great for large voids, transitions, etc.
hiit watch out for Jloration and displacement.

,.. and when it gets real1,v repetitious or

For barrels and arches, the proprietary
supplier provides an economical solutioii ...

complicated we mustri P forget the speciul

formwork supplier with his electronics arid

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Props and propping

Huving seen this x i - l i p recently we thought a

look at props could be helpjiil

Huvirig tuken u close look - we withdrew

to iliink ihe iopic over!

This convinced us ofihe wisdom of our


And this - riuils und re-bar just won ? do

Oiri-ofplumb and eccentricully loaded

props lose about 50% of their cupacity

System props provide a bid! in assiiratice spucing, lacing arid bracing are provided f o r

Common props niiisi be laced and hruced large diuriieter couplers are needed on ouier

Good foundutions are criiical -plenty of

spikes arid whenever possible siipport from
mature concrete.

Pltonb-in one or two props in euch

direciion and eye-in the rest. The well
calibraied eyeball is remarkably acciirate

* See

The jilted pins of special steel niust be used to

enstire that liublished SWL call he swiained.

Always constilt the makers inutiuul. Soinetitnes

the height io which U prop can be closed is as
irnportani as thai to which it can he extended.

Firidly - take advice on striking and easing

props iri tnulii-storey work. You build so quickly
these duy.s that problenis lend io get huili in!*

Forniwork - u guide to good pructice , The Concreie Sociey, 1995


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

striking formwork

OK. So the concrete is OK - what about

the forniwork!

A great deal of lieart-searching goes on over

types of release agents and so on.

Ideallyfornis should he free to drop on

release of ties.

The thin 'dog? tail' wedge, whilst being

irridesirahle in other operations, helps b,v allowing
air in to break the vaciiiini at the forni/concrete

Moirld treatments are best applied as

mist sprays.

Precasters frequently mop off after application

to leave the nierestjilni at the suflace.

Tightjoints mid nice points of form

construction [ire most important to resist
grout infiltration.

Earlv striking (conihined with an approved

curing reginie) avoids hang-ups caused by
shrinkage and swelling.

Rollers provide e.rcellerit applicatorsfor release

agents and returders.

Avoid the use ofcranes in striking ruther

than handling - the man who swings the
block is a danger to hiniselfarid to
others - and the concrete element.


Openings afford ciccessfor wedging

reluctant forms - avoid the pinch
bar though.

Hydraulics to the rescue - severalJirms

market sniull potent jacks which used
strutegically ease the striking imniensely.

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Aluminium forms

A lot of the odvertising niutericil is reminiscent oj

an advert for a well known Irish )ick-nie-iip '.


there k little doiiht that lightnes.s can pay

off- 2 forms can he handled at (I time for

And the size of tribles in

he seen to he believed!

Available systems can be used for both walls

arid floor forms. the .stiff.sections rillow
siihstantial support and tie spcicings.

There :s been lot of disciissiori regrirdirig

the pro :s and con :s of ~ilaininiani.

And of coiirse /lie Aiiiericans mid Canada

huve been iising 'ulli ' f . r years.

They iise chemical release agents to avoid

cind piit 011 a coat of lacquer every
10-12 uses in case of di,fjicult,v

Some of the system cornporient.s are

compatible with timber: Sections include
timherJ7llet.s f o r p(v or shecithirtgJ7.rinring.

Jrriiig pieces rind .substrintiril plates bolted




Circiilrr work can he curried out using the



We 've looked close1,v at sites where altnniniinii

systems have been iisedfor months (in one case
more than a yeor) arid have yet to spot N
dcimaged section. The niaferial is clerin to work
with too.

A hit dfferent to timber where we've seen

men clciniber over piles of short ends tojind
a long lengtli - to clit down to size!

They '11 hove (i job with this olwninitins hope the suw i s a borrowed one.


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Trough and waffle floors

A Concrete Society working party worked

hard to produce a guide ...

Formers are extremely robust although

sometimes almost transparent.

A s to sections and sizes mid the code

requirements - there is however plenty of
scope for specials.

We've seen superb results, from varied depths

of w@'e for e.raniple.

They can be phy.sically designed hut

deflections ure critical rrnd cc117 affect
striking. The specialists have this 'weighedup' of course.

Care is required regarding choice of

rnateria1.s irt those countries which see the

. ..

Uneveri application of striking force cun

jamb formers and cuuse hang-ups.

Excessive local application of release agetit

has been known to cause retcrrdation thus
negating lead allowed 011 former: Control
the application which must be by mist

111 case of sticking very thin wedges allow air

/ o irifiltrcrte arid free former -give it time

The air vent is not a gimmick, air has to

percolate into interface or former sta,vs put.
Don 't forget to tape the vents prior to filling.

Quickstrip is eased in 'traditional ' supports

by providing 1mm+ clearance overjoist
dimension. System supports of course ullow
normal quickstrip action with support at
intersections of ribs.

Rentember to irljorm this chap crboirt care for

equipment, / S l l , O O O of us readers cl0 it the
message must get through!

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GRC formwork

Glass-reinJorced cement permanent forms allow the

designer coitsiderable freedorn as regurd.s te.xture arid

Pre-inspection offornl puriels ensures

satisfactory fii1islie.s to concrete structures
bejbre ariy concrete is placed.

Location of distribution steel is

governed by h0.u stfleners on form

\-=----The use of GRC form punels allows the provision of

special finishes - white cement arid exotic aggregutes
without resorting to through-mixes in horizontal,
vertical mid sloping faces.

PuneIs can be clesignerl to reduce or eliminate

support requirements.

In conjunction with polymer form liner.s,

interesting testure.s can be provided: no rieecl
for lead and draw here!

Eliminution of striking operatiori free.s men jor

more productive work.

... mid QC nieusures using 'bag m i d bucket 'for

As well usformwork, moulr1.sfor precast (and

exumple maintoin adequate control.

GRC) are ided products.

* Guide to GRC perincriieiitformw~~rk.

New edition in prepurution

The GRC punels can be munually

hundled with euse: impact re.sistance is

Munr~acttrreis relatively
straigliqonvard using simple moulds to
generate many form units,,.

A soon-to-be published design manual from the

GRCA * will prove invuluable to specifying

uuthorities, designers and producers.

(2002). See also Permanent forinwork in construction. CIRIA Publication C558.


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Formwork failure

Not all form failures are drarnatic although this is how the author k interest in
formwork came about!

Failures of the less dramatic kind happen

quite a lot - especially in other people :s

.. ..

Quite apart from the initiul urge to do

something about them ...

oh) u ) A L L
Once we recognise the symptonis (such as
local sheathing deflectiori at overlaps) we
cui1 take steps to correct them.

Similar deflections cause nibs under day

joirits and constructionjoints in slabs.
We can overcome the problem by inserting an
a t r a backing member at the joint with
previously cast concrete.

Another old chestnut is the nib criused by

second deflection where we stop-offa pour
part way up N form - an anchor or pigtail in
thejrst part of the lifi secures form.

It 5. amazing how heat (hydration), pressure and

ntoisture cause quiltirig, but then that 5. how we
make bent-wood chairs! Reduce spacing of
backing members.

Stopends rarely get the attention necessuy

to achieve good results. A s much as 60% of
labour can be in stopends and day joints care in design can make substantial savings
and avoid unsightly defects.

A t the risk of being boring we must mention

high incidence offiles caused byflutter
induced by vibration und darkening at corners
cruised by leakage.

Fewforms are seldom quite "correct to line

and level", it k the second layer of carcassirig
which controls line.

A little time in stacking or ruckingforms

between uses can provide r e d econornies in
terms of enhanced reuse.

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Time to get down to some detail! CONCRETE

presents a commentary on the skills employed,
for ever Nfter

Have no fear! Help is available in The

lnstitiition of Strirctitral Engineers and The
Concrete Society publication 'Formwork - a
guide to good practice' ... It's a "good read" for
wet days in the office!



Stopends. seldom designed or detailed,

must sustain the same pressures as the rest
of the form. Deflections here will be
evident on the finished face.

former.s are another key area...
pressrrres from placement build up, causing

I~formationfrom the "Guide with input

... importance of kickers in geometrical arid

from the practical man on site ensure

visirul work, providing locution arid a seal

against grout loss... provided the support is
applied correctly.


attention to critical detuil such as...

Special formwork manufacturer.s have some

neat details f o r sealing joints (A). I n traditional
workfoani strip can be effective (b) ...__
beware displacement. For critical work onepart, moisture-curing sealants are effective (C).

I n Just tracking ond less critical work.

forms may be located employing kickerless techniques ... using proprietaryfittings
(A), />recastblocks in slab (B), spacer.s
(C&D). external plates (E) or plastic
channel spiked to slab (F).

Stopends should be fixed through into

backing members, e.yternal ties support
wide stopends from form carcass. Joint rule
fillets are as effective here as they are at
horizontal joints.

Sheathing deflections con occur at stopeds

located within contirnrous forms, and in slab
construction against previously cast bays. 111
both instances it is unlikely that joints coincide
with backing members. Avoid "curtains" by
inserting extra "noggings

Sheathing must be soiindlyfixed to

bearers, flutter causes upset to vibration,
the resultant line of which can be rerid on
the&rce and may prove to be up to 50mm
deep when the face is tooled.

Of coiirse concrete placenient and vibratory

techniques inlist be matched to the form
design and method ....we will look at this
another time!



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Formwo rk systems

Leavitg his collea~rresto nraintain the wntc/r./or brigs

i n the cotnlniter, oiir man thrrtnl~edthroigh a brochrrre

He rccaalled the rrenr mortal corirl~tendrrred in nsirg

what was ahvays knorvn as traditionalfurmrvork

dcscribiii,y proprieetaryforriru4,rk~irksystems

He ~ r o t ~that
d srcppliers ivould provide proditct
siipport based rrpon experience p i n e d in the course
~Jprestigioirs contracts aboirt the world

Proprietary equipment* he learned, corrld s i g n f i c a d y

redttce the number ofthroirqh ties reqirired. (771is
pleased him os he had experienced some problems in
the past, particrrlarly hen extracting toper ties thin

The cost ofmakii;yformioark ivoirld also be rediiced.

For example, i n circrtlar and tapered iva//iig steel
edyings, soldier menibers,fork arms arid tribes arc iised
in coi~iinctionwith turn biickles so that plyfacinys can
be radinssed to match a template - no more expensive
shaped ribs or rolled sections

1t1 brochrrre illrrstratiotrs, he noted that thefabric of

Althorrglr the dazzling ormoirry of components

available from the catalogne umuld obvioirsly present
him toith plenty of options on site.. .

the technical ii?forination, drawiqs arid method

statements pttblished by the supplier m(fht well
prevent some problem in the coirrse ofstrikirgforms.. .

Bearing in mind his concrete techtiology, oiir man

reckoned that, b y capitalising on the benejts of
proprietary formwork in combination u i t h sound crrring
practice and establishment of striking times r r s i r ~ y
reinperature-inatclled specimens, considerable savings in
time and @rt ivoir/d be achieved onfrctrtre contracts

j o m a canrilever,for instance
Readen will appreciate that our man finds it difficult to identify any specific suppliers equipment
unless, that is, he can see the colour of the paint



proprietary formumrk permits srrbstontial sections

to be handled without dismantliirg beriveerr uses, thus

reducirg work content and speedirg the construction
cycle. The ivorkiig plalforms travel too

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Falsework 1

A greui deal ofhord committee work...

... and some considerable public comment

preceded.. .
._.the ~JUh~iCaliOn
ofthe new

Code BS 5975: 1982 Falsework.


It rnukes gripping reading - udvising umong

other things...

._.and emerge some time laier with a

sertsible formwork design!

.- .
... the uppointineitt of a falsework

eo-ordinuior directly responsible io

the site ntunuger:

The Code seems to be devised so that a

suitable yiraliJed persoit could
disappeur into a site office...

The Code points out ihai every detuil of

the sclieme must be considered...

... and decisions made on method.



The muterials are usually second-hand and so

need partictilar1,v carefiil inspection.

We are told tkui falsework failures ure ofren

sideways und that we should identify the load
patterns and take steps io contain them.

Oh, and that'sjusi the beginning.


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Falsework 2

Reverting to the Code, Falsework BS

5975: 1982, we are reminded ofsafe
working loads for adjustable props ...

.._are warned against drilling milituty trestles ...

I-_..and on ensuring the stability (and

qualiry) of individual members.

Puzzle corner? Figure 25 dealing with

concrete pressures gives plenty of food
f o r thought.

We are also warned ofthe dungers of

impactfroni floating objects and the
need to avoid a build-up of debris.



Table 31 raises some iniportant points on

uristiffened webs acting as columns.

Figure 10 is representative o f a lot ofjobs

we've seen - even as f a r as the 'Kamikaze
dumper driver:

Regarding impact loading, we are advised that

the larger the load, the more carefully it is likely
to be placed.

.._are given useful guidance on wind

forces.. .

No, not an advert for 'Juws 11' but a source of

information on wave forces f o r the advanced
falsework designer:

This rings a bell somewhere - a warning bell


There is also a warning about the eflects

of vibration!

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Falsework 3

The code BS 5975: 1982 reminds us to

check extensions at the foot of

and at the head!

Expeviencing the accumulation of debris from

frrie cleaning/boiler scalirtg wliicli inay have a

clensit,v of 1600kg/m' (and thus impose

substantial loading on platforms)...

LIS to seek a glass of the

well known cider advertised in Figure
28A! (Oh no, it is a coninient on rotational
and positiorial restraint).

... may pronipt

It wus nice to see our old friend Figure 13:

the code would be incomplete without it...

.._or failure to tighten N bolt could l e d to

local instability that might endanger the


The comment on spilluge adding I.Skg/ni/ o

the niass of tube mqv provide a solution to the
age-old problem of where the estiniator .s 5%
w s t e went!

so much nicer thuii this uttenipt!

We have found the prototype for the map the

~veathermurishows us on TV (notice how
eveiything revolves around London).

We tliougkt 'Bailey Bridge Fatigue ' was ail

+ D until we
read page 59!
army complaint warrunting M

The code stresses the iniportance of details otnissiori o f a bolt or wedge...

All irreverence aside. however; there can he

no doubt that the code provides a sound basis
f i r those designing, constructing and


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Formwork and falsework 1

With safety In mind, our ntan reflected upon

the nature of the work of the steeplejack
Nothing. he thotrght Could induce me
to go up there! But, remembering some
of the hazards encountered at site and
highlighted in The Concrete Society?
best-selling guide -

such as formwork detail that had escaped

the eagle eyes of the foreman carpenter. ..

out-of-plumb props and sirbstandard pins,

the despair of the site engineer...

rrnbraced and unlaced supports, not in

accordance with the proprietary suppliers
manual ...

support taken from poor foundations,

to be discovered, we hope, in the
pre-concreting check ...

changes in placing method. made without

reference to the planning engineer and the
formwork designer...

and striking procedures other than those

set down in the method statement -

he thought that, all things considered, he

might be safer up a chimney. ..

then he thought again!

Formwork - a guide to good practice. 2nd Edition. The Concrete Society. 1995


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Formwork and falsework 2

Wheir forniruork a i d falseruork corisrstcd i m r r i l y of ncres of

p/ywood aird stmidnrds of tiriiber sripported by n seii of props,

of t h e

iiiaterriil ruas rirorrhoirdled hetiueeii uses.

A/thorrgb most coristrrictioirs iiiere robitst a i d strrtctrtrally sortid.

riinriy left irtirch to be desired. The iiioir on the 106 drew O I I Iiis
csperieiice h i t ofteii ium rtriniurrre of t h e prcssrrres mid forces
dClW/lJped lU/JCIl COlIClefeZlWS /)/ilced.

With falsework, the cnpncity of props ruas siidly overestiriiated.

Apart frotit forriiiirg air nccident bazrrrd, props tbnt ruere
ecce,itrically loaded or wer-c.uteridcd caitsed
prohleiirs of displacemerit nird loss of litre and level.

Fai/rtrrs focused the nttottioii of reports, stniidnrds mid codes, mid

csseritid cl~eckirigovd ccrtificntioir tuere ititrodrtcetl. As n resitlt, tue
1iotii haiic skilled, sofc ciird efficieirt use ( J / O vast rouge of materinls mid
techriiqiies. Spoce perittits orily o fciv e.uniirples h t t it is cielrr thnt ...

... iiieclJniiicnl haiidlitig 110s iiicrensed oritpiits. as IJns slipforiiiiiig particrtlnrly jiinipfor~ni~ig.
iulieru iritegral platforms improve access
arid rvorkiiig coitditioris.

Speciol fiirislJes. oiice so costly to produce. call he foriiied simply

mid efficieiitly froiir II iiariety of h e r s . s(iirre hespoke to meet a
desigriers reqiirreiireirts. Brit thcy coil be I J ~ L W ~so
, Iroiidlr11g
teckriiqircs require stirdy

T l ~ foriiiruorkeri
bogey - crtrveti oiid sh~petiiuork, oirce a iiiiijor
item of cost - call I I O I U Be prodiiced ecorrorrrically rtsitiy oire of
several systems that permit geometry to be achieved with a titrir
of tr screiu.

L o ~ ~ k i t rntg illrtstrntiorrs of iiiajor comtrrtctioirs. oitr r m v i gets t/JC

fee/iirg that formuork mid falseivork desigil often preseirt grenter
prob/eiiis thrr those ericoiiirtercd 111 desigriiitg the stritctitre itself!


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Formwork and falsework 3

Originallx forntinork iiias the province o f die cwiteri~r- ii,itb toolkit

liriiited t o a liamnier, saw md rinilhi~r.L a t o thc iimrk rleiioli~e~l
the cnr/)enter, perrnitted t o iise nll the tools ofbis trirdc.

The forrnruorker arid the inoiilrhiiiker rrirn lit ~ ~ c - i r r mi y d finisl1. T h e

latter works to an accrirasy 6ettcr t h i iI n i n i in tlic prodnCtion of
many elements, sirch as tirnnel segrnerrt prodric-tiori.

Alt/migli qirillity arid acrriracy of finished concrete reflect the

of skills arid teclinology employed, it has to be
renzenz/~ercdtlmt the concrcter has a major impact o n the finished

W e n a particiilarly coniplicatctl picre of forrriicwk is reiliiircd"

(occasionally the geometry c m i 6e akin t o that of hoot or ship/riii/ifin,y)
the s k i h of a//are tested. /nnoiialiorrs can sinip/i/) tbc mristriiction tiisk.

Ue/nii> groiinil. systenis /or forming groirnd beiinis irsing expanded

plastic-s are light t o handle, easy t o install and thern~allyefficient.
A h i e growid...

proprietary systems can droniiitically

A ukit t o the Conrrete ~ooks/Jop

at iuiuii~.concretebookshop.cor?i

rcdirce r-ysle times. /.i7rgc.-

panel systerns and jiiinpfornis rcdirce the need for fi7lseiuork imi otlJer
siipport, mid incorporate access plrrtforrrrs.

relied ti rueiilth of pirblzcatioiis proiiidiiig iriforniation oiid giridance

/or tbc forin arid falsework designer, sirpplier and constriictor.

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n his travels, our man has seen historic examples of decaying, spalled concrete
and rusted, exposed steel resulting from poor concrete, poor compaction, poor
location of steel, or where spacers have been omitted. They made him feel
uncomfortable! He is more aware than ever that he is responsible for ensuring that cages
are properly secured and supported to avoid displacement during concreting.

Much of the steel he now uses is fabricated into cages before deliver): couplers are a boon
in making longer bars easier to handle and. the fabricated sets of starter bars and shear
assemblies speed the whole construction process.

He sees greater use of fabrics and has used stainless steel reinforcement in critical locations:
he has even taken delivery of fibre-reinforced concrete and knows that fibres are used in
cladding production and in many of the drainage wares he installs.
Schedules and details have improved considerably during h s time on site. Ths, coupled
with the availabhty of an immense range of well designed accessories such as chairs,
spacers, couplers and tie systems, has simplified the whole process of ensuring the correct
cover and maintaining reinforcement position.


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Reinforcement 1


passiirg, rue shorrld iiwirtioir that our iirair npplarrds the detailer
/)rodrtces scliedrrles that are legible a i d riser frieirdly iii srte



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Reinforcement 2

I t rrrny he CA R E S approved .ctcr/, ritt orid hcvrt irr

qrrality nssirrcd r~ir~di~i~irrs..
. oirr rrrcrr rnii soorr
i i p s ~ ttliot Iroivcvcr.. . ivntclr~fiirtlrnt lntc lood!. . .



irisrollrd with rlrr corrcrt spncrrs

rri locnrc
nrrd rrioirrtnirr h a t iriiportnrrt rover. Irr case
c$rxposirrr, iwd cover cmr bejrrsr ns Irir/iortnrrt


* Scc t h e Coiicrcte Society Iccport Tl<.OlKi

'Stand:ird reinforcrd concrete dctnil<'

** Scc t l i r Concrrtc Society Report CS. 1 0 1 'Spccrs

for reinforced



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Reinforcement 3

Watch that appropriute spacers

are used - stools for vertical
location, rings for horizontal.

Home-made spacers often

inadvertently break rules of

Ferrules are usejirl to ensure

location. Visual check can be made
before making good.

Cage labels left projecting

confirm use of correct

Ember or bar lacers avoid

formation offtinnels in top
surface of Ift.

Ply tentplute governs

projecting bar location in
oversize hole through form.

Fillets ease location of bars

cranked back to forms for
subsequent use as sturters.

Count bars ~ ~ t i i a l l y
reinstated: they can be
easily missed.

Early erection of formwork with

formers in position provides template
for steel fixers.

Staggered joints iii vertical bars ensure flow

of work and avoid peak steel-fixing demand
in any one liji.

Dummy stopends ensure projecting bars

are accurately located.

A brush with grout avoids rust and the

A bar at the threshold of precast panel will

staining of cancrete by runs of rusty


avoid cracks in leg. Small prestress applied

to wires in head helps.

Plastic cups or rag 'Jags' may avoid

serious injury where steel projects in
access ways.


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Reinforcement 4

Poor tyirig arid lack of spacers arid chuirs can result

iti defects, sonie of which onl,v appear years after

... therei really nothing quite like the inan

with the nips in his hutid!

Etid cover is ofleli overlooked 0s is the

transferred viu mould oil. We have eveii seen
where the tying wire has rusted!

SpiruI ties atid clips, while siniple to use,

c m slip on niild steel atid after all ...

We rorely see the ties illustrated, so here goes .... A, the

'slash ' tie/ (reversed at A,) suitable for itiJill: B, the
'hairpin ' excelleiit for key bars; C, 'crowti ' f o r setting up
arid springy bars

. .
Caged steel should alwa,vs be handled by spreader
heam oti bur: especially if the steelfirer foremari is a
big chap!

Beware the late loud of steel which

is burred o f i static1urd.s also are
boutid to fall.

... D.the 'ring slash ' ond E, 'ring hairpin ',

prevent sideways displucenient of bar utid F:
the splice tie. at least two per splice.

Avoid the *.specialist' who uses U tube to correct

diverted steel. The otily sutisjicton, way is to use a


Tarturi mesh simply cropped and folded yields

excelletit cages, ideal for export work.

Control that butidled steel: they always say

it is f o r the tiext bay _..hut!

Perhaps the cheapmt piece ofplatit, yet one

of the most useful - the steel rack. Tube and
concrete are usuallyfreecv available. Failing
thut, use sleepers atid but:


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Reinforcement, fittings and accessories

Our m a n rcmeinbers when most reinforcing steel was crrt m d h i t on

site, ofien in ncdiineiitury shelters. \Vithorrt progrurnineti ctittiirg there
was a degree ofroostage ...

... and 011 cold winter inornirigs. ends of steel - possibly bent round
trrandre/s of the tvrong nidius or, dare we say, siibstontiard steel t U O t l / d fly OCIOSS f/Je bar ShCIp!

Some designs

appeared to be based on the Birdcage principle: i f a

bird rnight escape froin the cage,then inore reinforrrrnent IUOS

Basic skills /taue clionged little, though todays operatives are more
likely to have rrndergone fortrial training - essential as reinforcernent
hecornes inore ~ o p h i s t i c ~ ~ tiendhylirid,
construction for instance.

Today, spiral ties. clips and tuelding of suitable steel are freqnetitly
einployed in cage prodrrction. Traditionally. on contracts large orid
small, steel fixers have tied criges nsing ...

... the hiirpintie A (esccllent for key 60rs), the crown tie B (for
setting-tip and tying springy liars), and the s l ~ ~ ltie
i C (for infill ties).


The ring slash tie D and ring hairpin E prevent 6ar displacetnent.
Splices require it least two splice ties E olthorrgh t o d a y i splices are
ofteii swaged connections or wiesltanic-a/ couplers.
* See nlso I.ooking a t


practically, COXCRETE,January 1999, May 2000 ,ind &larch 1001.

t iimards ratinrwlising rritrfnrre,nort fnr


With reuiscd shape codes and rationalised steel dctailf, few problems
wise with shapc and locarioit. Fortrmotely. our inan rarely has to
reqrrest altcrations to prepared cages!

cnncrefc sfnirlimx Rrpurr of n Cnncretc Society \Vwking Party.

Technical Report 53. The Concrrtc Society. Crowrhonie, 1999. 40pp.

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Reinforcement and accessories

throiigh h i s past copies of CONCRETE. our moir iroted
the mnuy iiiformatiue articles oir reirrforcemerit. Some p i p hiid
CUCll fCatlIrCd his t/Jfllf&'/ttS011 tbe SltbieCt.

Mariy irinouatioits had been described. srrch as the desigil economics,

sltorteiied cycle time aitd rediiced form reqtciremeirts resrtlting from
the cotitrolled applicatiori of prestress t o floor slabs.

Of course, the greatest i ~ i n o ~ a t ihris

~ ~ itor he the rritrodiictrorr of
BS 8666: 2000, eucii thorigh our mmi feels h e may miss some of
the I I Preferred Shapes that have been removed, along rvrth s o i i t ~
of the Other Shapes h e had met in the past.

From b i point
of uieiu, some of the best imiouatioris resrrlted from
site stiidies mtd irrprrt from acadenrin, siich as stiid rail systems that
simplify coliimn/slab connectioirs while beiirg quickly atid easily
installed *.

Reading descriptiom of irouel eqiripment employed iir the precast

industry to lay-rip composites, he iuas remiirded of the vast range
of materials, iir additioir to steel, auailnble for coricrete

As he read on, he came across illustratioirs of accessories he was

already using ...and some that Ite wortld uery mtrch like to me!

iV/Jile obu~orts/yextremely effective, the retro-reiirforcemerit of

slabs atid beams rising fibre reiiiforced polymer composites
reniiitded him of attempts at domestic DIY decoratioii.

T ~ Jarticles
generally coirfirmed that methods atid materials that
provide .advantages arid economies are eirthiisiastically accepted by
the concrete industry.


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Cast-in fixings

Plated holts in conical holes allowf o r variation in

setiing-out holding down bolis. Expanded nieial
tubes provide excellent hole former:

Avoid "wriggled in" sockeis. Centering from

forms ensures good qiruliiy concrete
surrounding socket.

Poorly located sockets cause bending in bolts

and possible failure.

For accurate locaiion of cast-in fixings locate

from dairim marked on all forms.

Projecting plates orfittings can be protected

againsi vibration in or out ofform by positive
holting to sribstantial bracket.

Cast-in holt.s,for lifting should be linked to

main sieel to avoid tearing action when units
are placed.

When custing-in column guards, siair nosings

etc. brighily painted wing nuis and washers
ensure removal prior to striking.

Although dovetuil batten is easily fixed by
nuiling to forni.face. nails form extreme
hozard afier stripping.

Steel bars support plasiic conduit againsi

displacement during casting process. Draw strings
'prove" conduit and corks prevent grout infiltration
during jointing processes.

A seasonal note - remember that lifting hooks

are more brittle in cold weuther; take greui, care
in slinging io avoid "working" the bars.

Sticky rape or po~vsiyrerieavoids grorri

infillrution when casting-in tnusofivydots

Also in cold weather it is advisable to fill


sockets, holes, checkouis arid pockets

rviih 'koly" to avoid frost damage.

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Locating inclusions

Misalignment arid inaccuracy can be very

frustrating .._

service iristallatio,i su@er.s.

D U ~ U Ionforms
help with correct location.



It may help $(with perniission) groups of

formers ure combined into U larger opening.

Cast-in Jixings do have their problems

.. although traditional kchniques overcome

normal variations (now called the
'characteristicaccuracy 7 of concrete*.

Cliannel inserts give freedom in one direction

and, when conibined with surjke-fixed slotted
back section, completefreedom ipi the plane of
the surface.

Counter-slotted brackets allow ,some

adjustment. Cast serrated brackets allow
adjustrnerit on assembly and restrained
movenient thereajier:

ThroughJixirigs niade to hardened concrete

solve some problems of location...

.. and in lighter applications good accuracy is

achieved by powder-actuated Jixings.
accurately positioned through attachment.

The accuracy of the mechanical engineer can

be matched by motrntingfixings onto a castin light sacrificial jig.

The patent foani embedded techniques do

much the same for starter bars: check the
number of bars ajier reinstatenient!

*BS 5606: 1978 Code ofpractice for accuracy in building


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society



There are those anioiig us who can remeniber

'shuttering' that was tied with windlassed wire
- and very effective it was too!


There's still a lot to be said for ordiiiary tie

rods, perhaps using a barrel spacer or set in a
spiral wound tube or concrete spacer.

Snap ties used with a proprietary systeni

provide speed and effficiericy. The 'official'
tool does a niirch betterjob than the claw
hammer by the way!

Coils allow us to clinib theformwork, one side

at a time, giviiig steel fixers easy access. It is
advisable to keep the 'clip' to a serisihle
minimum, ensuring a tight joint yet avoiding
upset to plumb.

Coils permit us to go back and re-use

strategically placed arichorages when
infilling, etc.

The coil tie is of course a positive tie arid
spacer and the bolt is simple to clean. Large
washers are desirable.

Anchors are invaluable in single-sided

work and...

... avoid 'curtains' where we must cast a part lifr

to accommodate a beam or other intersecting


Taper ties are good in water-retaining

situations, correctly oriented to the water side
(watch the maii who withdraws them,


Substantial ties with fast threads can be

thrust through theform ... can the 'she-bolt ' assembly that combines a

spacing and tying action. The nice big plate
washers reduce bearing problems and the angle
plates allow ease of battered wall construction.

A neat fill is iniportant and systernatic

spacing of ties improves the overall
appearance of a j o b well dune.

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Reinforcement accessories

Use of loop type

beyond belief!


has improved our man's site-tied cages

Steel kickers have improved cycle times, arid allow final adj~rstment
of form position.

Joint formers incorporating continuity steel avoid forests of

projecting steel, any o f which can take a sleeve out of a jacket
(or possibly an eye out o f a socket!).

Bar couplers resolve 0 lot O f prohler?is, nlthorfgh their use with

cranked bars calls for care 111 select~on!

Experience has taught our matt t o use the correct type of spacer
for a specific applications - chairs for vertical support and ring o r
wheel type for horizontal location - and that ...

he midst ensure stainless steel wire I S used iti site-produced

concrete spacers to avoid annealed tying wire in the all-iinportant

H e understands that proprietary chairs ensure correct location

(and spacing) o f fabric in slabs and that 'lattice girders', which are
similar but of heauier construction, combine top spacer and
transverse reinforcement economically.

H e appreciates the excellent support that proprietary strip spacers

provide /or fabric, partrcrrlarly in narrow or awkward areas, but
expects practice will be needed in bending them to the more
complicated shapes!


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society


.../ I P hr7d errcurrritered f i l m arid cloth tuheir Zenrdrairr coirtrolled

perrrtealility forrriirrrer (CPFJ ruas rued. The /iiiis/i tuns dcirse arrrl
rvrtrtdly Olciiiish-free. /-/eium reriiirrtl(~iof other rrioteriiils irrcorporirtirrg
c l o t h iirid fihrcs.. .

At the triirc. he thorfght tltere r r ~ i r s tbe N better way! He was right! 7iiilay
rrrec/iarrisntIiirr aiid nrrtormtrorr are eiirployed in the production of
elepirrt iirorrlds of coirsistort qirnlity /or irrrtltiple re-rise!

CK C cvrrrpositcs d s o allirw dcsigrtcrs arid rrrairtifactitrcrs to detail oiid

proilircc thiri-sectiori iirchitcctrrral elcnreirts with highly articirlated srrrfaces.
their light rucight prooidrrig srrBstantial ceoiroriries i?i trailsport arui handlirig

C K C rnanirfactirrcrs provide a ruide raiige of prodircts - srrcli os

nrchitectrrral feirtrrres, service drrcts. nnd field driirniige elcriiciits - thnl
coriipare fnvorrriibly I ~ cost
orid /ierforrmrrcc with iilteririrtirie r~r~iterinls,


Our iirair hod see?i fibre-reinforced polyiriers (FRI) fiibric used i n the
retro-reirrfi)rL.ciiieiitarid protectiorz of strrrctriral clenierrts and as plates t o
protect iirrd strcngtheii circitlar ctrlii117rrs,w i t h groiil iiijectcd into the
irrrrrtrlrrs. IVhnt next. IJC roondercd!

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society


he ready supply of quality assured concrete from the local ready-mixed concrete
depot has made starthng differences to our mans work. Enquiries about delivery
status no longer elicit the reply The truck just left the depot! Instead, he can have
a hard copy of the intimate details of the batch printed by the computer that has controlled
the whole process. He is also aware that, in the event of breakdown, the plant operator can
get a fix online from the manufacturer.
Cubco man can just remember when compaction was controlled by the ganger who
regulated the pouring of concrete from prams brought to the point of placement by a
hoist. On critical work, these prams were fitted with egg-timers and any concrete not placed
by the specified expiry time was scrapped! (He is amazed that these days concrete can be
chemically sent to sleep until it can be placed during the next shift!)
More general use of cranes, particularly the tower crane, revitalised the whole handling
process and the next development was the concrete pump. The first pump our man met
was a monstrous wheel, set up on land adjacent to the site and squirting concrete through
a massive static six-inch pipeline. These days, his pump arrives on site in the morning and
by the afternoon can have left, having placed 200 cubic metres or so of concrete.
From pump or skip, placing concrete - whether ordinary concrete, flowing, fibre reinforced, foamed or what have you - demands skill. And whatever the means of handhng, our
man knows he is the final link in the chain for acheving acceptable well-compacted concrete.


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Preparing to concrete

First of all let k eiisure that those involved

understand the problenis and the likely
result of oniissions.

Take a look at the drmvirigs mid schedules

they the latest? (and are they

- are

Be warried, there is a traditioiiul ganie of Snakes

und Ladders which goes oti at the bottom cartier
of niatiy drawings! - doli t be caught out.

What has theformwork designer got in mind,

rtiuybe we cati help with ideas arid local detail.

Planning techniques (atid unplanned

changes in method) can vitally ulter rate of


The concrete techiiologist has a contributiori

too - he cati advise on tlie eflects of
admixtures atid their likely impact oti tlie
rlieology oftlie mix!

The concrete pump is a poterit tool and demarids

good uccessf o r distribirtion. Full heod
conditions can otherwise develop in minutes.

No doubt the weuther will have sonie

iriJlirence on aperutions too!

Good accessfi>rplant and concrete supply is

criticul to the concreting operation. lf we C N I I
get these trucks sorted out by next month we
will tuke a look at the pre-concretitig check!

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

The pre-concrete check 1

Are f o r m "correct io line and level"? Does

the carcass maintain line? Watchfor distoriion
due to overtightened ties

Is the sheathing of siritable standurd free

from holes and burns?

Have gaskets or tapes been installed at

sheathing joints?

Has the steel been correctly locaied and

ure forms free of debris, clippings, etc?

What nhoirt those props? Straight, plunib,

hruced, taken to suituhle foundation?

Is the approved oil or pariing agent

applied trni$ornily?

Have proprieiaty clips, etc. been used

correctl,v? Has top offorni been
stgened with walers?

Are ties at correct centres horizontally

and veriically? Are the,v complete?

Were those "tentporaty works




Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

The pre-concrete check 2

Of coiirse the check i m s t continire during

the concreting operation.

This is when niovenients arid displacentents

We watch for signs of distress!

tuke place. wedges slip. screws and bolts

unwind etc.

Particularly where local deflections cause

difjiculty in fitting doors, at kickers. and
where second dejlections o c c u ~

We go hack and check on the placing


In case ofproblents. slow dowri or stop

the Jill...

Insert butteit at top offill to form straight

line,,. If it :r bad send for the fire hrigude!


And watch for spofs where oiir bracing wus

iiot too ne11 thought out!

And theri prepare for the quality discussions

which must ensue!

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Production, plant and equipment

There is nothing so frustrating as a breakdorun, tohatever the

equipment and ruherever it occurs ...

... particularly where concrete supplies on site are concerned - and

especially in mid-pour!

Apart from frayed relationships, breakdowns can be a potenri~11

source of accidents when haste over-rules commonsense. Safety
engineers beware!

Fortrrnatel): attitudes to marntenance, so essential i n a u o l d ~ t ~ g

lmakdoruns, have changed. Instead of using elboru grease, the
lttmp hammer, or the trtnibled half-brrck so beloved of old ...

... eqiri/ment is n o w most easily cleaued by hrgl~-pressurespray or

by treating surfaces with chemical release paints or coatings.

Usually there is access t o a sensible stock of wearing parts, or

standby equipment on tap. In marry breakdowns, ]IT (just it7
time) techniqrres would be I N S (just not srtfficielrt)!

Preventive maintettance is generally employed, and the experienced

plant fitter with his prognostic abilities is always alert to sounds or
vibrations that may signal problems.

Today, breakdoiuns are ofteti resolved by fitters or electricians,

prompted via a laptop on line to the manufacturer at home or
abroad. Indeed, rather than tuinditrg nuts and bolts, they are more
likely to replace a card in the control system!


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Construction joints

Scabbling is a tedious and

sometimes destructive process.

The traditionalist k bucketof

grout can weaken the

Joggleforniers entrap air arid water

leaving unsound concrete at critical

Joggles congest mouth ofjorni

rendering cornpaction dfjcult.


Fornis to frrrther lifkcan cause

damage adjocent to joggle.

Modern lacquer-type retarders

provide an excellent surface to
cast against.

Early age washing and brushing

is sintple and positive.

This rope trick ensures a good

key. Rope i s j x e d with lost head
nails to stopends and is
transferred at striking.

Grit-blasting provides un
e.wellent joint sirrjace - take
core over safely aspects.

Expanded metal is simple and

cheap to use - fi leaving it in place
observe rides of cover

The ideal joint surface is free of laitance

and presents clean aggregate faces for
bonding purposes. Sound joints have
been achieved up to 100 days.

Ear1,v removal offornis eases

joint preparation - precaslers
do it all the time.

Poor conipaction in first cast causes loss
of workability adjacent to joint and thus
substandard compaction in fresh lift or
bay. Supplement surface effort by using
poker locally.


Thoughtful joint location

siniplifies construction.

Provision ofjxings adjacent to

construction joint eases form
j x i n g - use ties or additional
inserts - watch cover!

Sound detailing puts joints in

the shade!

Production and handling


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society



eiisirrc n corrtirricoiis supply ofrorirrete c?fcorisisteii/

qrioliry nrrd ~r~orknbility
01 the roristrrrctiori site., ,

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Placing concrete 1

Check the forms, propping, bracing, etc

Beware the teniporaty prop used in
Remember access, withou/ which placement
and conipaction will be skimped.

reduces clean-up time and reduces form


Ensure that vibrators penetrate previous

layer: few people realise limited radius of
activity of poker:
Air bubbles cease. surface glazes, and
sonietinies sound changes when good
compaction is achieved.



A similar technique will ensure fill under

large voids. Watchfor displacement offornier:

Systernaticfilling ofbatteries, from one end

only will avoid production of thick and thin



. c


Fill at one Tide ofwrridoiv openings ( I ) until

concrete surges at A , only then begirifill at



Retarder (subject to approval) will avoid

possibility ofdty joints between layers in
deep fi1I.v.

Retarder (subject to approval) avoids

differential deflections with deep fills.

Removal of workability fines on completion

offill, and replacement with good fresh
concrete vibrated in, ensures a sound su f o c e
ready for brushing or washing.

Surplus concrete $titled with lifring hook

can be removed and speedily and cheaply
themorning after the night before!

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Placing concrete 2

Cureful joini preparaiion is aii essential puri

of ihe process - achieved by wash arid brush,
grit blasi or reiardeK

Wuier bur ($specified) niiist be secured

agciinsi displaceinerit - the strrfiice fixing
types have a loi io off;?.

External vibrators niust be curefully locuied

io ensure energv is delivered where ii is
required - in ihe concrete.

easily ,nude Ji.ririgs ure esseniial vibraioty action niay be tuned by angling the
axis of ihe irnii.

.. . .. .___
A planned fill eiisures ihe absence of voids

... the latter is a hazard in congested sections.

and bridging ...

Secure yet

I n precasting we used io doctor the shovels

to avoid choking the rnou1d.s.

Wiih permission, ii is worih iakirig out a ihird of

ihe coarse uggregaie front the firsi baich. The
posie ihen coats skips arid equipnierii as well as
proviriirigfiries to improve ihe joint - e.~cessis
broiighi up the forin during conipciction.

We ure siill likely io need ihe ver.saiile poker,

poriicularly ivhere ihe forin is ininiobilised by
bolting to previously cast concreie - at the
sides and the kicker!

Of course, skip design is critical: a nice chuie.

a ivheel to uid conirol of discharge and a
vibratorfor low slunip inaierial.

The use of fivo skips uncouples

replacement froni supply - but watch rate
o f j i l andsiudy the efleci of admixtures on
form pressirres.

Mortiior the forins ihroirghout ihe placing

operation: ihey seldom fail wiihoui
warning ...

... und, ihoirgh we don t like depriving ihe

lads of iheir exercise, a quick wash down on
completion is nitrcli kinder to ihe plan,!


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society


Consideriiig the tuay in iuhich concrete

was mixed historically, euen oii major

and how it is still sometimes mixed today

(thankfitlly only on miiior contracts) ...

oitr man is altuays impressed by the scale

of modern hatching plants.

coiitracts.. .

Gone are the traditional tools of the

mixer driver:

As iuell as accirrafely measitring quantities

of aggregates. cement, water arid
admixture dosage, the eqitipment provides
priiited records of the actital amoutits of
materials in each batch.

iioiuarlays, airthorised m i x prescrrptions

prouided by the qiralrty eiigiiieer. ..

are eittered itito calibrated control

eqiripment that woirld challeiige eueii
nit airline pilot.

1ii the euerit of pro/~lems,

some eqrripmeitt
can be remotely monitored from rhe
marirrfacturers works, prouidiiig oii-line
analysis and resolution of system and
equipment f(l1tlts.

With all this technology at his fingertips,

the Datchermait is regarded by oirr men
as one of the most important members
of the team.

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Concrete mixing and batching plant

Relaxing on holiday, prompted ~ J YLI

surcharge of local aggregate, and noting the
excellent cohesive properties obtained using
optintitin water content, thorough ntr.urng
and sound compaction, our inan 1 thoughts
turned t o batcl~irtgand mixing.

He went on to consider h o w everything

is in faavoitr of qualify results nowadays. He
had been shown around a modern plant
producing quality assured concrete, with
operations controlled by efficient
equipment suck as...

... and he knew that, in precast works,

mixes from a programmed autoniated plant
coitld he called u p front a console at the
placing station ... high-quality concrete
being deliuered speedily to the spot by
bullet skip ...

HLthCJllg/JfOf tbC pClSt. l l l < 7 l l l f 7 / / ) ~S/ll/tltlg

tons (yrs, they i i w e tons i n those days) of
aggregates ... with the odd bag of cement
thrown i n .

Hardly surprising, he tborrgbt,

Tlmt results occasionally left something
t o Oe desired!

... LI coinputer conruining

tbe inix recipes

providing a record of the actual
quantities in each hatch, rnicrowaue
ineasureinent of water content and nnntic
diagram indicating the state of each piece
of equipinent.

/-le had heard that, in special circumstances,

concrete was being supplied from a fully
self-contained tnol~ilelmtching plant
dedicated to a specific m i x ...

... and, on his site. quality assured product

N o wonder that the resident engineer, and

even the general foretnun, seemed happier
with his work. The results of developinents
in concrete production technology are quite
nragical, he thought, especially when
1 supply the finishing touch!


was being delivered direct to the point of



Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Ready-mixed concrete 1

Oitr innit tiiriied his thoughts to readyniixed coiicrete.... H e tuns aware that the
foiiiidatioris for the frarne ouer the road
had beeii poirred iii a day iisirig FIND 3
(for Class 3 Sitlfate coitditroris)....

...a i i d the floor /ayers 011the srte next to

...that the brick

his ruere pitttiiig away acres (well

hrct(ires) of RC40 iuearirig sitrftice
coiicrete each iueek. arid Iiardly gettirig
dirty i i i the process ....

rfoiiirr the

claddi~lgto the brrildrrig

road was proceediug apace
iisiiig ready-riiixed riiortnr....the coilsistericy
Of Sli[JfJ/)f O f l l l f l t e r i ~ (CqttOtillg
Desigiiotioii 111) retarded NS specified,
fiiidirig fauoiir with the bricklayers ....

...that the iimteriol for backfilliirg a / / tbose

treiicbes nroiiiid the toroir cirriued by
tritck, arid that idtell the egg ions
iritroriiiced to the soitd/ceiiieiit mix aiid
agitutioii coiitiriiteri, oitt canie iriiniaciilate
foamed coiicrete to deiisity/strerigth
specificatioii.. ..

...aiid was delivered

drivers.. ..



tinle by helpfill

...the products beiizg inoiiitored, at plarlt

orid site, by srtita6/?~qualified techrriciiliis

And ~ l t h o i i g hGraiid National mix

(12:2!) had been OK historically, how
long iri the light o f a l l the auailable tecbiiology, he asked hiinself, was be destined
to striiggle oii, operating mid maiiitaining
Ciibcos iiiaior piece of plaiit?

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Ready-mixed concrete 2


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Ready-mixed concrete 3

Oirr nian has bee11 impressed by the ready-mixed concrete inditstry j

intpact on the scale atid pace of concrete placernet~t.Qitality-assrired
concrete and nrortars are readily available for portrs ruhether for large
contracts, involving /trrndreds of cirl~icinctres of nrateri~7l"...

or simill jobs arlliiig for the odd inetre or trvo. ( A consideral~le

anroirrrt is tieliuered to the DIY nrm4et. nirtclt of iubich is Itandled
i n uery s n r d l l~arrorus!)

I-laitding eqiiilvirent assists i n iirectiiig constrrrction cltallenges ...

and conveyors as iuell as suine rentarkable cotnbinatio~iso f
eqitipnrent! '/%isonc i s (1 printp, 'I crane and a work platform!'

Sitpplies of ready-rnixed concrete are esseittial where, particiilarly i n

oitr cities, site space is liniited.


Personiiel are trained in testing and techniqires to aid the niaintenairce

of qirdIty. Field operotiues are instrricted in concrete practice and some
sirpport pcrsonnel t o advanced concrete tecltnology level, and ...

optinirtwi resrrlts are acltiwed iultere contractors inclrrdc the reodyrni.reti concrete srrpplier's coircrete technologist as ivell as the location
inamger iulten pliinriing a contract.

Receipt of instrrrctions for despatch are well-controlled processes

carried out in close cooperation with the site. Enquiries nborrt
deliveries no longer bring forth that fatal message of old 'It's jirst
leauing the depot, Giiu'. Indeed, ...

oiir inan has great respect for the despatchers and triickers who, night
and day and in all weathers, ensnre that the 'grey stuff' arrives O I Z
schedrrle helpiirg them to meet prodrrctioii targets.

"See: TWIGG, C. More cnncr~'tefor M o r e I.ondon. CONCKETE. Val.35. N0.2 , Febru:iry 2001, pp.12-14.

t'lh:inks ro Ellior Equipmcnr Cwnpany, USA

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Ready-mixed concrete 4

Having read the recent RCB publication *, our mun is

impressed by the huge pours achievable with pump-placed
readv-niixed concrete and ...

... /ius rioied ihat, at the other end of ihe scale, U number of
precusiers have rediiced overheads and plant maintenance costs
by using ready-mi.rerl concrete.

Ever innovative, Ciibco has capitalised on ihe uvailabiliiy of

discrere qiiuntities of the qualify-ussured niaierial to improve
its product!

On site. our man Ieanied ihai. alilioiigh many of his colleagires

were prepured to direci a driver io a hardstmiding. _._

... they were likely to disappear in the eveni of[Jrob/ems.

He is ulwuys concerned about whether ihe people pumping

concreie ut 40m3/li know where ihe other end is!

While admiring the ready-mixer k grusp of teclinology. he wonders

how resident engineers greet the tecliniqrre of de-aciivating and
then re-aciivaiing a loudfor use Iaier!

Finally. lie lias concluded that the yarn about a driverfilling a

competitor :s car with concrete is entirely apoctyphal.

* Ready Mixed Concreie Bureau. The benefits of ready-mixed concrete... ilte essential ingredient. Crowthorne, Briiish Cenient Association,


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Slab construction

There :s a lot of discussion about the casting

of concrete slabs ...

So we consulted our resident specialist

regarding key points in successfirl

Dowel bars must he located parallel to the

concrete face and steel. where required,
acciirate1,v positioned within substuntial forms

Concrete sliotild he placed, not dumped,

and tramping over the fresh concrete is
itof coridricive to uniform compaction.
Steel is placed (when used) on top of the
lower layer of concrete.

For trowelling, the concrete should bear the

jitll body weight applied via the fingertips
without leaving an impression ... and

And wetting down (using water!),

particularly some hours on, avoided like
the plague!


The surcharge should be uniform in

thickness, a surcharge batten will help here.

When theflat of the hand comes

away clean from the contact with
the surface.

A curing ntentbrane will be beneficial- it is

upplied as soon as the surface moisture has


Hand floating may be carried out with either U

skip float or hand J l o ~ tPower
float treatment
m i s t he carefiil1,v tinted ifit is not to develop
into art e.rcavatiot1...

In achieving the Jinish. the use of driers

(centenl) nttist be eschewed.

Failing all else a plastic sheet will give the

concrete a chance to ntature in confort and grow
old gracefully.

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... oirr i n r i n is irnprcsscd by todriy's lizrgc-area porrrs i i i concrete slab

~ o i t ~ t r ~ r c t iruith
o n , ruIJrit seem t o him like acres of sirperflat slob,
cast in one f i s t operatioiz.

Aware ofthe ua/~reof lasers iti the /irocess and beorirrg i n niind the
reduced denionci for screen rnils, stopeiids aiid jobit formers, / J C
thinks it ntay 6e time to disciirti his hitherto trirsty leucL

thus far he hris only 6een trusted with a 6~11//oat. H E prefers this
to the old sleeue float but has control pro6lenis from time to time!

Thinking of controls, he IJOS secrtt comrcte paucrs i n applications

srrclt as ciirport ~ o ~ r ~ t r i r c t iestate
o n , roads. paueinerits nitd even
g a r q e forecorrrts, ofteii 6eitig /~atid/edi~rechaiiicnlly...

... arid can uisiralise the time ruheit remote-controlled iiiachrlies rurll
take on fzrlly arrtoniated pauer placenierit.

* see page 21. Contprcters.


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Hot- and cold-weather concreting

... orir r i i a i r

Aware of the rrasty ways iir which omissioir of crrre driririg

extrerires of heat aiid drying, as iuell ns freezirrg, cnrr rlffect the
coticrete that helps earri his lioiitg (arid his holidays)...

forriid hiiirself, from the cciiiifort of his deckchoir.

rorrrprrririg procedrircs for cnririg for coiicrcte ioith those of caring
for the h~iiiiniifrrirm!

In the past, essetitinl rrroistrire hns beerr contairied by entployirig a


covering of sand ...

c ~ i i d i t i ( i regitlntcd
the rise of toitirrg, ccirefrilly auoidiiry

lrr hot weather, provisioii of a steady slipply of nroistrire had

ninintaiired the desired hiinrid coriditions ... had rrdrrrirristratiorr of ice to coritrol temperatitre ...

...which, in critical situations, meded ntowitoriiig and control.

The ireed to wrap r i p to preserve residual herrt as tenipcratirres fell

inrpressed oir our ~rzarrthat, conte the tointer, he wortld take care to
wrap his fresh coricrete eqiially carefiilly!


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Winter working

It may seem a little uriseusoriable to bring u p

the topic at this time ofyear ...

Not to mention those technical discussions

regarding striking limes, for example.

... but now is the time to plan these days when

the car won r sturt ...

However, before we junip into the deep end and

start steaming everything in sight ._.

... arid eveii the mixer refuses to perform.

... let ilook at the code recommendation mid.

for e.rample, the maturity concept* _..

... establishing a goad correlation

between maturi/y and strength!

Make sure tliere is heat ut die mixer

Keep the warmtli in the concrete, however we

trunsport it.

Wrap up theforms, avoiding draughts arid

chilling winds.

* CPllO: Part!:

Invest in sonic Quickstrip equipment and

formalise your system of sturiding supports.
Things should proceed as normal.

Even the odd electric blanket might not go

amiss -for the benefit ofthe concrete, of

1972. p.117. Neville, A.M. Properties of concrete. 1995, p.304.


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Concrete in adverse conditions

Our man sat arid pondered the iopic of

concrete iri extreme conditions of location,
exposure and temperature arid whai had been
learned in practice.

... insulate ihefornis, arid ifmcessauy heat

them, rioting ihat air siruciures have been used
io advantage as shelters for corisiruciion,
concreting and curing* (wiih ihe tower crane
padded to avoid punctures!).

Our man also remembered that, whatever the

conditions, care must be iuken over test
specimens, iesier and test equipment to ensure
reproducabiliiy arid repeatabiliiy arid
respectableresults and ihui...

Nexi winter, he decided, I will take inore

care of ihe concreie. be more carefiil uboui
ihe choice of adiiii.riiires mid use iiiore airentrained concrete...

In ihe changeable weaiher we class as Spring,

he wisrfiilly reflecied ihui in the deseris of ihis
world if is good practice to shade the sieel and
the concrete as well as ihe workers, and in hot
climaies to employ ice or chilled wuier io cool
ihe n i r .

... when construction or repair works (ire

needed in extreme locuiions, ihe method

siaiemeiit and published proceduresfor
access should clearLv describe safe riieiliod.s
wiih siiiiuble protection f i r all irivolved.

* Moor, K . , Woodhead, R. and Tuiile H. American concrete lnsiitute. SBM-2 (91). pp.109-Ill.
**Fookes. PG. Concrete in the Middle East. Concrete. 1993. pp.14- 20.


_..use sieani or hot water in ilie mix, as well

as heating the aggregaies, order hoi coiicreie

the suppliec nioniior ihe temperatures

mid control the curiiig cycle accordingly ..


He had read** iliey also have to avoid dust

(a). mixing arid curing waier (b). and
groundwuier (e) that carry salts, uri)~of
which otherwise cause subsiaridard

On reflection. our nian decided ihat the UK

climate generally, and the liiile cloud thai
seems to accoriipany hini wherever he works.
are really quite kind to his concreie!

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Placing, compacting and caring

It dawned upoti our inati that achieueinerit of soirrid con~piictiort

begiris not on site h i t dirririg the design, specificatioii arid coritract
planning.. ,

... os agreenieiit is reached oborct permissible lift heights,

coiistrirction joint location and formation, arid also ...

... aboiit sensible reiriforcermnt selection, desigiz and detailing".

Such aw agreeinetit is iieeded t o allow positive fi.riiig arid locatioii as
tuell as access for uihratory gear arid to resist displacement ditriiig
eirsuing operations.

H e realised that the forniwork has t o be robttst, grout-tight aiid

resistant to the pressures developiiig as concrete is placed.

Provided with the essential, steady supply of concrete, desigried

for the coniponent under construction and deliuered t o the point
ofplaci11g ...

... a crew trairied iii the safe iise of appropriate eqciipmeizt and
systeinatic placirig techriiques, with good access to all parts of
the form ...

... atid a&

... and asssiining care and atteiztiori in stripping the forms and the
curing process, the result will be concrete exhibiting all the signs
of good coinpaction. I n other words, a job to be proud of!

to recognise when good compactioit is being achieved

(such as cessation of air bubbles, glazing of the surface, a line of
paste at the coticretelform interface and possildy a change in the
sound of the equipnient)...


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Self-compacting concrete

On hearing that in Scandinavia one man had placed 900m of

self-compacting concrete in a day, our man was prompted to
consider his own experience with new materials.

Flowing concrete was a great innovation, althorrgh he remembered his

first encounter with the material. I t certainly flowed on that occasion
- in at one end of the forms, out at the other!

Encounters with fibre-reinforced concrete had provided some

excitement until fibre-dispensing systems were improved: now,
blown fibres prevent agglomeration.

He had been impressed on learning the benefits o f high-strength

concrete, such as extra rentablespace and less concrete to handle.
Thinking about further benefits offered by self-compacting concrete,

... he realised that its adoption could reduce stints on the poker
and that in the factory there would be fewer external vibrators to
lug about.

He knew precasters had taken the material on board, as it was

excellent in linear production, flowed well through congested
reinforcement and reduced production times. He could foresee that ...

... form and mould displacement, poker burns and other defects
caused by vibratory effort would be things of the past. The material
woiild eliminate such problems and prove popular with designers
and steel-fixers ...

... who could rely on reinforcement remaining correctly located,

undisturbed by compactive effort. He is convinced that, with
experience, self-compacting concrete will prove to be as great an
asset in construction as have the other types!


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ur man is delighted that, thanks to work by organisations such as The Concrete

Society in cooperation with major contractors, he is no longer plagued by
imprecise specification. He is aware that specifiers can now see and quote
established samples, thus avoiding the ambiguity of historic specifications such as those
that called for fair-faced concrete.
He has noted that most designers have an improved understandmg of the need to detail
concrete finishes with their weathering characteristics in mind, and that they appreciate the
need for large samples and even full-size mock-ups of particularly demanding finishes for
prestigious contracts.
Many new finishes have been devised in our mans time. He has seen aggregate exposed
by tooling, by abrasive blasting and water jetting. The retarders he now uses are safe, drying
on application, being activated by contact with concrete. The latest development he has
encountered is a means of transferring larger-than-life photographs to the concrete
surface as in photogravure.
Cubco man is well aware of the underlying truth concerning all concrete work, namely that
the operative or operator leaves on surfaces, tooled, featured, produced either chemically
or manually, a stark commentary on his abilities for years to come.

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Surface finishes 1

Sirccessful jiriishes demand uniformity of exposure, tooling and texture.

Poor application of retarder will show on surface - use roller-spray or

correct brush.

Sheathing and panel joints will reproduce on concrete face - minimise

defects by sound, tight Jxings.

Random tooling should he avoided. Controlled tooling avoids


Tooling taken to arrises results in uneven work and damage - margins

assist with uniformity.

Access problems will be revealed by inconsistency of work - always

provide adequate work plalforms.

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Surface finishes 2

Provide and constantly refer to sizeable pre-production samples to

avoid disappointment.

The scale offeatures arid details is critical- larger detail is cheaper

and easier to produce satisfactorily

Small defects are inevitable! Specfy repair techniques which have

been proven over the years.

Consistency offill and control of tie location improve plane surfaces.

Avoid quilting. check f o r design, form condition, and rate of J21,

Pre-coating or pre-conditioning will avoid shading due to differential


Board onto board won 'r go - indented feature allows close

form/concrete joint - essential in heavily grained work.

A mild acid wash appliedfroni the top downwards over thoroughly

wetted aggregate surface will add lustre to the finish.


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Surface finishes 3

- .Visual concrete provides a lasting comnientary on

the ability afall those concerned in design, production arid construction.. . Success depends on the
skills of:. .

formwork design, construction and erection. Maintenance of accuracy and cover call f o r the best ofpracticol arid supervisory skills.

hut curing techniques may leave something to be

desired. Thank goodnessfor the humid British clinrate!



- .<-

the spec$er arid mix designer.. . w i p / o y i i ~ qspecified

inatevials udiicli have beeii proprrly soriipled arid

Surh details as choice arid application drelease

a p i t require carefir1 attention, as do all aspects (If:.

Handling techniques have to he stirdied too, i\Jigel

Mansell has a lot to aristrvrfor!

Of come, placement and compaction presentjeui

problems to the well trained team!. ..

Concrete characteristics are critiral throughout, as

well as appropriate uiorkability in the placing and
compaction stages, developrnerit of strength to resist
freezing and nierhariical darnage is iinportarit at
striking time!

A capable trainer could put our chaps wise to many

other very practical aspects., , more next time!

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Surface finishes 4

Fornis leaned against freshly cast concrete muy cause pernianent mark.\
because of dflerentiul curing.

Siniilar defkcts can result from stacking precust units on wider

tiniber battens - use least possible contact - plastic or concrete

Keep .satnples of approved aggregates to avoid seasonal cllunges in

shupe and colour:

That brown rriark rnay he steel, p)~rite.s,adniixture. rust.from

pictlog.~,etc. Investigate cureful1,v before reniediul work.

Opening forniers must be sealed to avoid grout leakage criusing staining watch f o r fornier rotation aboutfiwings. also lifr due to concreie pressure.

Joint rules at stopends ensure straight-line joints. Additional studding

ensures positive s/ieathing/concrete contact und av0id.s curtain.^ '.

When exposing concrete to considerable (Iepth, increase concrete

cover accordingly. Rust inay not be actual reinforcing steel hut
siniply scale and dust transferred vici oil ontoforin.

For tricks of the fiormvork trucle, see the section on forinwork arid
falsework. p p . 23-46.

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Surface finishes 5


Tlrnr ojerr-speciJlird irrri&rrriity oJfirrislr is djfficrrlt

f u nchieve: irie kriuiii of tirore tlinrr 40 fnctors iuhich
nflicr rlre resrrlrs - rerripernrrrre, rriis clrnrocteristics,
tiiiiirrg ofoperntiuris, etc.. .

Fillets n ) ~ f o m r i i ~ rrrntgiris
iriill preserve nrrises.
Quirks ur ritsricntior? strips 1)) assist at clrnrFrs of
testirre. Alloiimce ririrsr be r?rnde-fiir tlre.fnct tlrnt
vnlirnble cuvercrete is reitroved irr the touliiig prucess.

riot the lenst are eryurrorriic corrsiderntiorls.

Our irrnrr

linsritjrll currrrul over the tool ivlietr reacliiqq or

stoopiirg.,, best #or[ is flyplied b r t i u e e ~s/ioirlder
orid krree level.. , good access is critical.

ibfntry uJtlie-fnerors cnrr be deterrriirred, n i i d colttrolled, ijnll pnrties agrre uti stnrrdnrds by itreoris <$
n tirodel or trinl porrel os reciiirirrierrdd irr Fimiwurk - a grridr 10 good practice+

* Forinwork - n guide to good practice. Joint Comiiiittcc of The Collcrctc Socirty . l i d


The In\titutlon of Structural Eiigineerr

Tlierr, wirlr o sorrrrd supply qfcoricrete, placed to

the vibrator it? sirbstaiirial, tightforiris at n p o d rote
qffill, were ivell O H rlie way to success!

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Surface finishes 6

Used a lot in America, especially on tilt-up

construction, polythene sheet over stones on U
base casts an interesting feature finish.

(1) A carved or routered hoardforms a

mould f o r casting polyurethane liners. (2)
The liner with pierced ply backing can
then be screw-fixed to form (3).

Erne taken in removingfinsfront Douglas Fir

pays off in providing niuny boardmarked
castings. A good mould sealer is essential.

Face-up precasting allows expression of

feutirres of aggregate - depth of wash
accentuates stones.

Stones settle againsi mould base and present

valuef o r money -grade of retarder governs
exposure in face-down casting.

Fix feature formers for striaiions betweeri

ply fillets to present grout-tight face to

An advantage offace-lip casting is instant


Expect sparsity of aggregate at mould sides

and against in-situ forms. External vibrators
are particularly liable to cause this.

A recent problem - cast in brick-facings are

too good! - the bricklayer humoursthe top
ofthe brick, precusters place face down and
equalise inequalities. Mask infill in shadow.

Reinember to avoid details that prevertr

chosen aggregate from filling corners.
Chamfers and rounds help here - also
choose aggregate size carefully!

Poorlyfixed sheathing niay cause lines of

high intensity offines. Introduce backing
member at joint and double upfixings.

Do, do, do provide physical key, either integral

or in-built, resined, stainless pins.


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Fixing to concrete

Ear defenders and goggles should be

used f o r directfixing work. Also work in
badly ventilated spaces should be
N voided.

There is afising for evevythirig these

days. although high strength concrete
can cause some problems.

Penetration depth in concrete will govern

strength offixing - distance from edges is


Concrete provides a lot of surprises - this is not

a most pernianent arrangenient.
Whenfixing to pre-tensioned concrete
elements a look at the end of the unit will
help to establish fixing location.

Lines offixings can cause problems!

< p i
To get a souridfixing using drilled
holes, the hole must be ofthe correct
dianieter arid depth as recommended
by the nianirficturer ....

... and at right angles to the surface.

Check for reinforcing positions to avoid

damage to the tip of the drill and possibility of
interference with anchor expansion.

Follow the maker k reconimendations

regarding torque - weve met the fellow

Trialfixings are essential when important

Jsings are concerned. The niunufacturer k
representative has a much simpler device for
pro0f testing!

Ideally the Jixing should be between and

below steel, spaced to avoid upset
between adjacent fixings.

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Surface retarders

Surface retardem simplifi the achievement of

exposed uggregate concrete of acceptable
visual standard.s. Consistent workability and
care with adnii.rtirres is, however: e.s.seritial.

Make sure that the corituiner is thoroirghly

stirred - a mechanical niixer would help,

Avoid leaving the container uncovered.

Solvents cari evaporate away - sonie are
flammable too.

Protect coated surfaces J?om weather - we are

prortiised a waterproof returder sooii.

Apply evenly with CLEAN roller or brush to

previously seuled surfaces.

Take care that the concrete gang are

instructed iri placing techniques arid realise
the need f o r carejirl work.


Avoid the "belt-it-in technique which scufls

the retarder coat and watch for those big


Use the same people to brush away retarded

paste and fines - high pressure water or air
and water is ideal.

Don Pfiiiish up reading the instructions as a

last resort when all else has failed!


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Architectural concrete

O u r man is impressed by the range of

concrete finishes available t o the designer...
such as the polished finish, the result of
filling, grinding, filling and polishing by
the precaster...

He noted the recent developments in

abrasive and water jetting, particttlarly the
possibilities these offer designers for
emphasising form arid texture. rue11 as emerging in-situ flooring

techniques 171 Scandinavia where pigmented
concretes are placed successively into
previously hardened concrete laid in
predetermined patterns before a final
grinding when all is hard ...

He knows, of course, that the current

generation of colour-coded snrface
retarders provide accurate control of depth
of exposure and can be used on any form
surface, and that ...


He had beeri impressed by the use of

precast ferro-cement elements in
prestigious buildings ...


...and, at the other end of the spectrum,

exposed aggregate partels used in American
tilt-up construction, employing 200mm
Stone cast using the traditional sand-bed
technique - spectacular!

...where the stark structctral integrity of

concrete is t o be expressed, permeable
formzuork ensures a dense durable face.

...and had seen 'magical' uses of

glass-reinforced concrete, particttlarly in
the Middle East in building enclosrrres, sun
screens and similar applications.

Above all, he is well aware that none of

these finishes could be achieved without
appropriate skills and training and proper
investment in equipment.

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Concrete surfaces

As soon as our men read the specrficatioii,

they soirglit out a copy of Forinwork - a
guide to good practice *, where they found
commentaty ..

... on the economics ofJorniwork, noting that

inuppropriate sirrfacefinishes feature heavily
among detuils sucli as corbels. variatioris in
slab soffits. wall heights and column centres,
box-outs arid inserts, in ortversely cffecting
ecorioni,v of production.

The guide also contaiiis irlforniatiori orifiriishes

iriclirdirig Specialfiiiislies Cubco:s
specialities! Uifortunaiely, in the past. they
have experienced difjcrrltj~in interpreting some
specrficatioris iri this category.

Follo~virigJirr/herstir& of the
recommeridations iii the guide, however;
there is lit/le doubt that our team will in
Jitture use trial pariels und establish saniple
standards at site early in each coritract, arid
match them in subseqrrent work.

O w nieii were reminded ofthe need for carejrl

selection of release ageiits in the pur~suitof
good surface Jiiiish, as well US care iii applying
.sprLiys on site. Havirig tliirs consulted the
Oracle,our men j. thoirgghts turned to
alternative surJucefinishes that they might offe~:

Toolirig... producing a liigli-qualityfiiiishi then

knocking offcrll sorts of spots - seeins N
destructive process! Althotrgh it is oJen seen as
a wrry of improving poor surfaces, oJen more
blemishes w i l l he exposed as tooling proceeds.
lii /his case, plrin margins would have protected
tlie urrisesfrom our nian :s at/ack!

Striated concrefe and exposed aggregu/e.s using

Of coiirse, where really .specialJiiislies such as

stone mid brick faces are required, oirr man
realised that the precaster: with his mot10
precasters do it lying down. can siniply
produce eridle.s.s varieties offinish.

Abrasive blasting. particularly tlie hrushblast finish is IieIpJirl in avoidirig crazing

brit there are a whole lot of regulations to
he observed and care to he taken ifour men
are to live to a ripe old age! 111 the field,
high-pressure water jetting arid wuterboriie
abrasive techniques are proving pop~lar:

* Formwork - a guide to good practice. 2nd Edition.

nrrfiice retarders continire to provide simple,

economic arid practical nieuiis ofprodircing

interesting strflaces that werrther well. Liners
are very popirlur and controlled permeability
niatericrls ure making a huge impact on
indirstty, especiully as they improve
covercrete qiruliy.


The Concrete Society. 1995.


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Maintaining concrete finishes

Our man has known for a while that, although he sometimes has
problems bonding things to concrete, his colleagues have little
difficulty in the matter!

Mud or clay stains are most frequently encountered and he hoses

these off at tbe earliest possible moment.

Many stains respond to dilute acid applied to a wetted surface.

from the top down ... for which he dons the correct protective
clothing, goggles and - importantly - an effective mnsk.

Some stains respond to abmsiues, air-adabrasive sprays, or

water jetting ._.

brit really difficult, local blemishes may require poitlticing nnd/or

steam cleaning ... reminiscent of early medical treatments.

Stitbborti stains may call for specialist attention. Our man never
experiences a shortage of recommended remedies!

Of course, the best ways to reduce maintenance problems are to

protect the surfaces dirritig constrirction and ...

incorporate textured concrete surfaces to deter vandals.


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Protecting concrete


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Cleaning concrete

_..11 fiiiled

coping joint. gasket or flashing,

the geometry of a feature sloruing the
prrssrlge of tuutcr causing deposits of dirt.("
Delects shoitki 6e rectified 6efore airy
remedial ruork.

First/)!, It 1s CSSeIftifllto eSfflb/iS/JI U h i l t the

pro6lem is. Is it rust, pyrites, bitnnien ...
oil? I s it from ofitside or from w i t h i n t h e
concrete? Only tuheri the cause is
estahlished can the remedial work begin...
perhaps it is time t o call in an expert!

There are plenty of cl~ettricalsfor use in

cleaning concrete. Some present safety
problems or may upset later treatments ....
Best t o stick to proven materials.
Unliased advice is available from
trade associations.'zJ

Manrrfactrrrers worn thiit uapours from

some chernicif/ cleririing agents inay attack
neorby surfaces, ond srnsibly aduise tes/ing
a small sample area

Sometimes the oldest remedies do the trick ...

dilute acid applied to wet concrete, ruasked
o/f with copious amounts of water.
Correct protective wear is essential - a full
face niask with the correct cartridges
installed! Lightweight masks do not
protect against fumes.

Abrasiue blasting, although extremely

effective for cleaning fine textures is
operator-sensitive, and ...

... tooling, used to remove heavy

Water jetting or a comhiiration of water

arid ahrasive seems to be the kitrdest

contamination, is both operator-sensitive

and concrete-sensitive arid may reveal
further prohlems!

( 1 ) Precast concrete cladding. Ed H.P.J.Taylor. London, Edward Arnold.

(2) Removal of stains and growths from concrete. Crowthorne,
British Cement Association. Appearance Matters Series, No.5


treatment /or niost 'ailments'and

usually produces the desired result.
O n completion, it is time to consider
coating or sealing, parricrrlarly ruhere
cover has been reduced.

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Skilled design ofJilce andjcuture can

eiisnre that weathering or ugeing enhances
the appearance of U building.

Joints in flashing or other building details

may cuiise discoloration of concrete hand
courses, panels or beams by directing water

When we consider the variety of conditions 10

which a structure is subjected it is not
surprising that different weathering patterns


Reeded surfaces and modular details

provide preferential paths crnd localise

Rate of water movement and point of

discharge are critical to consistency of



This may occur on a non-modular basis as

d o v e or where windows or curtain walling
cause concentrated movement of dirty water
- then the marks may be modular:





Some detailsformalize the weathering

process and add to the visual effect.
The effects of mini environnients are offen
upparent at returns in elevations and
corners of the slructure.

Reeded or striated, concrete directs the

water in the way the designer intends.

Horizontal surfaces allow dust to collect and

upset consistency ofJnish.

We all have something to contribute from

previous experience!

Exposed aggregate and lightly ground or

etched concrete. have a pretty good track
record and it k advisable to make the selection
on the hasis ofjnishes which have proved
sutisfactory in the local environment.

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Repairs and remedial work

OK, so we have all ltad trouble with bad contpaction Ultd

duinaged carrier.s. How can we repuir these effectively?

Where the duniage is structural, cortstrlt the engineer as to hest nietliod of repair:
Cut buck concrete to uvoid feather edges and supplement the steel with or
dowel bars. Chentical fixirigs ure irsejiil.

Punch in structural concrete nti,~using

ntechnr~icalhaininer or caulking tool.

Most important - ensure correct

-~irsirtg water, hessian or curing
contpound. Now we are ready for the
finishing operation.

Clean the concrete surfaces, provide sound

forniwork suitably strutted into position, saturate
the concrete and allow the surface to dty

Sieve the fine material atsd use muterial pa.ssing

he 600 nticron sieve - coarser muterial tnay be
used if limeslone. Use a I:2X cementtsand mix.

Tlte marble is front 'wash-stand' or the float is

cast on a sheet of glass.

Having stippled i n an approved

bondrrtg agent, apply the mortar tnrx

We have thus avoided the repair made with

Fnishing material' so hazardous in
precasting and the special contpound that
leaves 'repairs' suspended on threads afier a
f e w months.

Dress in to a tightfinish using a piece of

ntarble or U centerit float.
(Acknowledgements to H.J. White. C&CA.)

Our repairs will withstand a.ssault with a

blunt instrument (an offcut of 25mm bar)
and will ring like a bell when struck!

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society


uch production and construction includes potentially hazardous operations.

Many thousands of tonnes of steel and concrete are placed and poured daily
involving the strihng and erection of huge quantities of formwork and
falsework. In the past 25 years, there has been a massive change in attitude to safety in the
workplace. In his early days in the industry, safety appeared to our man to be the last item
on any agenda, almost an afterthought!
He knows that safety is now a paramount consideration right from the planning stage.
Training at all levels has instilled in managers, supervisors and operatives awareness that
care and consideration for workforce safety promotes higher quality of product and
improved outputs. Designers and estimators build safety into their calculations and
employers provide equipment, clothing and fachties to promote a safety culture on site and
in works. Safety considerations are now an essential aspect of construction and production


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

We once knew a man in the block industry who

lifted I 1 tons ofpallets every day. ..

., until someone told hini what he lifted in a

day! He demanded his cards and money and

A lot of lifting depends on stance. *

Chin in, but looking ones height (the chin

tucked in elevates head, straightens neck,
relieves back and shoulder muscles and
helps breathing). Try it!

Foot position is very important. ( I ) Too

close - lack of balance, (2) Onefoot
pointed - good balance, (3) Toofar apart!

These hand positions distribute work among

several muscles. Straight arms are important.

Balance is everything - lifting out of and

over things causes endless damage.

A balanced one-handed lift aided by force

applied using other hand and arm could be
better i f applicable.

Again chin in, use body weight -possibly

shoulder as well -front foot is ready to check

Having lifted it. then what? 63% of reportable

accidents result from people falling or being
fallen upon!

Pushing is difficult to carry out well.


The managers responsibility for safety. London, The Industrial Sociev, 1979.

Fold fingers conEfortubly around weight to

apply utmost pressure easily.

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Lifting equipment

Probably the most economic ~ttachmentis by

using throirgli-holes-pins be good fit and
well secured.

The rnostfreyuent source ofproblein is the

eye bolt - best avoided.

Adjirstable spreader bars ensure correct

upplication of force to cast-in lifting fittings
rind cater for units with difserently located
centres of gruvity.

Spreader bars are essential for long members,

avoiding ihe tendency f o r the ends to wunt io

Articirlated spreader bars allow U vuriety of

sluhs to be handled.

A simple rocking beam caters for elenients

where lifting hooks w e other ikun concyclic.

Special brackets rnuy be required to ensure

cladding elements hang in a manner that allows
insertion of gaskets. arid so on. in erection.

Ii seenis like .sciencefiction but lijiing of

plunks in multiples offive or si.x has speeded
irp erection on a riirniher of sites.

Really heavy elen~entsdenland trunnions or

cast-in plute connections.

Beware the 7 tonne syndrome . No niatter what

it says on thefitting, the lifting capacity of any
aitachrnertt is a function of concrete strength at
the time oflfting.

The ungle between slings dererntines /lie

tensile force in those slirig.s: inset - ilie
ntukings of disaster!

The National Federation of Birilding Trades

Entployers Manual Con.struction Safety
published by BAS Munugemerit Services
provides U weullh oJuseJirl inforination.


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society


Common law has established the rights of

the worker, i.e. safe fellow workers ...
... and, safe method of working.

Safe place of work

And of course we have all attended

lectures on the subject.

However, some points come home more

forcibly than others. personal accidents..
Or accidents tofrie1id.Y

Accidents are never planned,

The outconie certainly not intended.

Often quite innocent people are involved ...

Conscientious people working where they

have been told to work using the approved

Some also cotitrihute to their own disaster.

A l l of which makes it more imperative to keep

at the top of the list!

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Sitesafe 83

Whether architect or de.sigrier.

.._engineet; drcrrrghtsnian or detrriler:

truinee itinnager, chuin boy.

subcontrucior: form worker, fulseworker: _.


Clerk of Works. Resideni Engirieer..

... cstirnutor or prodircrioti



... gerierul foreniaii

Sikw~fe83 deniand.s our supporr.

... conirrrct manager, peripuiefic supervisor:

... o r one oftlie

the rest of

coimtless ~houscriidswhich include



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Moving loads

All chains, ropes and lifiing gear must be

marked wiih some means of identification.
registered and S. W L . indicated.

Spreader bars are essential in hundling long

elenietits, they overconie problems wiih
'odd-leg' trniis.

Balance h e m s overconie the problems

otherwise preseni where lifiing loops etc. are

Be carejirl- ihe lifiing capacity of a loop

socket, stud or what-have-you is a fiinciion of
the strengih of the concrete i n which it is
eni bedded!

A sintple liffirtg arrangenient utilising

Ensure ihat ihe nature and ihe mass ofthe lifi

isjrlly understood - /his situation has arisen
in practice.

Outriggers should be soundly based and

away from edges ofexcavaliori - check ihat
they are fully extended -you'll need a crane
io locate ihe big ones.

Ropes must be vertical at time oflfiing!

A good general rule is never pick anything up

manually or niechanically uniil a place has

been prepared


set it down!

- __ -

Loads can be 'inched' (or is it millimetred!)

using a Tirfor onto a convenient anchor:
keniledge or lump of concrete with suitable hook.

7 02

Patent flat jacks can be slipped into tight spots

to move missive loads uccuraiely - 5 io 10
uses can be obtained. Shaped rnetal plaies
transmit force

through holes in concrete. Eitsure fiited bars

are used with washers and pins.

Sand jacks are worth considering; whilsi the

ruw niaterials are freely availuble ihey areii f
used as ojeri as ihe,v niight be.

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Muiritairiing a cheerfit1and frieridly approach

helps to get the best out ofpeople ...

After all theyare riot responsible for rill your


Although they might sometimes he


At all costs resist the temptation to wrap things

round iiecks.
You vegot to show, ho+o,where rindI when sometimes often!

These driys it seems it .i.just not enough to say

what you want.

It is worth remembering some men work best if

left alone.

Others need rather more attention.

As is help with other problems where the goals

are much the same.

It goes without saying the admonition shou

a private matteK

A useful point of contact for all is that of

safety where a commori goal is shared.

And that a little public praise is a good



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As he is above our line ofsight, we might

forget the considerable contribution made by
the crane driver ...

.._and the competent banksman!

Good communications are, of course,



The driver b e y e view is goodfor spotting


In passing - stacking beams, piles, bar and

linear stock normal to the travel provides a
bonus in terms of swept area.

Watch how they are .stacked, however. Check

location and number of battens.

On the smaller scale. air hoists make f o r

speedy handling ...

_..and a simple monorail improves

Pendant controls free a man to join the

production team.

Problems of overlap can be eased by

strategically placed rail and bogeys.

Areas of intensive activity can have

supplementary gantry coverage - or he
supplied by fast skip or bullet.


Remember that, until air percolates the

mouWconcrete interface, stripping an element
from afixed base is akin to testing the
equipment to destruction!

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Crane communications

Best mid safest results come from using

recommended signals* ...
Hoist (clenchfist for take slrain)

Jib up (hand on head)


"Jib down (hand oii head)

- Slew IeJ A

Travel to me (indicate
with both hands)

Slew right B

Travelfront nie
(indicate with both hands)

Stop. (clench and uricleiicii) inch the


Ifirid it iinpoxsihle to signal dire to iolforeseen circunistances!

* Series of cruiie signals recommended (with one exception!) by the National Federation of Building Trades Employers arid Federrition of Civil Engineering


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Getting things moving



.. -3=----.

We realised long ugo that, setting aside the

expense of the rollers, gravity conies free. The
problem is stopping ihings rather than siorting

- .-~.-- -

And top marksfor inriovaiion go to thefitter

supervisor whose roller devices open up ihe
works for the crane to out-load.

The humble motor hub makes a great

tiirntablefor gritting products.

Bogeys divorce stack arid load from produciion

- Cuhco man cuii move several tonnes

We have lollg advocated the wheel as (1

means of controlled discharge...

._.or as a basis of a wire dispenser in


In the Middle East you find everything O H

wheels - the fitters shop goes everywhere.

The heavy roller has its place in concrete

production as well as cricket. (Fill tube with
rebar or concrete.)

Weve heard that in the US supervisors

have beeri pur on wheels - roller skates,

Method study nien put setters-out on wheels to

good eflect in one joinery works.

Storie-age technology it may be, hut rollers

allow the easy niovement of the most
uwhuard elements -for finishing.

We would riot be surprised! W h a ~will be

the next use our inventive ladsfind for the
wheel, we wonder?


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In /he library, we rook a look at the ropic

of ergonomics.

We learn/ a lo/ more about 'our ~ n u n' and his

pliysicril charucteristic.s!


... r e ~ l i i n...

Kneeling, for instance...

And, oltliorrgk mos/ of /he work on /lie /opic

has been based on orlter indiistries, /he book
empliusised how position und conditions
aflec/ /lie qirali/y of /lie prodrrct.


, , . I ) .


and overhand work.


'v ' >

Also how: when jii/igiie sets in ....

... /he changed posifion rind al/ered interface

... drus/iccilly ajfect results

wi/h /he workpiece,..


Er~onotnicallysperiking, every part of /lie

task varies - as do the resul/s...

... to /lie e.r/en/ /liar /lie workpiece presen/.s u

perniunent cornrnentury on the niethod, skills
und conditions.

We piit /he book back, resolving /o smdy /lie



Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Safe working with small dumpers

._.concerning small diimnpers and the antics of

some of those who drive them.

A most helpful publication appeured on our

desk the other day*...

Many of us hcrve seen the results arid it k

interesting tofociis on the details for a

Guards to prevent people getting wound into
the works.

Little points of self-preservation such as the

grip .

Prohibiting passengers iiriless a piirposebuilt sea/ is provided (iisuully only foirrid

on /raining vehicles).

Ensuring the vehicle (and the driver k vision)

are in efficient working order and good repuir:

Providing effective stop-logs or blocks to

prevent /he niachine running or$illing over the
edge of an e.rcavation ...

... which apparently huppensfairly


... which may save his life. it won t protect his

The publication is very coniplete arid

includes reJbreiice to the Motor khicles
(Cons/riiction and Use) Regulations 1978.
offering assistance over enquiries.

And, although you will have noticed our man

is aware of the need for head protection...


* Safe working with dumpers. Health and SuJdy Executive. HMSO.


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society



ork in precast concrete production presented our man with an insight into the
ways of the precaster. He was impressed by the possibilities presented by the
range of processes available to those worlung in the enclosed environment of
the precast works, and even in works set up on site. The outputs resulting from
mechanisation and automation compared favourably with those he was familiar with on
site, offsetting the additional costs of transport and erection.

The h g h rates of production achieved in works stem from the use of equipment such as
gang moulds, battery moulds, static casting machines and mobile extrusion m a c h e s . These
combine with carefully controlled mix characteristics and, where appropriate, prestressing
techniques to ensure economic use of expensive facilities. The rapid turnround of frame
units and cladding elements displaying exotic aggregates and reconstructed stone finishes
underlines the SUS
employed in mould manufacture.

In works and at site, he witnessed the production of both linear beams and segmental
elements for bridges and was impressed by the technique of incremental, segmental bridge
launching, each freshly cast element being post-tensioned to the previously cast element as
the bridge took shape over the piers.
Latterly, he encountered tilt-up construction and noted the speed of the operations, use of
traditional skills and the possibhties for incorporating special finishes while maintaining
the simplicity of the site casting processes.


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Precast concrete: samples and prototypes

In establishing standards of appearance and accuracy, whether for

cladding * or structrrral/visrral elements, large samples are essential.
While indicating possible texture and colour, small samples often
provide a commentary on the skills of the sample ntaker!

Models that replicate the details included in the production element

provide a niore realistic sample, particularly if produced in the same way
and by the same workers to be employed in the production.

Given the funds, frill-size pre-production sanzples can be assentbled, in

the factory or on site, to determine standards of finish and validate
connection details ahead of prodtiction.

Models also have value in communicating complicated detail, as in

hybrid structures with high-quality finishes. Otherwise, heavy-duty
bolted and strbsequently welded connections between true composites
of structural steel and concrete take some understanding!

Although the precaster has the opportunity to cast elements in the

ntanner best suited to the achievement of correct cover to reinforcement
and good compaction, essential to quality of finish ...

... large size santples should be available in the ioorkplace to provide

ongoing reference for the workers. Standards established earlier may
otherwise decline during weeks or months of production.

For the designer to have a realistic view of his intentions, product

suspended on a crane can be rotated, and viewed at the distance and
with the orientation it will have in the structure.

The precasters stocks o f elements of specified and approved qualiry are a

critical factor in continuity of supply, erection and progress at site.

Cast in stone. Architectural Cladding Association, 60 Charles Street, Leicester, L E l l F R .


Interface. Newsletter of Trent Concrete Lirnlted. Colwlck, Nottingham, NG4 2BC

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Precast concrete 1


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Precast concrete 2

Precasters have been Fasr-trackingfor many

years.. . precasting being carried on i n time other
than that critical to the overall duration.

which must be produced with manufacture and erec(ion i n mind. Simply chopping-up an insitu desien i w u l d vresent difficulties.

To get t h e best rcsults.fiont precast concrete., , Establish detail u s i q large srale samples a n d j u l l size
mark-ups.. .

T a k e a close look at the.jacilities that the precaster C$

firs.. . many have some particular specialisation.

precasters take pride i n the quality of their reinforcemeitt cages, carejully tied and labelled with extreme
care over maintainin<q the cowect cover.. .

and where prestressittg is ramed out.. ,

Moulds and steel are caref//y checked

in,?. ..

allfinishes are produced itnth references to substantial

samples. Inspertion prior to despatch ensures.. .

7 12


Visit rompleted work to assess acruracy of elements,

quality cferection and suitability of details.. .

T l i e ratio ofsupervisors to operatives is important


terms ofquality Check the skills available too

exotic agqrqate and stone or brickfaced elements,

each material suitably bonded into the backincc

quality product, providinf early enclosure, speeding

iiistallation of services and redunng expensive on-site

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Precast concrete 3

Trends in techniques for designing and

detailing precast concrete (including
perhaps the use of computers !)...


... have resulted in greater use ofelements

suited to manufacture ...

and erection.




... produced using considerable

... incorporating the wide range offinishes

mechanisation while...


In production there is considerable emphasis

on quality control...

... and quality assurance. ..

... such as that applied in theflooring ...

... and frame schemes of BSI, FCS and CFA

The advantages taken from these and

parallel developments in plant and

... when coupled with the skills of 'the lads' ...

._.produce attractive energy-efficient

structures providing early revenue on


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Prestressed concrete 1


Ducts require restraint against downwards movement,

flotation and lateral displacement. Make fixings at
stationpoints on catenaryf o r ease of installation and

Simple roller hung by angle steel frame assists in

the entering of tendons at anchorage position.

Failure to indicate clearly the state of beams which

are partially prestressed for handling purposes may
result in failure. Mark with paint afrer partial
prestress is applied.

Duct location can be determined by

offuts of steel welded to mild steel
stirrups or by wiring to sleeved

Remember that at transfer the units on a long-line bed will move towards the dead-end
abutment - bearing plates and projections must be free to slide. When the prestress is
transferred or a post- tensioned beam is stressed, the loading on base (orfalsework) changes
from one which is unifornily distributed to one which is imposed at reactions. Check for corner
damage on skew beums.

Stacking battens should be at or near ends of

most prestressed units and directly above
each other:

The prestressed manufacturer will generally be

pleased to grade units and deliver in such a way
that camber is evened out over bay of


Shrinkplastic sleeves ensure grout-tight and

strong joints in ducts. Insertion of tendons before
concreting helps avoid duct wobble.

Bad ground or bad stacking can result in

sideways deflection and creep.

Most prestressed plank and flooring requires

propping until topping is finished and achieves
specified strength: avoid local dumping of

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Prestressed concrete 2

Equipment should be tested and calibrated arid

the reqirireriierits of the specificutiort observed
re: provirig rings. etc.

Grips (mid couplers) should be curejirl1,v

examined for weal: a tube dolly will ensure

Let :s choose our brightest people for the

work, they niust be alert atid niust keep
cureful records.

Avoid - sharp corners 011stopeiid.s arid distributiort

plutes, electric (weldiiig) current mid speller from
burning operutioiis, iristunt failure cuii result.

even locatioii of wedges.

Proprietary sleeves form excelleut joint, strong and

grout tight. Observe niuiii@cturer.s instructions re:
pocket arid anchor detuil. This w i l l ensure iiose o r
jack caii be introduced correct1,v.



rinderstand relatioiiship hehveeii

- reading and exteiision. Lack of extension
indicates blockage of friction in duct.

Provide space for cast-in bearing plates to

accornrnodute inoventent at time of truiisfer or
stressing. Distribution of loud on base chaiiges
at stressing too.

Dolt P exceed giveri gauge reading in aii

attenipt to achieve extension! -stop -

corisirlt engineer!

Ksual uud audio warnings, barriers,

gloves and goggles are needed for safety

Erke over duct loccrtioris. eurly irtsertion of

teridorts assists with line. Beware, uplifr
CUII displace cage as we//!

Watchfor correct skew

- beoms have been

cast wrong harid. Corners ure liable to

duiiiuge due to camber - chunifers will

help avoid spalliiig,

Alwrr.vs observe recoiiiiiiended seyirerice of

stressing to avoid traps uiid ALWAYS keep
accurate records.

7 15

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Prestressed concrete 3

Less drmrrotic, brit eqrt~7llyescititrg. were

post-teiisiorred iri-sitrr floors where sirriply
irrstcrlled teiidorrs arid airclmrrgrs, plus
sonre ndditiorrnl reiriforcerneirt. rnnke
early striking 111foriris possible, speeding
the complete constrrtction cycle.f

* Techiircal Report N o 47. T/JeChtcrrfe Society.

t K CABritrsh Cenient Assuciofion Pirblrcation


Post-tensioned cirircrele //orirs i n ntrtlti-storey lmi/dinp.

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Prestressed concrete 4

Differeritiul camber can result from poor

conipaction - and a nuniber of other lhings.

Works checks against a tuut wire cat7 assist by

grading elements f o r sequential placement.

When you draw out a section firll-size you realise

the challenge to the producer presented by the
combinatiori ofsteel and ducts.

rigerits get cross when they realise thut the

crane niust be brought back to site to clear a

While we are at it we should check those

transverse holes ...

Talking of camber we had some problems with

sideways camber once ...

the product was perniunent forniwork it7 /he

shape of T arid L beanis for an airport
concour.~e.The transverse stressing cleured it up.
The prestressed Jormwork elements provided
aii economic answer to spunriing U major
road - reducing the falsework reqirirements
under the 4-lane span.

How ubout this for a novelty - in 1951 we made

sonie roof units using 30m!?ip h k s a/teriiately
linked and dehonded ...

when turned on edge they could be opened out

to form an elegant wage.

Prestressed plank .sinipliJe.s the jackwork

below decks - 55,000 were used by the
contractor in the elevated section of the M4.



Jun Bobrowskik bendycladding panels still

take a bit of beating, however!


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Concrete moulds for precasting

A considerable anioiint ofprecastirig can be carried out on a y a t slab

cast J?om

concrete niorild arid just one reniovable side member:

using paper or polythene as a parting agent. Side nienibers - roadfornis

or timber - cun be supported by pins or plates.

Where slender units or slabs are precast, a suitable reinforced slab can
be used as U tilting table. Concrete pallets are useJiil in product

Products and tiirinel segntents can be battery

cast using gang casting methods - all mould
nieinbers generated from accurate masters.

7 18

Duct covers, wall units and suitably reitforced slabs c m be cost using
concrete sleeper walls and concrete cell dividers.

Artist j. or designer i original works c m

readily be translated via concrete muster
nioiilds into artfor eternity !

Of course the iiltiniate mould materiul is

GRC - its strength, resistance and
moulclability are the answer to the mould
designer k pruyer!

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Mould design

you musi gei a feeling for ihe skills oJihe

crajismen who build moulds ...

to develop an undersianding ofthe impact of

numbers, mass. scale and geomeity - a good mould
niun can piciure every variety.

Models will help wiih visualising complex

shapes and understanding geometty

Muke a careful siudy of all the details never accepi ihat the per~sonproducing
then1 understood ihe iniplicutions oJihe
lines on the drawing!

Keep un open mind on materials - not dijjfjcultfor a

Cubco man! Look closely ui other peoplek

Take care over details .... Grout tightness.

lead, draw and siripability

Tighi joints carefully locaied

nienibers. govern accuracy and quality.

Make sure your intentions are ihoroughly

understood by ihose who must use the moulds.

I t S no use - the books only give you part

of ilie story! To design moulds ...

Gei in there yourself and try to improve

your detail and method.

Conirol those concreters - ihey have iargets to

meei -your moulds must allow speed oJJI1 and
the achievement of good compaction.

Maintain the conirol and beware the 'do-it-yourself'

mould demolition kiis provided in loo many works!


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Polymer moulds and liners

A loi ofpeople are busy with casting resins

and rubber lately

They can be used to provide both fornl Jircing

and product mould liners.

You can buy them ready-made, by the roll, as it



Whether formulating for rigid or flexible

liners the proportioning is critical...

as is ihe mixing technique - mechanicul stirring

is essential.

Reinforcing rod, tube or mesh strengthens

heavy liners, undercuts and iniricate derail
can be reproduced.

Fixing to forms can be achieved by

embedding pierced ply for subsequent bolting

A little gentle heat aids ihe curing process!

The maierial is self-releasing,provided

concrete siregth is such as to resist
mechanical damage.

So your man can dispense wiih mould orform


Next, products and reproduction in the

renovation process... oh, and some sculpiure!

which may even result in board marks

around the column one day!

. -.

. . .
. . .

_ . .. . . . .


. ---.. . . . . . ;. .


. ..

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Flexible moulds


Where some sculpture is io he reinstated or

where intricute undercut details is to he
reproduced.. ...

-ohiuin copyright clearance and permission to

work (take oui subsiantiul irisurunce!)

Take the original stone ....

or what is called a masiermodel!

Coat the niaster wiih plasiicene * to produce n

nicely rounded shape - this coaiirig governs !he
thickness of the eveniualflexible mould.

Assemble the coded master in a form - orfix

a form around the master:

Place concrete. plaster or grc niix into !heform

and allow to hurden (remember io incorporaie
joint to allow stripping)

We now have ari ouier container into which the

master c m he reassembled (withoui its coating).

Now we prepare the polythene, polynier or

nielt the casting rubber (niechanical niixing
is esseniial).

This can be poured into the space beiweeri

master and outer coriiaine,:

Afrer removal of !he support !he plastic or

rubber mould can be siripped froni the master sonic judicious cuiting niay he required at the
tricky parrs.

Se! aside the niaster and model, assenible the

flexible niould into its supporting container
and evetyihing is ready for !he iechnical bit casting !he produci!

* Registered trademark


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Concrete ingredients

our man remembered the importance of

conforming with specification...

although he had known authorities to

accept appropriately tested and certified

Whatever the product. storage in secure

conditions is essential, some suppliers
providing bulk containers. A vigilant
storeman is worth his weight in goods

Formal training is essential with some


although all are accompanied by

instructions' often read after the event,
such as when something fails to harden
or set!

Certain doors have been known to exhibit

precise (sometimes ahstruse) bonus
calculations... although proportioning
has often presented our man with
problems so...

pre-packed, pie-measured constituents are

favourite. Also, as poor mixing practice is
responsible for some failures, 'hands-on'
instruction is important, preferably in the
use of mechanical means.

Fortunately, established standards and

current materials technology in
combination generally ensure that
specified quality is maintained.

In considering the range of competing

materials. particularly admixtures.. .


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Concrete as a mould material

Concrete is an excellent mould material. It

is stable, has a dense surface and provides
many uses economically

Thefirst essential in concrete mould niaking is

a good quality muster of timber; concrete. or
plaster incorporating lead and draw.

The muster is set up in a simple box. oiled,

and concrete is cast around it adding steel in
large moulds.

The resulting mould can be used to prepare

more masters, the master more moulds!

The concrete must be cured, the surface stoned

and then coated with a sealer:

Handles can be added or large moulds set on

to a level bed.


. _ . ..

_ .... . . . .. .. .. ... .,

For special finishes or accurucy, a GRC or

GRP surface can first be laid over the
master and the mould then cast.

Concrete moulds will be usejid when long

units are to be cast, pile casting, or panel
casting. Other uses include structural
elements, A-frames, etc.

Concrete moulds can be bred like rabbits

and afterwards make excellent hardcore!


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Precast erection 1

- general
Light allo>j with a per~nrrrietit~v
lashing cm7 be set up quickly and safely.


First of all. let S sit dowri and mug up the

manual or tlie method statentent.

Another sensible step is to get rid of

makeshiji ladders, so beloved of the

Expect difserences irr camber: A laut wire

check in yurd and graded locatiori 017 site
reduce slep.s arid facilitute jnisAiiig.
Insist that every unit is clearly marked with
contract number, mark nitniber and dute of
casting. Colours help.

Watch that handing: it cuti present problenis.

Commrrnications on site sometimes go U

We all know hearings are critical yet we do

get a motley selection of shims sometimes!
Ensure the precaster knows how you intend
handling the irriits - perlirtps then he will
leave the lijiing hooks intact!

Radio or telephone ensures good control...


... especially iftherei a set in the agent i


To avoid this sort of thing, turn to the NFBTE

and FCEC recommended visual code of
signa~s011 page 105.

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Precast erection 2

- site factors

Now for the gear, spreader bars and

long brothers (tested) roller bars and
recently, torque wrenches.

A mock-up in works clears up points of

detail early in course of contract.

A check in the works (beware of Subbiestapes)....

will save problems on site later:

Check lists ensure that vital statistics are

available to all.

Ensure that delivery instructions are precise. It takes

a brave man to tell the driver with a 100 tonne unit
to back up 5 mile.

The connections must be simple, ideally

should be able to make them.

Instant erection frees the crane for other

logistical detail.

Watch out - those men started when the structure

was one storey high - they haven t noticed it has

Not all danger is at heights either!

Keep a constant check on units made, vs

units cast - discrepancy means delays.

For a look at prestressed concrete see pages

114-11 7.

one man


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Concrete sculpture

Having seen the remarkable products of artists working with

concrete, our man decided to try his hand. He had always fancied
himself as a bit of an artist!

He produced a master, taking care not to think about garden

gnomes. This was made from wood, although it could have been
carved from plaster or an existing artefact could have been used.

N o w he had t w o options. Either treat the master with a parting

agent and build a flexible mould onto it using melted silicone
rubber. Or coat the master with clay before casting a flexible
polyurethane tnoirld.

The next operation would be to lay a grp supporting container on

the rubber or clay.

With the second method, the clay would have to be removed and
the space filled by pouririg in carefully proportioned casting

With the mould complete. the whole was assembled and filled with
a carefully designed concrete mix. Superplasticiser and thorough
vibration ensured all entrapped air and water was removed.

After the mould was stripped - helped by some judicious slitting high-humidity curing promoted durability. Our man found that, a5
well as rrsirig the master, he could use freshly cast product to
generate further moulds.

In inspecting our mans stock, any similarity with any other

collection * has to be regarded as totally coincidental!

Such as that unearthed a t Xian, Peoples Republic of China. Guarding the tomb of Qin Shiahuang, perhaps?


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Decorative concrete and finishes

It is quite likely that some of 11shave made impromptu contribirtions

to concrete finishes at some time in our youth! A f e w of us may euen
have been caught ... with dire resiilts!

On vacation in Hollyiuood, our man found that so-called stars and

celehrities are apparently still nt it! More sirbtlc forms of imprinting
aiid dry shake treatment kaue charlged the facc ofconcrete ._.

establishing it as a desirable material for !he garden, the park ... and
the theme park tuhere he saw imprinted finishes, reconstrrtcted stone
arid fibre-reinforced concrete and mortars that made his mind /JOggk!

Returning home ami seeing a coiicrete featrtre ioith hundreds of lights

sparkling from a colour concrete backgroirnd, our man thought it just
as well the sparkle tuas provided by fibre optics!

Considering decorative surface finrshes in general, our mail has

concluded that unrealistic, and often misleading, small samples of
special finrshes should be relected in favour of ...

inspection and selection from full-size mock-ups of available finishes

such as textures, exotic aggregates. or panels faced with stone, slate
or tiles.

Also, where applicable, specification reference to acknowledged

high-qrrality plain or decorative concrete in existing structures can
enstire visual standards are established and maintained, so that ..,

designers awd architects can confidently detail attractive finishes to the

elegant shapes and forms made possible by concrete - whether simply
reinforced or rising fi6res o f steel, glass or plastics.


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Lightweight and foamed concrete


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Glassfibre-reinforced concrete

=---I i is umazing whai our man can do with a

mixiure of sand, cement, glassfibres and a

modicum of water

The resuliing material c u i ~be spayed, laid-up

and conipacied at ihe mould.



The premixed material can be pumped into

proditci rnoulds.




Simple methods, ihe so-called 'bag and

buckei ' techniques to establish maierials
content. ..

... and tesis on coupons io establish liniii of

proportionaliiy and modulus of rupture ensure
qualify muintenance.

The resriliant strong yet lightweighi products

are e> rlleni for formwork.

... rejitrbishment

... arid replacemeiii - someiimes beiier ihan the


Oilier upplications rangefrom sun screens,

improving ihe quality of Iije in hot countries ...
I .


... io shelter - blocks are laid, coursed,


... and a coat ofpremix material is trowelled

onto boih stirfaces. The result is a siable.
energy-economic struciural wall.

There is ulso an increasing use of ihe material

in DIY ihe bagged materiul being ideal for
home use.


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Tilt-up construction

\ /


Everything in the USA is larger than life as

w e know it - even tilt-up operations!

We have even seen paver.7 used to place the

tilt-up slabs.

When all is considered, precasters have

cast from concretefor a century or more... really it ijust a sniall step to cast the

concrete '011 site ' at site and pop it into the
vertical location

On site, you dispense with the intermediate

slab and tie arrangements mid simply use the
normal skills of the concretec

Careful choice of (I bond-breaker ensures

an acceptable face and a clean slab (#er

Full joint detail can be incorporated in

timber or steel edge forms mid by features
fixed to the slab.

Slender sections can be suppleinented by

local strong-back niembers - but keep that
mail out from under!



. -

Insulation installation, use of esotic stone

veneers and airy of the simple finishing
techniques - retarder: broadcast wash and
brush or jetting - can be used.

Upstands and features can be incorporated by

normal means.
*Series of articles in Concrete International. April 1980.


Bracing arrangements and handling

techniques are clearly documented.*

Expensive plant is required only during

lifting phase (the stack casting overconies
the space problem at returns).

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Slipform and tilt-up construction

Scandinauiart forming skills, conrliined with careful niix design.

placenient, compaction and curing, have provided an impressive
dentonstration of inclined and tapering slipfonn constrtrction.

The slipfomi techniqtre is largely enrployed in constrtrctirtg towers,

silos and chimneys. (There are apocryphal tales ( I / resident engineers
resorting t o birtocttlars for sonic of their inspections!) H<J~UCIW.
ntan realised ...

that In rcpetItiorts hridge pier cortstrttction, or a strccession ofsLni/ar

i n ~p r ~ ~
t o whe
stair towers o n a rnajor project. s l i / ~ f i ~ r n tcan

It occrrrred t o hint that r i h i ~(ntstrtrctingivry toll strttcttrres a

storey corott nrrrst Oc essentid during the slipforming stage...t o
auoid a later denridition stage!

Silicon VaIIey. USA had impressed o n oirr ntan the eni~tontiesof

tilt-rip cortstrrtctir~rr... iuit jttst sirtgk-stiirey coirstrrtction w i t h plain
srtrface finishes Init also ...

ntttlti-storey and ei~cwexposed hortldcr type elentcrtts.. coi?rpletr

tuith architecttrrol fcatrrres. cornices etc. The aduantagcs of the
ntethod are that concreting and assocrated actiuities can he carried
out at grorrnd l e i d w i t h

simplicity of form and reinforcentott fixing. toigether iuith ease of

access /or trucks. pimrping eqrtip~nentand cranes*. In the case of
less exotic finishes. floiuing concrete can be placed directly front

W i t h concrete t o panels, panel fi.vings and prop anchi~rsf d y

nrattrred, the strttctrtral elentents are sintplc tri erect in a matter of
days. as the crane is ruorked orrt r ~ / t h sitcp.


the trttck.


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

Bridge construction

Army service provided our man, and no doubt ntany reciders o f

CONCRETE, with opportunities for bands-on bridge-huilding
experience! Tbe inanhandled components were great for devrloping
inuscles! Each bridge...

... i ~ * abuilt
s on rollers and l,~rinckeritrrariiially across the gcrp.

Bailey bridges are still in use in various forms. often ~ J Ztcnrporary

works. Reco/lectioris O f the laitnchiny procedure enrp/oyed tend to
fociis our mans attention ...

... on tbr ionsideriihlc enginecring skills and production ability applied

to all types of bridge constru~tion,particrilarly srte-cast, pris/~-launched

With temporary nose attached, the prestressed concrete element is

Of brfdscpf l l l d the cUrefltl/y Cfl/cli/flk?d,
bolonciiig acts in carttileuer construction sceni to hint to haue a lot in
common with his early, i n r i d 1 simpler, bridging activities!

launched niechaiiicallylhydra~~lically
over slender slipforvied or junrpfornred piers, even on curved a/ignnrents in tbis esainpk? i:ornp/ete

occasionalls with the /usury of nrecbanical assistance from a passing

huIldoZer brit generally solely by sapper power.

with harriers but rninrrs road markings!

As well as easing prohleriis of geoinetry, the rise of precast Beams,

segments and permanent forms for decks and piers can ensure tkat the
specified accuracy and finish are achieved in the final structure.

Todays ~ ~ i r c r ebridges
are elegant. Witb firrther developments in
construction techniques and riraterials on the horizon, our inan looks
forrcwrri to great advances in the future!

Thanks t o Kobert Day, Sales ,Manager, Mabey and Johnsoo Ltd. for input 011 bridge eqiiipinent

7 32

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Our mank interest in bridges was re-awakened by the Construction of the

Millennium Bridge across the Thames. Although aware that few
illustrations could do it justice, the remarkable design reminded him a/. ..

many simple bridges encountered across the world. He wondered i f the

concept o/the Millennium Bridge design was to be found there.

Back to remarkable bridges. He was impressed by an illustration

showing construction of Robert Stephensons Britannia Bridge in 1849.
Methods were similar to those used by civil engineers today, also...

the magicalZron Bridge in Coalbrookdale, which, at the time, applied

an exciting new material ... cast iron. There is still considerable
specnhtior~regarding the corrstructiorr method.

Our man recalled an illustration in CONCRETE showing the Swiss

Sunniberg bridge, where sculpted piers support an elegant tracery of
cables and deck 60m above the Landquart riuer. There have been
awards /or aesthetic and technical merit.

Our man considered that, regardless of the construction material and

engineering problems overcome, concrete and mortars usually contribute
to the foundations and ...

ruhilst bridges, across the world, illustrate the aesthetic and

engineering potential of concrete in every form ...

the Norwegian designers who achieved an environmentally friendly

solution to historic bridge preservation by constrricting a new concrete
bridge above it, on the same alignment, deserved a prize!

see CONCRETE May 2001, Vol. 35, No. 5 , p.6.


CONCRETE October 1999, Vol. 33, No. 9, p.12 (sketch after photograph of

h e

Flintshire Bridge (Pont Sir Y Fflim) by Roger Brown ARPS)


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

abrasive blasting 90, 91, 92, 94
access 60, 66, 72, 79, 82
accidents 100
acid cleaning 83, 92, 95
admixtures 60, 67, 70, 78, 122
advisory services 9
aesthetics 133
aggregates 17, 85
air content testing 8
air hoists 104
air-entrainment 78
aluminium formwork 35
appearance 81-96
architectural concrete 90
assessment 5
automation 21, 68, 69, 71, 75
awards 2, 3, 9, 10

balance beams 102
batching 65, 68, 69, 7?
batching plant 21
battery casting 118
battery moulds 66
bearings 124
board marked finishes 87
bond-breaker 130
bonding agents 96
brackets, lifting 99
breakdowns 63
brick-facings, precast 87, 91, 112
bricklaying 70
bridge piers 131, 132
bridges 1 16, 132, 133

calibration 68
precast concrete 124
prestressed concrete 117
cantilever construction 132
cantilevers 40, 49
Cast in stone 110
castable mould material 126
cast-in fixings 54, 55
casting resins 120, 121
certification 5,49
chairs 51, 57
chamfers. formwork 25

charts 18
check lists, erection 125
checking 60-62
prestressed concrete 117
chemicals, cleaning 94
chilled water 78
circular work 13, 32, 35, 40
cleaning 63, 94
coatings 94
Code of practicef0r accnraq in bnildiqs 55
Code of practice ortfalsei~~ork41, 42
coil tics 56
cold-weather concreting 76, 77, 78, 93
columns, raking 13
communications 11-22,15, 18,71,104,105, 119,
compaction 66,79, 96
composite structures 110
compression testing 8
computer-aided design 20, 21, 22
computers 6, 20, 21, 113
concrete ingredients 122
concrete moulds 118, 123
Concrete OII site 8
concrete pressure 42
concrete production 65
Concrete Society Awards 2, 3, 9, 10
concrete supply 63, 65, 79
concrcting, checks 62
lifting 99
precast concrete 125
consistency, finishes 83
constitucnts, materials 122
construction cycle 40
construction joints 64, 67, 79
continuity bar systems 55, 57
controlled permeability form liners 58, 90, 91
conveyors 72
cooling 82, 86, 91, 94
corbels 28
cores, formwork 29, 32
corners, formwork 25
couplers, reinforcement 57
cover to concrete 25, 48, 49, 51
C1110 77
cranes 102, 104, 105, 128, 131
curing 74, 76, 78, 84, 93
differential 19
polymer moulds 120
repairs 96
cutting and bending machines 21

datum on forms 54,55
decorative concrete 127
defects, finishes 83, 86
defects, precast concrete 85
deflections 62
delivery 72
design, computers 21
detail 11-22
formwork 25,44
peoples input 16
formwork 83.89
joints 64
prestressed concrete 114, 115
detailing, precast concrete 113
concrete 17
communications 15
falsework 43
fixings 54, 55


moulds 119
weathering 95
double-tee beams 116
dowel bars 74
drawings 12, 13, 18, 22, 60
moulds I19
staircases 31
drilling 88
drips 17
driveways 70
dry shake finishes 127
ducts, prestressed concrete 114, 115
dumpcrs 108
lliiralile bonded post-tensioned comrete b r i d p 1 I6

early striking 34, 116
economics, formwork 91
edge casting, staircases 21
efficient construction 6
elcment checking 20, 21
prestressed concrete 115
safety 108
crcction 131
prestressed concrete 116
ergonomics 107
excellence 1-10
expanded metal 64
exposed aggregate finishes 17.89, 90.91.95, 112
extcrnal vibrators 80. 87

face-up precasting 87
failure mode, test cubes 8
failure, formwork 38
falsework 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46
fast-track construction 111, 112, 128
features: weathering 95
ferrocement 90
fibre composircs 53
fibres 58, 70, 80, 129
formwork 25
reinforcement 50
finishes 58, 92, 127
precast concrete 113
repairs 96
finishing, slabs 75
fixing reinforcement 51
fixings 88, 96
cast-in 54, 55
details 54, 55
flexible moulds 121
floating of slabs 74
prestressing 53
trough and waffle 36
flow test 7
flowing concrete 71, 80
foamed concrete 70, 128
form liners 87, 91
form removal 64
form ties 56
formers 17
concreting 66
cores 29, 32
floors 36
Forn,iork - a x d e togoodpractice 4, 33, 44, 86, 91
formwork 23-46
aluminium 35
batteries 66
checking 61

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circular 32, 35, 40

corbels 28
detail 25, 44
economics 91
finishes 84, 85
failure 38
features 83, 85, 85
formers 29, 32
GRC 37,129
kickers 17, 26, 27
liners 45
pcrmancnt 27
pressures 67
ribs 28
setting-out 24, 26
staircases 31
storage 38
striking 34, 36, 40, 44
systems 32 35, 40, 46
vibration 38
full-scale mock-ups 127
full-size samples 110, I12

geometry 13, 14, 24, 94, 119
GRC 90,129
formwork 37, 129
moulds 118,123
permanent formwork 58
spray up 21
grinding 90
grit-blasting 64
ground beams 46
grout-tight joints 17
GRP 58
moulds 123, 126
Guide to GKCpermanentfontlitIor~37

hand trowelling 75
handling 16, 97-108
precast concrete 124
heated concrete 78
high strength concrete 80, 88
hot-weather concreting 76

ice 78
impact loading 42
imprinting concrete 127
inaccuracies in joints 19
inclusions 55
information sources 9,46
information technology 6
inspection, precast concrete 112, 113
intersections, forming 30

jacks 102
joggles 64
checking 61
construction 64, 67, 79
details, tilt-up 130
finishes 86
grout-tight 17
moulds 119
panels 19
preparation 64, 67
tapered dovetail 13, 14
jumpformlng 45

kickers 17, 26, 27, 57

large area pours 75
laser screeds 75
lift heights 79
lifting 98, 99, 102
lighhveight concrete 128, 129
liners, formwork 45
loads, moving 102, 106
loop ties 58

maintaining finishes 92
maintenance 63, 67, 108
markings, precast concrete 124
master moulds 121, 123, 126
materials, finishes 84, 85
maturity 77, 93
mechanisation 11 1, 1 13
niix records 69
mobile batching plant 69
mock-up, precast concrete 125
models 4, 119
modifications to geometry 13
moisture control 76
monorail 104
moulds 110, 11 1
concrete 118, 123
design 119
flexible 121
GRC 129
GRP 58
materials 32
polymer 120
re-use 58
trough and waffle floors
movement, prestressed concrete 114
moving loads 102, 106

inspection 112, 113

prototypes 110
samples 110, 112
advantages 14
brick-facings 87, 91, 112
concrete moulds 118, 123
corbels 28
face-up 87
self-compacting concrete 80
staircases 31
use o f ready-mixctl concrete 73
pre-concrete checks 60-62
prefabricated cages 48, 49, 51
preparing to concrete 60-62
pre-production samples 83
prestressed concrete 109-1 33
detail 115
ducts 114, 115
equipment, 115
erection 116
lightweight concrete 128
long line 114, 116
movement 114
safety 115
tendons 115, 116
prestressing 112
floor slabs 53
planks 117
pre-tensioned concrete 88
production 59-80
production control 72
production systems 104
Properties .f concrete, Neville 77
propping, cold weather 77
props 33, 42, 44, 45, 61, 66, 130
protection 78
protection during construction 92, 93
prototypes, precast concrete 110
pumping 16, 60, 65, 71, 72, 73, 128

non-destructive testing 6, 7, 93

quality assurance 48, 49, 65, 69, 70, 71, 72, 113
quilting 38, 83

openings 55, 66, 67, 85

panel joints 19, 82

pavers 75
permanent formwork 27,37, 117
iernlanent fornfwork in const~ction37
pigmented concrete 90
placing 59-80
slabs 74, 75
planning 60, 71, 72
compaction 79
plant 63, 108
plumb lines 17
polymer liners 120
polymer moulds 120
post-tensioned bridges 116
Post-tensionedconcretefloors in miilti-story bnildings 116
poultices 92
power floating 74, 75
Irecast concrete cladding 94
precast concrete 109-1 33
batching 69
detailing 113
erection 124, 125
finishes 113

railway works 65
raking columns 13
ramps, formwork 30
rationalisation 6, 111
Rafiotiafisation of flat slab reitfircement 53
ready-mixed concrete 70, 71, 72, 73, 7?
ready-mixed mortar 70
reclamation of materials 111
reconstructed stone 127
recording 68
records 115, 116
recycling 111
reinforcement 47-58, 112
cages 48,49, 51
couplers 57
cutting and bending 21
fixing 51
rationalisation 79
safety 50
tics 51
release agents 34, 35, 36, 61, 84, 91
Kemoua/ .f stains andgrmtbsfrom concrete 94
rendering 129
repairs 96
responsibilities 71
retarders 34, 64, 66, 73, 82, 130


Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

ribs 28
rollers 106
roofing units 117
rope, joints 64

S u j iuorkiig iuith hn,ers

safety 15,63,97-108
equipment 88,92,94
prestressed concrete 114, 116
props 33,44,45
reinforcement 50
samples 4
aggregates 85
finishes 83
precast concrete 110, 112
sampling 8
scabbing 64
scale, drawings 12
sculpture 121, 126
sealants 94
for moulds 14
panels 19
self-compacting concrete 80
setting-out points 24, 26
shape codes 53
sheathing 24, 30, 38, 61, 82, 87
signals 105
site precasting 31
Sitesafe '83, 101
sketches 12
skills 3,6, 10, 101, 103, 107, 111, 112,113
skips 67, 128
slab construction 74, 75
slipforming 45, 128, 131
slump test 7, 8
snap ties 56
cast-in 54
steel location 14
spacers 14,48, SO, 51, 57
Spucersfor reirlforcedconcrete 49
special finishes 45, 91, 127, 131


specifications 122
spillage 43
spiral ramps 30
spreader bars 99,102
stability 42
stacking 104
stain removal 92
stainless stecl 57
staircases 31
stairs 18
Standard reiiijrcenient coircrete detuils 49
standards 4
starter bars 55
steam curing 77, 78
steel kickers 57
stock areas 104
stock control 20
stopends 38,50
stop-logs 108
formwork 38
materials 122
strength testing 8
strengthening structures 58
formwork 34, 36, 40, 44
props 33,44
times 77,93
stripping 104
stud rail systems 53
superplasticizers 126
supervision 103, 112
surface finish 81-96
surface retarders 82, 87, 89

tables, formwork 35
taper ties 56
tapered dovetail joints 13, 14
teams 3, 10, 101, 111
temperature monitoring 78, 93
temporary bridges 132
tenung 7, 8, 76, 78

equipment 8
GRC 129
texture 82
precast concrete 110
finishes 87
surfaces 92
The ben+ o j rea&zixed concrefe 73
The Concrete Society 9
thermal insulation 76, 77, 78, 93
tie bolt holes 17
ties 56, 57
formwork 61,83
rcinforcement 51
tilt-up construction 87, 90, 130, 131
tolerances 16
training 72, 79, 84, 89, 90, 103, 122
trench filling 70
trial panels 86, 91
trouble-shooting 15
troughs and waffle floors 36
turntables 106

uplift, formers 85

vibration, formwork 38, 54
vibrators 66, 67, 79, 80, 86

walls, formwork 28
water bars 67
water flow, weathering 95
water jetting 90, 91, 92, 94
waterway construction 65
weather 60, 76, 77, 78, 89
weathering 95
wheel devices 106
wind 42
workability 65, 84
working position 107

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society


ounded in 1966, The Concrete Society brings together all those with an interest in concrete to promote
excellence in its design, construction and appearance, to encourage new ideas and innovation, and to
exchange knowledge and experience across all disciplines.


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The Concrete Society is a centre of excellence for technical development of

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The Society is supported by its

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it receives special support from the
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The Concrete Advisory Service provides impartial technical advice on concrete

and related matters to Corporate Members by phone, fax, site and office visits.



British Cement Association

CONCRETE, the journal of The Concrete Society, is essential reading for

consultants, specifiers, contractors and materials specialists. I t covers
developments in technology, materials, testing, design, equipment, systems, and
project reports. CONCRETE ENGINEERING INTERNATIONAL is a quarterly
magazine offering a wide range of international articles and features on all
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maintains one of the worlds most comprehensive libraries specialising in cement and
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A practical look at concrete

Licensed copy: laing3, Laing O Rourke Group Plc, 30/03/2008, Uncontrolled Copy, The Concrete Society

John C. Richardson
Since 1977, the page 'Looking at it practically' in CONCRETE magazine has covered the skills and techniques of concrete construction
in an accessible and enjoyable cartoon format. During that period
'Cubco man' has examined and demonstrated many aspects of
construction (including some of the pitfalls for the unwary!).
The series is based on author John Richardson's own extensive
first-hand experience in the concrete industry, and has helped
thousands of technicians, engineers and site staff to build in concrete practically and safely.
John's informative cartoons have been published around the
world, as well as being used as selling and training aids.
This compilation of the 'Looking at it Practically' series has been
rearranged so that related topics are grouped together for ease of
use. These chapters cover everything from formwork and falsework
to reinforcement to handling and safety, and precast and prestressed concrete.


Century House, Telford Avenue
Crowthorne, Berkshire RC45 6YS, UK
ISBN 0 946691 83 5
Concrete Society Special Publication CS 132