Flag lifting.

Discussion in 'Building' started by Retired, Oct 6, 2018.

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    Retired

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    Hi,

    16 years ago I installed a new flagged pathway to the side of our bungalow replacing nine steps creating a slope. Due to our recent rare hot summer one of the flags now "clicks" when walked upon so I want to lift and re-bed it in mortar.

    The problem is access; the slope and the sheer weight of the flag it being a 3' x 2' x 2" which I believe weighs around 10st bare; it might now have bedding mortar attached increasing its weight. When I laid the flags I made two special lifting handles allowing me to straddle each flag and physically lift it but now with it fully in position I don't want to cause lots of collateral damage so I'm looking at an easy way if lifting this one flag out without personal injury.

    This morning I attended Rufforth Auto Jumble and was on the lookout for block and tackle but as I browsed the stalls I spotted just the thing; it's an electric hoist rated at 250 kg on a double pull or 125 kg on a single pull which should be perfect; it looked brand new with a £40 ticket but ono; I'm cheeky and offered £30 which was declined but after some haggling it was mine for £32.50; I've just plugged it in and sure enough it works perfectly; I'm well pleased with this hoist with a generous lift of 6m on double or 12m on single.

    What price saving a bad back; I'm turning this into a project and will design and make some kind of lifting beam; I had other less costly ideas but at now 71 I want to think of the future; I'm already a ten stone weakling and 16 years ago didn't find lifting these flags to be easy. Now the front entrance is completed I'm already onto this flag job.

    Kind regards, Colin.

    Flag lifters_001.JPG
    At £32.50 this hoist must be a genuine bargain and hopefully will save me suffering back problems or severed fingers.

    Flag lifters_002.JPG

    Manual flag lifters I made and used very successfully to lay the flags.
     
    Retired, Oct 6, 2018
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  2. Retired

    Retired

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    Hi,

    It's amazing what's on the web these days.



    Kind regards, Colin.
     
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  3. Retired

    Retired

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    Hi,

    My new home made flag lifter is progressing well having spent a bit of time working on it today. First job was to check what metal I had to hand then work with what I had.

    I've used 3/4" square box section; I have larger and heavier box section but I think this 3/4" will be plenty strong enough. Just the two grabs to make now for the ends; the eyebolt allows use of hoist or with a bar through a manual lift.

    I now have the luxury of a metal cutting bandsaw to save lots of physical effort and my welder is a top class oil cooled Oxford at 180A which will weld day in day out without overload or cutting out unlike cheap welders with a short duty cycle; this welder runs either 240V or 415V it being industrial and its extremely heavy; it took two of us to load/unload it when I bought it and I've made the wheeled trolley allowing it to be moved around.

    So far so good.

    Kind regards, Colin.

    104_0024.JPG 104_0025.JPG 104_0026.JPG 104_0027.JPG 104_0029.JPG 104_0030.JPG
    Oxford (Pickhill Bantam oil cooled 180A arc welder)

    104_0031.JPG

    Metal cutting bandsaw.
     
    Retired, Oct 7, 2018
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    Ian Administrator

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    What a bargain that hoist was. I've seen similar ones for just shy of £100!

    It's cheaper than seeing a physio for a bad back too ;).

    I'm looking forward to seeing how the flag lifter works out. I had to do the same job earlier in the year, after a delivery van cracked a paving stone (two others were rocking). They were laid very poorly when the house was build, so I took them all up and re-laid them. Thankfully, they were nowhere near as large or heavy as yours!
     
    Ian, Oct 8, 2018
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  5. Retired

    Retired

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    Hi,

    Thanks Ian; yes the electric hoist is a genuine bargain; I was looking for a chain hoist at Rufforth Auto Jumble which are usually on sale but due to the dire weather many stalls were vacant; this electric hoist though I can now confirm is brilliant.

    The pictures below show a rough and ready method of lifting these heavy flags; the two ladders are securely tied at the top between two rungs and a double heavy rope is added between lower rungs to prevent the ladders splaying out (spreading) which would be highly dangerous. Just a length of stout timber spanning two rungs to suspend the hoist from and the extension cable completes the hoist side of the job.

    Regarding my home made flag lifter I think the pictures demonstrate just how good it is in action; this is on single hoist lift which is a bit quick; I'll hook it up for double lift which will slow it by half? All I wanted to do this morning is to test this method of lifting heavy flags. In the air the flag can easily be positioned and as the pathway is steeply sloping just pressing on the flag end adjusts for the slope so I'm pretty sure this is going to be successful; after dinner I'll remove the flag then I can add the bedding mortar. I've taken lots of care to ensure the joints are clean as is the flag bottom; the soil (clay) I've compacted using the hammer then walking upon it; I need to be very careful due to three homes feeding this drain with its many pipes; its surprising how heavy these flags are even whilst laying on the ground.

    One thing I really do want to stress is that I'm a mechanical engineer used to lifting and moving very heavy equipment; what I'm showing here is my method of lifting a single flag weighing 140 lb knowing the supports and safety considerations are to my satisfaction; I DON'T RECOMMEND ANYONE ATTEMPTING THIS UNLESS THEY ARE FAMILIAR WITH LIFTING EQUIPMENT; ONE SIMPLE SLIP OR MISTAKE COULD HAVE VERY SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES EVER WORK UNDER A LOAD SUSPENDED IN THIS WAY.

    All this might appear over the top but I'm planning for old age when I will no longer be able to physically lift these flags.

    Kind regards, Colin.

    Flag lifter_001.JPG
    Untouched for at least 16 years but when laid the flags were well bedded.

    Flag lifter_002.JPG
    The pathway is 42' long and the heavy wet clay was dug out entirely by hand resulting in 72 car loads to our local tip.

    Flag lifter_003.JPG
    By the time this job was completed I'd suffered enough of hand mixing mortar; I'm surprised given the amount of bedding the flag started to click when walked upon but we do suffer extremes of weather here on the valley side.

    Flag lifter_004.JPG
    Tidied and compacted ready for bedding mortar; the mortar will be 5 parts sharp sand to 1 part portland cement; the mix doesn't need to be over strong in fact a strong mix will cause lots of trouble in future should the flag need to be lifted.

    Flag lifter_005.JPG
    Bottom and edges of flag cleaned off now its ready for re-laying.

    Flag lifter_006.JPG

    The new home made flag lifter on test.

    Flag lifter_007.JPG
    The hoisted flag is level which shows how steeply the payway is sloping; what joy just pressing a button and seeing the heavy flag lift without effort; the ladder sections are well up to strength these two lengths being part of a triple extension ladder.

    Flag lifter_008.JPG
    A better picture of the lifter in action; please note I never ever cut corners even to the point of painting the lifter.

    Flag lifter_009.JPG

    Simple but safe and effective way I used to mount the electric hoist; the timber is cut at 1 5/8" square just fitting inside the brackets; the ladder rungs and timber are well up to lifting this flag regarding safety. Whilst laying the flag I'll ensure my fingers are never placed in the flag joints; a flag at 140 lbs would certainly make a good guillotine?
     
    Retired, Oct 9, 2018
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    Hi,

    More work this afternoon. The flags are exactly 2" thick so I made a screeding gauge this to straddle two flags leaving the bedding mortar screed perfect ready to simply lower the flag onto. A pair of wooden spaces ensured the flag went down with the correct gap; with the flag laid I placed a wooden block on top of it and gently tapped the block with a sledge hammer just to seat the flag on the screed. The screed was mixed with little water because it's not necessary for the mortar to cling to the flag.

    I spent most of the day on this single flag but a lot of the time was taken with getting everything ready having never tried using a hoist before in this application. With a bit of experimentation I positioned the hoist allowing the flag to hover directly over the screed then pressing on the edge which would be lowest I adjust the flag angle so that the flag went down level to the screed; now I've done the job once if I ever need to do it again the time taken will be greatly reduced. This afternoon was a beautiful summers day; I wish everyday was as beautiful.

    Kind regards, Colin.

    Flag job_001.JPG
    Screeding under way with screeding gauge being used to good effect.

    Flag job_002.JPG
    A bed of flag mortar doesn't come better than this; I wonder if the flag will still click?

    Flag job_003.JPG
    Wooden spacing blocks; the lower end of the flag was allowed to rest against these as the flag was slowly lowered into position; ideally two people would be best on a slope such as this; one controlling flag position one on the hoist control but as can be seen it can be done with one determined person.

    Flag job_004.JPG

    I've had enough for today so tomorrow I'll do the pointing and I have another of my ideas to show how I do pointing without messing up the flag face. Another job ready to tick off.
     
    Retired, Oct 9, 2018
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    Ian Administrator

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    I've never seen a bed of mortar so neat :D. Great work with the lifter - this is a job well done!

    I can't even imagine how long it must have taken to take all of that clay to the tip when you first did it :eek:.
     
    Ian, Oct 10, 2018
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    Retired

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    Hi,

    Thanks Ian; neatness and tidiness was beaten into me whilst I was an apprentice; if I did anything wrong I was in for it and working in a deep coal mine the life could be harsh but the mechanical engineers who taught me were highly skilled; they formed me into the person I am today and I'm thankful to each and every one of them.

    12 mile round trip to our local tip and at the time Bron and I owned a Nissan Micra; it took 72 trips to dispose of the wet clay but I'm stubborn; the skips cost £117 in those days and the local council wanted £6 from me just for a certificate to place the skip in the street; no I wasn't going to pay the £6 hence the trips to the tip.

    Now for another idea I dreamt up when I initially laid all the big flags; I had lots of problems pointing the joints taking forever and causing me lots of back and knee ache so I gave it some thought; looking around I had the sides of an old computer tower which looked interesting; I formed a lip at 90 degrees on a long edge but only 1/8" deep; on a short edge I formed another 90 degree lip but the opposite way and at around 1/2" deep; I'm right handed so the upward turned lip was added on the left edge.

    I use mortar which is actually fine concrete mixed from Portland cement; sharp sand and granite chips these chips being 6mm to dust. 2 sharp sand; 1 granite chips and 1 cement but mixed with very little water just enough water to ensure the mix can be trowelled smooth; this is important and better too dry than too wet; practice soon indicates when the mix is correct.

    Mortar is placed on the tray and the tray placed allowing the 1/8" lip to hang over touching the flag edge; using this tray makes flag pointing incredibly easy and its also rapid; simply use a pointing trowel to rake in mortar from the tray and press the mortar fimly into the joint; the mortar edge furthest away is levelled flush with the flag; the mortar at the tray edge is levelled with the face of the tray forming a shallow wedge of mortar at the joint top; carefully slide the tray along the joint and this leaves a small indent in the mortar; all I do now is to level the mortar flush and trowel it smooth; no fuss and no mess leaving perfectly neat mortar joints without a bit of mortar messing the flag face; it's easier to do the pointing like this than trying to describe in text but hopefully the pictures will make it clear.

    I've never seen this done previously; I just dreamt the idea up as I did in using the electric hoist to lay the heavy flag. I have an assortment of trowels but the ones I use for pointing flags are this type in narrow 3/8" and wider 3/4" sizes; I bought top quality trowels many years ago and they are still like new;

    upload_2018-10-10_11-54-20.png

    I'm constantly thinking and trying new ideas; the engineers taught me to think for myself and it works for me.

    Kind regards, Colin.

    Pointing paving_001.JPG
    A computer tower side put to good use; made about 17 years ago and well used.

    Pointing paving_002.JPG
    Tray in use; I'm right handed so turned up lip on left; it aids keeping mortar on the tray; please not how crumbly the mortar mix is.

    Pointing paving_003.JPG
    A close up with the tray slid along the joint leaving a shallow depression which is then easily made good; mortar is pressed well into the joint completely filling it.

    Pointing paving_005.JPG
    Mortar joint completed with absolutely no staining of the flag face; before the mortar sets I go over gently with a soft hand brush leaving a rough brushed finish which blends in much better than a shiny trowelled finish; pointing job done very quickly indeed saving aching back and knees.
     
    Retired, Oct 10, 2018
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    Ian Administrator

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    What a great idea! I'm going to make a tray like that myself :D I've never seen it done that way before, but it's so much easier!

    Out of interest, why do you add granite chips? I normally just buy 25kg pre-mixed bags, as I don't have a mixer and generally need it in moderate quantities.
     
    Ian, Oct 12, 2018 at 12:30 PM
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    Retired

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    Hi,

    Thanks Ian; before I start a project I like to give it a lot of thought first to determine best method of approach rather than simply jumping in repeating what's been done previously just because its always been done that way; the tray cost me nothing but it's had a lot of hard use over the years; it's drastically reduced flag pointing time and if you do try it please let me know what you think of it.

    Please see the pictures regarding using granite chips for pointing the flags; mixing sharp sand; granite chips and portland cement makes a very hard wearing durable fine concrete if the chips bought are 6mm to dust. As I stated earlier whenever I start a project I like to take time to study how to go about it not only in method but also in materials to choose. I did this when I first laid these flags it being a big undertaking working on my own and I wanted to get it right first time. The granite chips subdue the colour of the pointing mortar allowing the mortar to weather and blend better with the flag colour; just using sand/cement the mortar tends to look bright especially if trowelled to a smooth finish; I always go over with a soft brush to remove the shiny finish when the mortar starts to set; using the brush too soon can smear the faces but it only takes a little practice. I laid many of these big heavy flags and the pointing was taking forever until I decided enough was enough and dreamt up the pointing tray idea; now I don't mind pointing flags at all. See how the low random stone retaining wall blends in nicely; when I repointed the entire end of the bungalow I used lime mortar and this really did stand out at first; it looked like I'd gone over the mortar with white paint but after a few years of our dire climate it's toned down quite a bit. All the bedding mortar and pointing mortar were mixed by hand being back breaking work.

    I installed flood defenses and needed to mix quite a bit of concrete so I bought a brand new cement mixer through eBay; I kept this mixer for six weeks keeping it looking brand new then sold it on only losing about £30; I'd have loved to keep the mixer but it took up too much space.

    Our detached bungalow has lots of wooden cladding and it still retains the original 50 year plus wooden window frames these still in perfect condition. A couple of years ago I gave the entire bungalow exterior a comprehensive makeover taking many months to complete; I replaced a lot of the cladding just for aesthetic reasons but I used 18mm thick WBP plywood routing it to look like cladding; at the time I was on another DIY forum and members were very much against the idea of using plywood in such a situation.

    The new cladding has suffered extremes of weather here on the valley side and it still looks brand new. I ensured every bit of the ply was well protected with top quality paint to waterproof it taking great care at the edges. The pictures show the things I dream up; the side hung garage doors I made; the bespoke fence I designed and made to suit the sloping path; not obvious how much thought went into getting this fence just right but the time and effort put in up front paid off; the whole fence cost very little because the panels are made from treated roofing battens bought in bundles; who else would have dreamt this idea up; I like to encourage anyone to get stuck in and have a go; if the job is done right first time and looks good the money saving over getting someone in is fantastic allowing best quality material to be bought? I'm not special in any way but I was taught by top engineers to think for myself. Here are a few more pictures just for interest.

    Kind regards, Colin.

    A bit of thought_001.JPG
    Garage doors; cladding and paintwork all done by me; big cladding panel above doors is a single 8' 4' sheet of 18mm thick WBP plywood.

    A bit of thought_002.JPG
    New deck extension; again all work carried out by me; steelwork cut; drilled and welded in the garage; decking is scaffold planking another of my ideas.
    A bit of thought_003.JPG
    The brand new cement mixer used in anger for six weeks then sold on at only £30 loss.

    A bit of thought_004.JPG
    Yet another example of forward thinking; fence panels quickly removed for complete treating each panel held in place by coach type hex head screws; handrail (mopstick) added for safety.

    A bit of thought_005.JPG
    A pain of a job made much easier; a panel ready for treating but polythene sheet is used to prevent staining wall and driveway.
    A bit of thought_006.JPG
    Continuation of sloping path this being to the bungalow rear; I moved the retaining dry stone wall back from the bungalow wall where originally there was only a 4" gap; all heavy clay dug out by hand.

    A bit of thought_007.JPG
    A picture taking from the patio.

    A bit of thought_008.JPG

    OK so I bought a pressure washer and pressure washed the roof as any right minded person would; definitely not recommended by me and you haven't seen it here? Yes Bron and I even replaced the entire roof ourselves when The Legal & General Insurance Company told us to get lost when two ceiling fell in due to water ingress. Why be a sheep following others when you can be up front leading with innovative and unique ideas with only a bit of thought?
     
    Retired, Oct 12, 2018 at 3:31 PM
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    Ian Administrator

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    For some reason I love pressure washing like that - the contrast between the old and new is so pleasing to see when working on it :D.

    When I tackle doing the repointing in our back garden next year, I'm going to try your method and post some photos up :). I'll likely tackle this once it gets a bit warmer in spring.
     
    Ian, Oct 13, 2018 at 1:37 PM
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