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Building with rocks Options
pate20135
#1 Posted : Monday, June 23, 2003 11:11:29 PM
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The problem with such rock work is getting the load bearing right. This is the real reason block work is so popular, historically. Look at the castles, they squared the rock for just this reason. Or the pyramids.

And to do the job well, you have to be very good with mental visualization puzzles. Or be skilled at rock splitting and shaping.

Waterproofing rock is a misnomer. All rock, native, is pourus, to various degree. Cement is too, but not to the same degrees. Can thee slipstone? Think of putting a water barrier membrane of some sort on one side of the slipstone work for cost reasons. If push came to shove, and thee really needed to do waterproofing rock, look into water glass, ''isingglass'', that is what the old timers did, have vats of the stuff ready, and soak the stone pieces after figuring/fitting, then emplacing wet. The castle at Aschaffenburg amazed me, all porus limestone, waterglassed. Still standing strong. How many centuries, I wondered.

For our springhouse, that is what we did. A field sand bed, with field stone bedded in for the floor, ''cobblestoned'', then water glassed, several times. The walls were then dry laid up from this bed. The trough was also hand laid, up from the floor, not attached to the walls, but the voids were then poured in with ''soup mud'' (very wet concrete). Then the trough was china glazed by ''stuccoing'' the while thing and then lighting a long time fire in it, making the silica in the stucco glassify. But even with the best craftsmen, there is still some shift and movement in the walls. But the springhouse is only, ummm... seven years old. We will have to wait another dozen or so, before we water glass the walls. If we do. And water glass can get very expensive.

I forgot thy address. So uncertain if thee can crush thy native stone and make brick/block. I know it sounds labor intensive, but there is something... ''more'' soulfilling, about taking that stone and making it into block. At least to me.

And thee is welcome with the trade.

Pate

andydufresne
#2 Posted : Tuesday, June 24, 2003 2:59:39 AM
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I am in Arkansas. My land most resembles the hills around the Ouachita (wash uh taw) mountains. I guess the ridges around here are really the last part of the Ouachita''s western edge. I don''t really know from rocks so that''s the best I can tell you. BUT I do have lots of rocks, big and small. HOnestly, Pate I thought that building the walls in this root cellar would be about like building a rock wall fence. What I was thinking was of making the floor and roof out of concrete and the walls out of rocks. I have enough different sizes and shapes of rock to be able to piece together a puzzle. Do you have a good source for learning some of these skills?


ALSO since we are talking about a rather small building I could make this a practice run for the underground house I want to build in a few years. I have ordered a book on building underground houses from backcountry.com. AND one from MOther. They should be here sometime this week.

pate20135
#3 Posted : Tuesday, June 24, 2003 10:14:30 PM
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Andy,

Definately NOT like building a rock fence. Thee also has the, err..., ''horizontal'' forces to contend with. By that I mean, in a rock fence, the pressure, supplied by gravity, is down. In a ''buried'' wall, then thee also has (variable) water and (constant) earth weight pressing in on the sides. While such construction is possible, and we do it, it makes for very large walls. On a general rule, four times the height is the base. And that is with ''soup mud'' holding things together. For ''dry lay'' field walls, the base is normally two and a half times the height.

I have visited inlaws in Arkansas. Remembering what I saw, I would be looking at a block or ferroconcrete then ''fauxing'' the interior for the look, or slipstoning. Even with concrete block, you are still looking at filling the voids with concrete ''soup mud'' and having the structure tied together with rebar. Come to think of it, if memory serves me correctly, there are special Arkansas building codes in play, when it comes to such work. Go check.

If thee is near Little Rock, go to the MacAuther (sp?) museum, and ask to see the basement. Beautiful drylay, which has stood the test of time. Artisanship like that, I cannot help but respect. No offence, but I know thee can not match that, and I certainly can not.

If memory serves me correctly, most of the rock there is not ''slab''. Slipstoning would most likely be the quickest and cheapest.

As to books, and references, there are scads of them. Some two dozen here in the Librum. None in english. Hmmm... There is one english book that stands out in my memory. It was written just after WWI, ''Field Stone Works'', English (as in UK), by a person named, appropriately, Stoner. It was a combination of older military works, with the compilors notes, he was in the war, I think thee knows what he did. (smile). It impressed me as it was one of the few works I had found on how to build field works using native stone and other materials, with no binding agents, that were sturdy enough for the environment of war.

Go check on those codes!

Pate

StreetLegal
#4 Posted : Tuesday, June 24, 2003 11:51:18 PM
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Hey Pate,

Speaking of beautiful work, have you ever visited the "Miraculous Stairway" in Santa Fe, New Mexico?
pate20135
#5 Posted : Wednesday, June 25, 2003 12:40:36 AM
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Alas, no. Been in that city, at a conference, but had no time to, err..., ''tourista''. (grin)

Pate
andydufresne
#6 Posted : Wednesday, June 25, 2003 2:54:23 AM
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I''m not sure what is IN the building at McArthur Park anymore...I THINK a fine arts museum. The old Museum Of Natural History is now the MUSEUM OF DISCOVERY. I WAS THERE TODAY! It moved from McArthur Park to The River Market area. It is an old Warehouse district RIGHT ON THE RIVER which will be walking distance from the Clinton Presidential Library.

I THINK this may be more than I am capable in learning about in just a few weeks. I need to do this project before summer is out. BUT I will see if I can get in the building to see the work there. I HAVE been in that basement but it has been many years.

Thanks for all the help so far.
skruzich
#7 Posted : Wednesday, June 25, 2003 5:04:24 AM
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Pate,
I think if memory serves me correct, On my family homestead up in kentucky, we have a cold house or spring house. It is constructed of stone and is underground. I believe that it is 10''x 10'' and is made entirely from fieldstone. It has been there since 1774 (i am not sure), but has stood the test of time. My great,great,great,great grandpa surveyed the state lines along with the McAfee brothers and others working for the transylvania trading company.
Anyway, he got 500 acres of land of his choice for payment for his services.
He built this springhouse then. It is a ever running spring that probably produces 20 gal a min even during the summer.
Anyway He built this storehouse with the fieldrock he got clearing his land. the walls are 8 feet high, and at the base are around 5 feet thick, tapering off going up, to about 2 1/2'' thick at the top. At the center of the walls, (3 of them) there is a stone brace or a upside down arch for lack of a better description that is in place to brace the wall. The roof has been replaced many times over the years but it has had the same support beams that was used when it was first built. This consists of two 10"t x 12"w x 12''L hand hewn hickory beams. Then they layed 2x4''s across it and then covered it in a tile, that appears to be just as old. Not sure about that. It is a awesome piece of work.
There is absolutely NO mortor or mud or substance to hold the rock together. It is fitted together much like a puzzle and even though the years have passed, there is very little wear in the cracks, and virtually NO water seeps through the walls.
Now talk about COLD!!!! I can take a gallon of milk, or any food i want and leave it in this store room and it will stay 42 degrees during the middle of summer.
I wish i could have been there learning how to do it when he was building it. That is a art that should have been kept alive.
StreetLegal
#8 Posted : Wednesday, June 25, 2003 9:04:05 PM
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Pate, when you get a minute, follow this link and check out the stairway:

http://www.lorettochapel.com/html/stair.html
pate20135
#9 Posted : Wednesday, June 25, 2003 11:24:42 PM
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Andy,

Sorry to hear of the moving of the museum. I enjoyed the old one. I particulary enjoyed the natural history section with all the stuffed birds. I hope that has not been destroyed. While I deplore killing animals to create exhibits, I don''t think this was the case here. This display was one of the largest and most complete I had ever seen.

My good wife, before she married me, worked there. She did not know what she was getting into in marrying me, and was under the impression she needed a dowry. We have had a lot of chuckles over that. My now SIL was the accountant.

It was on one of my visits that the curator, learning who and what I was, let me into the basement with a request to ''look it over''. Actually, now that I think about it, the curators office was in the finished portion of the basement, under the front ''porch''. They were hoping not to have to replace some origional hand hewn beams. The beams had a dry mold rot problem. Yes, I was able to find a soybean oil based emulsion in the Biblium Gnosis to treat the beams. Last I heard, all was well, beam wise. I have also heard that there was a fire.

It was there that I saw the stonework. Beautiful craftsmanship. It was one of those situations where you ''walk into it''. I also heard that they were going to mortor over the work due to seepage. I hope not. And if they have, please don''t tell me.

As to ''learning curve'' and time, I do understand. I again suggest thee look into slipstoning. Quick learning curve, with very strong results.

---

Steve,

The springhouse walls were tied together in a ''U'' formation. Correct? That is why he was
able to get a way with such narrow bases.

When doing my ''chores'', part of them is my ''rounds'' which is not unlike a private security guards. Again, tourista problems. My neighbor has a mixed herd of cows. He stores the milk for market there. He may only sell full cans. Here in VA, there is a ''raw'' milk'' law, making such sell legal. So there is usually a ''partial'' metal milkcan of milk with a dipper in it. The first skim has already been removed, and the dipper is there. The simple enjoyments are best, even if my teeth freeze. Actually that ''can'' is mine, part of the agreement, but I don''t use it, we have others who come for it, who have greater need.

Forty two? Hmmm... One of the things I do on my rounds is check the thermometer. Is this water or air? Our water is a constant thirty six. Not bragging. Obviously a thermal mass thing.

---

Street,

Ach, those Roman Catholics! Always looking for ''miracles''. But it is a good story. I think I do remember seeing a article on it now. Was that not the one where the wood was steamed into crossbraced arches with center square ''dowel'' key?

Pate
skruzich
#10 Posted : Thursday, June 26, 2003 12:14:26 AM
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Pate, It was a U formation went across the floor, and it had a half a U tied in to the center. The air was 42 degrees, and I think that was because there were vents built into the walls pulling in the surface air or something. I would guess that if you were to cover these holes, that the temp would get to the same temperature the water was. I know one thing, to this day the old iron dipper is still hanging on the hook from the beam right over the spring. Every time i go there, i drink and drink til i about burst. can''t seem to get enough of that water when you drink it.
What really has intrigued me was that the beams are still in immaculate shape. I would have thought they would have rotted away over the years.
I know one thing, the work that went into that farm to get it workable took many years. It was extremely hard work, and there was alot of homes built in the area from the timber my family cut up and sold around there. I couldn''t imagine having to pull stumps out of the ground with just a mule.
Steve
:)
StreetLegal
#11 Posted : Thursday, June 26, 2003 4:06:04 AM
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Pate,

Your comment" Ach, those Roman Catholics! Always looking for ''miracles''." made me laugh!

"steamed into crossbraced arches with center square ''dowel'' key"

I have no idea how he did it, but the man built a stairway that resembles a cork-screw. A circular stairway with no center pole or external support of any kind...didn''t even have a handrail or banisters.

Some years later another carpenter (a true craftsman in his own right!) added the handrail.

The workmanship of the strairs and the handrail is awesome.

Story goes the carenter who built the stairway left in the middle of the night and did not stay around to get paid. I think it was because the stairway was so rickety that he felt ashamed to charge the nuns for it! :)
pate20135
#12 Posted : Friday, June 27, 2003 1:59:04 AM
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While in danger of being blasted for mentioning the ''loyal opposition'', Countryside has a four page article on stone building. #87/4 (Jul/Aug) pg 67.

---

Steve,

U shaped trough, right? That also explains the small bases. If you get to go again, take this tip with you. Fill a two liter bottle, and dunk it in. Then drink from that. You can ''founder'' thyself, and the narrow neck helps me from doing so. And that U shape trough also tells me that thy folks may have been cheese makers.

If thee has ''Home Depot'' in the area, check out the flagstones and slabs. I was quite surprised they had such. I normally do not go there, ''minimum wage kids'', but we needed more beeswax for the mold work, and I knew they carried the wax. They were giving away the broken panels. Giving away. 4''x6''x1", even broken, has lots of uses. With a good wet saw, like for tile work... Good Wife is getting a new kitchen floor.

Vented?
That tells me that the area suffers some hard freezes. As to the timbers, I won''t hazard a guess about the longivity without more information. The first thing I would look for is to see if ''white'' / translucent, and then if small yellow crystals at the joints/ends.

---

Andy,

Heidi sent me the new Mother Earth News Guide to Homes. 2003. Noted in Mothers Bookshelf an old favorite title that I thought was out of print. A different cover from the library copy I read when young. The Art of the Stonemason. If so, I am getting it. Enough said?

---

Street,

It is not the same starwell.

And glad thee got a laugh. We all need them from time to time.

---

Take care,

Pate
skruzich
#13 Posted : Friday, June 27, 2003 3:04:03 AM
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LOL pate, Yes my grandmother still makes cheese at the age of 80. :) You have to be very careful what you eat there because she tends to be very frugal at the wrong times. She reuses baggies that have had meat in them, just washes them out and stores food back in them and things like that. But i do remember her making cheese when i was a teenager, and it was pretty good. I think it was goat cheese.
but Most of what came out of that spring house was nothing more that pure grade A Kentucky sippin wiskey ;) The still is still setup on the farm. It was declared a historic item about 15 years ago when the revenuers tried to take it away and we filed a lawsuit stopping them. The courts agreed that since it was over 150 years old, that it was a historical item and should be left where it is and we can even produce i think about 1000 gallons a year legally for personal use ;)
But that spring house has been used for many many things. Thats a good idea about not over doing it drinking the water using the bottle. I am guessing its the minerals in the water that creates the thirst like it does. ANyway I manage to take home 4 or 5 gallons of that water to drink :)

TTYL steve
andydufresne
#14 Posted : Friday, June 27, 2003 5:09:21 AM
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I will look for that issue of the "loyal opposition".

I bought the last issue...I don''t think anyone would slam a Patriarch anyway but I suspect a lot of us read both magazines. I THINK they kinda off set one another as far a shelf appearance.

Thanks for all you help. I will investigate things a little more before I give up and go to concrete blocks.
pate20135
#15 Posted : Friday, June 27, 2003 2:00:15 PM
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Steve,

Yes to the minerals in the water. We say ''The body knows what it wants and needs''. Which allows me to get the pie first! (smile)

I sometimes walk to the ''sulfur springs'' for just that reason.

Got a chuckle out of the ''sippin'' stuff. And as for the ''revenuers'', justice. No, me and mine don''t drink. Even for ''medicinal''. But we still have a strong, err..., ''distrust'' of ''big government''. The persecution of my people was state sponsored in the old countries. That distrust is still irritated today, as most of my kind do not handle money, and that makes for difficulties at ''tax time''. I have sent up many a prayer of thanks for H&R Block. They cater to us. Actually, the brothers came from our stock.

The ''U'' trough is a cheeze makers trick. During the hand packing, not unlike ''slapping handburger patties'', thee is actually forcing air out of the ball. The ball is then floated in the trough. The idea is to get as close to ''neutral'' boyancy as possible. Such would barely float and not travel down the trough. If the ball floated ''around the bend'', it was pounded some more, as too much air. The U created enough ''still'' water, no venturi type action that would give false indication. Once ''water cured'', then was sealed, usually with a wax, like a ''gouda''. There are other types of cheese, but this was most common. And the ''air pockets'' come later in the shelf curing.

---

Thinking of ''tax time'', a message for a lurkering emailer.

NO, I will not keep thee appraised of ''sacrifice sales'' in thy state or surrounding. Normally such sales are ''in-community'' and not open to tourista. If thee really wants to follow such, then subscribe to the english translation of the Budget, all such sales are required to be advertised there. While the Budget is in deitch, it is translated and sold by another homesteader near to the actual publisher. No I don''t have the address, and even if I did, I would not give it to thee. Again, ''in-community'', and thee demanded the information, in a way I find offensive.

For thee other folks, sometimes when one of ours gets into trouble, and does not have a large enough ballence on the Knosks ledgers, we have community ''sacrifice'' sales, to raise funds to help. Usually quilts or something we know somebody else in the community needs. Neighbor helping Neigbor.

---

Andy,

I say again, ''slipstone''. The process is different, but just as strong, actually stronger. And if thee rebars it then much stronger.

And I bungled that last message, I was trying to say if that is the same book I remember, or an update, I will be getting it.

As to ''loyal opposition'', we actually keep several ''oppositions'', to include the one that formed from ex-tmener staff after the magazine moved from NC. Come back over to the link in the signature. (grin)

Everybody blasts the Gnostic Patriarch. Everybody. I get ordnunged ALL the time. Part of the ''turf''. (sad smile).

---

Take care,

Pate
andydufresne
#16 Posted : Friday, June 27, 2003 3:08:14 PM
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Pate:

Just for the record...it took a couple of readings but I DID understand what you meant. I just got the 2003 TMEN homes book and found the bookshelf. I saw the book you refered to but I also saw one that claimed to be a Primer. I was attracted by the claim that by following their directions that even someone without building experience could construct stone buildings. I may order that one. I''m not in a BIG hurry...I want to do it this summer but it really does not HAVE to be done until next summer. I intend to have a bigger garden and put some things up for later in the year.

As for Marriages, I have a friend from China who has immigrated now to Toronto. She call me a DIAMOND Bachelor. I am not wealthy by any American standard but I have land and a couple of mobile homes and I work and have a garden, etc etc...she says that would make me very deisrable in China. Too bad all the ladys here don''t see it that way. [:D]


I had a mother-in-law once...she was a right pain in the arse. (Let''s see if THAT gets through!)

Started out with a bad day yesterday but came home for lunch (something I rarely do) and eate mostly from my garden. THE WHOLE rest of the day was better.

andydufresne
#17 Posted : Friday, June 27, 2003 3:28:21 PM
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PATE: I have looked but can find nothing on slip stone.... JUST after I posted this I found a website that talked of SLIP FORMING...I am guessing that that is what you were speaking of. A two foot form is made and stones placed inside. Then concrete is poure in to fill the voids. From what I read on the website, the tapering from wide to narrow as you go upward is not needed if you use concrete as a mortar in the wall. If I have a contrete floor and layer the concrete and stone like I would bricks will that suffice? OR perhaps the easiest way would be the Sliptstone or slip forming. Thanks again for your help.
skruzich
#18 Posted : Friday, June 27, 2003 10:33:59 PM
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Hey andy, we have a house and a store that was built back in the 1800''s here where they took the quartz out of the gold mine here, and built the house by that very method. When they broke the forms away it left a absolutely astounding rock house!
You ought to see it when the sun hits that quarts in the right angle.
steve
pate20135
#19 Posted : Saturday, June 28, 2003 1:08:17 AM
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Andy,

I do think it is also referred to as slipforming. (double checking)

Thee has it. Hurrah!

Glad to get by that language barrier.

Again, check your codes, if memory serves correctly, even with slipstone, you still have to have rebar. And with slipstone, thee is again right, the walls can be ''straight''. (Another thought, it may not be that way in the code, I am getting fuzzy on that.
Here in VA, we use both 6" square wire mesh and rebar, the mesh helps in ''hanging'' the slip faces. Please check the local codes.)

Now that we are communicating, and thee has the basic idea, I can drop more hints / tips.

Tip. Thee can put any ''foam sheet'' insulation in. Nor is it uncommon to have ''three'' form. The center is filled with sawdust, or a plastic sheet, or a dry lime preperation that kills any seepage. I have also seen the plastic peanuts.

Another tip, two foot is a bit much. A foot is more, errr..., easy on the back, etc. All slipstoners I have watched ''walk the form''s instead of using scaffolding. So if sitting on the forms, the reach to place the stones ''just so'' is easier. And easier to visualize.

Another tip, pallets. We don''t use ''boards'' but make ''faces'' out of pallet panel. Say 5 ft by 1 ft. Just take a hammer to it to break off any ''stick''. If a panel gets too badly dinged, no big deal. If you break a board, no big deal.

Another tip, slipstoning is much kinder to multipours. With monolythic (slab, floors, etc), you have to pour all at once, else, down the years the different PHs cause problems. The rock seems to neutralize this problem. A gal at a time of mix is MUCH easier as we advance in years.

Another tip. Test the rock. To do so: Soak the rock. Freeze it. If no cracking, then soak again, and toss in 360 degree oven. If no crack on cooling, soak again and use it. And yes, marble to golf ball ''river stone'' is best. Bigger is fine, square/rectangular is fine, but thee has to be really carefull to get that mud VERY soupy, and do a lot of thumping on the forms to get ''voids'' filled.

Another tip. Get a soft, i.e. brass headed hammer. No matter how careful, some cement will form on the ''face''. A few light taps, and voila, stone face revealed. Do not use a sponge, or a wire brush. The sponge people eat up a lot of sponges, (and hands) and the wire brush damages the stone.

---

Steve, I bet it is very striking.

I had another idea, but one aspect has me stumped. But it might be of use to thee.

As I know thee remembers, I tried to create plastic bricks out of plastic bottles for ''skylights'' before, in a ''cordwood'' wall. Well, during this project to make the deer fence post shoes, we tinkered a bit. We had plastic coming in from everywhere! The tin smith made a brick mould, we filled it with aggregate, popped it in the oven, and melted bottles in. Just like slipstoning, but plastic instead of concrete, and we had a very nice looking brick. We also did some without aggregate. I know it would wear very well. Now I would not dream of using it in a ''lived in'' structure, as the plastic is flamable, but as cobblestone? For outbuilding walls (1x1x1 ft blocks)? For terracing work (2x1x1 ft blocks)?

What I am struggling to figure the load capasity of such blocks, and if they will ''balloon'' under load, but can''t figure the math. Any ideas?

And another lesson learned for what it is worth. If thee plays with the temperature around the ''gas'' point, around 427 F, where the plastic starts to gas, the plastic gets fluid enough to let the bubbles start to rise out. Using a ''brick mold'' vibrator, about $30, had in ''junk'' area, helped it quite a bit. Trouble, of course, is that gas is what ''lights off'' first. Perhaps thee can use for ''skylighting''.

And for the record, I am the best ''Krazy Kat'' plastic brick zinger. I won hands down.

Take care,

Pate
skruzich
#20 Posted : Saturday, June 28, 2003 2:26:43 AM
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Pate, to test the brick, do yall have a 20 ton jack or what i use in the automotive world is a sleeve press. It is a 2 ton jack hooked up to a steel frame. you can take a 2 ton jack and use it like that, and put your brick between the jack and the brace. If it stands up to the 2 ton jack, get a 3 ton or 4 ton jack and do the same, until it breaks or shatters.
Then you can also test it under different condtions, lower the temperature of the brick by 5 degrees at a time and preform the same test with the jack that breaks the brick in normal temperature. Now what you have to do is count the number of strokes you use til the brick breaks in each instance and then you can divide the strokes into the pressure exerted and get a estimate of how much pressure per stroke. That might help you.
II don''t know where to get a meter that you could use to measure the pressure exerted.
But in all reality, if you think about it, how much weight is really on a wall. I mean, I know that the doublewides weigh approximately 30k pounds or 15 tons. THats total weight. You then have to figure that it is spread out over lets say 1000 sqft. That would make it 30 pounds a square foot for materials which isn''t a whole lot of weight. Plastic would be able to handle that. Have you thought about placing the brick mold in a vaccum to draw the bubbles out? I mean it works in metal casting why not plastic. I used to make amulets and belt buckles a few years ago, and i would make my molds out of plaster of paris with wax sprues. Then heat the plaster in its steel tube in a oven to burn out theplastic sprues to make the mold. Then i would take the mold place it on a table with a rubber mat over the hole in the bottom( it is connected to the vaccuum) and then pour my molten metal and place the plastic cover over the top and turn the vaccuum on. It draws out all the air in the spaces. Have to let it sit til it cools.
Just another idea.
steve
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