Friday, August 24, 2012

A Low Rent Mortar Sprayer

(When I first posted this I used the word "coupling" to describe a 1-1/4" bushing. I apologize and hope I didn't cause anyone any grief. You need a 1-1/4" threaded bushing . So far, despite that I've had to make a few adjustments, this sprayer has worked well for me. A little electrical tape around the threads of the bottle make for a tighter, more permanant fit.Thanks.)

This is an effort to make and use a simple, inexpensive mortar sprayer.
I’m using it with my Harbor Freight  2 hp 125 PSI air compressor.
The sprayer is made from a 1.42 gallon Clorox bottle, a 1-1/4” PVC threaded bushing and plug, a Harbor Freight air gun, and a brass coupler. It was simple to make, easy to use, and worked well spraying a very wet mix of three parts sand to one part Portland cement.
As you can see in the photos, the bottom is cut from the bottle to make a funnel. Then the PVC bushing screws onto the Clorox bottle. It's not a perfect, tight fit. You can still turn the bottle, but the threads mesh enough for the coupler to hold on. I didn't glue the bottle to the bushing because I wasn't sure how the bottle would hold up and thought I might need to replace it quickly. It held up fine, though, for this first experimental effort.
The plug screws into the bushing just enough to wedge the threaded tip of the air gun between the bottom of the coupler and the bottom of the plug, and a hole is drilled to push the air gun through the side of the plug. I think I used a 13/32 bit. It needs to be a tight fit. Then the brass coupler is screwed onto the tip of the air gun to hold it in place. Exactly opposite this hole I drilled a slightly larger (15/32) hole. There is probably 3/4" between the end of the brass coupler and the spray hole.
And that's it.
I used the bottle to scoop mortar out a wheel barrow. Tilting the sprayer back slightly prevents the mortar from leaking out of the spray hole until you're in position. I was usually 12 to 18 inches from my target, sometimes closer. I would jiggle the sprayer a little to keep the mortar sliding down. The sprayer clogged once in the beginning because the mortar was too thick. Otherwise I was able to move pretty fast.
Spraying is much easier and faster than daubing. 
I'm spraying mortar over papercrete. I sprayed several layers over a section of wall. I'll see how it cures before adding more layers.

Update 3/7/13: This sprayer has been working well. I’ve been using it to spray some experiments with burlap-crete. However, when I attempted to replace the air gun with one (I thought was) just like it, I found that the threads of the bushing inside the PVC fitting were too short to engage those on the air gun. Though both were purchased at Harbor Freight, the air guns were slightly different. Which means not every air gun will work in this system without some additional retrofitting. I had to grind away some of the thickness of the PVC with a Dremel tool, and also cut the little curled ring off the new air gun to make it work. Also, I’d used a Clorox bottle at first because I happened to have one. A gallon Concrete Bonding Agent jug is sturdier, is a tighter fit, and generally works better.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ferrocement Cat Sculpture Effort

The armature is made of 10 gauge all purpose steel wire wrapped with chicken wire. The mortar is two parts sand, one part Portland cement, one part lime. Components are mixed dry in a large bucket, then enough water is added to a small portion make it damp and clumpy. I wet my glove, then massage a handful of the mix to the right consistency. I'm experimenting to see if the wire armature is strong enough to support the cement sculpture. The figure is about two feet long.

Vermiculite Concrete Gate 6

The front of gate is pretty much complete, except for some touching up with the Dremil tool. The back will will simply be primed  and painted.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012