Dun, dun dun…… Can you feel the excitement? I just got back from working on a project in Portugal and the plaster machine was one of the coolest I’ve seen. This monster mixed up to 1 1/2 bags of lime plaster at a time (35 kg bags). The capacity was not what made the machine exciting as some of the mortar mixers I use here in the States will mix twice that capacity at once. What was cool was everything that the machine was able to accomplish. Here’s a run down.
The machine should be placed directly behind the pile of sand. The reason is clear: why carry sand when you can use an automatic, winched sled?! That’s right, this baby comes with a remote controlled sand sled that places the sand directly into the holding barrel. That brings us to the next cool part of the machine, the holding barrel. This section of the machine allows you to pre place all of your materials, even water if you choose although I think it’s better not to put the water in at this time, into a holding tank of sorts. That way when you are ready to mix your next batch you simply empty the mixing barrel of the machine and add the next batch, already pre measured and ready to go.
What’s also cool is that this holding barrel is hydraulically lifted, so there’s no strain to your back. You simply hit a switch and the hold thing lifts up and dumps the material into the mixing barrel. Add your water and you’re off. While the plaster is mixing, you can get the next batch pre measured and into the holding barrel. This is especially useful when using a material like Natural Hydraulic Lime because that material has to actively mix for 20 minutes. While it’s mixing, you prepare the next load. It’s a great use of time. Otherwise, a 20 minute mix takes 30 minutes start to finish. This way, it’s 20 minutes on the nose.
Another aspect of working with plaster is moving it from the machine to where you need it. Most machines require a wheel barrow, a string back, a well inflated tire, and some relatively good balance. This is usually not a problem (save the well inflated wheel barrow tire), but it is work. This machine would simply pump the mix from the mixing drum directly to where you need it. In fact, it can pump the material up to 10 stories up! Most of us won’t need that, but it does help to send the mud up a steep driveway or hill where a wheel barrow might end up costing you hundreds in chiropractic repairs.
So now we have mixed our plaster, placed it within inches of where it will be used, and the only thing we have had to lift is a bag and half of lime at 35kg each. Not bad. So how about applying it, any savings there? Of course. The machine uses the same compressed air that drives the mix up the hill to run a plaster spraying gun. This speeds application and does a great job of both leveling the wall on the first shot and penetrating the straw.
The down side to this machine? It costs about $8,000. If you can find one to rent or borrow, go for it. Otherwise, just think about how cool it is and marvel at what we have been able to build as humans! 🙂