Wildcat Creek Brick Company

Thursday, December 8, 2011

High water

Heavy rains last week put the bridge to its first real test of its foundation. Several inches of rain pushed the water level of the creek up to within a few feet of the bottom cord of steel. All went well. No damage or undermining found. Very happy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bridge construction update, temporary deck.

Here are a couple photos that show that i have installed a narrow wooden deck on the bridge. With the weather getting cooler and winter on the way, I wont have time to cut and prepare all of the heavy timbers for the full deck. That will have to be done next summer. So, until then, to get use out of all my hard work so far, I went for a temporary decking for my 4 wheel ATV.

This will be a big help during the heavy spring rains and high water. Crossing the creek in high water has been near impossible since my old bridge was washed out.

Next year I hope to redeck it for heavy traffic, like the big truck in the background.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Visit to a nearby treasure. Colonial Brick kilns at Cayuga.

Driving home to Indiana from Denver, Colorado over the weekend with my wife, my sister and her daughter, I made a short visit to a brickworks in Cayuga, Indiana. Id known about it being in my state for over a year. But never had found time to make the trip to see it.

The 10 or so beehive downdraught kilns are operated by Colonial Brick Co. and still are coal fired to this day. They specialize in recreating old and out of date brick for important historical restorations all over the country.

The sights and smells of the smoke here is a powerful step back in time. If I lived closer, id work for free on the side, just to learn better some of the old ways they made and fired the brick.

I really want to build my next brick kiln like one of these scaled down for my needs. Maybe next year.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bridge in location

Finished moving bridge over the piers yesterday. Now waiting for the rain to let up so I can jack it up and level it out. Then its time to anchor it in place and work on the decking.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bridge on the move

Today was a good day. The bridge is now resting on its concrete piers. It was manual labor with a ratcheting chain winch and two comelongs. I used the dozer as a fixed anchor point only. The move and positioning of the trusses was too delicate for brute diesel power.

I spent all day on the move, inch by inch it crept outward over the abyss. Help arrived in the afternoon when my son returned home from school and lend me a hand to finish the work. Im greatful for his help. Im blessed with two near adult sons that I lean on from time to time.

The work is far from done, as now I have to finish the positioning and anchor the bridge in place. Then its putting in the beams and deck.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Second truss is up!

I had some time on Labor Day to work on my bridge. The second truss is up and aligned with the first. Some more bracing needs done and all the cross framing needs added to give it rigidity. Then the path has to be cleared up to the creek.
The plan is to drag it up to and then across the bridge abutments and over the creek with my dozer. More to come!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bridge progress

Here is a photo of the first steel truss being lifted into its upright position.

The next photos are of the work around the pier and abutments in the creek.

I will be working more on it today!

Just wanted to let you know about a blog that is an inspiration to my bridge build here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Working on my truss bridge again.

Really I have been working on it off and on all spring into summer. But I thought to post an update on where Im at with it. There are to efforts going on at the same time, pier construction and truss fabrication.
Im in the first stages of laying out the scrap metal to see what the trusses will look like and make changes where needed. I then have to cut all the pieces to fit together and make ready for welding.

Most of my work has been on the center pier lately. Adding height to it in order to bring it level with both bank abutments. Laying courses of free salvage concrete blocks and filling in the center of the pier with rocks and rubble from the creek, I have built a solid center load bearing structure. Both the ends are made from 55 gallon barrels filled with rock and covered in concrete. Im thinking about covering the long faces of the pier with brick to match the abutments.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Firing results from the brick clamp kiln.

As promised, some photos of fired brick and tile from my latest kiln. It worked very well for a first firing. I have some cold spots and hot spots to improve on next firing. I think nothing will change with the kiln design for now. I will modify how I push the hot coals around in the firebox and stoking in the later stages. Its a learning process, but Im excited about this. Looks like it should be alot of fun!

Monday, May 16, 2011

First firing of the brick kiln at Canal Park.

We had our first firing of the brick kiln at the Wabash and Erie Canal Park in Delphi, Indiana friday and saturday. Thankfully the rain didn't come as had been forcasted. All went well and the firing from start to finish took a little over 26 hours. The kilns hunger for wood wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be either. We went through about half of the wood I had set aside for the firing. In total, about 120 bricks, 50 tiles, and 30 clay coasters were loaded inside.

My pyrometer temp sensors wern't in the best locations as they didn't seem to reflect temps I was observing in the kiln. So next time they will be relocated.

Today I will be going out to break it open and see the results of all the hard work. I will post pics and results soon.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Death and rebirth, A new kiln for Wabash and Erie Canal Park in Delphi.

With much excitement and some sadness I report to you the ongoing construction of a new brick and tile kiln in Delphi. I have been honored with the task of building a replica historical brickmaking kiln at the Wabash and Erie Canal Park. There you can find a village with several cabins and period homes and other structures from the 1830's to 1880's time frame. They also have an actual reconstructed canal boat that offers rides. For those of you with an interest in metalworking there is a blacksmith shop as well as two iron bridges nearby that have been restored.

The new kiln is a scaled down simple updraft clamp scove fired by wood. This is much like kilns of that time in this area. It is designed to fire a few hundred bricks or tiles each time. The inner body of the kiln is made out of recycled firebrick. This is surrounded by an outer shell of common red brick. In between is filled with dirt for insulation and to stop cold air leakage into the kiln.

The new kiln is the largest I have ever built so far. Because of that it has put a strain on my supply of brick, requiring me to tear down and recycle both of my other kilns for the needed brick.

The barn kiln wasn't a big loss to me as it never worked out as well as I would have liked. Failing to reach peak temps no matter what I tried.

But to loose my backyard bottlekiln is sad. It more than did as I hoped it would. Its sacrafice for the greater good will not be in vain. I hope to one day bring it back bigger and better.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Picture update for Mar 18, 2011

Here are some photos of things I am working on in the shop.

Hand molded clay bricks for the historical Wabash and Erie Canal park in Delphi. I will be operating a tradition replica wood fired brick and tile kiln there. Anyone in the area is welcome to stop by and take a look. This summer beginning in May, festival the first weekend in July.

A large round Delphi paver Im working on.

Some named bricks for a new customer.

Some old style street pavers.

A doggy headstone.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New bigstar brick pavers

Ive made a new plate die for my brick press. I really like the look of stars on old pavers and came up with my very own. They fired in the kiln without trouble. Went to 2025'F in a 12 hr firing cycle in my electric kiln. Im gonna make more of these and layout a patio this spring!

Monday, February 7, 2011

New products update

Some of my terracotta style tiles laid out in a simulated wall arrangement. The color variations are partly due to kiln location and temp variations of the firing.

Small star paver bricks arranged on the floor to visualize a possible layout. These are early test pavers and the finish is rougher than I will allow in final product.
Im excited over my newest paver. The larger star pattern is more interesting with the three dimensional detail. Im gonna be making alot of these!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A fellow brickmaker

I would like to introduce to you Tony Mugridge, a fellow brickmaker and potter.

His work is at least a few years more advanced along than what I am doing now. He is fortunate in that he has access to his very own complete historic brickworks. His work can be found on Facebook as well as his own website. I invite you to take a look at what he has done.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kiln repaired, getting back at it now.

My replacement element came in the mail yesterday. I couldn't wait to install it and see if that fixed it. Well repairs went smoothly and it fired up just as it should. So now im back at it. Firing some named brick for friends as well as some new test pavers.

A thank you to New Mexico Clay for their help with locating for me a replacement element for my old kiln.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Down for repair.

My last firing stalled out at 1000'F due to the lower half shutting down. Turns out one of the four bottom heating elements burnt out creating an open circut. Ive priced replacement elements for the kiln at around $30, so I should be able to have it up again soon. Its an old used kiln that has served me well. I cant be sore about it at all.