Friday, September 16, 2011


With nearly all the work inside the QVC completed, the floor installation has started. The bugabear of the old building was water, more specifically water leaks. Leaks caused the expansion and contraction of the hygroscopic mudstones beneath the building with the concomitant shifting and twisting of the building. This should not be a problem in the new visitor center, but if there is any slight shifting and heaving a different kind of floor should avoid some of the problems.

If we installed a new concrete floor, future movement might crack it and cause sections to rise up or drop down, resulting in an irregular floor with both safety hazards and threats to the new exhibits. The solution to this potential problem is to install a different kind of floor, one using sand and pavers made of recycled rubber.

The first step in this flooring project was to excavate and remove the soil within the building to a depth of about 12 inches. That was replaced with dirt that was compacted to form a solid surface.

However, the base for the new floor is, maybe surprisingly, sand.

Sand is dumped.

Then raked out.

Next a compactor is used to compact the sand.

Careful work levels the sand and keeps it to a consistent thickness.

The floor is made up of two parts. First black squares are laid down. These have pegs and slots for the pavers themselves.

Next the pavers are put down and locked into the peg system of the base plates.

A metal side plate is installed near the irregular base of the cliff to hold the floor in place along the irregular sandstone layer.

Work started at the east end of the building on Monday and by Tuesday nearly half the floor had been laid down. It will be completed by the end of the week.

The advantage of this type of flooring over a concrete floor is that it any shifting occurs, the affected part of paver system can be taken up, the sand beneath it leveled out and the floor made level again.

Next week the last major stage of the QVC project begins --- the cleaning of the cliff face and the installation of the new exhibits. These projects will go on simultaneously so that we can be ready for the grand re-opening on Oct 4!

Photos: NPS

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