GOMACO World Index
GOMACO World 30.3 - November 2002

Nobody Builds Better

"Nobody Builds Better." It's been the motto of Force Construction Company, Inc., since they first started in the construction business 56 years ago. The company, based out of Columbus, Indiana, specializes in commercial and industrial building construction, site civil construction, and transportation construction including highway bridges.

Their bridge finishing machine, since 1975, has been the GOMACO C-450.

"The first machine we purchased was the show machine at CONEXPO in Chicago in 1975," Harold Force, President of Force Construction, said. "The deal to purchase the machine was made between our company's founder, Don Force, and GOMACO representatives at the show."

Their original C-450 is still at work today. That's why, when the company decided to purchase an additional bridge deck finisher, they stayed with GOMACO, this time updating to a new generation C-450.

"Our reasons for returning to GOMACO are several, but simple," Force explained. "We were pleased with the first machine; features on the new machine are evolutionary, not revolutionary in their advances over earlier models; and GOMACO representatives project a caring and almost family-like attitude about their product and their customers."

Force Construction recently poured their first bridge deck with their new machine. It was a total bridge replacement project in Bloomington, Indiana.

"The most difficult aspect of setting up a bridge deck pour is simply scheduling and getting the proper number of people on site," Pat Kirchner, Vice President of Construction and Managing General Superintendent for Force Construction, said. "It's also a bit of a challenge building the superelevation and getting the machine set up for it."

Preparations for the actual pour began with setting the stay-in-place metal deck pans. Two mats of epoxy-coated reinforcing were set on top of the deck pans and the overhang was constructed.

The overhang brackets were spaced 19.2 inches (488 mm) apart, center-to-center. Rails were set and then preparations for a dry run began. Force Construction doesn't pour any of their bridges on a skew.

"We dry run the paving machine the entire length of the deck to check our elevations," William Cash, Project Manager, explained. "We don't pour on a skew either. We always pour the approach slabs with the deck and they are always square at the ends."

After a successful dry run, concrete was ordered and the pour began. A crew of 18 people worked the deck pour.

The C-450 was set up to finish the 136 feet (41.45 m) long by 24.1 feet (7.35 m) wide bridge deck. The deck was eight inches (203 mm) thick and had to be built with a slope and superelevation.

"The bridge deck has a 1.42 percent slope along the profile centerline and the deck cross slope was fully elevated at a rate of 6.7 percent for the entire length of the bridge," Cash said. "That's why I like the C-450's center crown adjustment feature. You can adjust the crown section of the machine as you are pouring to make the machine go from a crown cross section to a superelevated cross section and back to a crown."

An Indiana Department of Transportation Class-C concrete mix was used for the eight inch (203 mm) thick deck. Slump averaged between three to five inches (76 to 127 mm).

A concrete pump was used to place the concrete in front of the C-450. Production averaged between 70 to 90 yd3 (53.5 to 68.8 m3) per hour.

"The hardest part of pouring a bridge deck has to be keeping concrete quantity in front of the machine correct," Cash explained. "It's also somewhat difficult to maintain the correct slump when pumping the concrete."

Force Construction's new generation C-450 is equipped with a pan vibrator and a double-drum. The automatic advance is electronically controlled at the end of the finishing passes. As the machine advances, the undercarriage changes the attack angle to keep the excess concrete windrowing in the same direction.

"The automatic advance is a real time savings," Kirchner said. "It cuts our finishing time in half."

A tine finish was applied to the finished deck before it's covered with burlap and wet-cured for 96 hours.

Workers returned later to remove the burlap and Force Construction turned their attention to future projects with their new machine. They have bridge projects lined up in Jennings, Putnam and Jackson counties in Indiana yet this season.

"The second project we used our new machine on produced a bridge deck with riding qualities that are absolutely the best that we have ever experienced or seen on other competitive projects," Force said. "While much of the credit goes to the care and attention of Force project personnel, credit also needs to be given to the new C-450. When used as part of a team process, the GOMACO machine helps us to deliver a truly superior product to the end user and supports the Force Construction Company, Inc., motto that 'Nobody Builds Better.'"

 

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