Concrete Blocks

>> Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Early last week Darryl received delivery of a load of concrete blocks to be used for the walls of the root cellar he is building as part of his new house.  I helped him move 450 blocks down into the cellar that afternoon.  We commented on the weight of those blocks, which was about 36 pounds each, and I reflected on a concrete block that I have which weighs 56 pounds.  It is one of about 2000 to 2500 that my dad made back in the late 30’s and early 40’s.


In 1936 my dad and mother bought a 20 acre parcel in Illinois with an old house and a few old buildings.  They were all in need of repair or replacement.  Within  a few months my dad began to build new buildings.  His records show that he purchased 13 truck loads of gravel (at $1.00 a load) and a few days later a used “block machine” for $6.50.  Using this machine he made all of those 2000-2500 blocks.

I know it is not common today but in the early 1900’s these machines were sold through Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalogs as well as directly by the manufacturers.  I found by doing some research that in 1908 Sears, Roebuck and Co.  was selling the “Wizard Concrete Building Block Machine” for $42.50.  In their 1917 catalog they were offering a machine for about $60.00.  I have no idea how old the machine was that my dad purchased but it did the job making, I believe, 3 blocks at a time.

sears-sm This photo of a block making machine  was taken from the 1940 Sears catalog.  I’m fairly sure that this would have been similar to the one my dad used.

Garry's pictures 086 Here is a picture of the block that I have, one of the  2000 plus that my dad made.  As I mentioned, it weighs 56 pounds.  To make the number of blocks that my dad made he would have had to have used 56 to 70 tons of sand, gravel and cement.  And, that was all handled by hand, a shovelful at a time.  It makes my back tired to think of it.

To check out the work Darryl is doing on his house, on the cellar and to see pictures of his progress please check out his Cedar Ridge Farm blog.


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