Handling the ICEBOX®

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Igloo Ed
Joined:Fri Feb 29, 2008 1:44 pm
Location:Lyons, Colorado
Handling the ICEBOX®

Post by Igloo Ed » Wed Jun 25, 2008 10:28 am

The Form Handler works with the pole between his legs when kneeling or standing. He needs to be careful not to bump the pole or sit on it when kneeling because this will either break the block or loosen the stake. Kneeling on both knees rather than just one knee works best because a person is more stable this way and this helps tremendously in holding the form steady.
Kneeling is required on the first layer but it works to either stoop over or kneel on the second layer. When kneeling, the form handler should stand up before releasing the form in order to move it. If one tries to move the form while kneeling, the pole runs into his legs and he will need to shuffle sideways on his knees. This shuffling can bump the pole resulting in a broken block or a loose stake.
When releasing the form, place the left forearm across both the Inner and Outer Panel and hold them down slightly so they don't come up when the U-Bar is pulled up. While holding the form panels down, grab the U-Bar in the center with the right hand and pull up until the stop on the U-Bar engages the Inner Panel. As the U-Bar gets loose, turn or twist the U-Bar in a counterclockwise direction. This twist causes friction between the U-Bar and the Outer Panel effectively stopping the Outer Panel from sagging down the outside wall. If the Outer Panel sags, it causes interference between the block and the form when moving the form and can result in a broken block.
While holding the twist pressure on the U-Bar, lift the Toggle Handle up being careful not to let it pop loose as this will also break the block. Also, do not lift the Toggle Handle so far that it tries to stretch the pole assembly because this will also break the block or loosen the stake. If the Toggle Handle doesn't stay up (happens mostly on the first layer), pull inward on the U-Bar while keeping the twisting pressure on the U-Bar. Pull just far enough that the U-Bar lifts a bit being careful not to pull hard enough to break the block.
While still holding the twist pressure on the U-Bar, shove the thumb of the left hand down into the inside corner formed by the Inner Panel and the End Panel. Place the fingers of the left hand on the outside face of the End Panel and twist the End Panel clockwise. This clockwise twist pressure will balance out with the counter clockwise twist being held on the U-Bar and the form will come loose. If it doesn't come loose, a bit of delicate jiggling will loosen it up.
Once the form is loose, gently slide it to the left so the block doesn't break and continue sliding the form until it is completely off of the new block. Because the wall is leaning in, the distance to the Stake on the first layer gets shorter if the form is lifted while sliding it. It works best to have a little downward pressure and slide the form on the floor. On the higher levels, the distance to the Stake increases if the form is lifted. This depends on what size igloo is being built as to lift or lower the form on the second layer. The way to tell what to do is to look and see what clearance is between the Inner Panel and the finished block when ready to slide the form left.
After the form has been removed from the finished block, set the form flat on the floor while gently pushing the form outward. This tries to stretch the pole and results in the Toggle Handle resetting itself. The U-Bar usually resets itself also when the form is set flat on the floor. If the U-Bar and Toggle Handle do not reset themselves, do so by hand.
To reposition the form and start building the next block, begin by setting the form flat on the floor with the open end of the form butted up against the previous block. Kneel down straddling the pole with the pole close to your left knee.
With your right hand, grab the top of the Outer Panel just left of the U-Bar with your thumb inside the form and fingers on the outside of the Outer Panel. With your left hand, grab the top of the Inner Panel just to the right of the End Panel with your fingers on the inside of the form and your thumb on the outside of the Inner Panel.
While holding on to the form, lift it a bit off the floor and spread the bottom of the form by applying pressure with your right thumb and with your left fingers. This twists the Inner and Outer Panels effectively spreading the bottom of the form.
While holding this pressure, tip the form to the correct angle shown on the End Panel and lower the form until the Inner Panel comes into contact with the floor.
The form is then placed on the previous block by sliding it along the floor and onto the previous block. Be careful not to jiggle the form or move it around so no snow is rubbed off the previous block. Also, when moving the form onto the block, watch your knees and the pole so you don't bump the pole. You may need to shuffle to the right while on your knees and while positioning the form.
After the form is positioned like this, move your left hand by placing your thumb on the inside corner formed by the Inner Panel and the End Panel and place your fingers on the outside of the End Panel. Then pull slightly toward you with your left hand. This pull creates a little pressure on the previous block and will break the block if pulled to hard. The reason for this pull is to stop the Outer Panel from sagging down when letting go with your right hand. If the Outer Panel still tends to sag when releasing with your right hand, it also helps to apply pressure with your left fingers and pull with your left thumb which twists the End Panel some.
If the Outer Panel does sag, place the palm of your right hand on top of the U-Bar and pull up the Outer Panel with your right fingers by basically squeezing the U-Bar into the Outer Panel.
Continue pulling in on the form with your left hand while you fill and pack the form full of snow. When you pack by the End Panel, the form can scoot ahead to the left and if this is happening, push lightly to the right with your left hand to stop the form from scooting ahead.
After the form is half full of snow, it should be setting solid, the pull pressure you are using on your left hand can be relaxed but you should continue to hold onto the form to steady it a bit and also to have the hand ready to push to the right when packing near the End Panel in order to stop the form from scooting ahead.
If the block is built correctly, the form can be released and moved immediately after finishing filling and packing it. I have packed clear ice crystals at -20f. and been able to consistently move the form immediately after packing it full.
On the higher levels, a couple things change.
One thing that is done differently is placing the form flat on the floor while resetting the U-Bar and Toggle Handle. There is no floor to set it on so the form is turned counterclockwise enough that the form can be set on the wall without either the Inner or Outer Panel sagging. When turning the form counterclockwise, be careful not to turn it to far or the Toggle Handle ball will pop out of the Inner Panel.
The second thing that changes on the higher levels is putting the form onto the previous block.
Position the form close to the previous block and close to the top of the wall with the bottom of the Inner Panel. Line the bottom of the Inner Pane up with the block below and gently lower the form until the End Panel begins to touch the top of the wall. Then slide the form onto the previous block and pull as usual with your left hand.
While pulling with the left hand, use your right hand to gently tap the End Panel down into the top of the wall. There is a little rib on the bottom of the End Panel which helps stop the form from scooting ahead while packing near the End Panel.
When moving the form with the End Panel tapped into the top of the wall, it will not want to move freely, gently jiggle the form to break the End Panel free. Lift the form just enough so the rib on the bottom of the End Panel can slide along and move the form off the block as previously described.
One note here is to always pull back on the form or at least let the weight of the form rest on the pole. Lift the form up of down while it rests on the pole to gain clearance enabling the form to be moved without breaking the block. NEVER lift the form in such a way that it is pulling on the pole. Lifting in this way will pull the stake out of the floor.
Also, while going around the igloo building the blocks, the pole starts to turn on its own and the Toggle Handle will not be setting flat. Pay attention to this when resetting the Toggle Handle and give it a little twist to straiten it up when needed. If the pole turns to far, the Socket Pole will be pried off the stake.
At times, the form may not want to fit properly onto the previous block and it is more important that the bottom of the Inner Panel fits well on the wall below. The form can be used to chop notches into the previous block so it can overlap the previous block some.
This chopping however will mean that there are gaps someplace. The shoveler covers these gaps with his arm or hands while the form handler packs the snow.
Once the form is all the way up on the sixth layer the Outer Panel can be removed. To remove the Outer Panel, remove the U-Bar first and then peel off the Outer Panel by grabbing it close to the End Panel and lift it like you were opening a book. The Outer Panel will pop off when peeled off far enough.
After the Outer Panel has been removed, untoggle the Toggle Handle and jiggle the End Panel free. The form is completely free at this time and moving and positioning the form becomes very easy.
To position the form with the Outer Panel and U-Bar removed, place the form with the Inner Panel overlapping the previous block and the back of the End Panel low enough to close gaps on the bottom of the form. Then set the End Panel down the on the wall and pull with your left hand creating pressure across the pole and into the bottom right corner of the Inner Panel on the inside of the wall. While holding this pressure, gently tap the End Panel down into the wall as you have been doing all along when up on the wall.
At this point, the form handler cannot reach to pack the bottom of the sixth block so the shoveler packs the first few shovel of snow. The Form Handler continues to pull down on the top left of the Inner Panel while pushing lightly with his right hand on the bottom right corner of the Inner Panel. Once the Shoveler is finished packing the lower part of the block, the Form Handler can remove his right hand and start using it to pack the block.
As the remaining hole gets smaller, the End Panel gets hard to remove from the wall and it is best to remove the End Panel by peeling it off the Inner Panel.
On the higher levels, it is easy to bump the form and move it while packing. Be careful as the form cannot move at all or you will have problems with blocks breaking.
Two things that can also cause blocks to break on the higher levels is releasing the Toggle Handle and letting it pop free or pulling to hard on the top left corner of the Inner Panel. If the Toggle Handle is released and let pop free, the block effectively drops a tiny bit but it is enough to break the block when packing cold snow. It is best to lift the Toggle Handle slowly.
Pulling to hard on the form will result in the Inner Panel pushing the block up when letting go of the pressure with the left hand. Release the Toggle Handle first and then the pressure with the left hand. If you see the block break when you release the left hand pressure, you are pulling to hard and flexing the form to much. When releasing the Toggle Handle, the actual length of the pole assembly gets 1/16 inch longer before coming free. This lengthening can also cause broken blocks. It works best to apply pressure to the pole assembly with your knee so the pole flexes a bit and becomes shorter while releasing the Toggle Handle.
The Form Handler holds the Inner Panel in place for the last block of the igloo. It is best if the pole assembly is long enough to put pressure on the form and hold it tight against the ceiling.
If the Inner Panel is loose while starting to fill and pack the last block, the last block will be hanging down inside the igloo and will drip water when the igloo warms up. Shave the hanging block off if needed before you move into the igloo.
To remove the form on the last block, untoggle the Toggle Handle and tap the Socket Pole off of the Stake by tapping it sideways on the bottom of the pole assembly. Leave the Stake in the floor for future reference when digging the trench in your igloo. Be very careful when cleaning out the igloo as the ball on the Stake can easily be chopped off with a shovel.


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