Cement mixers are useful tools that have contributed to the building of various urban landscapes, including skate parks. Skating is emerging as an ever-growing sport and interest in South Africa. At the beginning of each spring in the Southern Hemisphere, the Kimberley Diamond Cup is hosted in the Northern Cape. This fierce skating competition brings together athletes from as many as 50 countries, and is the biggest skating competition on the African continent.
While skating is not something often associated with South Africa, there is a thriving culture surrounding the sport. Many locals are world-renowned skaters, including Jean-Marc Johannes and Brandon Valjalo. Keep reading to learn more about South African skate parks and how cement mixers have contributed to their construction.
What Makes A Skate Park?
It is always said that a good skate park is not always necessarily the largest, but one that captures the imagination of those going to skateboard there. This means that skaters should enter the park filled with excitement at the tricks they can do there.
Typically, skate parks consist of a number of materials, but the main materials are wood, iron/metal, and cement.
The wood and metal components of a skate park are often built and assembled off-site, and this is why they are known as prefabrication or prefab components. In the past, skate parks largely consisted of metal and wood components, but these require frequent maintenance and it can be costly to do so. In the early 2000s, skate parks started being constructed with more cement and concrete elements, reducing the need for maintenance and increasing affordability to improve design. The cement being used in the construction of a skate park is very important, as well as the cement mixer being used. BS Power offers a number of each, and this guide will help you determine which is best to bring the skate park of your dreams to life.
How To Choose The Correct Cement Mixer
Cement mixers cannot be viewed as a “one tool for all jobs” purchase. Choosing the correct one for your skate park is essential. While choosing a cement mixer may feel like an overwhelming decision to make, understanding the features and functions of a cement mixer will help you make the right choice. It is important to decide whether your mixer will be used occasionally, for frequent use or intensive use.
Occasional use: If you have a once-off project to complete, an electric cement mixer with a capacity of 120 litres is recommended. While there is the option of purchasing a mixer with a 60 litre drum, you may want to consider a bigger litre-capacity as the price difference between the two tends to be minimal.
Frequent use: If you have access to a stable electrical supply and plan on working on several projects, an electricity-powered cement mixer will be a strong contender. A mixer with a 120 litre drum capacity can also be more easily transported across different construction sites. If the project is of a larger scale, cement mixers with a 160- or 190-litre drum capacity are also available, but are also more difficult to transport between sites.
Regular/intensive use: If you are a professional or mix cement most days of the week, consider a cement mixer with a large litre-capacity, such as a 250-litre mixer. As load shedding often causes issues at local construction sites, it is important to consider a petrol-fuelled cement mixer for large projects
How A Cement Mixer Works
A cement mixer works by mixing cement powder, water and other materials into a standard tilting mixer drum. The drum has mixing paddles inside, which mix all the material into a smooth consistency.
As cement mix is quite dusty, it is advised to wear the correct personal protective equipment (PPEs) to ensure you remain safe throughout the process. These include:
- Eye protection that fits snugly
- Waterproof gloves
- Waterproof safety boots that also allow for slight elevation
- Long-sleeved shirt that can tuck into waterproof gloves
- Long trousers that can tuck into safety boots
Ensure cement powder does not make contact with broken or irritated skin. Wash hands with soap and water after working with cement powder or wet cement
What A Cement Mixer Consists Of
- A standard mixing drum with mixing paddles inside
- A ring gear, which keeps the drum rotating as it mixes the cement powder, water and other materials into the right consistency
- A crack wheel, which helps you tip the mixture out when ready
- A foot pedal with a locking system to keep the drum stable during the tipping process
- An engine or motor which keeps the cement mixer working
- A fuel tank – if the cement mixer is, for example, a petrol-fuelled mixer – or a power cord if the cement mixer is electrically-powered
- A control switch to turn the cement mixer on and off
The Differences Between Electric And Petrol-Fuelled Cement Mixers
Electric cement mixers have several advantages over petrol-fuelled mixers. They are more affordable, and require less – if any – maintenance. All these cement mixers need to operate is an electrical outlet and steady electrical supply. They start up immediately, and are also easier to move from site to site as they tend to be lighter. Electric cement mixers most commonly run on 220 V single-phase electricity (between 500 and 1500 watts of power). Models that operate at 380 V three-phase electricity are 15000W or higher.
Petrol-fuelled (or diesel-fuelled) cement mixers afford you the freedom of using them anywhere, and can produce cement batches faster than electricity-powered mixers. These are the mixers typically used in building construction. These mixers usually have pneumatic wheels, meaning they can be transported without using a trailer and can be towed on the road. While this cement mixer is more powerful than electricity-powered mixers, it can emit some levels of air and noise pollution.
The type of cement you will use to build your skate park is also very important. Depending on the size of a skate park, precast cement pieces can be used or free-form cement.
The Differences Between Precast And Free-Form Cement In Skate Parks
Precast cement is cement that has not been poured and shaped or moulded on-site. This means it has been shaped using prefabricated shaping such as cardboard moulds, poured, vibrated and cured at another location before being transported to the site it will permanently remain at.
Precast cement offers a great way to save time, as it allows for other components of the skate park to be built or set up while the cement is being cast and set elsewhere. It also improves site safety, as precast cement structures do not clutter up work sites. A vertical axis cement mixer is recommended for precast cement projects. This cement mixer cleans out well between batches, and is also known for mixing coloured or pigmented cement well.
In the world of architecture, free-form cement is known for its ability to bring any space to life. Provided it is properly reinforced, free form cement can take on any shape envisioned by the architect. This is valuable in building a skate park, as it allows for freedom for dynamic shapes and can create a suitably challenging and creative space for local skaters to enjoy.
Unlike precast cement structures, free-form cement structures are shaped, poured, vibrated and cured on-site. A portable cement mixer with a large-capacity drum is recommended for free form concrete structures, as these cement mixers can make big batches fairly quickly. BS Power offers a number of each, making it possible to build the best skate park you can.
Why Cement Skate Parks Stand The Test Of Time
Skating is a fairly young sport. It was first popularised in the American state of California in the 1950s, when surfers in the region were looking for a way to adapt the wave-riding sport. Initially, surfers cut wooden boards and added wooden wheels so they could “sidewalk surf”. These early skateboards looked like shorter surfboards, and quickly adapted from there.
By 1959, the first company began producing skate boards and these had a game-changing element: metal wheels. By the 1960s, the first skate competitions started springing up in California, solidifying the sport’s status and popularity. Besides being a fun offshoot of surfing, skating also provided youths with an easy mode of transport, especially for those who could not afford their own cars or even to use public transportation.
The first skate parks largely consisted of metal and wood, with some cement elements. Skate parks were known as loud spaces – especially for those skating with metal wheels – as wood and metal conduct sound very well. When skate parks shifted over to including more cement and concrete elements, a rise notable from the early 2000s onwards, many noticed that skate activity lowered in volume. This is because cement ramps absorb sound better, and the wheels on skateboards are also now made of plastic or acrylic.
Cement is more durable, flexible and dynamic than metal and wooden structures alone, and this created more inviting and engaging skate parks. It also made skate parks more accessible, as it was easier for newbies to learn tricks on cement, which is a slightly more forgiving surface.
There is a higher risk of injury when skate parks are built with more wooden and metal components. Wooden ramps, for example, do not handle strain as well as durable cement does. Each day, multiple skateboarders are going at fast speeds and bearing their full weight on the wooden boards of a ramp.
Eventually, this can lead to buckling, warping and the disintegration of wooden ramps. A lack of regular maintenance can also lead to injuries for those who use skate parks, such as being caught on rusted nails or dealing with splinters when falling. While no skate park is 100% safe, cement skate parks can reduce maintenance-related injuries.
Cement skate parks also require less maintenance than earlier skate parks, especially when the park is outdoors. As outdoor skate parks are exposed to the elements, cement offers a more durable material that can withstand a number of conditions, ranging from deluges of rain to searing sun exposure.
Studies have also found that outdoor neighbourhood skate parks that are accessible to many can reduce the youth’s involvement in crime, as it provides an outlet for positive exploration, community-building and reduces damage to public property. During the opening of a skate park in South Richmond, Virginia, USA, city mayor Dwight C. Jones said, “If your city doesn’t have a skate park, it is one.”
If you are embarking on a large construction project, such as a skate park, feel free to contact BS Power with any queries. We have a variety of high-quality construction tools available to ensure your project’s craftsmanship is tip-top.
Visit our online catalogue to see our full range of equipment and tools. We also offer chat customer support to help you select the right tools and equipment for your project.