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Pouring Concrrete For Display Aircraft.

Fri May 06, 2011 4:04 pm

Hey guys.

I am getting talked into helping the transportation musueum up here with a bit of a project.

They want to take the aircraft they have on display and move them off the ground they are sinking into and up on concrete pads. Since I am an aircraft guy I think I can help. Since we are on a budget here there is simply going to be a small concrete pad constructed under each wheel. I am goind out there in a couple of hours to see if I can come up with a plan about how to build them.

So what I need is pads for a F-102, a H-21, a H-5 all are without their powerplants, and a UH-1 and a C-47 with engines installed. I mention the engines because of the additional weight.

What I am picturing is building a board form for each of these pads, running a couple of pieces of rebar in it and then pouring bagged redi-mix to make the pad.

I guess that I need some imput on how thick to make the pads. I think I want to pour them proud our the ground so the tires and landing gear are a bit more protected from lawn mowing equipment.

What thickness should I pour the concrete to be strong enough to support those aircraft, and how big should I be looking to make the forms.

Any thoughts folks? Input is appreciated
Topic Author
Posts: 29881
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 1999 11:27 am

RE: Pouring Concrrete For Display Aircraft.

Fri May 06, 2011 4:20 pm

Oh, here are some photos of the actual aircraft in question to see what I am looking at.

The Seasprite has what I have in mind.

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Photo © AirNikon Collection-Pima Air and Space Museum

These are the aircraft that need it.

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Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © AirNikon Collection-Pima Air and Space Museum

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Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © AirNikon Collection-Pima Air and Space Museum

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Photo © Montague Smith-WorldWide Aviation Photos

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Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © AirNikon Collection-Pima Air and Space Museum

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Joined: Fri Sep 07, 2001 1:38 am

RE: Pouring Concrrete For Display Aircraft.

Fri May 06, 2011 4:54 pm

What you're doing is essentially pouring foundations. This is probably more than you need, but I found an interesting guide here for housing foundations;


Not being a civil engineer, I would assume you just need to know;
-Weight of the aircraft and its weight distribution about the wheels
-Soil/ground type and a target ground loading/pressure.
-Thickness vs load capability of your concrete mix?

Probably not helpful, but that would be my approach...
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RE: Pouring Concrrete For Display Aircraft.

Fri May 06, 2011 6:47 pm

I would suggests talk to guys who pave driveways.

But if you want our advise:  

I would start at taking the max empty weight of the aircraft. Multiply by 10 (civil engineering factor), divide by 30 lbs/sq-in (typical car tire pressure). This will give the area you will need to spread the weight.

A more conservative estimate would be using 20 lbs/sq-in which is approximately the tire pressure of a mountain bike need to be to be to be able to ride on a wet sandy beach.

Intelligent seeks knowledge. Enlightened seeks wisdom.
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RE: Pouring Concrrete For Display Aircraft.

Sat May 07, 2011 11:51 pm


It's very nice of you to "volunteer" your services to "help out" in this worthy endeavor, however, what these folks really need is someone who "knows" about concrete, not airplanes. Lots of things to be taken into consideration here, and not all have to do with the weight of the airplanes;

First, where is the "frost line" in the area you are going to pour the concrete ? Depending on many things, ( overall weather, climate, latitude, etc. ) the ground "freezes" down to a certain point in cold weather / winter; any concrete, post, or "whatever" above that point moves around almost like a "cowboy" on a "bull" at a rodeo ! Any excavation for "footings" MUST extend BELOW the frost line; Any concrete poured as a "footing" to support a "load" MUST rest on "something" which does not move, and trust me, the ground / soil does move, and it moves a lot ! All of which is known to local contractors who build things in that area.

As for the "concrete" you are thinking of using; what you're talking about is known as "sakcrete", ( or any one of a dozen or more "trade names"; it's O.K for some small projects, but even then, you MUST have some one with concrete experience, or you will end up with "airplanes all over the place"!

A short, 5 minute, free conversation with any local concrete contractor will "convince you" that I am attempting to give you "good advice" ! What you really need instead of "sakcrete" is "ready mix" ( as mixed and hauled out to the job site by a local "readymix" firm. Concrete is essentially a "mixture" of portland cement ( a powder ), sand, water, and aggregate ( gravel ); the problem is, they must all be in exactly the proper proportions, all MUST be clean, ( no soil of dirt ), and they must all be mixed properly. Anything less and you may as well leave the airplanes sitting on the "dirt".

I hate to be sounding so negative, but believe me, "I've been there, done that" and you don't want to get your "education" about what happens to improperly mixed and placed concrete via the "trial and error" method !

Obviously, there are "short cuts" and "ways around" just about any problem, if only one has some proper experience, or can at least talk with someone who does have the experience. What I am about to say is just "food for thought", and may possibly get you thinking in the right direction;

Let's say each airplane has three "contact points" with the ground; one for each main gear / wheel. and one for the nose gear; so you need three "stable" concrete pads to bear the weight; first, you need an "excavation' ( read: round hole in the soil ) down to "solid ground", bed rock, or whatever; ( here's an "idea" for a "shortcut" I mentioned ); the hole MUST go below frost line; that's a MUST; ( you'll need to find that out locally ) then, you are almost surely not going to have bed rock at that point, so here's the "short cut"..............take three (minimum) ( the more the better ) lengths of 1/2 inch ( 3/4 inch is better ) rebar, maybe 6 ft long, and DRIVE each into the soil at an angle ( think of the poles that hold up a "teepee" ( Indian tent ) the bottom of each rebar ending outward into a LARGE circle , and the top ends all coming together at or slightly below ground level; basically, you don't need any "forms" much below ground level, but you do need the "excavation" ( or hole ) to be as "round" as possible; after the "excavation" is complete. the rebar is driven in, then you need "something" above ground to "form" ( contain ) the wet concrete; all kinds of possibilities here, but probably the best, simpilest is "form tubes"; any large "home store" ( Home Depot, Lowes, etc ) sells cylindrical cardboard tubes for doing just what we are "attempting" to talk about. They come in various lengths; ( you only need maybe 4 or 5 inches above "grade" and about the same below grade, so one 4 ft tube can easily be sawed into four equal lengths.
You can use anything, but these tubes make things a lot easier; this "idea" just "popped" into my head..........I have never tried this, but I may, and probably will quite soon: find some old 10" X 20" truck tires; these things are FREE, and any tire shop will gladly help you load them on a trailer, just to get rid of them; one tire above each "hole" and the ready mix isn't going anyplace! Tires are STRONG ! Very strong; you could even cut them away from the concrete after it has set up for a few weeks.

All of this is just to get across the "concept"; concrete is INCREDIBLY STRONG in "compression"; that is, a heavy load, bearing straight down on it; but it MUST be supported by "something" which also has some strength, and believe me, soil does not, hence the rebar radiating outwards at an angle; ( makes it many times harder for the load to push it deeper into the soil.

I have bought, owned and sold a lot of rental property over the years, and I've been obliged to learn about how to do all kinds of things which had nothing to do with my "job"; I needed to build a concrete porch once, about 12' X 18' ; Because I already owned a large cement mixer, I decided I would "mix my own"; I had a large pile of "pea gravel", some sand, and a pile of regular 3/4 " gravel, and I bought 40 or 50 100lb bags or cement at a supply house; it seemed like a great plan ! But it didn't work! You still have to accurately measure all the "ingredients", then you have to get them "into" the mixer, then after only a few minutes of mixing, you still need to MOVE the wet concrete 50 feet, get it into the forms, work it, etc etc.
This would all have been "do-able" for a 4 or 6 man crew or experienced concrete guys, but I only had ONE guy available.......ME ! I ended up hiring two EXPERIENCED concrete guys; I had "constructed" a 20 ft "chute" to get the ready mix from the truck to the forms, but the truck driver laughed when he saw the "chute" I had built, explaining that all the concrete would end up in the front yard; wet concrete is HEAVY ! So the guys I hired ended up wheel-barrowing the concrete in 30 feet from the mixer truck. ( The 40 bags of cement ended up "setting up" from moisture ), and I used up all the sand and gravel for other things, but the resulting porch was still there the last time I looked ! ( I sold the property a few years later and made a "buck", and got an "education" in the process. )
I still have that big cement mixer, but it's in Ohio and I'm in Indiana; I'm going to be going over there in the next few weeks to cut some trees down for my "ex", so I'm finally gonna bring my mixer back over here and use it for "something" or else sell it and use the proceeds for something else. Much of what I have "learned" has been from the "trial and the error" method, ( which is usually not the best way to get your "education" ! ( better to let someone else make the trials, and live with the errors ! ) Good luck !

Stupidity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result; Albert Einstein

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