We have a new phone number it is 074 587 2728.
Our Telkom line is still down, has been since 1 August. Every time we phone them they place it on "higher priority", it must on higher priority than the fire brigade's line by now, but that hasn't helped at all. The good news is our new line has nothing to do with Telkom! One step closer to Utopia.
One day about 30 years Dave Thomas showed me a Sorel cement polishing wheel, not knowing yet what it was made from. We were both enthralled by its hardness density and lustre. I tried to replicate it with my Versimould technology but got nowhere near it.
It turned out to be Sorel cement; magnesium oxychloride. Over the past 30 years I have been involved in 26 developments projects using Sorel cement and have made some amazing products.
The story of my first Corcolium project is interesting. Cornelia de Villiers bought a flat in Killarney with corcoleum floors, but it had been removed in the bedroom because it get wet once. Corcoleum is cork chips bonded with Sorel. She wanted to replace it. Of course this is one of those “counter economical” projects, but she wanted it so badly that she came and helped me in the lab. She named one mix “puppy puke”. I didn’t like any of them, but she was happy with one, so I sold her the mix. She mixed it in a 20litre nappy bucket. It got hot, it set hard, it started steaming and then it started exploding! She sent her gardener off into the street with it and he hid behind a dustbin while it continued to spall explosively from the steam! A piece of it was very exciting; a hard strong lightweight foam! Possibly the best strength to density ratio I have ever seen. I tried to reproduce it in the lab but failed. I phoned her a few times with questions to no avail. Of course I was being stupid, it wasn’t a detail of the formulation it was a question of scale. I only realized later on the mine consolidation problem, when I had buckets of Sorel exploding. The potential is there to make awesome foamed boards confined under pressure.
The mine consolidation project was interesting in that we used a Sorel cement so liquid that it ran almost like water through a pinhole in a plastic bag. The mix was poured into a bucket full of rocks where it set hard. Same as “infilcast” Technology.
The next project was for lightweight floorboards for containers. Dov Calo rented my facility and we learned a lot about scaling up the mixes and the exothermic reaction running out of control.
Then most of the work was concentrated on abrasives and polishing wheels, blocks, segments and cubes. We made a sample of a small glass beveling wheel for LTL abrasives. After about a year I asked if there was any feedback. They asked the rep to check it out. He came back reporting “total disaster the damn thing is still working”. Then there was this guy who wanted “magnesite boards “. These are one of the most stunning of Chinese imports. I dived into it with passion, called him to come and look when I was 90% there. It turned out he was not willing to pay me for the technology nor was he willing to buy the raw materials from me. So once again my R&D expenses were rewardless, and once again a stunning technology was left on the shelf. This stuff STAYS INTACT after the cold crushing test. I’m sure the mines could use it somewhere.
Made lots of other stuff and then got an enquiry for lightweight rollers. A company was using long steel rollers, which weighed 200kg and cost a lot. I guessed we could get the same rigidity at a third of the weight and a third of the cost. I showed the customer how hard Sorel cement is and I showed him my lightest pourable material, he said “why don’t you just mix the two together” instead of puking, I politely said I would try it. The resulting mix was interesting in that it ran like water. The mind blowing part was that it set very hard! I named it Reinite in his honor. Reinite proved to be very compatible with reinforcing, a brilliant substitute for polyester resin in fiberglass and so clean and pleasant to work with. The composite technology is now called “Keraforce” it was tested in a vast range of fibres and the unwoven fabrics proved to be the best because they cannot be pulled diagonally.
We started making all sorts of things from Keraforce mainly using expanded polystyrene cores. When my staff saw me making something looking suspiciously like a ladder, one of them asked “Is that a polystyrene ladder you are making?” I replied in the affirmative and he shook his head, certain that I had now gone completely mad and said ” there is no way I will ever climb that ladder!” The ladder turned out great in that it is so rigid it does not wobble at all, and feels really safe. I even made an extension for it. We are still experimenting with lighter ladders.
We devised a system of making large pots which nest inside each other like Russian dolls. Ilana potteries were falling apart and Christine asked for help. I fixed all her tables and benches with Keraforce, I fixed her kiln cladding with Keraforce. I fixed her roof and gutters with Keraforce, even her garage door. Problem was, the weight of the garage door was now too great for the counter weights. Guess what I used to enlarge them? Ilana’s roof was extended and modified with Keraforce but it was a bit heavy. We needed a lightweight system. Eventually we figured out a system of very strong, insulating boards using polystyrene cores.
Solly built a shack in factory 3, which Iris dubbed a “kerakhaya.” Along came Paul Olver and Liezl and soon we were brainstorming shack production. Some lateral thinking produced a shack which can be assembled in minutes. Liezl has registered a company for us under the name Biohabitat.