Before the Pour

Top: A classic—This 1914 photo depicting the epitome of foundation failure was published in November 1963 to illustrate the risk of neglecting to perform a soil analysis. Bottom: Was it a trench collapse, as reported in the news, or was the foreman correct when he testified that the ready-mix truck was only 7 feet from the embankment when it rolled over into the excavation, killing four workers? The accident, covered in the February 1957 issue, signaled the need for periodic articles on trench safety.

Today, laser control enhances site grading. Used with a dozer (top), the laser helps prevent over-excavating (February 2003). A laser-controlled grader box (bottom) can be mounted to the front of a skid-steer loader. (May 1988)

Vibratory rammers (top), according to a May 1968 article “are not, as sometimes thought, fatiguing to operate.” A model pictured two decades later features a high shoe lift to increase impact and improve compaction (October 1989). Bottom: An April 1989 piece told contractors how to use the new mini-excavators to fill a market niche.

Walk-behind plate compactors have been featured often since the magazine’s earliest days. Here (left) a double unit is used to compact the subgrade for a warehouse (May 2002). Right: Manufacturers’ warnings don’t always stop users from backfilling with the side of a backhoe-loader bucket (July 1998).

Top left: “Foundations are by their very nature prosaic,” proclaimed a January 1961 article. “But shell foundations are different.” Pictured is a thin shell foundation using a hyperbolic paraboloid inverted umbrella design, believed to be the first in this country. Bottom left: An early issue presented what it called an “interesting” accessory to a small vertical-boom service ditcher, making it possible to excavate to create flared footings at little more than the cost of straight footings (February 1957). Top right: Shepherds of old observed that clay paths trod by their flocks were particularly firm. This concept gave rise to the sheepsfoot roller for use on cohesive soils (October 1989).

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