When Kurt Hambush, president, Southern Gulf Construction, Fort Meyers, Fla., landed a 12-building, four-story condominium project, he quickly determined it was time to invest in a ride-on trowel. At first, the crew used five of the company's walk-behind trowels to finish the concrete on each 10,600-square-foot elevated deck. However, the workers found it difficult to keep ahead of the hydration rate of the concrete on the composite floor system.

“Between the hot weather and the way the plywood in the floor system takes the water out, the deck sets up very rapidly,” explained Hambush. “We had to be able to cover more area more quickly.”

The Cape Haze Resort condominium complex in Placida, Fla., consists of 12 four-story buildings. The contractor purchased a ride-on trowel to speed construction of the 10,600-square-foot elevated decks.

Hambush contacted Wacker Corp. and asked metropolitan jobsite specialist Kevin O'Dell to set up a ride-on power trowel demonstration. O'Dell arrived on the job with two models in tow, a 48-inch and a 36-inch. The larger machine proved to be too heavy for the application, causing the lightweight composite floor system to deflect. The smaller Model CRT36-24A worked well and Hambush made the purchase.

“It's an easy machine to operate, easy to handle, and easy to learn on,” said Hambush. The trowel's ergonomically designed twin lever control reduces the amount of force needed to control the unit while still providing the needed maneuverability. The variable clutch matches the torque and speed range to concrete conditions without mechanical adjustments. By changing the blade position on the trowel arm, the operator can readily configure the machine for either nonoverlapping operation (for floating) or overlapping operation (for finishing).

With the ride-on trowel in service, the Southern Gulf crew needed only two 48-inch walk-behind trowels on an elevated deck. Due to the properties of the composite floor system, workers had to float the concrete quickly. The walk-behind units were more suitable for that operation because of their lighter weight on the fresh concrete. Workers also used the walk-behind trowels to finish the edges of the deck and for small areas.

The ride-on trowel was used for finishing the concrete. “It provides a flatter, better surface,” Hambush said. He also estimated that the ride-on machine covered double the area of two walk-behind units in the same time. “That cut down on labor costs,” he said. “I was able to take two people off the job and put them on other jobs.”

Another plus, according to Hambush, is easy access to the motor and the blades for maintenance. “The whole machine tilts forward, almost like a hood,” he said. “You don't have to reach through to get to the moving parts.”

The bottom line is the increased productivity. “The ride-on trowel will pay for itself on this project by the time we complete two buildings,” said Hambush. “We'll probably get another one before this project is over.”