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Completion of Man-made Mountain in 42 Days is Cause for Celebration

Pumps were capable of pumping through four lines to reach 60-foot vertical heights.

Putzmeister SP-11 rotor/stator pumps work to mix, pump, and spray special TXT stucco mix.

Man-made rock similar in appearance to that found in the Ozark Mountains was designed to make “Laser Show Mountain” look realistic. Over 250 tons of stucco was utilized to create the carved rock structure.

Completion of Man-made Mountain in 42 Days is Cause for Celebration

The spectacular multi-million-dollar laser show “Celebrate!” opened at Celebration City theme park in Branson, Mo., this spring featuring lasers, a massive water screen and projections with images towering over the audience and fireworks, all set to music.

Images in the 30-minute nightly presentation are projected onto a 57x190-foot, man-made mountain. The mountain was created in just 42 days through the talents of Themed Structures Ltd. of the United Kingdom.

Doug Bartlett, of the UK, was the project consultant who brought an experienced, eight-person crew from Themed Structures to America. They were given a scant 42 days to create the mountain after a conceptual drawing was computer generated to size. With the assistance of local labor, the Themed Structures crew worked around the clock to fabricate a wire framework, spray stucco and “carve” a mountain that resembles the surrounding Ozark Mountains.

The amazing structure is made from Thixotropic (TXT) stucco, a special mix, ideal for use in theme-park creations.

Originally developed in France in the early 1990s, the mixture was replicated in the United States by Sider-Oxydro, a Hawkinsonville, Ga., company that assisted Themed Structures. Pre-mixed and blended at the manufacturer’s factory with the perfect balance of silica aggregates, all the construction crew had to do was open sacks of the mixture, add water and spray with pumps into place.

TXT is designed specifically for rotor/stator pump applications with minimal segregation of components in the mix. Stucco of this mix also flows well, does not dry out in the hose, can be applied like non-drip paint and offers an adequate hardening pace that allows ample time for “carving.”

Ivan Burgand is director of sales and marketing for Sider-Oxydro, a family owned company that specializes in producing pre-mixed products designed for pump applications. “Unlike most stuccos used in America, this special mono-coat mixture could place both the base and color coat in one spraying application and do it easily through a pump to save time and expense,” Burgand said.

Along with calling for the use of TXT, Bartlett insisted on using Putzmeister pumps exclusively, based on his knowledge of their reliability and performance. “For over 25 years, I’ve used Putzmeister equipment worldwide and I’m familiar with their reliability, performance and easy-to-maintain features,” Bartlett said. “That’s crucial because you can’t miss a beat when you’re under a tight schedule and your livelihood depends on the equipment to work every time you turn on the switch. Plus, we knew these units could handle the special mixture like silk.”

Walker Equipment Co., of South Chicago Heights, Ill., and an authorized Putzmeister dealer, furnished two Putzmeister SP 11 rotor/stator pumps. The versatility of the units allowed them to handle all mixing, pumping and spraying. Diesel-version pumps with high-performance, 21-horsepower engines were selected because no three-phase electrical power was available on-site and spraying was required over an extended distance. Pump output averaged approximately five gallons a minute with pressures reaching 290 psi (20 bar).

The Putzmeister pumps were capable of pumping through four lines and spraying the stucco mixture up to 60 feet directly vertical. Side by side, the pumps often worked in tandem, with one unit placing a scratch coat and another applying a topping off, second coat. The heavy application (up to 4-inches thick) would harden in four to five hours, allowing time to carve a special design into the mountain.

Johnnie Walker, of Walker Equipment, was impressed by the performance of the pumps. “The pumps gained a great deal of respect and interest when people saw them in operation on-site,” he said. “Clearly, everyone was amazed at how Themed Structures could make these pumps perform.”

Along with the hurried construction pace, crews had to cope with the unpredictable spring weather typical of the Ozark Mountain region. They encountered varying conditions, from freezing temperatures and six inches of snow, to rainstorms and high winds. Some days, temperatures climbed to around 85 degrees.

But having worked in various climates around the world, Themed Structures was prepared. They often used heaters and huge, special-protection tarps to cover their work.

Themed Structures additionally was in charge of creating a second mountain which is part of a water ride at Whitewater, a sister theme park at Silver Dollar City, Mo. This mountain stands 60x150 feet. Some 12,000 gallons of water a minute cascade over its peak, furnishing an thrilling waterfall ride.

This mountain also resembles the surrounding Ozarks, but displays some Polynesian-style rock as well.

Putzmeister equipment and the TXT stucco mixture likewise were matched to build the water ride, which opened 10 days after the laser show debuted.

Overall, more than 450 tons of the TXT stucco were placed at the two mountain settings.

“I didn’t know anyone here in America from a bar of soap, but I found Ivan Burgand of Sider-Oxydro was willing to go the extra mile to help create the special stucco mixture, and Johnnie Walker, of Walker Equipment, gave outstanding after-market support with his Putzmeister equipment,” Bartlett said. “It made building mountains just a bit easier.”

Owner: Silver Dollar City Inc., Branson, Mo.
General contractor: Themed Structures (UK) Ltd., Lincolnshire, UK
Stucco supplier: Sider-Oxydro, Hawkinsville, Ga.
Equipment supplier: Walker Equipment Company, South Chicago Heights, Ill.
Equipment: Two Putzmeister SP 11 rotor/stator pumps