concrete vaults vs. metal

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concrete vaults vs. metal

Postby davestlouis » Sat Sep 27, 2008 8:40 am

We only use Wilbert vaults, but I'm wondering about the advantages of Clark metal vaults vs. the reinforced concrete? Anybody have access to both? Why do you prefer one over the other?

Postby Mr.Pyre » Sat Sep 27, 2008 8:58 am

As a former gravedigger, I have only worked with 3 different types of vaults. Wilbert brought all three but only one was metal.

The 2 piece box was the very low end, and I always thought that with the holes in the bottom that as soon as we had a heavy rain the water table would be up and inside. I also had to be more careful with those when tamping the dirt in. I was worried that the tamper might break thru the flat lid.

The Montecello vault was also very popular and was the higher end at that time. I liked the look and it just seemed a better product. I selected one for my father when he died, and will get one for my mother when she goes. It is in my paperwork that I want to be put in one when my time comes.

Now the third type, I only saw once. It was all metal, and had a base plate, the casket sat on the base and then the top, clicked on to the base. The best description would be of an old Tupperware cheese box. The son of the deceased, was a mortician in a different town and he supplied the casket (Nice all cherry wood model) and the vault. The Wilbert Vault man said that he just did not trust the catches on them. He even went back to his truck and brought some #9 wire to wrap around the vault to act as a safety while we lowered it into the ground.

If I find a pic online of the metal one, I will post it.

Postby davestlouis » Sun Sep 28, 2008 8:53 pm

Doesn't sound like you trusted the metal vault. I've never seen one in person to see how it latches. My main thought was that people like shiny things and a shiny copper vault would be more impressive to soem people than even a Wilbert Bronze.

Postby johnkpa1 » Mon Sep 29, 2008 12:43 am


We have access to both here in Western PA. 99% of the funeral homes sell Wilbert concrete or some variant concrete. (We have many small companies which make concrete vaults of varying quality.)

I buried the last of my family before I started mort. school so I never knew about the Clark metal vaults until I attended PIMS OnLine. During that time we learned of the theory of them and I had a chance to have discussions with my on-line classmates from all over the country about their usage. Many of them are strong Clark supporters.

I've had a chance to see and examine one Clark vault and to be honest, I love them. I assume that you've studied the physics principles behind the inverted lid (diving bell) design that keeps water from rising, and keeps any condensate from touching the casket. There is some sound science behind the Clark design (and any others of similar nature).

From what I've seen in our area, the pricing of a basic Clark is not too much different from a concrete vault but the cemetery people don't like working with them because they have to be a bit more precise in setting them - so to stay on good terms with the grave diggers, the FD's just don't mention the Clarks or show them.

In the end, every body will decompose so much of the issue is psychological I guess. I think that a vault that has the Clark design does have the ability to keep the contents dry for a much longer period of time and this may be of some comfort to many people. (Of course, we're assuming that a proper and thorough embalming was completed or it all goes out the window anyway.)

I personally have come to the conclusion that for a given amount of money, one can purchase a less expensive casket and a Clark type vault and ultimately have more protection of the remains than if using a concrete vault or grave liner. They can also be a definite plus when selling a nice wood casket.

I personally would be showing and offering Clarks as an option all the time but the boss won't permit that. Had I known that they existed, I would have put my mom and dad in them but just didn't know.

I do have instructions to go into one myself, if that means anything and I know two other FDs who have plans to go into galvanized steel Clarks for themselves and their families.

Have you visited their website? It's pretty interesting.

Hope that helps give you another opinion to think about. In the end, it probably doesn't really matter but I personally felt cheated out of not having the option once I did learn of them. Again, it's much marketing and psychology but those can be just as important if not more so to the family than any science facts or fiction.

John :-)

Only concrete vaults...

Postby 72h2kaw » Mon Sep 29, 2008 2:34 pm

My only experience is with Wilbert concrete vaults and grave liners. If nothing else, buy a better vault. I have always like the Clark metal vaults and the concept behind them with the "Diving Bell" concept. The few I've disintered had the customer purchased a better vault it could have been a better experience. One man in a S-41 Misty Blue Batesville casket had been buried for 5 years but was in a cheap grave liner that had holes in the base for water to seap in and out. Not good for the casket and ended up actually rusting out the bottom of the casket. Oh joy!

"Buy a better VAULT"


Postby Doc-J » Mon Sep 29, 2008 8:40 pm

I strongly prefer metal vaults. My family goes into metal vaults. 11 gauge porcelain to be exact. Like 72h2kaw I believe in the "Diving Bell" principle. Metal vaults do not rely on a man made seal to work, strictly physics.

Carbon steel will rust, that is why I would and have used a porcelain(sp?) baked steel or I will use an aluminum or copper dome seal for future family members.

Or myself.

Water goes through concrete, so they need a liner. With a top seal they merely become holding tanks for water if that seal is compromised.

Funny thing with me. I work in Birmingham, an old steel and iron city. People around here use concrete 99% of the time. :shock:

Postby davestlouis » Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:59 am

We have several gardens in our cemetery that were set up with pre-set lawn crypts, double depth. They dug out the hillside, set the concrete boxes on a bed of gravel and drain tile, then graded over them. They have been down for 35 years and when we open one, there are almost no water marks and they are dry as can be. I attribute that to the drain system set up underneath, and the location on a hill.

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