Archive for August, 2009

Flickr and photostreams

Friday, August 14th, 2009

For easy uploads when we’re marooned in the middle of nowhere with inverter powered electronics I’ve opened a Flickr account to store the photos to.

Click here for our Flickr photostream. If you sort the photos by sets I’m trying my best to keep each new happening as its’ own set of photos.

Mold test is a success

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Title says it all I guess.

I cut and welded the steel for our prototype last night, deciding to tack rather than weld in full which turned out to be a brainwave. I was originally allowing for half an hour a divider, with 8 welding rods being needed for each. It turns out by tacking the mold at the base and welding the steel not covered by concrete provided a quicker, neater and far less intricate solution to the problem. End result is steel was cut and welded in about 5 minutes.

The wife and I made up an MDF mold for the whole experiment to sit in, the idea being that would keep the concrete tight against the steel divider as if it were stuck between 2 full size blocks. My greatest concern is with no taper to the shape of the steel divider it may have been stuck by slip force. This turn out to be partly true and I now have an idea for a prototype divider removal tool :)

We also took the opportunity to try a wet mix. One half was tamped as each shovel of concrete went in, the other was simply slumped into the mold and let to set. Preliminary results tell us we need to tamp the mix to ensure a clean and consistent gap free finish.

Turned out to be a great day in terms of outcomes and productivity, we also managed to get several hundred redgum seedlings potted on to grow tubes and another several hundred seeds sown for the next lot of seedlings. With some luck we’ll have 2-3 thousand seedlings ready to plant by Christmas.

Piecing together the details

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

With the draft plans now approved for the first real working set to be drawn from it’s time I got my arse into gear and started working out the finer details of all the ideas we have for putting the house together.

Today I had the first chance to use the concrete mixer since the conversion to petrol from electric. I am so glad I went for power and spent the extra few dollars on the bigger 6.5HP engine. Even with the added expense of the reducing gears and the clutch it still had trouble spinning 100kg of dry mix. With some water added and a slurry slumping around in the bowl it had no issues even at low revs keeping the mix moving.

So a big tick for that item. When we are using it to make the mix for the house it’ll be a wet bowl with dry ingredients added to it since we need to mix the clay soil to a slurry before cutting it back with the coarse sand and aggregate to get our ideal mix.

I’ve also finished sketching out detailed plans of the molding system. Tomorrow, weather permitting out come the toys and I’ll spend the morning cutting, drilling, screwing and welding together a prototype which I’ll then embed into a concrete slurry and replicate the process we’ll be using to build the house. 

I want to be sure it’s as easy to assemble as the prototype I have lurking around the back of my head. From the results of this I’ll then make tweaks if necessary and then go to AJ Stock and order all the steel for the molds we need to make.

Once the system is proven and I can grab a sample of the soil we’ll be using in the mix from our block, the first destruct testing samples can be poured and passed on to the engineers to certify as suitable for load bearing wall.

Update on costs

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Steel for the proof of concept molds for the poured earth system from AJ Stock cost us $36-

MDF board and 2 bags of premix concrete for the same proof of concept set up from Stratco cost us $21.20

A 100 metre fibreglass measuring tape and skeleton caulking gun from Trade Tools Direct cost us $87.90

This brings the total spend to date to $216 935.20

Final plan draft is back

Friday, August 7th, 2009

Darren delivered our final draft of the plans today, working in the cut for the slab and the resultant levels around the house it looks to sit very nicely into the spot we selected as the housing site.

It’s big though, overall the development pocket is 13.2 metres deep and 47.5 metres wide with 3 levels across the width to allow for the fall away in the block. The house itself is 30×9.6 metres. In that space we have 5 bedrooms, craft/hobby room, pantry/store room, laundry, 3 way bathroom and an ensuite with a very generous walk in robe.

Each bedroom is a minimum of 4.2×3.6 metres, allowing for the kids to have their own pesonal space as we only have 1 large open plan communal family area. This area is 10.5×9 metres and includes the kitchen, dining and lounge area as one space.

Adjacent to this is a 9×9 metre verandah/outdoor room. We are tossing up whether to deck or pave this area, paving being a better option for a bushfire zone, decking is the nicer option for living with. This outdoor room spans across to the shed, with a 6.6×6 metre car parking space and a 6.6×3.6 metre workshop area for me.

Total roof area is 576 metres give or take a few pieces. With last years drought record low rainfall this will still allow us to catch some 200 000 litres of rain per year, more than enough for household, animal and garden usage.