Archive for March, 2011

Progress report

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

It’s been a staggered effort with unseasonal wet – very wet – weather putting a stop to building several times over the past 2 weeks.

The rain is not all bad, the huge planting effort we made this time last year is clearly evident in the woodlot with many of those trees now over a metre tall and growing strong. We now have half of the power room walls in place and were going to pour another layer yesterday when another rain system set in and washed out the rest of the day.

Good news is all the bugs are looking to be worked out of the mould system. The major issue we have left is the vegetable oil when left for more than a day is going tacky and causing the skin of the poured blocks to come away when the moulds are stripped down. We are trialling the next layer with motor oil, which is thicker and “slicker” than the veg oil and will hopefully allow a clean release of the shutters from the set blocks.

A secondary issue is with filling the voids as subsequent layers are poured. These are shrinking considerably with minor cracking, and while consistent they do not “look right”. There should be enough depth to be able to apply a render coat in these areas and for consistency sake I’ll do the lot with one batch once the walls are up.

Photos to come this week. We literally have been carrying so much stuff in the truck and trailer to store in the neighbours’ sheds it’s come down to camera or food/water for the remaining space.

Update on costs

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

United Fasteners sold me some 100mm high tensile m10 bolts – $146.90

Total project spend is now at $287,907.04
House only is now $73,954.54
Cost per square metre is now $256.79

Technique refined

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

It’s taken a while with sickness and weather interfering with the schedule somewhat. One thing has become apparent and that is I need to leave the blocks set for 2 days before removing the molds. Overnight temps on the block are close to freezing already and this is slowing the cure of the earthen concrete.

Here are some shots of the dried blocks. You can see the cracking has developed in those that were too wet (first photo), however those that were not showing any cracking have not developed any so far. The look of the blocks with the defects as in the third pic are growing on me, I’m thinking so long as the finish is consistent it won’t matter if they are all dead flat or have those airpockets dispersed across the faces. When I pour the second layer I will attempt to fill some of these holes and see how that looks once set so we can fill any pockets that are too large and visually unappealing.

Being remote has its’ own issues, and as you can see from my trailer the amount of tooling and materials you need to carry is staggering. Second pic shows the shutters set to do the second layer. The third highlights again how being well prepared saves the day as I need to rethread this nut clogged with weld dags.

Last two shots show the void clamps and how they are used to allow filling of the gaps between the blocks.