We’re done sandblasting (I hope!)

We finished installing the base of the extruded aluminum glazing system last week.  The work went well; we figured out how to install the rubber gaskets into the aluminum without destroying our thumbs and worked from one end of the building to the other installing the glazing.

We also started flashing around the operable windows as we worked on the fixed window glazing.  I have mentioned flashing on a couple of occasions, but have not provided many details.  We are fabricating our own flashing from galvanized sheet metal as discussed in Earthship Volume I.  We are painting our flashing to match the extruded aluminum.  You really do need to rub the galvanized steel with vinegar (this cleans the surface and allows the paint to adhere to the galvanized metal) before painting it!  Do as I say not as we did …

After we decked and papered  each operable window overhang(with 15# roofing felt), we measured for the flashing.  I then rolled and cut the flashing using a compound miter saw.  This seems to give a much cleaner cut than using tin snips although we also used tin snips when the saw was not practical.

If I needed to bend the flashing (as was the case for the roof overhang) I clamped the flashing between two layers of wood with the portion to be bent hanging out and used a block to hammer the flashing to the desired angle.  This system worked but I now understand the attraction of owning a metal break and shear.

We measured the window sizes as soon as we were done and sent out quotes on Friday to two companies in Kamloops (Century and AALL Glass) for prices on the fixed and operable windows.  We hope to have our glass ordered in the next couple of days, and have it installed before the end of October.  At the same time we are thinking about the design and construction of our sky lights.  If anybody has any knowledge about building your own sky lights we would love to hear from you!

Once we were done with the glazing we turned to a couple of jobs we had been putting off while we got our windows sorted out.  The logs that sit on top of our tires and extend up to the ceiling were weathered both from sitting in our yard for so many years and from sitting out in the sun over the summer before we got the roof on.  We spent a couple of days sandblasting these logs to remove the weathering.  The picture at the top of this paragraph is Sandra working on scaffolding in one of the bedrooms.  This job was as fun as I remembered; the sand gets everywhere, and breathing is an issue while working in the backs of the U’s.  We did this job before installing the glass so we would have lots of ventilation, and opening the sky lights helped a lot!  The end result was well worth the effort.  We will stain these logs with a clear gloss just like the ceiling and anticipate that this will add a lot of light to the rooms.  The picture attached to this paragraph shows a partially sandblasted log.

Over the last couple of days we’ve been doing the first pack out of the tires in the master bedroom and we started the exterior can wall on the west side of the building.

We hope to carry on with jobs like these while waiting for our windows.

Where Did All the Pop Cans Go?

We’ve been robbed!

After months of collecting pop cans we had BAGS of cans squirreled away in our storage shed.  When I popped my head in the shed yesterday to admire our collection I realized most of the cans were gone and there were just a few lonely bags left …

The culprit was not very far away. We finished the pop can form for the concrete bond beam on the front wall today. We estimate there are around 1600 cans in this form. Compared to pounding tires this is fairly easy work; it only took us a few days to lay this form, and it was not particularly strenuous. We used nine 40kg bags of portland cement to make the 80 foot long form. I am not convinced of the value of making the form this way instead of using lumber. In this case I did not want to use lumber and leave it in place due to proximity to the planters.

The concrete (or mortar) used for these pop can walls cannot have coarse aggregates (read rocks) as any rocks larger than about 1/2″ in diameter starts to get thicker than the mortar laid between the cans and weakens the wall. Consequently, we re-screened our aggregate using a mesh with 1/4″ spacing. We will have this same problem when plastering the walls … I see a lot of screened gravel in our future! The good news is that we started saving the rocks as we screened and we are now collecting rocks for the planters.

Before we finished the can form we had to lay the last twelve tires of the front wall. We did not lay these tires earlier as we needed to be able to drive the backhoe into the building. For the last two days we have been digging a trench inside the building along the front wall. Talk about a bull in a china shop! With the front wall built there was not a lot of room to manouever the backhoe and digging was a challenge. Fortunately I only struck walls with the bucket a couple of times and thank god they are earth filled tires … nothing broke! I have no idea why there are cracks in the pop can form though … maybe the kids were playing too close to it? Regardless, no serious damage and with the last tires in place we will not be getting the backhoe back into the building.

The trench is for the gray water planters along the front wall. We dug the trench in the approximate shape of the planters to a depth of two feet. The planters do not take up the entire front wall, but we wanted to lay pipes between them so that ultimately the planters all have the same level of gray water. Once we laid the connecting pipes (2″ black ABS) we buried the pipes so now only the planters are dug down. The pipes will enter the planters right near the bottom and guarantee that the level of water in all the planters is identical. In other words the pipes should prevent overly dry or swampy planters. Hopefully it will not rain significantly until the roof is on as I hope to leave these trenches until we start the gray water planters after the building is closed in.

Tomorrow we are getting more gravel … we’ve run out. Hopefully on Friday we will pour the bond beam on the front wall. After that we move on to the roof and framing the front wall.

NO MORE TIRES!  It was hot the last couple of days we finished the front tire wall … the outside thermometer read over 30 degrees celcius yesterday.  I am happy not to be pounding tires this summer!

We have 861 tires in the building … but who is counting?

I’ve added photos to the front wall gallery and created a planters gallery.

Pop can walls and more fiber harvesting…

Today we started laying pop cans for the second side of the bond beam form.  Last night we screened gravel and ran a string line.  This morning at 8:00 am we started and it went very fast! 

At 10:30 the sheep shearer (Phillip) showed up to shear or yearling ewes, Ginny, Zoom, Twirl-A-Girl and Whiskers.  Philip made it look easy, taking off Zooms wool coat in one piece!

Here are some photos of the day.