Saturday, January 14, 2012

Earthbag Building - The tests

I have a dream of building my own earthbag studio.  After hours of research I decided I liked the look of Owen Geiger's Earthbag Round House. and purchased his Earthbag Building Guide.
But did I have the right kind of soil. The goal was to use only recycled materials and keep costs to a minimum.  Owen has plans for a $300 earthbag house and I want to do even better. It will be a challenge, but I'll give it my best shot.

Step 1. To test the soil at the Gum Tree Garden.

First I had to dig some earth to test. This area was heaped up 2 years ago when I had a drive way pushed.  I was hoping for some clay in the soil and judging by this hard brick size lump (top photo) I may have just what I need.  I shoveled a small amount into a kitchen colander to remove some of the vegetable matter before trying a sample.
The samples felt firm and seemed to hold together well.

The samples here were :
Top right lumps dug out of the heap.
Middle right sample had extra water added and was rolled between the palms.
  It's been left to dry to see how much it will crack.
 The lower right is the sample from the picture above after the "drop" test.
  It seems to have held well.  Now to try a bag.

Some of the bags collected from Freecycle members, Facebook "Things for free......" members and poultry groups.
I didn't realise how varied  20kg bags could be.  Some were very wide and I may need to sew them on the sewing machine to keep a consistent width when building the walls

I needed to find a way to fill the bags when on my own.
A simple clamp on the back of the trolley did the trick.
I did find that without a wood backing on the trolley the bag tended to slump through the trolley bars.
After ramming the first couple of buckets I was able to remove the trolley clamp and only use a clamp on the bag and bucket.

The mixing took all 5 buckets of earth and about 5-6 litres of water to reach the right consistency.
The rammer was made for me by a fellow "Freecycle" member about 12 months when I was considering using tyres.
 I decided tyres were way to labour intensive and embraced the earthbag method instead.

The first earthbag. It will be checked in about 2 weeks to see how well the soil mix set.
It hasn't been protected from the elements or the trespassing cattle let's hope it is still intact when I get back out there
Step 2.   Build something small ( to come)

1 comment:

  1. Can't wait to hear the next installment. Sounds like lots of work but will be worth it if you get a studio! I saw a tyre house on tv just last week.


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