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Earthship Homes


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#21 TVCasualty

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 08:45 AM

Yeah, it's some rough work. I don't suppose you could unleash your herd of kittens on a project and issue each of them their own sledgehammer? My gf was a 5'11" German woman (born and raised there) who competed in Centuries (100+ mile bicycle races she finished in 4 hours). She could ride circles around me and was tough as hell in general, and even then getting 5 tires done in a day was rare. I could do 6 or 7 on a good day since it's an upper-body thing so the advantage was mine, but I wasn't hammering circles around her like she rode circles around me.

The real strange thing about our experience was that our relationship endured through the roughest times (esp. early on in the tent) but when the house was finished we just sorta looked at each other and I said "Hmm, I guess it's time for me to move on." She answered "Hmm, I guess so." And I did and that was the extent of the break-up drama. We're still best friends... That's kind of what I mean about how living like that can change a person. I changed so much that the dynamics of our relationship became obsolete and therefore so was the relationship, and there was no anger or resentment because of it thanks to years of confronting reality and being forced to accept whatever it happened to be. Raisin' hell don't help, and we both knew it. She didn't change like I did because she grew up in rural Germany, fetching fresh milk from the farmer up the road every morning, etc.. so it was much all less theoretical for her. I was the one confronting the difference between theory and reality. Theoretically there's no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is!

#22 seven rays

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 08:52 AM

The concept of "off-the-grid" living is where we are also heading in our retirement years. Whereas I once worried that health care would be our largest expense/hurdle as old folks, I now believe that keeping ENERGY costs LOW to NON-EXISTENT will be the key to retiring EARLY and making things work financially for the duration. Solar/Wind/wood...and weed. LOL

Straw bale homes are kick. I would however, like to buiild something eclectic (screw the resale, I'll be DEAD) and that is why many of the Earthships/contact Earth homes/rammed earth homes catch my eye.

s r

#23 TVCasualty

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 09:10 AM

Straw bale homes are kick. I would however, like to buiild something eclectic (screw the resale, I'll be DEAD) and that is why many of the Earthships/contact Earth homes/rammed earth homes catch my eye.

s r


Strawbale lends itself well to smooth organic curvy shapes, kind of like flexible lego blocks. Some have built large self-supporting domes entirely out of strawbales that look very slick, and resale values of things like straw are only going up as more people wake up to the fact that stick houses suck.

You can make straw as eclectic as you want. Earthships are kind of restricted to one basic shape if built as described in the Earthship books, and you can make that shape out of straw too (just not earth-sheltered). I think I like cob even better, in the right context.

You'll be dead a lot quicker building an Earthship! (Or start saving now for the large crew of laborers you'll be hiring).

Good luck, hope you get to build something cool... (find a county without building code enforcement!)

#24 Cornfield

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 10:28 AM

hmmm maybe i should get on the ball and invent a machine to hammer all the dirt into the tires! The cotton gin of the earthship home revolution :D
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#25 Jordan86

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 03:32 PM

I think the idea of self sustaining homes is fantastic

#26 TVCasualty

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 08:35 AM

hmmm maybe i should get on the ball and invent a machine to hammer all the dirt into the tires! The cotton gin of the earthship home revolution :D



You do that and you'll be in business. Might even be able to build a house fast enough to get the tires covered before the building inspector shows up! :reb:

I think you'd need something more like a robot (able to self-adjust for a few variables) than a simple tamping rig, plus you'd need to either ensure all tires were the exact same size or incorporate a way to account for subtle differences. We used the larger tires we had for the bottom course, then all the rest were the exact same size. Odd sizes have to be culled, so do your tire-pickin' carefully and wear lots of skeeter repellant (Deet, not the 'natural' stuff that doesn't really work) at the tire dump or go in winter (but then the ice is a pain too). It's also kind of annoying that so many tire places puncture the sidewalls so they don't hold water and grow those mosquitos, but you can still use those tires (I guess; we did).

There are untold millions and millions of tires, just piled up around the world and waiting to catch fire and pollute the air and ground water. There are millions of acres of trees cut every year for wood to build houses, converting mixed-hardwood natural forests with their attendant diversity of flora and fauna into monoculture tree farms. Straw was routinely burned after harvesting grain, but thanks to strawbale houses much less of that goes on. The earth-tire ramming machine would have a tangible positive impact on our waste disposal problem, our forestry problem, our housing problem, and our energy problem (at least).

So IMO, that is a freakin' brilliant idea. I would build me an earthship if I had a solar-and-biodiesel powered robo-tamper.
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#27 TVCasualty

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 08:55 AM

So IMO, that is a freakin' brilliant idea. I would build me an earthship if I had a solar-and-biodiesel powered robo-tamper.


I've been thinking about this some more (a little over 24 hours, lol), and it might work as an attachment for a skid-steer loader (a bobcat), then it wouldn't have to be 'robotic' in any autonomous sense; the operator would take care of the little adjustments. I could just build the business-end of the machine and don't have to worry about an engine or hydraulic pump; just rent a Bobcat, hook it up, and start building a wall. Might get tricky if stacking above a certain height, though. A Dingo might even work (a mini-loader and more, cool as hell to play with around the yard).

I'm envisioning a worm-drive dirt lifter to get the dirt to the tire (looks like an auger inside a pipe) as it's held in place by a horizontal grapple and simultaneously tamped by a modified head from a jackhammer mounted at an angle to get in past the sidewalls (and can rotate to get the full circumference properly tamped). It would be a two-man (or woman) job.

I'd bet that the time it takes to design and build such a machine, work out the bugs, and have it operational would be a lot less than building an Earthship by hand with a small crew (and might be cheaper too if you're paying for the labor).

Hmm...

#28 Miles

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 04:35 AM

I have been in love with the idea of earthships since first hearing about them around 10 years ago.

There is a pretty cool movie about the mad architect behind them called Garbage Warrior.

Actually have plans to stay a couple nights in one of the rentals at the Greater World Community next month. Finally going to go check them out in person.
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#29 datsun

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 05:43 AM

I Love earth ships as well, I seem to recall them saying that they hadn't found a machine to be able to pack the tires as hard as a human could, that's the labor intensive part. Id love for advances in that part to be ironed out as I would LOVE to own one. I have my own lil shrine to earthships in my house.
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Here are some pics ive found on flickr and other places that I like.

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#30 Cornfield

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 07:22 AM

Theres no doubt in my mind a machine could be developed to pack the dirt and probably do it at insane speeds. Just look at some of the ingenious machines the railroads have came up with! They have a machine for damn near everything. One of the neatest ones ive seen in person was a little rail car 1 seater with a jet engine on the front of it. You point the exhaust at what you want to melt. They use them for blowing/melting snow and ice out of switches in rail yards during the winter. Theres been a few guys who have flipped themselves off the rail with the things.

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#31 datsun

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 08:20 AM

I am thinking something more along the lines of sandbags now, since the tire ramming takes some much work, wonder how that would work for an earth ship. Ive seen some beehive looking houses/huts made with huge sandbags.


http://www.inhabitat...mma-architects/


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#32 Jordan86

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 09:07 AM

Theres no doubt in my mind a machine could be developed to pack the dirt and probably do it at insane speeds. Just look at some of the ingenious machines the railroads have came up with! They have a machine for damn near everything. One of the neatest ones ive seen in person was a little rail car 1 seater with a jet engine on the front of it. You point the exhaust at what you want to melt. They use them for blowing/melting snow and ice out of switches in rail yards during the winter. Theres been a few guys who have flipped themselves off the rail with the things.


I think all you would need would be some kind of circular clamp to hold the basic shape you would want to prevent like lopsided tire bricks, and then some kind of large motorized flat thing to evenly pound it out.

It doesn't seem that complicated to me. Mass producing tire pricks might be more difficult but like making individual ones, I don't think it would be hard to produce a machine that can do that if someone had basic engineering skills. They don't have a machine yet because of the lack of demand, not because it's difficult.
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#33 datsun

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 09:40 AM

I used to think that it would be easy to design something as well, but Mike Reynolds and his crew that have been doing this for 20? years haven't found anything better to do it with than manual labor. I do know they have tried hydraulic tampers ect.


http://www.youtube.c...h?v=Qwp0kxazw5g

Here is a Video of a guy packing a tire. watch all that dirt disappear.

Maybe what I want for my "earthship" Is to incorporate the thermal mass design, the water reclamation/reuse part, the solar/wind power generation,
While leaving out the parts that dont work for me.


I think it was in the movie "Garbage Warrior" One of the people building the earthship talks about his daughter and the rude awakening she is going to get when she goes to school and finds out other peoples houses dont provide everything they need to live.

Water from the sky, heat/electricity from the sun herbs and food from the indoor garden.

I just think its groovy, being more at one with the earth, less costs, reuse of materials and resources. Im not sure I want to live out in the desert tho.

(I have to admit the desert can be beautiful however!)

Peace!

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#34 Cornfield

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 11:33 AM

I have been in love with the idea of earthships since first hearing about them around 10 years ago.

There is a pretty cool movie about the mad architect behind them called Garbage Warrior.

Actually have plans to stay a couple nights in one of the rentals at the Greater World Community next month. Finally going to go check them out in person.



Thanks a lot for sharing that movie. I just watched it and it blew me away. :bow::bow::bow::bow:

#35 Cornfield

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 11:50 AM

I used to think that it would be easy to design something as well, but Mike Reynolds and his crew that have been doing this for 20? years haven't found anything better to do it with than manual labor. I do know they have tried hydraulic tampers ect.

I just think its groovy, being more at one with the earth, less costs, reuse of materials and resources. Im not sure I want to live out in the desert tho.

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In the past what was said couldnt be done was always done. Look at the machines and structures we have built. I dont think a machine capable of packing dirt into a tire is far fetched whatsoever. The guy says there tire bricks are 90% compressed, bet a machine could top that for even more strength/thermal mass.

The key to these things is that they can be built anywhere.

People should be jumping all over this. Problem is getting through all the political douchebaggery

#36 catdaddy

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 07:08 PM

STRAWBALE.

#37 Miles

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 01:50 AM

Thanks a lot for sharing that movie. I just watched it and it blew me away. :bow::bow::bow::bow:


Yeah, I thought it was pretty cool too :)

The guy really is pretty nuts. He could have had a lot less problems along the way if he had just been a little more willing to conform, but he fought the whole time to do it his way. He's got my respect.


I have another 10 years or so to go before I can think about retiring off grid. Not sure if it will be in an earthship or not, but there is a lot to learn from them even if you don't want a house that looks like a flying saucer landed in the desert. Strawbale and cob have my attention these days. :rasta:

#38 Cornfield

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 02:58 AM

Ive done a little more reading tonight about strawbale and earthships and they both have there problems. Earthships supposedly get a lot of off gassing from the tires, and pose radon health risks etc. How acurate that is i dont know. Ive read a few complaints about them not regulating temperature as well as advertised.

Also a lot of the strawbale houses have had gnarly mold and moisture problems. Apparently with the popularity in strawbale houses growing some towns have made new codes that require them to have only non-load bearing walls. The problem with that is unless the walls filled with hay/straw are allowed to support the roof and upper levels, they dont get compacted enough to keep out moisture, thus opening the door to horrendous mold problems.

#39 Sidestreet

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 10:51 AM

What do you folks think of stone homes? I'm thinking along the lines of the Nearings' The Good Life.

#40 TVCasualty

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 06:00 PM

What do you folks think of stone homes? I'm thinking along the lines of the Nearings' The Good Life.


He who lives in a stone house should not throw glasses.

Ok, for subjecting you to that I'll add something useful. The link below has some very interesting reading in terms of architecture and design, and goes into why some classical design is the way it is, and why we should reconsider some of those ideas.

In a nutshell, what dooms all modern buildings is the coefficient of expansion of the materials they're made out of. Modern (and cheap) materials have large coefficients of expansion whereas stone has zero.

From the linked essays:

This means that their seasonal and diurnal expansion and contraction is such that expansion joints are essential. Even a modern brick wall has to have expansion joints every 30ft. This in turn breaks up the monolithic nature of any structure into little isolated blocks with expansion joints. The weathering and attrition at these joints is an obvious long-term weakness, whereas a traditionally built structure has none of these problems because the matrix is lime instead of cement. Think of the Pantheon in Rome, built in brick and lime mortar. It has a diameter of 142ft and has stood for nearly two thousand years. No reinforced concrete structure could last anything like so long because once air and moisture have penetrated to the reinforcement there is nothing which can permanently inhibit its breakdown. It does not even make a good ruin!

http://www.qftarchit.../1024index.html

I loved that last part about how our buildings won't even make good ruins. It's an interesting point; the Coliseum in Rome will still be standing there almost like it is now when all our steel-reinforced buildings and bridges have long since corroded to untraceable dust. Oh, and there'll still be lots of those thin plastic grocery bags swirling around in the ocean. But that's about it. I guess "Leave No Trace" ethics are just a matter of time.

Anyhow, some other points he raises are that classical design maximized natural lighting, ventilation, heat retention, and other comfort factors since HVAC systems and electric light didn't exist, so many classical designs are good models for ways to increase energy efficiency in new buildings, which otherwise generally assume an unlimited supply of cheap energy.




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