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Permies likes straw bale house and the farmer likes Straw /Clay Mixer for easier mixing permies
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Straw /Clay Mixer for easier mixing

Gail Moore


Joined: Jul 09, 2011
Posts: 142
Location: south central Appalachia, southwest Virginia, US zone 6/7
    
    1
http://earthbagbuilding.wordpress.com/2012/03/04/strawclay-mixer/

This looks as if it can save a bit of human energy by mixing in this tube, instead of by hand...


The world needs all kinds of minds. --Temple Grandin http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fn_9f5x0f1Q
Weird or just different? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1K5SycZjGhI&feature=endscreen&NR=1
Ardilla Esch


Joined: Feb 05, 2010
Posts: 183
Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
    
    3
The one I used for my home was similar. It was made with a plastic culvert with spikes going inward in a spiral. The motor was from a center-point irrigation system. There are several of these around the US - its just a matter of asking around the natural building community...

My 800 s.f. house took 80 bales of straw and ten supersacks of clay. It took five days to mix and place all of the straw-clay. I hate to imagine how long it would have taken with hand mixing.
Gail Moore


Joined: Jul 09, 2011
Posts: 142
Location: south central Appalachia, southwest Virginia, US zone 6/7
    
    1

The one I used for my home was similar. It was made with a plastic culvert with spikes going inward in a spiral. The motor was from a center-point irrigation system. There are several of these around the US - its just a matter of asking around the natural building community...

My 800 s.f. house took 80 bales of straw and ten supersacks of clay. It took five days to mix and place all of the straw-clay. I hate to imagine how long it would have taken with hand mixing.
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Ardilla, this is great to hear about only 80 bales and ten supersacks, then taking you five days to mix and place the straw-clay. Was that exterior and interior walls? one or both? other areas? etc?

What shape is your home? Did you happen to build any air lock/foyer-type areas?


Did you enjoy your building process? are you in an area where you used your local earth for the supersacks? What was your placement for the bales and for the super sacks? What is your foundation? What type of drainage around the home?

How many folks were there doing this?

VERY INSPIRING. Would you be willing to share more about your experience for those who may be interested?


Thank you and many blessings.
Max
Ardilla Esch


Joined: Feb 05, 2010
Posts: 183
Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
    
    3
Hi Max,

The house is more or less a rectagle with an inset corner for a entry porch. There is also a bump-out on the south side for passive solar gain since the roof overhang is about 3 1/2 feet everywhere else. There is a foyer area with a closet that is one step down from the rest of the house. There is an arched doorway into the rest of the house. If there was a door there, it could have been an airlock - but our climate isn't that cold so its just a foyer.

The clay-straw was just for exterior walls. One of the interior walls is half-width adobe for thermal mass. The rest are frame walls.

I am still enjoying the building process. The house was weathered in this fall. Now we are doing finish work (plastering, earthen floors, door staining, cabinets).

We have plenty of local clay. However, we didn't use it. There is a brick factory about 80 miles away that uses air scrubbers to filter the airborne clay from the factory. We used the clay from the air scrubbers. This clay is dry and in powder form. This makes mixing easier than using soil. The wall framing is site-made trusses (2x4s with plywood gussets to make 12" thick walls). The inside of the walls had 3/4" plywood sheathing that was later used for roof sheathing. 2 foot high plywood forms were used on the outside. These forms are leap-frogged up as the walls get packed. There were two guys mixing nearly full time. There were four to eight people packing walls and moving forms. We probably averaged six people per day over the week. If the number of people were doubled, the wall packing time would probably have gone from five days to four days - though we would have been less tired at the end of the week. Except for the two guys mixing and two of us packers, the volunteer labor was inexperienced. The mechanization of the mixing, using lots of scaffolding and a telescoping forklift allows you to pack the walls quickly.

The foundation is footer/stemwall construction using Faswall ICF blocks (recycled wood/cement/mineral wool ICFs). The drainage around the house isn't great, but we built up the pad a little and cut swales on the high side.

I have attached a few photos. Some day I will put the highlights on a photo web site. I am willing to share more - let me know what aspects you are interested in...

You can also go to www.econest.com for information on doing workshops etc.



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Peter DeJay


Joined: Aug 10, 2011
Posts: 104
Location: Southern Oregon
I thought it sounded more and more like an EcoNest style house..bravo! It is such an inspiring and exciting building process for me. I was born and raised in New Mexico so I'm quite familiar with adobe and strawbale construction, but it wasn't until moving to southern Oregon that I met Robert and learned about the EcoNest style of construction. I love the process of constructing and packing the walls, and the look of the packed and deformed walls. I love that it's such a simple and natural material, yet is so flat, square and plumb. Not to say that curvy bale walls and cob aren't appealing in their gentle diffusion of inside to outside, but there is just something about the light clay-straw walls that is appealing. Robert just built a house here in Ashland and the community has really responded, as there are now a total of 4 complete EcoNest styled houses within 10 miles, 3 built in the last year. Is your house finished, Ardilla?

Regarding the mixer used, I was pondering if it would be useful for mixing cob as well, or perhaps chip clay that Dale and others have been discussing in other threads?
 
 
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