Hello I'm new to the concept of Earthships but this forum has been a huge help in getting up to speed. I'd like to pose this idea to the community in hopes of further reading or critiques -
In my few days of research it has become obvious that these homes are tremendously cost-effective yet the amount of labor, "sweat-equity," is a barrier to entry for many potential builders.
More specifically, filling and packing each tire with dirt takes an incredible amount of time - it's estimated that a single individual can pack about 8 tires a day while an entire Earthship may require something like 1800 packed tires!
So I'd like to propose that we create the earth-rammed tires in a manufacturing facility and then ship these pre-rammed building blocks to a construction site.
Now I've never constructed an Earthship or done the actual ramming of dirt into tires, so the manufacturing details aren't worked out but if anyone has worked on an Earthship and could provide insight and any pros/cons to this method I would love to hear what you think!
*One downside I've considered already is the weight of each tire. From my reading it seems like a single earth-rammed tire can weigh upwards of 300 pounds, making the complete load many many tons. Maybe the good ole' American railroad can help us with transport but getting the tires to the construction site will still be logistically challenging.
Earthships are not my forte, though I have been looking into the costs of shipping firebrick for a Batch Box Rocket Mass Heater I plan to build. I can assure you, the cost of freight is outrageous when you consider to kind of tonnage you are talking about. Maybe it is more economical to devise a simple device to assist in packing the earth into the tires? Moving tires full of earth would be backbreaking work.
One of the benefits of Earthships was the use of in situ resources. Your suggestion would obviate that benefit.
If you are going to use a machine to ram tires, you could make such a press mobile, and ram the tires on-site, but then why use tires at all? Why not earthbags, or compressed earth block? Why not do away with the need for unconventional machinery and ram earth between forms like one pours concrete, using a tamper to compact the layers as you go?
I tend to stay away from used tires. Many of the reasons why this may be a good idea are contained in a thread I have linked below.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
I've thought I would cut off one sidewall of a tire before packing it.
More work, more tools,more efficent, less frustrating?
The best use of tires in an "earthship" I've seen is the compressed tire block.
Made of tires that are baled into a cube, they are so heavy and dense it is said they can be used to build a wall directly on the ground without footers!
There is a thread here on Permies by an owner/builder.
Regarding other ways to build with soil, soil concrete is something I would consider, but
RapidAdobe is what I really want to try:
Great idea in theory, bad in practise.
If you study better ways of working on the site with in situ materials you will improve productivity.
Time is spent shifting the earth around, and unto the tyres.
Time is taken with compacting the soil.
I would look at conveyors, air driven compacting tools, funnels to hold over a tyre to speed up filling.
Even a simple crane or fly system to move the tyres around quickly.
Look at filling sat 3 tyres at a time and then compacting them .
I studied time and motion, it will help you to plan things differently.
John Daley Bendigo, Australia
The Enemy of progress is the hope of a perfect plan