Colorado Earthship Build: Day 11 (Packout and concrete)

So, what were we up to today? For me, more of the same. I did packout for most of the day and I helped to pour a bond beam at around 15:30.

Kat, on the other hand, had a more exciting day as she got to work with Helena making stairs. I’m sure she will have a detailed description of that on her blog. I did managed to grab some action shots of the two of them working the bottles, so to speak.


See this wall? Yeah, that’s what I saw all day too. Stuff more mortar into the gaps to bring them out to the same depth as the tires.


Everyone else was working on cool things. Here you can see all of the interior wall work being done. You can almost imagine the rooms now.


I caught a rare aerial photo of Kat busy at work leveling her bottles. And I don’t mean she’s making sure all of the liquid inside each bottle is at the same level.


View from above of the interior. You can see they poured the second bond beam on the center tire wall. With no cement truck or pumping truck either. They did it all with the mixers and wheel barrowed it over there. Broken cement trucks don’t set us back.


This is the part of the bond beam that I helped to pour at the end of the day. Those are anchor bolts sticking out of the concrete. You use those to bolt down the nailing plate on top of the beam so you can attach framing to it.


Remember how we were working on the wing walls near the junction of the garage arches and the main wall last week? Well, the bond beam going across the center wall now spans across that. The wooden framing you see in the picture is actually the form for the arch over the eastern entrance to the garage.


Here is a long shot of that center bond beam. It’s really wide, the full width of the tires. Of course, this one has to be because it is holding up half of the garage, half of the upper floor and half of the front ceiling. In other words, it’s going to have to support a lot of weight.


Here is a picture of the front face tire work with its nailing plate made from Trex and the work on the vertical green house wall. Soon there will be a tonne more framing to go up that will connect those front tires with the vertical green house wall. There will also be all of that atrium detailing to frame out as well, but we haven’t poured the footing for it yet. Getting the garage done first is a higher priority.


If all goes according to plan, they tell us we’ll be working on putting the logs (or vigas as they like to call them – which is just a native [Navajo I think] word for log) up over the garage tomorrow. That will be exciting.

I have to add that working with all of that mortar and concrete, you do have to be careful. I managed to get a small cement burn on my right wrist above the glove line. That’s no fun at all.

Also, having now spent so much time doing packout, I have figured out a few things. First of all water is key. If the surface you are trying to put the mortar on is not wet enough, it just falls off. Similarly, however, if the mortar is too wet, it will sag and fall off that way as well. Finding the right balance is important, especially the further you pack it out, as the surface becomes much more vertical as you go along. That’s also why it is important to put some indentations, or use one of those rake/scraper doohickeys to roughen up the surface so you can attach more to it later. If you don’t, you’ll have a difficult time.


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