Colorado Earthship Build: Day 12 (Packout and various things)

Sung to the tune Le Freak by Chic

Have you heard about the new house craze?
Listen to us, I’m sure you’ll be amazed
Tire fun to be had by everyone
It’s up to you, It surely can be done
Young and old are doing it, I’m told
Just one try, and you too will be sold
It’s called pack out! They’re doing it night and day
Allow us, we’ll show you the way

Aaahh Pack out!
Pack out, don’t pout
Pack out!

Yes, this morning I was doing more packout, only this time it was on the west side wing wall around the cistern. I also had helpers who had never done packout so I was playing mentor too. I did a lot more fetching of mortar, with extra people to help. The morning went by pretty quick.

I’m sure you’re tired of looking at pictures of tire walls so I didn’t take any of those.

However, the dude with the excavator came by both ends to bury the cisterns, so there was a bit of frantic work to put the insulation around them before they got buried. Here is a picture of the excavator at work burying the eastern cistern. You can also see the white foam insulation boards that were put around it.

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I also carried up and put into place both cooling tube boxes for the west side. Those things are not light, as I mentioned before, as they are made from Trex.

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Here is a picture of one that is open so you can see the screen across the pipe. That’s so when you have it open, no critters will climb in. They will eventually be screwed into the cooling tubes and the corners filled in.

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Things are going to jump around a bit from here on. I had quite a few different duties after lunch, but none of them involved pounding tires or doing packout.

They have been going pretty hard to put up the vertical green house wall. Here you can see they are working on the support beam across the top on the west side. They have also put up the wood guides on the east side to do the same thing. The gap in the middle is where the framing for the atrium will eventually be going in.

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This is the same picture, more or less, but stepped back a ways so you can see the end of the beam. The beam is made of a 2×8 plate, on top of which sits a sandwich of five 2x12s. Another 2×8 plate is put on top of that. This thing is not going anywhere.

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Right after lunch, the big crane arrived to move the logs (vigas) into place. It setup first on the west side.

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It looks a bit precarious from this picture, but it was well secured.

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The way the process worked was the backhoe was outfitted with some forks and it would bring up two or three of the logs at a time.

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Helpers would sling the ties around the logs and the crane would pick them up and swing them over to the building. I was wandering around at one point looking for Kat as I couldn’t find her anywhere. Apparently she was one of the log loading helpers. Go Kat go!

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Here is a shot from the other end. You can see the logs being placed over the garage. On top of the bond beam you can see two nailing plates. I was helping to install those just after lunch so I got to run up and down that wall. First they had me cutting off the excess threads from the anchor bolts sticking up out of the nailing plate after the nuts on them were tightened. Then I switched and I was the tightener for a bit.

Then we ran out of nuts, so there was a frantic search for more. Don’t you hate it when you don’t have enough nuts to finish the job? Well, anyway, we found enough and all of the plates were bolted down.

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Moving around to the opposite corner, I took this picture showing the progress of the logs. For now, they were just putting them up on the roof. They didn’t spend any time making sure they were positioned properly. That will be the finicky part later, maybe tomorrow.

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This next picture is a more direct view of the east side bedrooms on the first/bottom floor and the finished beam across the top. You can also see the logs being put into place further in the back on the left.

Something interesting to note, you see how they have those massive posts in some places, and in others they just built a sandwich of 2×8 plates? I asked about that; why use posts in some places and the stack in others. It turns out that the posts are there because they will be exposed when finished and they wanted something nicer to look at. Otherwise, if they were just going to be covered, they probably would have chosen a cheaper option.

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More logs, this time being delivered from the east side. You can also see on the right side how they also put the logs over the first floor section on the west side of the building as well. There are a lot of logs in this building.

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This is a detailed shot of the form and rebar work for what will be the concrete arch over the west side entrance to the garage. Also, on the right, is the rebar and remesh grid where the outside dome will be created over the entrance. Pretty snazzy, eh?

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More logs coming in on the east side. You can also see from this spot that they have poured the concrete for the arch on this side. They also poured all of the buttresses along the back wall of the garage.

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I have to tell you, that is a huge amount of concrete to be mixing just with regular cement mixers. The guys working the mixers are real troopers, not to mention all of the others who have to cart it away in wheel barrows and then get it into the spaces it is intended for.

The dumb thing is, the company that had the concrete pumping truck that broke said they had another truck, but it was all booked. We’re like, well that’s your loss, cause this building has no small amount of concrete. Unfortunately, that means more work for us.

I don’t know how many pallets of bags of cement we have gone through so far on this build, but it has to be something like a dozen or more. I believe there are 35 bags per pallet, each weighing 42kg (94lbs). According to spec, “One 94 lb. bag of Portland Cement makes 4.5 cubic feet of concrete.” That’s about 19.75L for us metric folk. If you do the math, that turns out to be roughly 70 cubic yards (53.5 cubic meters). The fun part about that is, we aren’t even finished with the concrete/mortar work yet.

Anyway, I ended up running around all over the place doing little things here and there. I spent a while using the miter saw to cut blocks for the logs. You put a block of wood on each side of each log so it will stay in place, once you have it positioned properly. You need it to stay put as a rebar pin is going to be pounded through it into the nailing plate.

But I’m getting ahead of things. I’m sure we’ll see that part soon enough.

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