It’s been too long since my last post, and it’s not like things haven’t been happening. Just got busy.
Fortunately, for all of you, I was over at another local Earthship yesterday.
A short 20min drive from our trailer is Dash and Y.P.’s Earthship. It is not complete yet, so I volunteered my time yesterday to help out. Actually, that was the second time this summer that I have been over there helping, but I forgot to take any pictures the first time so I didn’t have much to post. I remedied that this time.
This first picture is the back of the Earthship.
Dash is the guy on the tractor. Unfortunately, we haven’t had the pleasure of meeting his wife Y.P. yet as she is working in the city to support this venture of theirs.
Getting up a little closer and looking over that wall of white Styrofoam insulation you saw above, you get so see the area we were working on.
If all you have ever seen are global model Earthships, this may look a bit odd. This one is built using the simple survival design, which uses domes made of concrete. What you’re seeing in that picture above is the tops of the domes, three of the four in this Earthship.
If we move a bit more towards that far end you see in the picture above, and turn the camera south, you can see the empty gaps between the domes.
Standing on top of the western most dome and looking back you can see the retaining wall that circles the domes. That is what is covered with the Styrofoam insulation. The previous work day I was here, we worked on that concrete bottle retaining wall.
This next picture will give you a good shot of the framing for the greenhouse at the front. Dash used hemlock as his framing material of choice. He said he really like it too, as it made for a really rock solid structure. If you know anything about hemlock, “rock solid” is not just a comment on the framing technique. Hemlock happens to be one of the hardest of the softwoods.
The colouring of the hemlock is due to the stain they used to treat the wood.
I took this picture from above, standing on the western most dome, looking down through the roof framing into the area that will become the greenhouse. That door looking thing is actually just a window. That’s the door frame beside it to the left.
The bottle wall to the right will be finished up to the roof, insulated with more Styrofoam and then covered with the berm.
Next we’re looking down the length of the greenhouse. The greenhouse will eventually have an EPDM liner put in to contain the planters along the windows.
Here is a picture of the front/south face. If you’ve been following me for a while, you might recall we first visited Dash and Y.P. last October.
So, what were we working on yesterday, you may be asking? Remember those big gaps between the domes you saw in the earlier pictures above? We were filling them. Dash worked the tractor and dumped load after load of dirt over the retaining wall and I shoveled it into place, tamping it as we went along. We managed to fill in the first two trenches completely before lunch.
In the afternoon we worked on filling the gap between the two central (and largest) domes. There was a bit of a delay in getting to that stage though, as Dash had to build a dirt ramp up the outside of the wall so he could get the bucket of the tracker over the lip. Once that was completed, we were back to filling in the berm.
When you first begin, the gap is quite narrow and you’re thinking, “okay, this is going well”. Then you realized that the gap just keeps getting wider and wider as it goes up, needing more and more dirt.
We weren’t able to get it finished by the end of the day, unfortunately. This is as far as we got.
I don’t think we would have been able to fill it completely, even if we had kept going as we were running low on dirt by that point. Still, a pretty decent day’s progress for two people. Yeah, it was a full day of physical labour, but I knew that when I volunteered and I’m not afraid to break a sweat. Yes, you can get expensive machines to do the job quicker and faster, but you really need to pick and choose those carefully, or your costs just start running away.
Besides, I’ve worked with the Earthship Biotecture crew and they are no strangers to physical labour.
If you’re wondering what goes on top of the dirt after it is all filled in, there will be 10″ (25cm) of rigid foam insulation, two layers of 6mil vapour barrier, an EPDM liner covering all of that and then a 3″ (7.5cm) concrete slab will be poured over the thing like buttercream frosting on a cake.
There is a good chance that we will be doing more work over at Dash and Y.P.’s before the snow flies. The goal is to try and get it enclosed completely before winter arrives. With a little bit of help, I think that is quite achievable.