20071031

Pole Position


A Familiar Pole
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
As the pole gets higher all the lifters crowd to one end. This creates a 9/11 looking scene of erecting a flag. I guess this is the proof that we correctly lifted the pole.

Pole Erection


Pole Erection
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Have you ever tried to place a 300lb steel pole that is 16' tall. It is not easy. We managed to do it with four people lifting one guide and one photographer. This pole will host six 170 watt solar panels.

Wild Food Plants

I learned about the Wild Food Plants Blog through the Ryan is Hungry Vlog. Sunny Savage runs the Wild Food Plants site and does a great job of reporting detailed recipes for things like yucca, mesquite, and prickly pear cactus. I had contacted Sunny to let her know that you can do more than just eat prickly pear cactus, you can stucco or paint your home with it. She did a little post about our prickly project Prickly Pear and a side of BBQ Sauce.

20071030

Band Aids


Band Aids
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
This was the final solution to making the solar panel rack fit onto our slender solar steel poles.

Weed Wacker Working


Weed Wacker Working
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Months ago I bought a Stihl weed wacker off ebay for $22. I thought
what a great deal. Then the seller bumped up the shipping. Later we got a $90 repair bill. This was one of our worst used equipment purchases so far. However, the weed wacker does work now. Wendy trimmed a lot of our property today.

Solar Panel Pole Problem


Solar Panel Pole Problem
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Our very affordable steel poles for the solar panels were a full inch short in diameter of what the solar rack requires. Smoke figured out a way to widen up our poles using strips of 1/4" steel.

20071029

Hole Progress


Hole Progress
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
The holes that will host our solar panels have been made deeper.
Today I managed to use a coffee can to bring one hole to a depth of ~4 feet. We will start filling the holes with concrete tomorrow or the next day.

Moving Wood


Moving Wood
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We have been saving old lumber since we started working on the RV Park conversion. Wendy decided to move our nasty wood pile today so that she could till in our rye seed in its place.

20071028

Cleanup


Cleanup
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
While awaiting a big pump to help with insulating our dome we decided to clean up the yard. Wendy is picking up one lousy papercrete project which was to make a tub for soaking in.

Digging Holes


Digging Holes
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Our Solar panels will sit at the top of a 16 foot tall pole. The first 5 feet of the pole will need to be burried in the ground. We managed to get the first 2.5 feet without much trouble, but digging down to 5 feet will be difficult. Wendy is using our electric tiller named "Emilia" here.

The Dump


The Dump
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
When all of our efforts fail to put new life into a piece of furniture or other unwanted item we do the same as everyone else. Take them to the dump. Fortunately there are many great things at the dump that we can take back home.

20071027

Solar Panel Placement


Solar Panel Placement
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I drew up a diagram to scale of our panels, mobile home, and battery room. This is to help with the placement and adjustment needs of the panels. Tomorrow I will be digging the largest hole I have ever dug 5' deep.

20071026

Water Meter


Water Meter
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Our city water meter was not readable any longer. The city employees showed up in mass to put in a new meter, but were concerned about a galvanized pipe on our side. They eventually agreed to replace the meter without forcing me to get a plumber to replace the galvanized fitting. They city just did not want to be liable.

20071025

Grease Pump


Grease Pump
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Take a look at this beautiful 12V grease pump that I ordered from Golden Fuel Systems a few weeks ago. This pump will sit in the trunk of my diesel mercedes and fill the auxillary tank with grease. This is only used when we pull up to the grease traps outside of restaurants. It is a VERY expensive pump setup, but should allow us to steal 21 gallons of grease in minutes without even asking for permission. Speed is critical when you want free grease and have dreadlocks.

20071024

The Bucket System


The Bucket System
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Since we are in search of a pump capable of moving papercrete we needed to do it the old fashioned way today. Manual buckets 3 at a time in a wheel barrel. Scoop up the PC from the mixer and dump it into the dome. Its messy, but effective.

20071023

Sad Day at the Pump


Sad Day at the Pump
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Today was the peak of my reckless experimentation career. I pulled out a borrowed diaphragm pump (3.5hp) and tried to push 200 gallons of papercrete through it. Didn't work out. The pump likes water just fine, but the larger chunks of paper just blocked it. Smoke and I spent about $50 and five hours rushing about to make things go, but ultimately we are giving up on this size of pump.

20071022

Ponder Us


Ponder Us
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I am enjoying the view of the inner armature.

Peek A Boo


Peek A Boo
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Here is the princess with our freshly installed neon.

Scale


Scale
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
To give you a idea of our dome height Smoke well over 6' tall. Notice
the big smile we finished all the lath today. Tomorrow is the pump test.

20071020

Double Lath Joints


Double Lath Joints
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
The dome is at the point now that the remainder of the work is on the overlaps. Even with our pneumatic hog ring gun we still need to hand tie the places where two pieces of lath meet. A 4" overlap seems to be ideal.

20071019

Dome Progress


Dome Progress
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
The dome is pretty close to sealed up. I really wanted to pump in papercrete tomorrow, but it looks like I will need to wait one more day. Now that I have extensive lath experience, I know that taking your time to double and triple check that all the lath is well connected is worth the effort.

Top of Pole


Top of Pole
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
These 16' long 3/8" thick poles would normally cost over $600 for the
pair. I got a lucky tip from my steel supplier about some slightly abused posts that ended up saving me $300. We will plant these in the ground next week and mount our solar panel racks to the top of them.

Ice Cube Theory


Ice Cube Theory
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
This isn't about liquid water going below 32F (0C). This is about filling our papercrete dome with its insulation as fast as possible. First I put down a vapor barrier. Then I stack old papercrete blocks inside the dome. After adding remesh and lath we pump in our liquid papercrete. The theory is we save a lot of time and new material by using the old blocks.

Trash Bag Vapor Barrier


Trash Bag Vapor Barrier
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I am putting in a vapor barrier made from 3mil contractor bags. I use two layers to get 6mil and place these at the bottom of the battery room below the papercrete insulation. This should prevent the papercrete from "wicking" up moisture from the concrete slab.

Rebar Reload


Rebar Reload
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
As I was driving back to Las Cruces I received a call that the local metal shop had my order and was ready to drop it off. I had ordered 200 sticks of 3/8" rebar for future ferrocement projects. They had a good price at $4.18 a stick delivered. That is 7% savings over my local hardware store. This should be enough rebar to build our next dome and tub.

Lath Refill


Lath Refill
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I picked up 100 pieces of lath in Las Cruces this morning. This required me to wake up at 5:30am and drive 140 miles (round trip) so that I can finish skinning the dome today. A good price at $3.80 per 27"x96" (1.75lb) sheet.

20071018

Lathtaster


Lathtaster
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I woke up at 5:45am to drop Wendy off in Albuquerque. When I returned to TorC to skin the dome I realized I only had 4 sheets of lath left. No problem. I will just got buy some more at the local hardware store. Well I learned two things.

1. I will be going to Las Cruces tomorrow (1 hour drive) to obtain more lath
2. My local hardware store sells lath for $2 more per sheet than the nearest town

< $1000 Dome


< $1000 Dome
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I have been processing the numbers for the battery room. This 78.5' square structure has cost me about $1000 for all the rebar, welded wire mesh, lath, and cement. This means per square foot the building cost of ferrocement / papercrete is about $12. That's pretty good for a material cost, but keep in mind the labor.

20071016

Fake Chicken


Fake Chicken
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
After a hard day of labor it is really nice to sit down to my favorite
meal. Fake chicken stir fry.

Exterior Skin


Exterior Skin
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Today is all about skinning the outside of the dome.

The Skinny on Skinning


The Skinny on Skinning
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I've learned a important lesson about the order of skinning a dome. It is easiest if done inside out from top to bottom.

1. WWM - Inside Upper
2. Lath - Inside Upper
3. WWM - Inside Lower
4. Lath - Inside Lower
5. WWM - Outside Upper
6. Lath - Outside Upper
7. WWM - Outside Lower
8. Lath - Outside Lower

Battery Room Lights


battery room lights
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
The electrical and neon are now installed for the battery room indoor and outdoor lights.

Agave


Agave
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy received two baby agave plants from a neighbor. She dug a hole and planted them with just a little black gold soil since our soil is crap right now.

Russian Hat


Russian Hat
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Our battery room has received a Russian hat to finish off its middle eastern igloo look. We will be finishing lath through Friday and then pumping the papercrete.

20071015

Bamboo Thatching


Bamboo Thatching
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Since Wendy has neck problems she can not work on the inside upper areas of the dome which need lath right now. She has returned to thatching bamboo for shade.

Tidy Tool Shed


Tidy Tool Shed
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy decided to clean up our tool shed as we have recently received a large amount of free gear from a neighbor. We needed to find a way to fit everything inside our container. She did a surprisingly good job in just two hours of work.

20071006

Best Tool


Best Tool
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
This home made skateboard has been one of the most useful tools for
our entire building process. The off road wheels sometimes called
Bigfoot tires are excellent for dragging heavy loads on our gravel property. We used it to move every 150 lb paper panel in our fence. Now I use it to sit on while tying lath at the bottom of structures.

20071005

4x lath improvement


4x lath improvement
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy was flying today as far as getting the metal lath up. She used the pneumatic hog ring gun and got 12 full pieces of lath up where we used to only get 3 up using hand ties. We might just be able to build our dwelling domes a lot faster than we thought.

Entrance Arch


Entrance Arch
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Smoke made a door archway for the dome this morning. You can see the parabolic niche shape over the green door. He also saw that I have many pictures of his butt on this blog so he is making a point of showing his face to show his mother.

Garbage Saw


Garbage Saw
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy found this little battery powered saw in the trash and brought it home with a truck load of garbage. I tried a Dewalt battery from our finish gun in it which works just great. One more tool from the dumpster.

We Got a Winner


We Got a Winner
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Our '84 Mercedes passed its engine inspection with flying colors. We have less than $1,000 in minor repairs to make our car very happy. Time to order the grease kit for our fuel conversion.

Slime Tubes


Slime Tubes
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I spent a few hours climbing on the dome like it was a jungle gym today. My chest was hurting from laying on the rebar so I tied some 16" partially inflated slime tube bike tires to to myself. These helped me lay on the dome to tighten up the remesh.

Back to Lath


Back to Lath
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy and I were both pleasantly surprised to see how fast the lath can go up on our battery room. Where we used to get 3 sheets a day up we can now do 12. The big time saver was only using the hog ties on the vertical remesh lines every 6".

20071004

Bolt Cutters


Bolt Cutters
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Do you like bolt cutters? I sure do. Some of my best college experiences included a pair of 24" bolt cutters. Here is a little 14" cutter that is excellent for cutting remesh for our FC/PC dome.

The Future


The Future
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
This is a view of my kitchen / living room / princess.

20071003

Shane Keller Papercrete Interview

I interviewed expert papercreter Shane Keller last week and have just made the podcast available.

Gates at Sunset


Gates at Sunset
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
It is really strange how our property feels larger the more we close it off.

Gate Art


Gate Art
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy has been using the plasma cutter to cut out a moon from 16
gauge steel for a gate handle. This is really about asthetics since
the gate cannot be opened from the outside.

Fortress


Fortress
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Nothing says fortress like a giant steel door. Welcome to the
compound, no go home.

20071002

Gate Panels


Gate Panels
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I spent most of the day working with Wendy to get two more gate panels installed. Tomorrow will be the last one.