Tag Archives: cob

Call me Noah then.

I see.

Do you see?

This is our place. Here on earth.

Rushed. Half hearted. Segregated. Ours in waiting.

Waiting for what? Death.

So freaked out about that fact that humans will keep their eyes averted and run faster trying to keep others’ eyes averted by demanding to control their outlook and their vision.

Chin up, brows down. Blinkers on.

“This is the important race, run like this, you might one day earn enough from running through the thorns to afford these old second hand sandals.”

and then this car, and then this house..

Please comment on this post if you understand…

I am individual. So is everyone.

It is awesome! why? Because we are awesome!!

This life is spectacular.
Everything is a spectacle . Everywhere you look with open eyes is amazing.

I am writing this post in a place in nature.

Where everything is different, all these differences from the minutest shrub to the biggest tree combine together to make something so visually and soulfully spectacular that we as humans require and get cravings to be out here.
Here we can look all around, we can be a human being, not a human doing.

We were never meant to be compressed and forced into boxes watching a box in the corner or a box that is center stage.
I am talking off topic of the TV.
Remote control Handset – a handset to shift the channel of the bullshit poured upon us by the Remote Control.
The remote control machine is the TV. Propaganda in digital format.

Anyway, I am in nature now listening to the crackle of the fire and the nightsong of the crickets and the movements of nature.

I am a travelling salesman. A Sales Representative. An Area Sales Manager, Key accounts Manager, whatever glorified title our human commerce of money structured, position structured, status structured, structured life structured human paranoia calls this.

I am a traveller. I cover many miles and see many faces.
I see many faces but not too many souls. I dig deep to find the souls but more often than not, the digging finds faces.
Faces of simplified people, in a complex society, complex because it does not make sense, therefore has no answer for the people.
In the chaos, people look to anything with self assurance to believe as the right path just so that they can relax their simplified minds.

I realised something tonight.
Something that I had forgotten too easily. I am an individual.

Fortunately I cannot change that, I was born one and will die one. I may have to put up with this system and all of it’s flaws but I don’t have to be part of it.

Maybe it’s just because I have thick skin ( and don’t watch TV ).

So the title of this blog:…

I can descend into a whole can of spinach about this being end of days and how need to prepare ourselves to lose commerce and money as our trading denomination. How we need to learn to fend for ourselves to survive what we will see. To be prepared for something we have never been taught to prepare for.

I could but shall not for the sake of my happiness tonight.
Those who have open eyes know and don’t need to be told.

All that I want to share and ring true tonight and in this post is this just this:

We are individuals.
Beautiful individuals
Common Space so that we can learn together.

Be you. True.

You certainly were born and just as certainly you will die.

What filling is in your sandwich?

Yes I feel like Noah building the Ark, what I am doing to many by building this place seems against all that they have learnt from their society.
It is. And it’s beautiful.

Because it is us. Individual

Let’s all be individuals.

Build you own Wind Turbine, why not?!

I want this place to be offgrid.

I do not want to rely on a power company that overcharges and dictates to us for something that is all around us.

Electric power in the form of energy is all around us.

Whether it is in Solar, Heat, Wind or Water, there is more Free power around us than we’ll ever need.

So, build a harness for it and jump on for the free ride…

A little test turbine
A little test turbine

The cob house will get it’s power from Solar panels and some homemade wind turbines.

I have been experimenting with DIY wind generators for some time now and decided to put one up the cob house for testing.

This is a very basic 4 PVC blade attached directly to the shaft of a 180 volt DC permanent magnet Treadmill motor.

I mounted the pole very crudely by loading the base with bricks and tying it to the house with wire.
I also erected it in an area which gets blustery wind due the the tree next to it and others in the close vicinity.
I wanted a Worst case scenario benchmark to work from.

Hiding in the trees
Hiding in the trees
Closer view of the basic generator
Closer view of the basic generator

I used a 4 blade configuration so that I required a lower start up wind speed as this has more surface area facing the wind ( called the Swept Area )

4 blades does however mean increased drag and this translates into slower RPM on the motor shaft than a 3 blade configuration.

There is plenty of info on the internet on how to build a generator like this using 6 or 8 inch PVC pipe as the blades.
Below is a schematic on how to cut the blades from the pipe so that you can have 6 equal blades to experiment.
Also, a pic of a nicer looking 4 blade design from http://www.instructables .com
Once again, thank you to the authors.

Cutting schematic for PVC wind turbine generator blade. Horizontal Axis Wind turbine
Cutting schematic for PVC wind turbine generator blade. Horizontal Axis Wind turbine
4 blade PVC Diy Wind turbine generator blades
4 blade PVC Diy Wind turbine generator blades

Treadmill motors are perfect for wind turbines as they create dc voltage at very low RPM (revolutions per minute)
They are normally rated up to around 180 Volts DC at around 2000 to 3000 RPM at 3 to 8 amps depending on the individual motor.

What this translates to is that:If you spin the shaft of the motor at 2000 to 3000 RPM, you will be able to measure up to 180vdc from the motor.
This can then be coupled to a battery through a blocking diode to charge to battery.
The battery in turn can then light DC lights or AC appliances through an inverter.

Very basic, but this is the general jist of why.

Here is a basic schematic of a system in more detail from http://www.homebrewpower.co.uk

www.homebrewpower.co.uk has some great info. Thank you
http://www.homebrewpower.co.uk has some great info. Thank you

I ran a few tests on my basic turbine and was reasonably impressed with the results.
Although the location of the turbine meant that it received very little wind whilst hiding on a low pole behind in the trees, I was able to glean good info on how to build my next turbine capable of supplying at least 40% of my proposed needs.

The new turbine will be mounted on a salvaged fiberglass street light pole approximately 12 meters high in a high wind “traffic” area.
It consists of a 6 blade 1.7m diameter turbine with an 1:11 ratio turning 2 x 2kw Treadmill motors via a belt.
Therefore 1 revolution of the turbine blades will turn the motor shafts 11 times.

Example: 100 blade RPM = 1100 motor shaft RPM

Here is the beginning of this experiment:

Upcycled  Wheelchair rim will turn the belt over the 2 treadmill motors. Not pretty, but she'll be effective!
Upcycled Wheelchair rim will turn the belt over the 2 treadmill motors. Not pretty, but she’ll be effective!

It is useful to know a few things about Wind turbines if you are looking into building one for your own uses.
Some of these include:

Air density: at the coast and in lower lying areas, the air is denser due to the amount of water vapour in the air.
This means that the wind is “heavier” and carries more strength than the thinner air of higher altitudes, meaning faster RPM on the blades at lower wind speeds due to the
Power of the heavy air.

Air power versus elevation
Air power versus elevation

The higher the turbine, the more effective:
Turbines mounted on higher poles do not suffer as much from bluster wind which has bounced off of obstructions at lower levels.
These obstacles also take a lot of the power out of the wind.

Tip Speed Ratio:
This relates to drag on the blades.

Weight of Blades: heavier blades require more power from the wind to turn them. Some people do preferred build blades out of wood, but the preference is the lighter, the better.
Hence, blades cut from PVC pipe offer lightweight solutions to this.

Flexible blades reduce efficiency:
Blades that are too flexible or cut from soft materials and bend back more than about 5% in good wind are hindering the efficiency with increased drag.

DC Motors: all DC motors can produce voltage when coupled to blades, but rather look for motors with lower rpm and higher voltage ratings. This means that your turbine will not
need to spin stupidly fast just to light and led or charge a mobile phone.

Blade design: fewer blades mean that the turbine rotate faster with less drag but will need higher wind speeds to start it turning.
More blades mean slower start up wind speeds but slower blade speeds. Search Tip Speed Ratio for more info on this.

Tree felling 101

As mentioned in the last post, I don’t have loads of cash to throw at removing these trees. So, I do it myself. What I have had to build and experiment with is Tree Climbing spikes. These little buggers help you to climb stupidly high in order to get to the tops of the trees for cutting. They are effectively just a long spike protruding from the inside curve of your boot, which you kick into the tree to give you grip. Put a rope around the tree to hold on to and go.

Obviously, climbing harness, carabiners, safety ropes and such must accompany you!

DIY Tree Climbing Spikes
DIY Tree Climbing Spikes
DIY Tree Climbing Spikes 2
DIY Tree Climbing Spikes 2
Tree Climbing with Spikes DIY
Tree Climbing with Spikes DIY
Up a tree to secure a cable
Up a tree to secure a cable
Cable secured
Cable secured
I ALSO WANNA CLIMB DADDY!
I ALSO WANNA CLIMB DADDY!

On most of the trees that I have recently felled, I was allowed enough space to let the tree fall where I wanted it to. To do this I climbed the said trees and secured a long strong cable at about two thirds of the way up. I then fastened the other end to the Jeep ( normally snaking around the base of a tree in the direction I wanted it to fall) I loaded the Jeep with bricks and rocks to weight it down for more traction, put it into Low Range and pulled the tree as tight as possible. I then fired up the chainsaw and cut out the ‘V’ near the base of the tree in the direction I wanted it to fall. I I then cut around the sides and back of tree until I heard the tree shift and start to lightly click as the heartwood fibres took strain. I then sprinted my ass off to the Jeep, started it up and pulled.
Some times I’d have to repeat the last 2 steps a few times before the tree gave way. (Better safe and tired than sorry) The tree would begin to shift under the torque of the vehicle and start coming down. I would keep the tension on the cable for as long as possible to ensure that the tree fell exactly where I wanted it. Even on the badly leaning trees I was able to land them near on perfect.

20140504_11103620140504_11100620140504_120802inthetreescobhouse.wordpress.com tree removal

Cob house Inthetreescobhouse grass roof

MY NEMESIS:

The last tree on the menu on Sunday had been giving me a worried finger for a long time. I
It had been shaped by the prevailing South Westerly wind to curve from it’s base to midway and then straighten up but keep all of it’s weight and foliage on the wrong side.
Cutting it at the base meant dropping it possibly on the house and definitely on the neighbor’s fence and chicken coop.
No vehicle in my reach would be able to pull it over against it’s strength and weight.

So, suck it in, climb and cut..

Mr Nemesis
Mr Nemesis
Rather high,  Mr Vertigo.
Rather high, Mr Vertigo.
And the wind started picking up!
And the wind started picking up!

It took me about an hour before I started to cut up there with the chainsaw. Life at that height is a different world.
I even phoned my wife to come and give me moral support!
I managed to cut all the weight off the tree to then cable it and cut/pull with the Jeep.
Done. Yay!

My girls coming to give me moral support! I was trying to pretend I was on a ship's mast by singing a sailor's songs!
My girls coming to give me moral support!
I was trying to pretend I was on a ship’s mast by singing a sailor’s songs!

In the trees.?

We decided to call our little piece of freedom this for 3 reasons.

* We’re not “in the money”

* Our heads aren’t “in the clouds” anymore, though they aren’t buried in the sand either.

* there are lots of trees…..

………..* also, one day, hopefully soon, I’ll build a main bedroom in the three trees above the current main bedroom to give all 3 kids their own rooms. Then Anel and I will be “in the trees” [read: Treehouse Sanctuary, away from the wild animals below!]

View upthe drive before felling
View upthe drive before felling

We have mainly Bluegum trees (Eucalyptus) growing on the land as they were introduced by the original owner of the farm and planted as a windbreak in rows. I guesstimate that some of the older trees must be around 80 years old.

Bluegum trees do not have particularly deep root bases, grow up to 40 metres high and have a rather irritating habit of falling over.

As there have also been a few fires that had come through the land previously, scarring the bases of some of the taller trees, a few trees had weaker or rotted sections.

Scary to think about when standing under them in high winds.

I have been wanting to clear a few more trees from the house area for a while as I am not too keen to catch a 4 ton log before it rests on the roof.

Two leaning problem trees
Two leaning problem trees

Removing problem trees is normally a Very costly affair if you get the experts in.
In my case, the two trees in the photo above would have cost me around R6000 or $500 EACH to remove. In the trees, not the money, remember?

So called professional tree fellers in our area also do not even carry a 100% property safety guarantee and insurance for their work.

I knew this from the beginning of our plot life so I am not sitting here with a worried finger up my bum, I’m just saying…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slow, Broke March. Chin up!

Jeez. We thought January and February were tight… March is watertight.

But we are making progress, albeit slow.

Widson has been putting in some extra time for us, cobbing the exterior and filling in some more sections with fencing and wattle.

Here are some pics of our progress as of beginning of March 2014.

I have also started experimenting with final cob plaster layers in the main bedroom, using a 25%red clay 25% horse manure ( yes, I shall build with poo!) and 50% fine sand mix.

Horse manure is a perfect substitute for finely chopped straw as it contains superfine grass for binding and some enzymes that aid in giving a smooth and easily applied, flexible when wet, plaster. If that makes sense.

Basically, it is just perfect!

It only has a feint odour when wet and by the time has half dried and set, there is no sign that you’ve been mucking about!

Anyway, here are some photos…

Note the kid’s handprints, I love it it, this is now turning into a home!ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Where we are today.

So, we’ve got the roof on, we’ve thrown a cement floor throughout, we have the basic fireplace, water tank and feed done, now we are busy boxing the walls, filling them with wattle and cobbing them in…

Next will come the electric points, db boxes for the solar, home rebuilt solar geyser with rocket water heater, internal walls, skylights and eventually ceilings (eventually love…not now!)

18th Jan 201420140126_180306 20140202_173048 20140201_081452 20140118_140000 20140202_173048 20140202_173157 20140205_224833

“Life is what happens while you’re making other plans…” So here’s the plan…..

IMG-20121230-0107818th Jan 2014
After a few years and a lot of life, we (dad, mom and the 3 little people) have decided to build a cob house.

We were originally going to buy a standard house in the suburbs and become what we didn’t really like. Suburbians.

-Nothing wrong with that, but my wife and I have never been conventional. She is an inspired artist and I am something of an artistic soul too.
(Altough we are both rather disgruntled artists as kids, bills, work, building, money and life like to bubble the pot!)

So. We looked at conventional houses in the suburbs. My wife ran away screaming to the hills. I followed her.

We found a beautiful wooded plot just out of town that a friend of ours was wanting to sell off. Perfect!

We jumped at it!

Well, it has not been smooth sailing by any stretch, having to clear trees, fence, build, wait, pay, wait, change plans, correct title deeds, wait, pay…. all another story!
But, seeing our house take shape is really exciting now.

This blog is about how we are building our little house out of natural and recycled materials to be free of grid electricity and most importantly:
To be free of a mortgage.
We are trying to do everything without taking loans, so progress is slow.

It is quite funny how our new home has morphed and warped from where it was just going to be a little workshop for me (dad) growing into a fully fledged offgrid, living grass roof, skylighted, 3 bedroom home capable our keeping us 5 cozy and happy!

We had no training or experience in building alternatively before starting here, everything was learnt by studying the internet, watching YouTube videos, looking at pics and mostly:l lots of trial and error.

I’d like to dedicate this blog to all the wonderful people of the world who have posted their findings and ideas and shared their knowledge on the net.
It is a wonderful brotherhood of barefoot builders that helped us shape our ideas and we’d like to give back to those who also want share in the joy of the Hand Built home.

Well, here is our lovechild…