Monday, December 28, 2009

Roof Details

Back on roof work, we put in the proper chimney pipe now. We had purchased some 8" inner diameter piping when the roof guys were setting it up, but we've since decided we wanted 6"id pipe. Since the roof got built before the fireplace/stove was in, we had to do some backwards building to get this right.

Above you can see the shiny double-walled chimney pipe sticking out of the ceiling. Since the roofing is already on, we had to build those wooden brackets in on the ground, screw the flanges in to the top of the pieces of wood, and then get the whole thing up in there tight.
We actually used pipe clamps, between two rafters as extra holders, so that we didn't have to struggle to hold the thing up there while screwing it in.
Here you can see the vent hole we cut in the cross bracket wood, to allow air to flow from the soffets (outside vertical edge of the roof) all the way through to the vents at the peaks.
An important part of this was that we didn't want the chimney pipe area open to this air flow, in the unlikely event of some sort of fire, you don't want the house itself to be breathing the fire along the roof. Thus, we kept the holes just in these areas, that will not be connected to where the chimney is.

We're also working on putting in the soffets - wooden blockers on the outside edges of the roof - and here you can see the vent holes (with screens over them for bugs), also part of the roof cooling system.

In California, they don't really do this venting much, even though it's a great way to add insulation to your roof, to let hot air flow through and out, as it can pull forest/house fires into your roof structure. However, because we have inflamable walls and will do careful landscaping around the outside of our house, we decided that this could benefit us.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Beginning Chimney work

would you believe we had to cut and sand down the tips of the screws that have come through the roof paneling to be able to put the extra supports up around the chimney pipe?

There's a sort of butterfly bracket thing that needs to be supported by rafters/headers, and we needed to get it up near the hole in the roof for the chimney, so up I went, first with the wire cutters, then the belt sander:

In the bottom right of this photo you can see a bit of interior wall! only that far to go (the ceiling) to finish the north wall of the living room

Friday, December 18, 2009

Glass in over the door

As we were cobbing along today, we realized we had to get the glass in for the window over the back door, as the roof would be in the way if we waited any longer. That's a pretty exciting problem to have when you're working towards the roof!

Here's Melissa, thumbing in the cobs around the glass. You can sort of see we've drawn a circle on the glass. That will be the template for us as we build the walls up around that, so we have circular window.

Here's a shot from my phone on a morning dog walk. The fog and clouds often are well below us in the valley.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Big Tree Finally Down

Ever since the first half of this tree fell down on a quiet morning, we've been worried it was going to fall and squish someone or something. Well, since we weren't quite ready to cob the other morning, I went out and finally took it down. In this first picture, you can see me down by the base of the (leaning) tree, getting ready to cut the notch to guide it down:

A few saw cuts later, and boom! the thing was on the ground. I'm actually in this second picture as well, about where the leaves start on the downed tree. I have my arms up in the air. That's how big this tree was. Definitely the biggest I've ever taken down.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Another Window In!

We put the glass in the window by the front door yesterday.

This will be a small arched window, looking out down the 'driveway' toward the south. Feels good to be moving up the walls!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Loft Going Up!

a while back, I notched out the mortises in the main kitchen area post, to be ready for the loft beams:

Yesterday, we put those beams into place, including the madrone center (corner?) post. Here's a photo looking into the notch of the southern beam, with the madrone post sticking through it, (notice the hole for the wooden peg already drilled) and ready for the short, eastern beam to connect them:

And here's what they look like put up:

Here's a view from the living room/entryway area. We are still thinking about whether we'll cut that end off the short beam (the thing hanging over Melissa) or maybe carve something onto it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Work contiues on

Melissa works everyday at cleaning the clay, which entails digging through the wet, cold slop at the bottom of buckets to get out the roots, bark, and grass that we don't want in the walls. It can get cold doing that, so she's moved the operation to the morning sun spot, the 'french doors' in the kitchen.

I managed to get around to boxing in the clear-story, so that we'll be ready to add lathe and plaster over the top of this plywood, so this wall will look just like the other cob/adobe walls

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lintels and Lentils day!
A couple of lintels went in (yesterday actually) that will be hefty enough to hold up the big weight of the rest of the wall above it.

Here's a photo of the openable window in the toilet area, with the lintel on and getting cobbed in:

Here's another shot of the toilet area, this time looking directly west through the (dirty) non-opening window, with it's lintel in place and some cob on top of it. Those shelves look nice too, huh?

Here's the back door lintel, just having been put in place. That doorway is 7 feet tall.

Jack just thought it seemed too cold out to be cobbing.

Once we got three batches of cob done today, it was into the yurt for some good pink lentils.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Small Milestone (mile-cob?)

Yesterday we officially connected the north wall to the east wall. This is a big deal, because having to build the stone stem wall up quite high in the northeast due to the hillside, that stone wall has been closer to the roof than any other part of the house. Since we've been working around and around the circumference, we haven't gotten close enough to the roof to go over that section...until yesterday.

Here I am putting the official 'all the way around' cob onto to the wall. For height reference, I'm standing on a 5 gallon plastic bucket.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Hardly getting anything done

Besides a recent trip to Colorado to help friends put a hot tub together, I've been sick (I think it is the H1N1 flu, which actually, isn't treating me that bad, just like a normal flu) so that we haven't done any construction work since about 10/27.

Melissa, of course, has kept busy with many other projects, as well as taking care of me. Besides all sorts of little typical stuff (laundry, gardening, etc) she peeled all the hachia persimmons we got from her parents already, and hung them up:

Since I've been napping all day for days, she now finally gets a chance.
Veggie Oil Arrival

Due to an awesome hook up in the veggie powered vehicle world, we were given 145 gallons of waste veg oil, which came in two full 55 gal drums, and a bunch more jugs. They had a forklift to put them on the truck, but I had to get them off up here on the mountain. Each barrel weighs about 420lbs.
Still, they're pretty solid, so I just built a quick simple ramp. Actually getting the barrels on their sides was harder than getting them off the truck. I just rolled them off onto the ground.

Once they were on the ground, Melissa and I were able to stand them up and move them into a position we liked.

That's a lot of fuel!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Progress report:

Thought we'd show off how far we are as things get a bit colder. The kitchen wall (west):

Bathroom northwest walls:
Bedroom interior walls (that's the closet door frame):

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Two kinds of wood work

Now that the back door lintel has had the outside hewn off it, and I planed the flat sides smooth, it's time to fit the door frame into it. I started that process by drilling out the wood with a forstner bit, and then started chiseling out the bits to make it square.

In an unrelated scrounging project, I got a batch of oak pallets from a car distributor place. I think they're actually Japanese. I intend to take them apart and see if I can use the thin oak strips, glued together as cabinet fronts in our kitchen. We'll see.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Surface preparations

Besides the cobbing and gardening and rainwater system, we keep working on other aspects of the house. Lately we did a bunch of treatments to different pieces of wood that will be in the house:

Here's Melissa, checking over the first coat of varnish on some of the loft beams. Sometimes you have to scrape off some of the built up gunk before doing another coat.

I oiled the loft post with tung oil, and Melissa thought one coat already looked pretty good:

Then there's the many different shelves, lintels, and covers of stuff that will be made of wood, and need coats of varnish. Melissa does a good job of that stuff:

The big back door lintel (the piece that will be the upper cross piece, holding up the wall above the door) is from a huge log off-cut piece that I had milled a couple years ago. We dragged it up from below the garden, and I had to hachet off the outside layer that was mostly charred from some forestfire, from maybe 60 years ago:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Water Collection Support

Well, it worked. Kind of. The fact that we had 8.1 inches in 24 hours sort of stressed the untried system a bit. I had some blow outs, and a number of slosh overs, but now that things have calmed down, everything is working smoothly. I'll have to rebuild some aspects of the system so as to be able to handle incredible volumes like this, but not right away.

Specifically, I had to change the placement height of one of the 'first flush' systems, so there was better drainage, and the screens in the gutters couldn't really handle the volume, so I got some crud in the tanks. Still, it's all smaller than 1/4", so it's not too bad.

We staye inside most of the day, other than my going to check on the ditches by the road, we had a nice day by the fire. Evening came around, and I got out the sherry, homemade crackers and homemade slightly-dried cheese. Not a bad way to end a wet day.

Monday, October 12, 2009

"First Flush" System: designed, built, and installed!

So, here come the rains, and I wanted the whole rainwater cachement system up and running. The tanks are in place, the tubes are place, and finally, I had to get a 'first flush' system in place.

A first flush system is a way to take that first batch of water that hits the roof and dispose of it before it gets into the tanks. That's where most of the crud is: bird poop, pollen, dust, air pollution, etc.

I did some reading on the inter-tubes here, and decided I could make one myself.

Here's me, waiting for Melissa's help to install the thing (there's one for each tank):

It's 4" PVC, with rubber pipe reducers to a 3" pvc pipe, creating a bottleneck near the top. There's a screw off cap at the bottom, to allow me to let the crud out. Later, I'll make a slow drip system for that, so the whole thing will be automatic.

The above and the below pictures explain best how it works. You can see in the above picture, you can see I've cut holes in the top of the pipe (above the bottleneck) for the insertion fittings to enter the PVC. (the inlet is slightly higher than the exit) Those gray fittings attach to the black hdpe pipe that has the rainwater flowing in it.

The rain pours in, filling the pipe, and raising the float to to the "bottleneck" get it? the plastic water bottle is a float that cuts off the flow to the pipe after the first 5 gallons or so , and then the rest of the water just flows over the top of the bottle, and on into the tank.

Here it is attached into the whole system. Hope all goes well!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Water works

Much of the last few days have been about the rainwater collection system. After going down to the neighbors and dragging something close to 700' of 1 1/4" hdpe pipe off a giant metal spool (that I had to run a chain through the hub and chain to a fence post while Melissa drove the truck and pulled the hose - sparks flying, lots of noise - no pictures though) we started connecting the rain gutters to the tanks.

Here's the pipe going from the south roof to the western tank:

And here's the eastern tank with the hose connected to the northern roof. You can just see it going along horizontally above the ladder:

Here's my screening system for the gutter spouts: 1/4" screen, with two sets of window screen behind it.

Tomorrow, shopping for parts for the 'first flush' compoents.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Some real boring stuff

Melissa took a picture of clay soaking in buckets of water, getting ready to be put into the wall mix. Not very exciting, but informative:

Me working on the mortise of the loft cross beam. Boring, get it?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A bunch of different stuff getting done

We're back in the wood notching business, working on the loft structure. How nice it is to work inside a nice room.

Melissa has been redigging a terrace in the garden, and discovered that a lot of redwood roots are coming up to the good soil... so we decided we needed to put in some barriers, in addition to the gopher wire. Here it is getting started:

I also had a success with the gas generator, where I figured out it was actually putting out too much voltage, so that the well pump wasn't running properly. Feels good to figure stuff out.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Progress is slow, but keeps happening.

These pictures were taken right before we put the 199th and 200th batches on the wall. Here's Melissa checking out the 'cold box' in the kitchen wall:

And here's Jack and Melissa checking out the bathroom mirror that's already buried in:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ka Yun was here to Work!
Ka Yun came up for a weekend of hard work and fun. We got her making cob right away, and she started pushing us to go faster. She was the first to start the 'cob toss' process, to speed things up even more. If you look close, you can see one in the air here:

She also did some scuplting. This is a shot from outside the 'second' bedroom, through the window. Walls looking pretty good, huh?

We also picked the first apple off the dwarf tree, and had a taste with lunch. makes a nice picture, no?

Since Ka Yun helped build the earth oven back in the day, we always plan on a baking day when she's here... so pizzas all around!

$1 tool rescue

Had a moment last week, so we strolled the flea market. A woman had a pile of rusty tools "anything $1!" and so I dug through it ...