The building season has finally restarted. We started slowly as Joanne and I gave ourselves two weeks of honeymoon in Bancroft.
Since then, we have had two weekends with volunteers and have many positive points to note:
1. Building progress are more visible: We are in the middle of the 4th course of tires since last weekend and it is beginning to look like a wall!
2. The tamper works very well in its shortened format and allows us to compact tires at 80 to 90 %. That leaves us one or two go around with the sledge hammer to finish a tire.
3. I have built a feeder for the concrete mixer to help pouring these heavy buckets of sand and cement in the mixer without undue effort or mess.
4. As always, we have met a number of really lovely people coming to volunteer and share themselves with us.
Week end May 30th & 31st:
· No volunteers this weekend
· I finish re-assembling the concrete mixer with the new reducer shaft, slightly reposition the internal mixing fins and mix 5 loads of concrete as a production run – Good news, the mixer is working very well
· I increase the solar panels angle way up to better align on the position of the sun.
· I cut down one more big ash, but have to stop cutting it into logs because the chain saw needs sharpening
· I do more wall packing and complete 100% of the inside walls and 50% packing of the outside walls.
Week end June 6th & 7th:
· No volunteers this weekend.
· I mix more concrete and finish packing all walls
· I sharpen my chain saw, and cut the fallen ash into fire wood but I must have done a poor sharpening job because it does not cut straight.
· I do my first tamper production run: I must be a little too enthusiastic because I brake right through the cardboard on the first tire. Compacting the following tires goes better as I get used to handling the tamper better.
· I continue compacting tires. Total for the weekend: 13 - Some observations:
· The tamper handle is made to compact the ground around our feet when standing up. When compacting tires, we will be with the tire around our hip level therefore, it will be good to shorten the handle by at least one foot.
. When shortened, the hose should come out straight from the handle instead of a 90 elbow (it gets in the way)
· I need to be oiling the tamper – Need to buy and install an air oiler on the tamper line off the compressor.
· Hearing protection and safety glasses MUST be used by all working around it. I will need to buy some to ensure that they are always available and used
· It appears that a typical tamper team could be composed of:
One on the tamper
One guy assisting the tamper operator, bringing dirt into the tire constantly and keeping the tire filled.
These two should alternate.
· Using the wheel barrow rather than barrels is good and efficient to fill up tires, but it would be good to build some kind of a large three-sided funnel that could easily be hooked on a tire (and removed) and allow the wheelbarrow dumping more dirt into the tire without spilling so much out. Can I use a tire cut in half to make that funnel’
· In order to use the compressor efficiently and not keep it running while the tamper is not being used, we need to organize the work so the tamper can be run as continuously as possible then shut down for a while allowing us to shut down the compressor as well.
Week June 13th to 19th
· No volunteer that weekend as we had not planned for work during our honeymoon week: no work, only lots of good paddling, relaxing and upgrading the camper and the site.
· However, I am forced to do more plumbing work in the camper. You may remember that I had to replace part of the plumbing last year which had suffered from age and frost. All was good since except for the presence of rust in the water. I finally decide to bypass the old camper’s hot water tank which was causing the rust. That is a very simple job, but just moving the piping creates leaks all over the cold water circuit old piping. I have no other choice but to tear out and replace the complete cold water circuitry. Thanks to my acquired familiarity with this system, it takes me only a morning to do the whole job, but it is often in very uncomfortable positions. I am happy to be done with it and happy to know that the complete water installation is now new, free of rust and greatly simplified.
Week end June 21st & 22nd
· 3 volunteers this weekend
· Started using the tamper with a shortened handle
· Also made forms and poured several concrete blocks and performed QA.
Week end June 27th & 28th
· We have a good team of 7 volunteers, but the weather only cooperates on Saturday. Sunday is cancelled due to a light and persistent rain.
· We start the 4th tire course. The walls are starting to get high enough to highlight the next two challenges:
· It is getting harder to pound tires with the sledge hammer standing on the ground and there is no good position to do it all around standing on the wall.
· It is getting harder to bring the dirt up to the tires with the wheel barrow. I have made longer boards to wheel them up the fourth tire, but we will very soon require a different solution to bring the sand up to and fill the tires.
· We have started this year under the technology sign. Last year, the focus was on pounding tires and I introduced some new tools which have proved quite efficient such as the tamper, concrete mixer and mixer feeding system, etc., this year I am more focused on providing the means to continue doing so in an efficient manner as the walls grow up. I am now looking at introducing new tools and devices to allow us to do that:
1. A form of scaffolding or platform allowing the sledge hammer operator to move around the tire in order to do his job efficiently. It needs to be simple, light, easily movable and safe. This is the easiest but most urgent to do and I will make a prototype before the next volunteer weekend.
2. A lifter like a good old farm auger (screw turning inside a barrel pushing material along) to lift sand to the top of the wall. It needs to be light and easily movable to move from tire to tire as needed. Now that I have some strong close farming connections, I hope to be able to find one soon and adapt it to my needs.
· My work contract finished recently and it is hard not to see that as a sign that I am to go and work at building my house during this summer and only go back to looking for my next contract in fall. So I will look to hire some workers in Bancroft and work full time for a few weeks to complete as much as possible of the walls as I can.
· My immediate challenge is now to be in Bancroft, organizing work crews. So as soon as a few important family related events are behind us, I will head out for Bancroft.
· I am temporarily without a job, at least in the traditional sense. I must say that, at first, I was a little uneasy about being jobless, but now that I can fully focus on the build project, I am peace with that and grateful that I have that freedom which I never had before.
· Managing and living this building project is definitely much easier and a lot more fun with Joanne’s partnership.
· Joanne’s partnership also allows me to better focus on what I need to do:
1. Organize work crews during the coming weeks
2. Manage the weekend volunteer builds
3. Develop the tools needed to better move forward with the construction
4. Perform the quality assurance on the wall building