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There comes a time when you have to either cut bait some more or finally get to fishing.
I've got the block box to a point where I can use clamps and temporary stuff to try to make a plastic block.
Today's the day. If you're in Texas and you hear a scream not unlike a bobcat's mating call or a hawk verbalizing displeasure, it worked. If there's nothing but silence, I'm working on fixing whatever ain't working.
I have an advantage over most people on stuff like this. I have lots of failures for a reference point. I've known failure many times. I don't look at failing as so much a bad thing as I did when I was young. The reasoning behind the more mature vision on failing is I've seen a lot of those who are frozen in place with the fear of failing.
I never want to be one of those. So if I succeed credit trying. If I fail today, remember there's tomorrow. I'm trying.
Now that you have it working could you explain the process that you use to make a block?
You mentioned pressure -- I assume that heat involved?
Smith Oxyacetylene Torch
Miller Dynasty 200DX
Lincoln SP-250 MIG Welder
Clausing/Coldchester 15" Lathe
16" DuAll Saw
15" Drill Press
7" x 9" Swivel Head Horizontal Band Saw
20 Ton Arbor Press
Miller Spectrum 375 Plasma Torch
Harvey and I are working on this together. The brick was made using nothing but a threaded rod to provide pressure and manpower to turn the rod. The entire machine with the exception of the threaded rod and the nut was made from scrap steel.
That is part of the goal of this project, to make it easy to build and inexpensive to operate. No electricity, motors or engines required, just manpower.
Here are a couple photos:
Overall of the machine
Inspection (Harvey on the left, me on the right) during compression
Finished block under load test.
We think we have a workable model to introduce to the world now. It's open source and I've listed all the materials used plus measurements so anyone anywhere can build one and start making blocks. Hopefully others will jump in and make improvements and we all win.
I understand it's not for the consumption here in the U.S. unless you want to make your own retaining wall out of recycled plastic blocks. Or you are out in the country far enough from codes and inspectors to build your own house the way you want.
Read my blog and compare what we've offered to what others are doing.
Two weeks and a lot has happened. Yesterday an article on the blocks came out on the Mother Earth News blog. The new website is hitting on seven out of nine cylinders and things are getting busy, very busy.
A couple of random thoughts
- Have you tried using other materials to compress? In some places
they use rammed/compressed earth blocks to build houses/etc
(sort of like the old sod-homes in the great plains). It might be
interesting to know whether the machine would work for that
or not, and what mods are needed, etc, etc.
- It looks like the one problem (I use that term loosely) is that the
blocks are held together with wire. Am I right? If so, that's a
consumable. The wire is the critical part -- in your compression
tests, for example, it's the wire that holds the whole thing
together. I could see the wire being the weak link. In a devastated
area, wire might be hard to find, of unknown/random size and
strength and so on. It could also create a black market for wire,
thwarting efforts to bring back electric power... Also, if the wire
is ferrous, it will rust in rain storms -- weakening the structure.
Ideally, some other method of binding the plastic together would
be used. Could a bit of heat be applied, slightly melting the plastic,
leading to the pieces all being sort of welded together?
- Put stops in the compression chamber so that a plate can be
placed in it, parallel to the compression plate (the one attached to the
screw). This would allow the final length of the resulting block to