Tag Archives: block

We can use polypropylene pulling twine instead of wire for making the blocks

There are two reasons to consider using the polypropylene high strength pulling twine instead of 14 gauge wire for making the blocks.  First is because the twine is so much easier to work with than the wire.  No special tools are required and it is less physically demanding.  The second reason is the cost.  The 14 gauge wire can be purchased in Haiti for $80.00 for 5,800 feet (100 lb coil).  6,500 feet of the twine can be purchased at Home Depot for $39.95.  We can buy it in bulk, 1,000 lb minimum, for $.0001per foot or less.  The polypropylene isn’t strong enough to replace the wire in the construction of the house but it is more than adequate to replace the wire in building the blocks.














The twine is cut into lengths 66 inches long.  A loop knot is tied in one end.  The knot is used to locate the twine in the end plate of the Ubuntublox block making machine.  The twine is placed inside the spaces in the bottom of the machine just like the wire.  Sometimes the twine is difficult to place in the space.  I have found using a stick or piece of wire to place the string in the opening helps.

After the block is compacted and the covers are opened up the twine is used to secure the block.  No special tools are required.  I have found that a wire bent with an hook on one end makes pulling the end of the twine through the end of the machine very handy.  My wife watched me fight it and then told me I needed to make a tool that was like a hook out of wire.  I did as I was told and once again am glad I have such a smart wife.

The end of the twine is placed through the loop and pulled tight by hand.  The twine is too strong to be pulled apart by hand.  But pulling the end too tight can cut the loop.  It needs to be pulled tight but not too tight.  The block is already compressed into shape and the twine is supposed to hold that shape.  The twine isn’t supposed to compress the block further.

What I have found that works well is to pull the end through the loop and then place a finger over the connection of the end of the twine and the loop.  This will secure the twine in place while a half hitch knot is made.  Once the first half hitch knot is made then the finger can be removed and a couple of more half hitch knots can be added.  http://www.animatedknots.com/halfhitch/index.php

I secure the middle twine first and then the ends.

It’s the wire that makes it all work

One of the most common comments I get are about the use of the wire in making the block.  Usually heat or chemicals are suggested to make the block without the wire.

That is being done.  Peter Lewis in New Zealand is an aeronautical engineer and licensed architect.  Mr. Lewis has millions of dollars and about twelve years invested in his Byfusion system.  Watch the videos, read the story, you will be impressed.  A small Byfusion recycling machine will cost about $600,000.00 US.  It takes one kilowatt of electricity to make one block.  When volume is a consideration the Byfusion system is probably the most viable one out there.  Peter Lewis is a genius.

Our manual machine makes a compressed plastic block without any electricity or petrochemical fuels.  It transforms seven pounds of plastic trash into a seven pound building block, ten pounds of plastic trash into a ten pound building block.  There is no waste or loss of material in the compressing of the plastic into a recycled plastic building block.  It is one hundred percent efficient, ounce of trash, ounce of building block, no carbon based energy consumed.

I woke up from a sleep baling plastic blocks with wire.  That’s not genius.  That’s dreaming.  As I thought about it I realized that wire not only was perfect for holding the shape of the block, it also presented the best method to form a wall with the baled plastic blocks.  A couple of things need to be considered here.  One of them is my mind wasn’t working in a vacuum.  I knew wire was used to bale hay and straw.  The other was I  knew wire was used to help hold bales of straw together in strawbale houses.  Wire is also used to strengthen earth bag houses.

I appreciate that the recycled plastic block construction concept is difficult for most people to grasp.  That’s because most people aren’t familiar with earthbag home construction, strawblale houses, and compressed earth blocks for housing.  Those who are familiar with those methods of building shelters understand the recycled plastic block is another variation of what has been done to build shelters since mankind left caves and needed protection from the elements and predators.

The alternative to wire is either a mortar like conventional concrete and stone walls are put together.  Or there is the mortise and tenon fit method that offers a mechanical connection. Byfusion and Oryzatech use that approach.  Oryzatech also uses a contact type cement as I understand it.  So it uses the mortise and tenon and mortar approach to stack blocks to make walls.

I wasn’t able to form the recycled plastic blocks where the mortise and tenon approach would work.  Using all seven grades of plastic trash ruled out the use of a polymer answer to connecting the blocks in a wall.  So I was stuck with wire and re-bar.

This turned out to be a very good thing as I see it now.  The wire provides a more flexible connection than mortar or mortise and tenon connections do.  It also provides a stronger connection.  The wire method allows more creative shapes and designs of walls without sacrificing the integrity of the connections.  The wire connection I believe is in our genes too.  Before we stacked rocks I’ll bet we were tying limbs and grasses to make shelters.

The wire is what makes this system work.  It holds the shape of the block during and after it is placed in a wall.  The durability of the galvanized wire has been questioned.  The link suggests that it will last inside the wall almost as long as the plastic used to make the block.  It simplifies the construction process labor and material wise.  It takes less skill to build a shelter with wire than it does to lay a concrete block wall with mortar.  Concrete and mortar usually use cements that are not made locally.  They also consume petrochemical and electrical energy to produce, transport, and to build with.

We did a compression test today

We don’t have access to an academics lab to do testing on the blocks.  So I did the next best thing…

Click on the “more” for photos and more dialog..

As you can see, the block was distorted in our redneck/red truck compression test.

This is a redneck’s red truck that weighs fifteen thousand pounds or so just about any day of the week empty.  Most of the weight is on the front axle when it’s empty, diesel motor and all.  I think an estimate of two ton or four thousand pounds or so would be a safe estimate of weight applied to the block.

One of the neat things about plastic is its resiliency.  If you look close I think you’ll agree that even if the block failed the two ton redneck red truck weight bearing test it will still work just fine in a wall.