Tag Archives: inch

Materials List for Making Machine

There are requests for more detailed information coming in about the block press.  Our original materials list works.  However, we also appreciate the cost and difficulty in finding exactly what we recommended under some conditions.  We have experimented with some lighter grades of materials and can suggest new minimums.

2″ square tubing                            4 each 52″ long  11 gauge is best but we have had success with 16 gauge but we recommend 14 gauge minimum

4 each 12″ long  recommendations the same as above.

2″ angle iron                                    2 each 49 1/2 ” long  1/4 inch wall is best,  3/16″ will work and is our recommended minimum

5 each 9″ long  recommendations same as above  These are for braces

1/4 X 8″ plate                                 2 each 49 1/2 ” long  we have used 3/16″ instead of 1/4″ successfully   3/16″ is our recommended minimum

1/2″ X 8″ X 7 1/2″  plate             2 each  our minimum recommendation on this is 3/8″  The piece isn’t square.  The top measurement is 8″ and the bottom is 7 1/2″

1/2″ X 12″ plate                             1 each 32″ long and 1 each 14″ long  These are the lids for the chamber.  We have used 3/8″ successfully and that is our recommended minimum

1″ acme threaded rod                 1 each 36″ long  We used 4 tpi (threads per inch) originally  We have since began using 5 tpi.  4 tpi means less turns per cyle but 5 tpi means easier turning and more power.  We recommend 5 tpi

1″ acme thread nut                      1 each

Another day, another compression test

I  took the truck to Pearson Stone and we weighed the front axle weight.  6,800 pounds.  That means 3,400 pounds per front wheel weight.

I went to the shop and put the front of the truck up on wood blocks.  Then I jacked up one wheel and placed a ten pound plastic block under the wheel with a piece of steel on top of the block to eliminate the distortion caused by the tire patch only being on part of the block.

The block compressed about three quarters of an inch with the weight on it.  When I removed the weight the block returned to its original shape.

I repeated the experiment with a nine pound block.  The compression was about an inch and a half this time.

It will take some more tests by those a lot smarter than me to figure out the ideal weight of a block for making walls for a shelter.  As far as I am concerned that is just work that has to be done.  Engineers can figure out how much strength is required.  Then plastic blocks can be tested and we’ll have the information we need.

Block Press Construction and Measurements

After the camera fiasco the other day we finally found another camera.

This after noon I made another block and feel we have the one we want now.  It isn’t perfect and will still need some tweeking to make it work better.   But it is at a point where others can copy it and start making blocks.  Their experiences along with ours will help us find the final block making machine.     Bob Warner took a picture of the plastic block box machine yesterday and then put down all the measurements on the photo to make it easier for others to copy.

We have a bolt with a 15/16  nut on it so we can use a rachet to turn the Acme screw.  We were given a steering wheel from a bus today.  We might change out the bolt and nut for the steering wheel.  Eveyone that makes a plastic block box machine will find their own way of turning the Acme screw.  I think the steering wheel will be my favorite though.

http://www.mcmaster.com/#93410a632 is the part number and source for the Acme screw.  http://www.mcmaster.com/#94815a037 is the part number and source for the nut.  A substitute that might be available locally is scaffolding screw jacks.  http://www.affordablescaffolding.com/accessories.html?gclid=CKOCytL5_qUCFYde7AodXBOqow#screw_jacks The downside of using them is their length, usually only sixteen inches of travel available.  We’ve found the thirty six inches of travel about what you need.  Less than that will mean repeated compressions to get the pressure needed.

This is detail shot of the ram itself.  The three slots are the wire retainers.  You can see in the block box the wire guides.  The wires can’t be installed after the block is compressed, at least we couldn’t do that.  So we designed the machine to locate and maintain location of the wires during compression.

I welded half of a steel ball to the end of the Acme threaded rod.   I used a piece of pipe and a rounded piece of tubing from a tractor attachement  to contain the threaded rod.  I put in a grease zert to make things work better and live longer.  This gives a wide surface for the pressure applied by the threaded rod.  The grease keeps it smooth.

The threaded nut was welded into a hole cut into a piece of half inch plate that is welded to the back or end of the block box  Care must be taken to insure alignment with the ram as it travels down the block box.

Everyone will find a postion that works best for them when it comes to using the block box.  I find this position just about perfect for me.  It has enough angle so I don’t have to fight the plastic falling out like I did when it was vertical.  And it is easier to keep the plastic in place while loading than when the block box was horizontal.

This little tool was designed by Bob Warner for tying the loops in the ends of the tie wires.  The handle is three quarter’s inch round rod and the shaft is half inch pipe.  The tab is 1/4″ by 1/2″ by 3/4″.  A slot is cut into the end of the pipe to allow post tensioning by twisting of the tie wires if necessary.

The small tab is used to make a ninety degree bend in the tie wire.  We’re using 12 gauge galvanized tension wire.  It is stiff to work with but will last a long time.  It is designed for use with chainlink and livestock fencing.

Then using the tab and the round shaft a loop is made in the wire.

This rod with the slot in it is located at the top of the block box frame.  It’s part of a guide for gauging the length of the tie wires.  After Bob made the trick little tool is was modified to make the loop using the tool.

The ends of the loop are placed in the slot.

Using the tool and the slot the eye is made in the tie wire.  Pliers could be used to do the same thing.  But it wouldn’t be near as easy.  Especially with wire as stiff as the twelve gauge.

This photo shows the three tie wires placed in the wire guides in the floor of the block box along with being properly placed in the ram.

This is loading the plastic before we put on the lid.  As you can see the angle position makes this easier.

I did this by myself and didn’t take pictures of the cover plate in place.  The cover plate was put in place.  Once it was in place I shoved in more plastic, occasionally compressing it with the business end of a sledge hammer.  I did one full compression stroke and then filled it back up.  One more full compression stroke and I removed the cover plate.

This is the compressed block of trash plastic.  As you can see it would be very difficult with this design to install the tie wires now.

This is the tensioning tool.  It’s made using half inch round rod.  The slot on the end is critical.  It was made with a chop saw blade and at about an forty five degree angle.

The end of the tie wire is fed through the wire guide on the end into the block box.  The tied loop in the wire at the ram is placed over the block of plastic.  The loose end of the wire is pulled through the loop.  Then the end of the tensioning tool is placed through the loop about five inches.  The groove is placed over the wire.  The loose end of the tie wire is folded over the handle of the tensioning tool.  The handle is forced towards the bottom of the block box.  When the loop is over the end of the tensioning tool the tool is folded down onto the plastic block.  Excess wire is cut off and the end is loosely wrapped around the tie wire.  This is done to all three tie wires.

The ram is pulled back away from the block.  I find a small lever bar is all that is needed to remove the block from the block box.

These blocks are a nominal 8″ X 8″ X 16″ .  They can take abuse and maintain their shape.  They weigh six to seven pounds each and difficult to compress or distort.  Tied to together with wire and rebar they will make a great wall ready for plaster inside and out.

They are a future based upon our past.

Good News and Bad News

The bad news is the original press has some issues.  One of the problems is the sides are vertical and that makes getting the block out of the press difficult.  Another is it is difficult to remove the trash from the press between blocks.  And then there’s the wire guides, difficult to use when operating the press, too far apart,  and generally awkward to use.

The good news is

I spent some money for some more materials.  I decided to use three wires for the new version of the blocks.  The size is the same.  But the new press has the outside wires closer inside and then I put in a middle wire to contain the middle bulge we get.

I’m trying to get the machine down in cost material wise.  I also want the materials to be as common as possible so that the presses can be made on site if necessary just about anywhere in the world.  I’m trying 11 gauge 2″ X 2″ square tubing for the floor and base end.  I hope this will be substantial enough to hold up over time.

If you look close you and see I”m using quarter inch spacers between the tubes for wire guides.  I believe this will simplify the compression phase because the tie wires will be lying out of the way.  The tie wires will still have to be attached to the ram.  But we won’t have to fight keeping them in the guides like we did with the original press design.

I’ve decided to put an eighth of an inch taper in each side to make removing the completed block easier.  The top has an 8 ” inside measurement.  And the bottom measures 7 3/4″ inside.

We’ll be making blocks with the new design tomorrow if everything goes right.

More Work on the Block Box

I’m not sure just how much pressure we’ll be using to compress the blocks.  So I’m spending extra time reinforcing the far end.  I would hate to be wrapped up in making a block and have the end fall off.  There’s a formula for figuring out the lineal pressure that is generated by the circular motion of the acme thread.  I’ve looked at it and it makes no sense to me.  Hopefully an engineer will google the formula and then send me numbers and I can pretend I’m smart.  One inch ACME thread 4 threads per inch.

I wanted to attempt a bottle brick/plastic block tonight.  I was just too tired.  I’m going to try to hit it early in the morning and maybe we can get one just to see if it will work.

I tacked in the brace for the ram rod and it’s a little off.  So in the morning I will break the tacks and align it better.  I will add bracing and then attach the ram to the rod.  I still have to make the handle for the rod.  There’s a part of me that likes the idea of a steering wheel.  I’ll probably forgo that though and settle for a slip rod handle

The ram will never make contact with the end of the box.  But to get the density we think we’re going to need the force against this end will be like the ram hitting it.  That’s why I’ve put in all the steel.

Keep in mind that if this thing works this is open source.  So if a company wants to send a thousand of these to Haiti for instance then they can get the measurements from mine, have their smart minds modify it for efficiency and manufacturability, then they can have it made anywhere, India, China, Canada, USA.  Another thing is anyone can modify it and make it better.  I just hope that if they do they share it with the rest of us.

We started the block box today

The day started with a visit to the Republic recycling center in Plano Texas.  There we loaded up some number 3 to number 7 plastics for testing the block box, aka bottle brick machine.  Tommy Kirk is the manager of operations.  He’s a toot, generous toot.  What is refreshing  is everyone that I encountered was in a good mood and friendly.  Evidently his personality and attitude is contagious.

They offered me some free barrels.  They’re number two plastic but too large to process so they gave them to me.  My wife wants some rain barrels so that’s where they might go.  The metal ones are for the farm.

You’re not seeing things.  There is some number one and number two plastics in with the three thru sevens.  Today’s spot price is $420.00 a ton for the one and two plastics, $150.00 a ton for the three thru sevens.

One of the things I’m trying to do with the block box is make it like someone would under more difficult circumstances.  So I’m using common tools, no fancy machine shop lathes, sheet metal shop presses, etc.  I’m also trying to use scrap stuff found around the shop.  So far the only thing I’ve purchased for the block box is the three foot ACME thread rod and nut, $69.00 with shipping.

The block box has to be made for high pressure.  Since I’m not an engineer I’m probably over building it.  And that’s okay, better that than having it break when a couple of thousand pounds of pressure is applied.

One of my concerns is the pathway for the tie wire in the block box.  The width of the box is eight inches, standard width for a building block made of concrete.  I had a fifty one inch piece of five inch channel.  That meant the block box would have a length of fifty one inches.  It also determined that the width between the tie wire would be five inches.

The first thing I did was bend the guides for the tie wires with my portable bender I use on the truck.

I found some two inch heavy wall square tubing.  It worked perfectly with the five inch channel to make the bottom of the block box.  I placed the tie wire guides on each side of the channel and three sixteenths or so below the face of the channel.  I welded bottoms up first.

The tie wires will have to be able to slide down the box as the plastic is being compressed.  That’s why I have the guides in the bottom of the box and the gradual turns going up beyond the end of the box.  We’re not using anything but the tie wires to hold the plastic block’s shape. That’s all I got done today, a round trip to the recycling facility and a little cutting and welding.

One of the most common comments I get on this is about automating the process.  That’s for the smart people to figure out.  What I’m looking to do is provide a method that will work when the people are unskilled, electricity is unavailable. and they want to build a shelter with what they have available that’s cheap or free.

If you Google Haiti, President Clinton you will find a ton of stories about his visit to a recycling center where they use similiar technology to what I have here for making paper briquettes for charcoal cooking.  If they had a couple of machines like the block box they could also make blocks for building shelters to sell.

Another common comment is about the value of some plastics.  I believe the block box block can be made with literally trash plastics, film (shopping bags) and styrofoam.  We might have to have some bottles at the ends but everyting in between I believe can be the stuff that goes to the landfill.