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.
Just because it isn’t happening here doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
On the surface it appears nothing much is happening with Ubuntublox these days. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Just yesterday we were named a Social Innovation Rockstar.
Here’s some of the things we are working on. We are working on using polypropylene line instead of wire to bind the bales of film and foam plastic into blocks. This cuts the price of the individual block from approximately fifteen cents for the wire to less than a penny for the polypropylene twine. We still want to use the wire in the wall construction of course.
One of the other things we are working on is the woman centered rebar bender. This is important. Women use lower body strength for work; men use upper body; male showing off maybe? Rebar benders as we know them now are designed for male workers so they depend upon pulling and pushing with arms, upper body stuff.
Let me inject a little personal philosophy here. Common wisdom says that since rebar benders have always been designed to use upper body strength, then we need to teach women to use upper body strength too. I disagree. The objective is to bend rebar, not make women into men. So the smart thing to do in my book is to modify the rebar benders so that women can use them naturally. That means we modify the bender so that they’re operated using lower body muscles. We make them where they are stepped on instead of pulled or pushed. The added benefit of this is we enable children, male and female, to contribute earlier to work if needed.
We are also working on the woman centered concrete mixing tub. One of the things that irritated me beyond measure was our forcing the Haitian ladies to mix concrete the way men do when we were working on the Ubuntublox house. It was unfair; it was unkind; and, it was altogether wrong on our part to put them through that. One of the good things about the experience is it forced me to get serious about modifying the tools instead of the workers to get the same job done. I believe this thing will do as much to empower women wanting to have control of the construction of their home as Ubuntublox itself.
We are also working on a design of a good foundation and floor for an Ubuntublox house that is not made with concrete. I’m very excited about this because the potential benefits are beyond huge.
We are also looking at the recycling process a lot closer. What we are trying to do is look at everything in the stream of recyclables as a positive instead of a negative. For instance any food stuffs found on the dinner trays could be used for food for hogs.
So a lot is happening; the excitement is growing; we had our biggest visitor day ever, Wednesday the 27th.