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The Earth Home Builder — 14 Comments

  1. I had always been thinking of the jumping jack being used with slipformed RE, so you always had a waler to stand on. You definitely have a point with EB.

  2. Could you use a shotcrete or gunnite pump to pump material for the long bags? If so, that would make filling much quicker on walls and in hard to reach places.

    N@

    • Gunnite pumps are for pumping a small stream of material under pressure. For filling tubes, you want the material pumped at low speed like a concrete pump (low pressure, high volume). Some concrete pumps are on trailers. Most are on a truck with a boom. The boom delivers the material up on the wall.

  3. If you go to the progressive innovations website, you will find that they have several varieties of equipment, including a bobcat attachment that is capable of filling several earthbags at once, the short bags. They also have a connection that provides financing options.

    • Yes, several companies make machines that fill numerous bags simultaneously. Here’s one article: http://earthbagbuilding.com/articles/machines.htm Our main site at Earthbag Building.com covers every earthbag building topic.

      Keep in mind that these machines were designed to fill bags with sand for flood control and may not work correctly with moist, clumping soil. Always test the machine firsthand to see if it works with the material you’re going to use.

  4. Besides costing more than a simple Eb home, it looks too awkward for many floorplans/construction sites.
    I’m considering: dumping a front end loader bucket of eb fill into an earthbag fill trough with earthbags sleeved over downward chutes, to drain the trough and fill multiple bags at once. An old agricultural conveyor to move full bags/plaster from the bag fill zone to the top of the wall. And a 50lb jackhammer turned tamper by welding earthbag sized plate steel on a second bit. Seems easier than a jumping jack high up.
    Cheaper, more functions, more flexibility, utilize local daylabor/economy instead of the big machinery that I wish I had ;)
    And after working all day, then I can ride up my conveyor belt and drop off 15 feet into a swimming pool!

    I second the previous comment about interested in reading any experience with mechanized tramping options.

    • That sounds like a good plan as long as the soil doesn’t clump too much. It’s best if all bags have the same amount of soil so the courses remain level. Clumping could throw this off. Also, how do you prevent overfilling?

      Please document these techniques once you get them working smoothly.

  5. While you are talking mechanized building–how do jumping jack compactors compare to pneumatic tampers? Do the jumping jacks compact well enough? They sure are cheaper on the used market here.

    • Jumping jack tampers would be hard to control as the walls get higher, although I’ve never tried it myself. There’s a big difference between tamping backfill and building high quality walls. Stayed tune. We’ll see what these guys come up with. They’ll probably test different options.

  6. This equipment looks exciting, but for one house, is it a deal? I wonder how much time is saved because of:
    -Wire between courses
    -We are in CA, will probably have more than normal slowdowns to add currently unknown and possibly unnecessary goodies
    -Stops for electrical runs, through-wall connectors, etc.
    -Stops and beginnings for doors, windows, so forth
    -We are also “old” and may not be strong enough to muscle tube into place while bags are manageable
    -It appears that plastering takes more time than the bag fill/stack routine anyway

    Maybe a group “buy it” or a rental situation would be a better deal than purchase?
    Any comments on my ignorance are welcome.

    • Just like every expense, you’ll want to put this in a spreadsheet to see whether it’s practical for you or not. Machines are most practical for professional builders, group projects, large homes and where labor costs are high. I would guess for most people building modest sized houses it would not pay. But I haven’t done any calculations. That’s just a guess.

  7. Search for keyword ‘mechanize’ and you’ll find previous blog posts about machines that mechanize earthbag building.

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