The CEB Story - To Build a Village - Open Source Ecology

The CEB Story – To Build a Village – Open Source Ecology

here's a little story of our building adventures at factory farm which leads up to the present work with a CB press we started with Roland Bert built an earth bag structure two years ago we built the cordwood Edition a year after that turns out earth bag building and cordwood building is both difficult work all along I've been thinking that compressed earth brick Saar the best they're strong they're fast to build with and they're 100% natural what more could I ask for so here came the CB press the compressed earth block press I took some metal from the custom fab a bunch of drilled holes and a tad of welding plug this into the tractor fired it up and pressed the first brick we moved on to test the CB press in the field you build ourselves an open-source tractor first because we weren't satisfied with the industrial tractors just kept breaking so with our new tractor which we call the life-giving lifetime design life track we began to build we started to build an addition right behind a stick frame greenhouse so the greenhouse would not be blown over by winds that huff and puff quite strongly around here we started to clear off the area but the front end loader was not much good and a hard clay soil we tried some disking but the disking did not go too deep either we then sampled the soil which we tilled with our rototiller contesta if it would work for bricks it has to have sufficient clay to stick together but not too much to make it crack the soil was go the tiller was not our best friend either so we needed something that would really sink its teeth into the ground so he built the world's first open-source tooth bar design rationale included this worked well we were able to mount a pile after pile of good soil our gold for CB brick pressing we covered the pile diligently with plastic sheeting when the weather was foul in the meantime we built some trusses for the addition to buy for lumber was put together into 32 foot long trusses 2 feet high with oriented strand board connecting plates trusts like this cost us $50 a pop and materials we also got the gravel truck in for the addition foundation we've entered a test run to see how many bricks we could press in a sample run last minute justments we were ready to go remove the machine into position we tilled we mixed in a little sand we raked it fine and then we pressed for per minute 52 bricks in 13 minutes with manual loading with five-gallon buckets hmm we could do that the whole day we would press about 2,000 bricks in all reality it takes 15 people to load the machine as as fast as the machine could produce bricks the back-breaking work is shoveling dirt into buckets and lifting lifting them to feed the machine we continued for 14 days of this mostly with two or three people the hard labor required separates big people from sucklings we learned that such hard labour puts parties involved at severe risk of destroying friendships or even families no honesty the version of the machine with a manually loaded hopper is not so useful because it's impossible to gather 15 people so you're running the machine way under its capacity with two people we made 500 bricks per day on average one can load enough soil for 250 bricks on a sustainable basis that's the bottleneck according to soil block presses a publication from 1988 the production rates of manual presses claim symbol similar figures to what we did in practice with The Liberator our machine in our particular case for the number of people we had we could almost do what we did with a manual press that's hard to admit but it's the reality see the YouTube example linked in a blog for what looks like an effective manual press the point is our machine displays its rated performance where we think it could get eight bricks per minute only when we have a large hopper that we can load with a front-end loader that's interesting this makes me think that any mechanized press on the market with a small hopper like ours is really being oversold any of UCB Builders out there what do you think so we will be building the big hopper and testing the performance done that's how we will sell the basic machine with a big hopper so anyway we pumped out almost 6,000 bricks in total and started to build our Edition we started by digging a shallow insulated foundation insulated with 2-inch R 10 pink foam we used the backhoe which was very effective it moves from side to side by articulation of the tractor next we put in the battery bank and stove into place before the walls were built we leveled the foundation tarred the bottom course of bricks and started laying walls went up rather quickly except when frost made it hard to get the bricks off our piles as they stuck to each other our soil mortar froze too and a section of wall fell down when a mortar defrosted and shifted we reinforced the walls with posts and started to use regular cement mortar mix we then put on the top plate stuck rebar down three feet into the wall through it and started to install the trusses we then laid the side walls put OSB panels on the roof and basically have the structure closed off on the inside we cut out cut out windows on the back of the greenhouse and started installing some of these windows that's where we are now what needs to be done still finishing details more straw on the roof we are using polyethylene and the carpet to line the roof then straw this should last 50 years we will then put up another wall on the inside for a kitchen and utility space with stove lined with bricks on the outside then we'll park the tractor inside and start on the second prototype of the CB with torch table fabrication included will actually dig inside the building both to test the new CB press the Liberator 2 and to dig ourselves a deeper workspace that may perhaps be converted to a basement not the usual way to do it but it will probably work well this is our field report on CB building so far open source equipment some local resources makes for a healthy start now we almost have a good workshop space finished so some real action can begin if we're going to house 30 people soon we've got to move crash course on open source product development and engineering will be included

30 thoughts on “The CEB Story – To Build a Village – Open Source Ecology”

  1. You guys reenvented the wheel. I would think you could make a brick predd machine without making a homemade tractor.

  2. We've been using the manual CSEB press from Aureka in Auroville. The most beneficial part was taking the classes offered by the Earth institute of Auroville and learning from over 40 years of work, mistakes and successes. The best thing they said there was "It does not take much knowledge to do but the knowledge it takes – you must have"

  3. Great video. About your press and loading problem- maybe you could try with hemp and lime mix- great building material and very light. Peace

  4. @keimo2007"CEB = Bunch of urban yahoos are trying to invent wheel again." I'm sure you think that paying an overpriced and never-ending lease or mortgage is a better solution than trying to live debt free. These urban yahoos, as you call them, develop sustainable buildings and systems that have little environmental impact unlike the "wheel" that apparently you like to ride on.

  5. 1. Integrate brick press with tractor somehow? Make it a «brick press cube» and add it right after «earth digging cube»?

    2. Complicate brick shape a bit. So that they plug into each other just like LEGO bits.

  6. You guys are badasses!! I haven't seen anyone build a tractor and turn out 500 CEB's day, then build a MASSIVE warehouse like this. Great job guys!! 😀

  7. your method looks extremely inefficient. your lifting up 10kg+ buckets when if you put the machine in a  gulley or foxhole you would not need to raise bucket past knee height. 

  8. Have you considered making a conveyor to feed the hopper in the brick press, and loading the conveyor with a larger hopper and your backhoe? If you did so, your production rate would be much higher, which would then justify either larger bricks, or a double interlocked layer, which would make your structure much easier to erect, and much stronger because wider walls are more resistant to lateral forces.

  9. What about an elevator to load the hopper? Then you'd just have to move the earth longitudinally with shovels or a front-end loader onto the elevator… you could load the earth onto a horizontal belt feeding the elevator to have more surface area to work with. You could also stick a rotary mixer at the top of the elevator, too, to make the earth uniform.

  10. @marcinose Here in south africa in days of old, houses had floors made from cow manure, look it up, its nothing like what you think like, its solid and smooth.

  11. NW Missouri? Then you're going to want some thermal insulation on the outside of the structure. Compressed earth block is fine when there are large temperature swings between night and day, like spring and fall in the Midwest. But, when the temperature swings are hot and hotter or cold and colder, as it is in summer and winter, the thermal performance is terrible.

  12. @9z87z89

    Nothing wrong with hard work.! It's much better than sitting around and, one can learn a lot. The point is to be able to live outside the system. They make their own machines and, their own building materials.

  13. @hotapplepie2009
    Hey, telling someone that type of thing seems completly out of place with this type of video. It's inspiring, but different from what most people today would consider normal, so scepticism is normal.
    Be considerate and, positive.

  14. And to be truthful, the apocalyptic Mr. Rodgers voice over needs some work.
    The world hasn't come to an end quite yet.

    Great stuff though. Can't wait to see what you have come up with next.

  15. I have been looking around and I have seen that the bigger machines that produce blocks are really two machines. One that the material is dumped into by a loader and then it prepares the material as to breaking it down and then transports it by conveyor to the block making machine at the proper rate so the hopper does not get clogged. That is what makes the machines so efficient.

  16. I wish you the best of luck for your project. It does seem to be a lot of work to get some bricks, i guess buying them would require a lot less work.

  17. Why not straw bales for walls covered in earthen stucco? Seems like an easier proccess and more insulation for the effort.

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