DIY Papercrete Brick Press

We finally tested our homemade brick press today. The design of the press we found on the internet from Leland Hite’s website: Hands-on Engineering. Our prototype is the notch version of the Micro Compound Lever Biomass Briquette Press. But we are going to use ours for papercrete bricks, and compressed earth bricks.

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This little press can produce about 2000 PSI of force.

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Our brick form is made from scrap 2″ x 6″. The interior dimensions are 5.5″ x 5.5″ x 12″. We decided on this size so we could use another piece of scrap 2″ x 6″ as the top. And it’s a manageable size for a papercrete brick.

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A little added reinforcement as a precaution. It’s not pretty but it works.

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We are still testing out various amounts of pulp to get an idea of how much to use for consistent sized bricks. Our first test was using shredded confetti document paper soaked in a 55 gallon barrel. Our next test will be a papercrete mix. Above we filled the form with a measured amount of pulp.

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Next is placing the top piece in position.

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Applying pressure on the top of the form by moving the lever arm down.

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After the first press we reverse the form to get an even amount of pressure.

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After the second press we are ready to remove the form and then pop out the compressed brick.

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Here is the result. A paper brick compressed to 5.5″ W x 4″ H x 12″L.

Learning Curve

We ran into a few problems in the process.

Problem: The form and top piece got wet and slightly swelled, making the form compression process somewhat difficult.
Solution: Planed the outside edges of the top piece, and plan on buying and slathering on multiple coats of polyurethane next time we travel into Babylon.

Problem: Removing the brick from the form.
Solution: Removing the form from the press, turning the form upside down and pressing it down onto another 2″ x 4″ to pop the brick out of the bottom. (I’ll take photos of this step next test we do.)

So far we are pleased with the results. Once we nail the mix, and smooth out the kinks in the process we’ll start cranking out bricks to use for various building projects.

Here is Leland’s video showing you the original intent of the press… enjoy!

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Homemade Bone Sauce

We found a great and easy-to-make formula for keeping unwanted deer from nibbling on our plants growing outside our fenced garden…  Bone Sauce.

You can apply the Bone Sauce directly on a tree, post or stake around any area you don’t want deer to venture into.

We discovered this formula from Sepp Holzer.

Here’s how we made our Bone Sauce.

We bought a large tin for 25¢ at the thrift store.

We added a chicken wire platform inside at a height of 4-6 inches from the bottom of the tin, then placed some cow bones we bought at the local meat market.

We dug a hole to place the tin into.

Back-fill the hole up to the lid.

Pile rocks on top of the lid.

If you are in a fire-prone area, you might want to put some kind of covering over the rocks. Add some sticks and twigs on top and start a fire. Keep the fire burning for about 8 hours. After the tin cools off, dig it out and scoop the residue from the bottom. It should look like this…

You can apply the Bone Sauce on trees, fences and on anything near an area you don’t want deer to go around. It works great and has been known to last for quite some time.

Insulated Honda EU2000i Generator Box

As there is always room for improvements, we added some bubble foil insulation inside and out to our Honda EU2000i Generator Box.

Our elevation is 4300 feet, and we get temperatures down to -20 so even though this seems like a waste, it isn’t. We’ve noticed a big improvement in running the generator when it’s really cold outside. The bubble foil insulation is fairly inexpensive, and adds some insulation protection and sound-proofing (which is nice where we live with nothing to hear but the wind through the trees).

We added bubble foil to the interior lid and three sides. The back side opening where the exhaust is isn’t insulated because it keeps pretty warm in that area.

A shot with the lid closed.

The exhaust side not insulated. But again it stays fairly warm by itself.

If you’re curious about our maintenance program, we’re pretty rigorous since we run the generator an average of 8 hours in the evenings… (when the days are overcast and the solar panels don’t get enough sun juice).

OIL CHANGES: We change the oil every week using 5w-30 during winter. We have a bottle that has mL measurements on the outside, so we fill the bottle to 400mL which is the correct amount of oil to use, so this takes the guess work out, and makes oil changes a snap… basically under two minutes.

FUEL: We use a 1 Gallon fuel can instead of lugging and heaving the 5 Gallon can. We add 2 Tablespoons of SeaFoam per every 1 gallon of gas once a week the keep the generator running smoothly. (It makes a big difference, we suggest you buy some at your local auto parts store.)

AIR/OIL FILTER: We check these about every 2 months.

SPARK PLUG: We change this when the plug bottom is grungy and when we notice that the generator performance is sluggish. We just put in a new spark plug today.

Hope some of this information helps you in keeping your generator warm and protected during the winter months, and healthy running for years to come.

DIY Honda EU2000i Generator Box

With another blizzard heading our way, we needed to protect our generator from the elements. So, we built a quick (under three hours) and functional generator box out of scrap OSB. There are generator boxes on the market that cost $500 – $800. Most are made of steel, with doors for the starter and outlet panel… but we don’t mind starting it up and placing it into the box. The dimensions are (17″H x 24″L x 16″W).

It may not look flashy, but it works, and it didn’t cost more than $10.

Since we were pressed for time, we just added a 1-1/2″ hole on the front for the extension cord.

We added two 1-1/2″ holes on the side in front of the generator’s air vent. We bought extra used hinges for $1 at the Habitat For Humanity ReStore last summer. The lid is over-sized to help repel the snow.

The back opening is generous for the exhaust. We added the extra scrap from the back panel (which measures 17″H x 16″W) as an awning. It is screwed into a 13″ 2′ x 4′ at an angle with 2-1/2″ screws.

We left a little extra room inside to accommodate the Econo-mode switch, and other outlets… just in case.