' the Woodlouse: Bale frenzy - part 1: The extension rises


Sunday, 19 August 2012

Bale frenzy - part 1: The extension rises

Here are the first half of photos of the bale building weeks with the wonderful team of volunteers.  Probably I could be more selective, but despite appearances this is already a paired-down selection.  An awful lot happened very quickly and I want to show all the stages.  I've been busy since most of volunteers went home finishing the wrap at the gable end (this got complicated on my own, I had to use my head to hold up bales and push them in while my hands balanced jar-jacks and bits of wood - this probably makes no sense but hopefully the photos will explain, though maybe in part 2).  I'm also trying to make sure all the openings that will take windows and doors are ready to be measured by the window company on Tuesday; in some cases this just means fitting timbers around them, in the case of the conservatory it means trying to bring it into existence...

More on those once I've got this blog up-to-date - for now here's Bales part1.

James Herriot manoeuvre.  Kuba stuffing loose straw twisted together into any spaces between bales

Joe modelling a hazel staple, used to bind the corners together on each course

Staple hammered home

A notch cut in the window posts at the height the window sill will be (ideally, a height divisible by bale depth: eg, one bale high)

Coralie using the window sill (fitted into the notches) to compress the bale underneath by hammering in folding wedges.

The wedges are then cut flush with the post

Coralie and Kuba

Marcin and Joe debating

More sill fitting and compression

Fairy cakes by our friend Penny, rock cakes by my mum.  All scrumptious.

Kuba bashing a stake in.  The fourth layer of bales is pinned to the rest with long hazel stakes.

The first wall-plate sections arrive from Darren's workshop.  Aksel, Joe, Mark and Kuba (and me behind the camera) take in how big and heavy they are, and contemplate how to get them up on top of the walls.  Cursing of structural engineer's over-engineering begins.

Walls!  They weren't there when I went out to buy screws (at least, that what it felt like)

Marcin and Civita battle it out

The first week's team (a good number stayed for second week and were joined by more).  Front row: Darren, Kuba, Anna, me, Julia, Civita, Tim. Back row: Luke, Marcin, Aksel, Mark, Joe, Robert, Sam, Jonny, Mike.

Meanwhile, over on the wrap: timber baseplate fitted ready for bales (timber for all baseplates, wallplates, window/door posts and sills, is UK Douglas Fir - good durable timber that will take a long time to rot even if it gets wet.)

Walls at full height

window-containing boxes for the wrap, so that the new windows can sit in the line of the bale insulation (windows will be fitted flush with the outside edge of the timber)

Kuba setting up his time lapse camera.

More wall plate, squeezed in to Darren's workshop.  It's a big workshop but the wallplates only just fitted.  He said moving them around was like playing Tetris.

packing strap, passed through eyelets in the wall...

...the strapping passes over two verticle hazel poles which are slotted into the ends of a horizontal timber, forming a big 'H' which is clamped back toward the wall using the ratchet tensioner on the strapping.  This secures the bales to the bungalow wall and helps compress them.

The baseplate is (intentionally) set up so the space above is slightly less than the number of bales we need to fit in.  The penultimate row of bales is then compressed downwards using jar-jacks and a steel plate, the last bale is squashed in, resulting in a dense, strong, compressed bale wrap.

Joining the sections of insanely unwieldy wall-plate in situ.

The wall plate was resting on temporary bales above the height of the window and door posts, so we could join it all together.  Here we're starting to lower it into place (lots of people on scaffold lifting, other people pulling or pushing the support bales out, then all lowering it down)

Kuba finally turns into a bale

A tricky moment

The dog poses while in the background we try to get the window and door posts to slot through the holes in wallplate

The last door post is slotted through, signifying complete walls for the extension.  Everyone clapped and cheered, which surprised me, but was lovely.  Mum said it was a proud moment, and Dad would have thought so too.  We both got a bit weepy for a brief moment then pulled it together.

Pleased and relieved.

Look at my lovely bale walls

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