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Re: Rammed earth construction

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Maybe you could contact engineers that specialize in unreinforced brick or  
Adobe for there input.
Joe  Venuti
Johnson & Nielsen Associates
Palm Springs, CA

In a message dated 11/4/2008 9:37:31 A.M. Pacific Standard Time,  
YI(--nospam--at) writes:

I actually have that book.  I have a condition where  I need to have ledgers 
at the mid-height of the wall.  In that book, the  author quoted some testing 
values for a few different type of anchors.   I'm not sure if that's any 
consensus on those values (with a big safety factor  I suppose).

 From: erik_g(--nospam--at) [mailto:erik_g(--nospam--at)]  
Sent: Tuesday, November 04, 2008 9:20 AM
To:  seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: RE: Rammed earth  construction

Yi, I have the book written by Bruce  King, "Buildings of Earth and Straw" 
and shear transfer into the wall from the  roof diaphram can be accomplished in 
a few ways. One way is to provide a  reinforced concrete bond beam at the top 
& centered in the rammed  earth wall, almost like a key. Then your ledger or 
sill plate is anchored into  this conc beam and your joists are attached to the 
sill or ledger.  
I'm sure if a person is creative enough  there are probably a lot of other 
ways to accomplish shear  transfer.
Erik Gibbs
 -----Original  Message-----
From: Yi Yang [mailto:YI(--nospam--at)]
Sent:  Monday, November 03, 2008 5:06 PM
To:  seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: RE: Rammed earth  construction

I'm curious on how you get anchor values (epoxy anchor  I assume), say in a 
ledger condition.

 From: Thor Tandy [mailto:vicpeng(--nospam--at)]  
Sent: Friday, October 31, 2008 9:39 AM
To:  seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: RE: Rammed earth  construction

I do RE in BC,  Canada.  If I can help ...
1)  Get lab  tests done on the available material - material is site-specific 
and  needs care in selection.
2)   Generate several particle-size gradings of the material and develop 
"mixes"  that when tested give the "best" behaviour.
3)  Decide  what, if any, admixtures you might want to add.  Eg: cement, 
flyash,  other pozzolans etc that may be beneficial to the final working  material.
4)  If you  decide to go reinforced RE and cement stabilized RE then make 
sure that you  are comfortable using the masonry block design standards.  Most  
engineers use masonry or concrete.  While masonry approximates what is  
essentially a cement-stabilized aggregate, I'm not convinced  yet.
5)  For  further information on material choice, SIREWall Inc here on 
Saltspring  Island, BC has over 15 years of aggregate sampling experience, design of 
RE  structures, and has a fund of knowledge on the behaviours of RE  material 
in Canada, China and the US.  I am one of their structural  consultants so we 
familiar with their work.
6)  I don't  know Rwandan climates but while RE does perform well in wet and 
cold climes,  it is prudent to design with reasonably large overhangs of the 
roof.   Verandahs are an excellent way to protect.
7)  If you  go with cement-stabilized RE then curing is as important as in 
conc.  construction.
8)  There  is a lot of info on the internet.  Peter Walker of Bath 
University, UK  has done much research on un-reinforced RE and Kepa Morgan of Auckland  
University, NZ and done a lot of work with fibre-reinforced RE.   If you go 
with unreinforced and no-additive RE then I recommend those 2  Profs will be of 
great help.
Hope this helps  you get started.  If you need any further assistance then 
please  contact me privately.

Thor A. Tandy P.Eng, C.Eng, Struct.Eng, MIStructE
UNISOL  Engineering Ltd
Unit 7 - 625 Hillside Ave
Victoria, BC, V8T  1Z1
Tel/Fax: (250) 382-9115
Email:  vicpeng(--nospam--at)

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Hemstad  [mailto:mhemstad(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Friday, October 31, 2008  10:17 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Rammed earth  construction

I have a project in Rwanda on which my  client wants to try some alternative 
means of construction.  Rammed  earth and straw bale construction have come up.
(For those who haven't heard of these, rammed earth  is made by building wall 
forms, placing soil in them, and pounding it  until it rings.  It makes a 
durable, fireproof wall with local  materials and labor.  Straw-bale construction 
involves stacking straw  bales, often dowelling them together with wood 
dowels, then applying thick  parging to each side.   This apparently results in a 
strong,  fireproof, relatively durable wall too, although I know less about it 
than  rammed earth.)  
Does anyone have information on either of  these?  I am specifically looking 
for information on what soil  properties are needed for a successful 
rammed-earth installation (e.g.  clay content, sand content, moisture content).  I 
don't yet know  whether a geotechnical engineer is available to the project; so  
information of the "holds together as a ball when dropped" type is also  
I appreciate any help, or alternate  suggestions.
Mike Hemstad, P.E., S.E.
Minneapolis, Minnesota

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