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Old 11-02-2010, 07:47 AM
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Well, you could use a smaller hopper or not fill it all the way.
Old 11-02-2010, 07:33 PM
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Amazing. I'm speechless...
Old 11-03-2010, 04:01 AM
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Thanks etdbob. I had read a lot about ferrocement but this is the first honest write up about it. Think I will relegate it to a good theory that is hard to realize in the real world.
Thanks again.
Old 11-03-2010, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by etdbob View Post
I find that the ferro-cement structure is very hot in hot weather. The thin shell absorbs the heat of the sun and re-radiates it into the interior. It's also cold and damp in cold and damp weather. Not good for a structure to be inhabited. The roof, though strong and fireproof, isn't as waterproof as I'd wish it to be, and the amount of labor needed to construct one is excessive.
I think I'll stick to stucco for walls, and sheet metal for roofs.
First of all: Excellent post!
I wonder if some modification could be made to make a guest house more comfortable... Using the cattle wire, cover it completely, then use a layer of Clay Coated Straw Then cover with your chicken wire and cement. Apparently this straw insulation has an R value of 3 per inch. So 4 inches would be like R-12. Also facing doorways and windows in the path of a natural breeze would help cool it down. If you don't want to make straw insulation you would always just line it with fiberglass blanket insulation.
Old 11-03-2010, 02:54 PM
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Default He was kinda kooky!

Originally Posted by HaroldWayneHamlin View Post
"...I first learned of Ferro Cement years ago after reading about a man who built a 40 foot sail boat...
I lived in the same town as a guy who did exactly that. Because of the size of the boat, the bow actually protruded over his back yard fence into 3rd Avenue in San Mateo, CA.
Old 11-03-2010, 02:54 PM
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Hey guys!

First I'll show ya what inspired this project. I'm sure some of y'all live in the country and use cattle panels for livestock fencing. For those that ain't familiar with 'em, they are 8 gauge steel wire fence panels that are 52" or 54" tall and come in 16 foot long sections. To transport them you put them in the back of yer pickup, push real hard to bow 'em up and have someone slam the tail gate! They used to run 15 bucks a pop, about the cheapest way to buy steel.
Every time I transport a few of these I think to myself " I gotta make something with these!"

I need a guest cabin so I designed a small dome framed up with these cattle panels. Note that the door frame must be massively strong here, to take the spreading load of the dome!
I was gonna use pressure treated 6"x4"s set three feet below grade in concrete for the door frame.

I tried a few full size mockups in the back yard -

And I experimented with a few small panels, working with various cement mixtures and backing material.

I really tried to make burlap material work, tying it to the frame and then stiffening it with a Portland and water slurry, just couldn't get it to work. So, what with one thing and another my wife and I decided to try a smaller project first, and I resorted to relatively expensive stucco lath on the inside surface, using the lightest type available, 2.5 pound, which was entirely adequate.
Cost wise, I think this little shed may have run up to 400 dollars, which for me is somewhat expensive.

All the above photos are from last year. This is how it stands today -

Like any tool shed it was rapidly filled!

This is how I waterproofed it!

I used three buckets of this stuff for two coats on the shed. I mixed in a quart of acrylic waterproofing liquid with each bucketful as recommended in the directions. It goes on with a wide brush and is very easy to do, and ever since the shed has been 100% waterproof.
As HaroldWayneHamlin suggested, ordinary Portland cement might be used instead of this much more expensive Quickreat product, but the acrylic addition is still probably a good idea.

I'm sure a stucco gun could be used if you used finer masonry sand and had a backing of lath on the panel. As you can see in the photos of the construction I only used the lath on the curved surface, not the vertical walls. If I had tried to use a sprayer on the vertical walls all I would have gotten was a mess.

Now I'm probably way wrong here but at the time I was under the impression that the first coat should go on all at once, so it can harden as a single integral unit for best strength.
If you build up the cement in two foot strips around the structure it would be easier to do, and it would get more rigid as you go up.
My main concern with making barrel vaults or domes out of this stuff is how do you get all over it to tie the lath and chicken wire up, and how do you reach everything to stucco it.
Doing it a bit at a time and letting it harden would simplify doing a bigger structure.

If anyone has experience with bigger structures be they sail boats or swimming pools, help me out here!
I know the professionals use 10,000 dolar tools, and that ain't gonna happen here. None of us can afford that, and I know that ferro-cement is used to make water tanks in many third world countries with nothing but the simplest of tools.

Someguyincali, that would not be a good idea at all!
The cattle panel and chicken wire simply must be inside the cement! That's the "ferro" in the "ferro-cement" bit, and is where the strength of the structure is.
I used one layer of chicken wire, one layer of cattle panel, and a backing of lath on the curved surface. I'd consider this the minimum reinforcement. If I do this again, I would use two layers of chicken wire over the cattle panel.
The panel by itself is stiff, but not stiff enough to support a finished structure. Submerge the cattle panel in cement and it gets real strong. The chicken wire helps add strength and prevent cracking.

The structure simply must have insulation for a thermal block to make this kind of thing habitable. The insulation should be applied inside the shell.
Some folk I have talked to recommend two shells, with insulation in between. That sounds like to much work for me and ain't gonna happen!

Now I was thinking of maybe a barrel vault or hoop house made of the cattle panels with 1" thick insulation boards applied inside, between the cattle panel and lath and tied in place. These boards are flexible enough that I think they could be applied inside the shell. Then, I'd plaster over them on the inside.
The tying would be critical to make it rigid though.
I dunno, some sort of sray in foam insulation applied to the interior would work well, but I am not familar with products like that.
I've also considerd earth berming a ferrocement building and adding a sod roof.

Still, I haven't entierly given up on this method! It's certainly easy enough to do for small projects and I like the organic looks of it, ( and it's bullet resistant ).
Old 11-03-2010, 05:56 PM
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I think this is a great project. Your trial and error method will make you the local expert with this type of construction. Keep going. It's inspiring to see someone put their plan into action.
Old 11-07-2010, 12:16 AM
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Default Guys guys...

You need to know how the pros do it. The OP needs to add a layer of insulation and waterproof coating to the outside of the concrete.... see here.

I've actually done a monolithic dome project seminar thru monolithic.com


Look here for the image that shows the order of the layers.

Water proof layer, aka airform

rebar latticework

two layers of foam

THEN the shotcrete. Without this order you have a wet cave.
Old 11-07-2010, 04:27 PM
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After-action report on one my kid brother and I built in Odessa, Texas about twenty-five years ago. I was out there last year when they decided to tear it down. We had used burlap over cattle panel in an arch kind of like a Quonset hut, with the burlap soaked in a mixture of Portland and lime and wired to the panels. We sprayed gunite swimming pool cement onto the burlap, about six coats outside and two inside, letting them dry between coats. It held fine, and the dry weather out there made for no water problems. The owners stored hay in it.

Well, the owners passed on, and a friend of mine bought the place. He's going to put a horse training arena where the building stood, so he got me to come out and help with the demolition. It was still remarkably sound, with no rot in the cloth, and it took a tremendous amount of work to bust up the cement and get it and the panels out of the way. Properly done, this is a very strong and very long-term piece of construction.

by way of kudos, you did a great job with the pics.
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Old 11-09-2010, 12:39 PM
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I wonder how well this construction method would work for subterranean structures. Any thoughts?
Old 11-09-2010, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by iNGEN View Post
I wonder how well this construction method would work for subterranean structures. Any thoughts?
It works very well underground.

When I was in college, I worked f/t at the Forestiere Underground Gardens and orchards in Fresno California. Many of the older tunnels were collapsing, so we were re-supporting them with ferro-cement.

Rebar frameworks of vertical bars about a foot apart, and horizontal bars about a foot apart, tied together with wire. Then expanded lath tied to the frame and hand mixed cement laid in.

It works real good.



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