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Thread: Underground shelter: earth bag

  1. #21

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    You are right AZBill, but as Old Sarge pointed out I will be covering it with earth, somewhere around 12" or so. I got some of the bags from a company in california cwillis. Don't remember the name, just found the company with the cheapest sandbags and shipping. I only ordered 300, I have scavenged the other 400 from various sources, all new bags. My total cost will be in the neighborhood of $300 because most of the materials I have on hand. If you will look at the link that oi888 put on the first page they have a FAQ section that tells some companies they get their bags from. They actually use a larger bag than I am using which equals more stability. I am using standard sandbags, they use misprinted polyethylene or polypropylene (can't remember which) grain sacks. They have several designs and pics on that website ravingbantha for above ground structures that might give you some ideas. You have valid concerns BlackhawkFan, but on the same website you can see testing that has been done concerning burst strenth of the sandbags as well. I will put a footer on my center column which will in turn support the ends of the main beams, the walls will support the rest. Think of a ferris wheel oriented vertically. That is how the roof will work in a sense, one center column with four large beams radiating out to the walls and within those beams will be a network of dimensional lumber beams covered in sheathing.

  2. #22

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    If I were to have to buy everything cwillis, not counting getting the hole dug, my thought would be in the neighborhood of $600 to $800. That would be 700 bags, one roll of barbwire (two rows are placed between each course of bags to prevent lateral shift), center column, beams, plywood, pipe for vents and 6mil plastic to cover it all. That is a rough guess on my part, but as I said I have salvaged 90% of it and I don't believe it would be hard for others to do as well. I may have even overshot that number some but the lumber would be the largest portion of the cost.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Tucson
    Posts
    197

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sandyflats View Post
    Think of a ferris wheel oriented vertically.
    That's what I was visualizing, which is why I asked about the burst strength of the bag fabric.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Central Florida
    Posts
    86

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    I have a friend that owns a shelter in central Florida. It was built during the Cuban missile crisis. The man that built it was a retired Army officer, engineers. And he worked as a structural engineer in his civilian life. I saying this so you know the man knew what he was doing.

    The walls are 4foot thick concrete, the roof is 4 foot also. Over the years, the weight of the bunker and the settling of the florida sugar sand, has cause the footers/walls to break away from the floor. And sink 3 feet.

    So I guess what Im trying to say is, watch your footing in the sand.

  5. #25

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    Thanks Tracks Coax, it definately sounds like he has alot more knowledge about such things than me, but there are a couple of advantages I think that mine will possess. While I am primarily sand, there is some clay content, not much, but some. My walls are only 14" thick and my roof will be wood. My thought behind this is that I will only have the overall weight of one of his walls, most likely not that much. Less weight should buy me alot more time as far as settling goes, only time will tell. Thank you very much, I will most definately watch it over the years for any signs of settling.

  6. #26

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    I think it is a great effort.But maby you could have saved time and money with a different rout..

    Back in 99,I bought a used Uhaul bed.Like 7 by 12 roughly.Rented a backhoe,had a load of number threes hauled for foundation and drainage.coated it with foundation coating and burred it..To this day I still use it.Over the last 3 years I have been using up what was stored and replacing with new.Still water tight,Hell,had to dig several days to find it.(it was really over grown,and hadnt been opened since 2000.


    Not wanting to rob your thread,But,I wounder,how long will this type of shelter last???

  7. #27

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    I don't see that you're robbing the thread ace, I thought about the container underground idea, but once I realized that I already had the majority of materials to build the earthbag structure, and I have this thing about building stuff, I love to sit back when I am done and say "look at that!", lol, I figured I would give it a try and see how hard it was. The container would have been far easier, and I may look at doing that for the next one, but I truly believe the earthbags will last longer than me. The polypropylene and plastic will last indefinately as long as it is out of sunlight and uv rays, as long as settling doesn't occur, which only time will tell, I believe this will outlast me and my kids.

  8. #28
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    AZ
    Posts
    576

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    I looked at that website on earthbag building. I like the idea of pounding some rebar through the bags for extra stability. They were using a two handed fence post pounder to drive the rebar.

    We built quite a few "forts" as kids, brings back good memories of digging, scavaging wood, BB gun fights and sitting underground looking at Playboys we had found....

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Central Florida
    Posts
    86

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    We built quite a few "forts" as kids, brings back good memories of digging, scavaging wood, BB gun fights and sitting underground looking at Playboys we had found

    Are we cousins? Did you grow up in south jersey

  10. #30
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    AZ
    Posts
    576

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    No, not Jersey, the corn fields of northern IL.

    My friends used to have fun letting the cops chase them on their Honda mini-bikes, too. I think the cops had as much fun as we did.

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