Clay Plastering & Can Heater

Sorry I’ve been a little quiet over the last few weeks. The weather has been a very mixed bag recently!

We had absolutely scorching weather for a week, and then last week was rain, wind and clouds. It’s easy to forget how nice it can be when the wind starts howling. I think we hit 45mph winds on the weekend, which is pretty unpleasant. Fortunately, this week looks a bit more settled and I’m hoping I’ll get my scratch coat finished on the clay.

Not the best photo, but you can see the thicker coat going on!

Not the best photo, but you can see the thicker coat going on!

The scratch coat around the front is almost complete!

The scratch coat around the front is almost complete!

For my plaster coat, I made two test patches. They were (clay:sand:straw) 1:4:1 and 1:3:1. Having read that a lot of people can have ratios of 1:6:1, I thought I might have cracking in the patch with less sand, but as it happens, it turned out the better of the two. So that was the mix I settled on for the coat you can see in the pictures above. I’ve had to order some more sand, which is coming today, so once I get back I’ll finish this coat and start on the tyre wall before mixing a finishing coat over all of it!

However, one of the problems I’ve got is the drying time. With the smaller windows, there is not a lot of solar gain, and with the walls being so well insulated, the building stays very cool. To remedy this, I’m building a solar heater to see if I can increase the temperature inside a little, with minimal cost.

You can make a solar heater very simply, by getting a load of empty drinks cans, drilling a hole together and painting them black. There is a nice detailed building guide here if you want more information. I’m not expecting mine to put out a lot of heat, but it’s a good way of seeing if the theory works in practice, especially in Wales’ unpredictable weather!

Different shapes and sizes don't matter, as long as each column have the same number of each.

Different shapes and sizes don’t matter, as long as each column have the same number of each.

Remember to punch the holds BEFORE you do this!

Remember to punch the holds BEFORE you do this!

At the top, the connections need sealing to ensure the air flows through the cans.

At the top, the connections need sealing to ensure the air flows through the cans.

 

Standing the cans up and they hold well.

Standing the cans up in their stand and they hold well.

Spraying the cans

Starting to spray the cans

I’m going to see if I can find some perspex which will obviously keep the cans warm when it’s breezy by keeping them out of the wind. Aside from that, I’m getting some hosepipe to ensure the air flow and I’m got and old computer fan which I’ll connect to a 9v battery to force the air to circulate. Hopefully I’ll have this set up this week and I’ll share the progress with you when it’s up and running!