[GSBN] (GSBN) Hand Compressed bales

Andy Horn andy at ecodesignarchitects.co.za
Fri Nov 4 04:23:26 CDT 2011

Dear Derek & Darcey


Thanks, your input is no doubt going to prove invaluable to our project and
I look forward to seeing your further input. 


The one drawback is that other than stands of more mature cedar trees, they
don't have a real abundance of timber available, so we will probably stick
with making adobe for the internal walls. They also have an abundance of
stone and have really fine examples of traditional stonework that I want to


Many thanks






From: GSBN-bounces at sustainablesources.com
[mailto:GSBN-bounces at sustainablesources.com] On Behalf Of Derek Roff
Sent: 04 November 2011 12:06 AM
To: darcey at paksbab.org; Global Straw Building Network
Subject: Re: [GSBN] Hand Compressed bales


-        Are there certain car or lorry jacks that work better than others?


The Hi-Lift jack (which Darcey mentioned), and similar designs, have a
couple of useful design features for making hand-compressed bales.  One is
that they have a greater range of travel than most auto jacks- sometimes a
meter or more.  Another is that they offer controlled movement in both
directions, rather than relying on gravity, and/or potentially releasing too
quickly or incompletely, as some jacks would when adapted to a new use.
They often come with a square metal base, and a larger lifting surface than
many jacks, which makes attachments and modifications easier.  They lack the
finicky precision mechanisms of hydraulic and screw jacks, which makes mud
and dust less of a problem, and servicing/cleaning easier.  




Derek Roff


On Nov 3, 2011, at 3:36 PM, Darcey Donovan wrote:

Hi Andy and everyone,


The PAKSBAB team is making great little 1' x 1' x 2' bales in Pakistan using
our hand balers (compression moulds and farm jacks).  I initially took an
American made Hi-Lift jack to Pakistan which is still in use, and we have
since imported additional ones from China.


The straw is cut by hand using a sickle and is wrapped into sausage-like
bundles and placed side-to-side in the mould.  Andy, I will email you some
pictures of the moulds and bale fabrication process, farm jack specs, and
our fabrication procedure off list.  I need to update my compression mould
drawing, but I can do this in the next week and email it to you as well.  If
anyone else is interested in this information please send me an email off
list and I will cc you on my correspondence with Andy.


We often use wattle and daub for our interior partition walls. 


I haven't been to Pakistan in almost 2 years but Surkhab Khan and the team
are forging ahead.  We're about to start our 27th straw bale house - our 3rd
one in collaboration with the organization SCIPPER (Spinal Cord Injury
Project for Pakistan Earthquake Rehabilitation). We also recently formed an
advisory board and are working hard to bring straw bale construction to
scale in Pakistan.  Step by step...




Darcey Donovan, P.E., C.T.O.

Pakistan Straw Bale and Appropriate Building (PAKSBAB)

P.O. Box 1083

Truckee, CA 96160 USA

(530) 902-5516 cell

(530) 582-4965 fax

darceydonovan Skype

darcey at paksbab.org

www.paksbab.org <http://www.paksbab.org/> 


From: Andy Horn [mailto:andy at ecodesignarchitects.co.za]
<mailto:%5bmailto:andy at ecodesignarchitects.co.za%5d>  
Sent: Thursday, November 03, 2011 7:29 AM
To: 'Global Straw Building Network'
Cc: ecoengr at sbcglobal.net
Subject: Hand Compressed bales


Dear Darcey & others

Some time back in the Dec 2006 Last Straw there was an article about the
work of Darcey Donovan and Greg Zaller in an earthquake struck area of
Pakistan, where they used hand compacted bales using car jacks to make their
bales for some community projects.


We have a Hospital project in the icy highlands of the small mountain
kingdom of Lesotho, where the locals are growing wheat (organically) and
harvest by hand. We intend to build using straw bales and I am looking
specifically for information about how best to make and utilize a hand


We did already make up a simple timber mould simply to establish the
quantity and hence cost of the supply of the straw that we would likely need
to bale with. We used a hacksaw (with a fine steel cutting blade) to cut the
straw, placing the cut ends to the outside and thinning ends towards the
inside alternately so as to lay it in a regular fashion. We did not try use
a car jack as at that stage we were just looking at quantities. The locals
sell their straw in bundles for roof thatching. We found that it will take
approximately 20 of their bundles to make a single bale.


In order for the idea to be replicable we need to keep it as simple but
effective as possible. There is a local metal worker who could weld up a
mould for us and I am sure we can lay our hands on some car or lorry jacks.
I have never been down this road before and have no idea of the finer
technicalities of making your own bales.

-        Are there certain car or lorry jacks that work better than others?

-        how to best design the mould?

-        how best to lay the straw into the mould?

-        What kind of level of compression is one looking for and how does
one establish the right level of compression?

-        How to get this as efficient as possible?

-        What can go wrong?

-        etc etc

I did already try follow John Glassfords link on his web site that he
mentioned (see his mail below) in regards to looking at this for th Haiti
project, Thanks John ..but would appreciate much more specific detail.



The other thing that came up was the possibility to make thinner bales for
internal walls ..but again I have had no experience with this.


Any input would be hugely appreciated.



Many thanks


Andy Horn



cid:image001.gif at 01CC9A24.6D7276E0

G ' day Balers

Sounds good to me bales for Haiti. Remember it was an earthquake and if you
have not seen the work been done by Darcy Donovan here is a story posted
some time ago now:

(Just scroll down)


Also you must all have seen the video of the test done in Reno:


I love the hand baler that the Pakistanis are using.

Seeing there is high unemployment in Haiti and if there is any rice straw in
the paddocks then the hand balers would work.

Anyone know how Darcy is going last time I heard Darcy was still in

Kind regards
The Straw Wolf
Huff 'n' Puff Constructions
http://www.glassford.com.au <http://www.glassford.com.au/> 
61 2 6927 6027
In Australia (02) 6927 6027

Mountains of the Moon 2011
http://www.mountainsofthemoon.org <http://www.mountainsofthemoon.org/> 

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