So what can we build with TIRES? ...NON-Earthship thread

topic posted Tue, February 24, 2009 - 3:43 PM by  transfag1
As recently pointed out in another thread, tires can stil be had for free. How many things can you still say that about?
So what can we build with them?
What have you seen, tried, wondered about?

This is a NON-Earthship thread. We have a separate thread for Earthship questions, ideas, and links.

Earthships are built with tires placed flat ("donut hole facing up/down") and packed with earth.
I've always wondered about ways to use tires placed vertically....that is, oriented the way they are when used on a car. They're a good thickness for a wall, large enough to "make a dent"---- e.g. make you feel like you've accomplished something after you placed one in a wall section---- yet small and light enough to transport and handle easily. How might we use them for free or cheap construction?

Your thoughts?
  • Unsu...
    I have used tires extensively over the years. never built an earthship though. i have used them like they do in earthships for retaining walls to build flatland on a slope. we also cut the sidewalls off and cut the tire so it can be laid out flat. you can use them like this for ROOFING by placing one INSIDE UP and another threads up on top of it ( lay them up like Spanish roofing tiles ) . you can also use them as CULVERTS by BANDING THREE ( not more, not less but THREE ) tires together side by side. place these units in the trench tightly side by side and BAND them together where they meet. we tested this out at JOHNSON ENVIRONMENTAL 30+ years ago. they worked at least as good as conventional culverts. i have also made grow towers ( commonly known as strawberry towers ) of them.
    • Unknown said "i have used them like they do in earthships for retaining walls to build flatland on a slope"

      I uploaded a photo of a tire retaining wall here:

      Here's another one:

      As of yesterday/today, I'm on this kick about how to make tire fences & privacy walls. I need a fast, high takes too long for evergreen trees to grow, etc, so I'm thinking of the tire idea... .
      I don't have any dirt to spare (!) so filling with dirt/pounding isn't an option for me. I'll have to explore other options. I'm curious about the idea of stacking the tires, then filling them with manageable-size sections of brush and various biodegradable debris..then tossing in some dirt on top of that (vs trying to fill the whole stack with dirt). In and around the tires, toss in some seeds for various vines (morning glory vines?). In the southeast, Virginia Creeper vine is semi-evergreen, and incredibly invasive. I think you could plant a few of these vines around the outside of the tire base and they'd take over... .
      I like the idea of a "camouflaged" wall that blends into the landscape.

      This isn't "shelter" per se, but very related.... .
      And of course, the same retaining wall concepts can be used to build shelter walls.

      Now that I'm on this, I'll try to post whatever info I find.
      • Unsu...
        i've built a couple retaining walls with them that are over 20 years old. we didn't "POUND" any dirt. we just made sure it was in the tires void fully and the last couple shovel fulls we put in as one of us pulled the sidewall UP so it was completely full. they settled perfectly.

  • Informative & inspirational site
    .....except for the horrible issue of the harassment by the state govt.

    The Tired-Out Ranch, Hamar, North Dakota
    • Unsu...
      Man that was awesome. Exactly what I had in mind for the horses.

      • Has info on walls/retaining walls made from tires:

        • Aha. Another alternative to "pounding dirt-inside-tires":
          Tire Bales.

          From this site:

          "Tire-house Builders: No More Pounding!!!

          What's NEW in Tire-house Design? -- Tire-BALES!!!

          What is a tire bale?

          Tire-bales are "big rubber bricks". Place them in the wall with a large fork-lift, a hay-grapple, larger size skid-steer w/forks (3,000# tipping weight, minimum), or a backhoe. They're made in an hydraulic press, click to see the press exerting extreme forces to compress approximately 100 tires into a "brick" 2-1/2' x 5' x 4-1/2', weighing ~2,000#, wrapped with (5) .113" diameter steel wires pre-formed into square-knot ends which are hooked together when the press reaches it's compression capacity. The press is then released and the bale is completed. The bale is now the density of most wood, weighing in at roughly 50 pounds per cubic foot and containing only 5% air."

          And from Steve and Kathy King, "The Tire Bale House Project"

          The footprint and overall appearance looks like an Earthship, without the pounded tires, earth, and aluminum cans.

          • More good photos of a retaining wall built with tires.
            [The info on latrine walls built from plastic bottles & chicken wire, also featured in this same slide show, is in the thread on misc recycled materials and objects].


            • I think it's a good use for them but for a house I would like earth bags or tubes better just because of the way they look. I think tires are ugly when they are used this way, it's a subjective view. I would say more power to you if you were using them and I would not complain if they were next door.
              • Not sure if I already linked or posted this (sorry if it's a duplicate), but here's the info on what the facists in North Dakota's court system had to say about the Tired-Out Ranch guy using tires to build a fence on his own property.


                "N.D. Supreme Court: Tire Fence Should Be Disposed Of"

                "DALE WETZEL Associated Press Writer | Posted: Thursday, December 13, 2007

                Cory Christofferson says his neighbors don't mind the eight miles of fencing on his ranch made from discarded tires. But the Health Department does, and the North Dakota Supreme Court has upheld the agency's arguments that the tires are an environmental hazard.

                "There have been no complaints against me, and that's what's so frustrating for me," Christofferson said Thursday. "When the local people make no difference whatsoever … I don't know what this country is coming to."

                Christofferson describes the fencing, which is made from an estimated 300,000 tires, as a recycling project.

                He began collecting them in 1994, and used them during the next decade to build fences, windbreaks and buildings on his "Tired-Out Ranch" near Tolna, in Benson County in northeastern North Dakota. They provide enclosures for about 200 sheep he raises.

                The Health Department, concerned about Christofferson's accumulation of tires, obtained an order two years ago demanding that he develop a disposal plan.

                The tires could provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes and rats, and could cause substantial pollution problems if they caught fire, the agency argued. If Christofferson abandoned the property, health officials would be stuck with the disposal problem, the agency's lawyer said.

                An administrative law judge ruled Christofferson's tire fence did not amount to a beneficial use of the tires. South Central District Judge Sonna Anderson affirmed the administrative law judge's conclusions, and Christofferson, acting as his own attorney, appealed to the Supreme Court.

                In a unanimous decision Thursday, written by Justice Daniel Crothers, the Supreme Court affirmed the Health Department's arguments. Earlier findings that the tires presented a health and environmental risk were proper, Crothers wrote.

                "The conclusion that Christofferson's operation is not a beneficial use under the solid waste management rules is supported by factual findings, as is the determination that Christofferson has not adequately follows the applicable solid waste management regulations," Crothers wrote.

                Christofferson said using the tires to build fencing and paddocks allowed him to graze more animals on his ranch land and increase its production.

                He got the idea of using tires for fencing from a magazine article that described an Australian rancher's use of tires for sheep fencing, he said.

                He is uncertain about what he will do next, Christofferson said. "I'll have to think about it for a while," he said. "We're pretty low on money now."

                He has more than 20 supportive affidavits from neighbors and others, Christofferson said.

                "All of these people who live here, nobody's got a problem with it," he said. "If somebody could explain to me what I'm doing wrong … I'd probably quit.' .."

                This is the ranch they're referring to (previously discussed in this thread):

                • Photo and small blurb from Popular Mechanics June 1922 (!) edition, showing a fence built from discarded car tires.

                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.

                    Patents for products/devices etc using discarded tires (includes tire fence info---- see pdf for illustrations):

                    • A University of Arizona professor comments on building with discarded tires:


                      BUILDING TIRES
                      One UA Researcher Has High Hopes For Scrap Tires

                      by David Barber

                      "Adjunct Professor Emeritus Stuart Hoenig, of the University of Arizona’s department of agriculture and biosystems engineering, thinks he’s on to the next wave in construction materials: scrap tires, especially for building houses.

                      Actually, Professor Hoenig is known for carrying on a number of projects at once. One current project is a system for electrostatically taking water vapor out the air not really an Arizona problem, but one farmers in other parts of the country deal with daily. “For example the Midwest where they try to get two crops of hay,” notes Hoenig. “The second crop gets rained on and you can’t do anything with wet hay. This is a system that essentially dries out that hay.”

                      Hoenig notes that the same system is being used commercially by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA developed a similar system for cleaning the air of dust and killing bacteria in chicken coops. The successful system is now sold by a private company.

                      Hoenig has been at the University for 29 years. While he retired 6 years ago, he stays on as an adjunct to pursue research, though he no longer teaches. He received his doctorate from University of California-Berkeley in 1961, after receiving his bachelors degree at the University of Michigan. He received a number of offers but he and his wife did not want to stay in California. Though there were some better salary offers, they choose Arizona for the climate and the University’s reputation.

                      Of the projects he is pursuing, he is most passionate about the varied uses of scrap tires, even for landscaping. The UA currently is monitoring one of his demonstration projects on campus.

                      “You split the tire like a bagel, then you roll the grass back; put the tires down; fill them with dirt and roll the grass back,” explains Hoenig, a national expert in the use of scrap tires. “It uses about 50 percent of the water and the grass looks great”

                      In fact, the University of Arizona is acting as an agent for a California colleague who has patented this use of split tires to save water.

                      As another alternative to scrap tire disposal, the UA and other universities have been studying engineering applications for these scrap tires that would offer both cheap construction options and an environmental solution to a growing problem

                      There are some 500-million, used tires stockpiled in the United States, with a growth rate of the material equal to about 250 million per year posing both a fire and environmental hazard. When they are placed in landfills, they tend to rise, prompting 33 states to ban their landfill placement all together. Because the expected life of used tires is some 20 years, they have become an economical substitute for traditional construction materials.

                      In 2000, the nation used 32 million scrap tires (the amount generated annually in California alone) in civil engineering projects, up by 28 percent from 1999 and making it the largest end-use for scrap tires in the nation, second only to fuel.

                      In Pima County, some 700,000 scrap tires find their way to landfills each year.

                      Currently nine states including Arizona allow the use of whole tires for the construction of dams, erosion control, houses (New Mexico is currently the leader in that), fencing, rifle range bullet stops, bridge supports, terracing, playgrounds, and grain storage structures.

                      Another use is as bedding for livestock corrals. The University of Southern California at San Luis Obispo has built a huge system of livestock bedding. The bedding, made-up of tire bales, allows the liquid from water and urine to drain, keeping the animals drier and preventing foot diseases. Though the UA’s Agriculture farm at Roger Road isn’t “officially” using the technique, Hoenig is trying to get the funds to pursue such a project.

                      Another use being pursued by the Center for Integrated Waste Management at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo is using scrap tires as a replacement for stone in septic tanks, a use that is on the rise.

                      What the scrap tire advocates like Hoenig are hoping for is that home builders and subcontractors become more aware of the variety of applications scrap tires can be used for in home building.

                      “The big thing is house construction, the installation is fantastic,” says Hoenig. He feels that building inexpensive homes with tires would be great for poorer areas, particularly since the tires are free and construction doesn’t take any special skills.

                      “For example, Cochise County has an enormous pile of tires and they can’t afford to haul them to Phoenix to get chopped up, so they’re just sitting there,” says Hoenig.

                      While chipped tires used in road construction and tire-derived fuel (TDF) are currently the best-known uses of scrap tires, it’s the use of whole tires that has drawn Hoenig’s interest. Whole tires can be “baled.” There are a number of companies all over the USA that bale tires, with five in New Mexico alone. The highly portable baling equipment typically costs $100,000. Hoenig notes that there’s one company that bales in New Mexico that actually produces a square final product, ideal for building.

                      The baled tires are used for tire wall construction for dams, fences and houses ­where they are stacked, rammed with earth, and covered with stucco. Like rammed earth and straw bale, baled tire houses are well insulated and resistant to fire and insects.

                      Though the center for scrap tire home construction is New Mexico, Hoenig hopes it will catch on in Arizona, despite restraints put on it by the state.

                      “The state has some very archaic provisions,” says Hoenig. “For example, you can’t build a tire house in Tucson the way you can in New Mexico. You have to get special permission.”

                      That permission comes from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, the same agency Hoenig had to approach to build a scrap tire dam. He said they were very accommodating.

                      In the southwest, typical wash and feeder arroyos frequently drop 10 feet per year due to erosion, and tires are being used to alleviate the problem and slow the flow of rushing water in the form retaining walls. In fact, dams constructed with baled tires cost 60 percent less than a concrete dam.

                      Hoenig, and his University colleagues, are responsible for a tire bale erosion control structure at the King’s Anvil Ranch 10 miles west of Tucson. Construction was supported by the Goodyear Tire Company and Phelps Dodge. They stacked and tied together the tires with half-inch plastic straps, filled them with gravel and covered them with chain-link mesh.

                      Interestingly, the 1,200 tires were free and Pima County probationers supplied the free labor. The project was monitored by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. The 30-foot-long, 6-foot-high tire dam cost $6,500 to design, estimated to be about $63,000 less then a comparable concrete dam. The dam has stopped has stopped sand some 5 feet deep and 30 feet wide from being lost into the arroyo.

                      “The ranchers were very dubious of it at the time,” notes Hoenig. “But now it’s four years later and it has withstood two floods. Now they’re convinced.”
                      Arizona and eight other states allow construction of gomes, fencing, bridges and eroison control dams such as this one near Tucson.

                      So convinced area ranchers are screaming for more dams.

                      “They’d all like to have tire dams because they’re cheap and they work well,” says Hoenig. “Right now, we’re trying to get some money to build more tire dams.”

                      As if he doesn’t have enough projects going, he’s recently received an request for a proposal from Pima County for a 100,000-gallon Anaerobic Digester to break down organics in the county’s growing garbage dumps. He’s planning on using scrap tires to line the site.

                      Around the country other scrap tire construction projects abound: The U.S. Department of Interior has used whole tires for 20 years at the Salton Sea for erosion and dams. In New Mexico, a 4,400-foot section of Lake Carlsbad was stabilized against erosion with tire bales. In this case the bales were covered with a thin layer of concrete for visual purposes.

                      Twenty-five foot-high damn in Arkansas using more than 50,000 tires.

                      California used 860,000 tires to fill in a freeway embankment of a $30-million interchange reconstruction, due to be completed in 2004.

                      In Maryland, scrap tires have been used for playground structures and ground cover in seven state parks. "
  • If you need to cut holes in the tires for drainage (so they don't become mosquito farms), don't even bother with trying to "drill holes". Who knew that you could drill a shitload of large holes all over the tire, pour water in it....and watch absolutely ~nothing~ happen. No water running through those 40 holes.... .
    Surprise, surprise, tires are tough (duh), and seem to "self-seal". Obviously, not when it comes to air, but definitely when it comes to water.

    Solution: Reciprocating saw with blades designed for cutting metal (as in "steel-belted radial").

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