Domebuilding: built!

January 30th, 2009

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Sorry to keep you in suspense!  The cold I’m fighting has me too tired in the evenings to blog about the day’s events.  But to summarize …

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When last we left our dome, it was almost done and slightly out of place.  I rallied a group of local neighbors to help me shift it a bit — thanks guys! — and then put on the bottom course.  It’s just barely rubbing three trees and an overhead wire, but it fits.

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I spent a day climbing all around it with an extension ladder, testing it for strength, splinting some weak spots with stronger bamboo.  I extended three of the 20 legs to mate better with the lumpy ground of our yard, improving the rigidity.  The dome really is stronger than it seems at first.  I do wish I had built it with a thicker bamboo, so it would have been strong enough to climb unaided.  But it’s strong enough for LIGHTBAR.

Next I hung four 12×20 tarps around the sides, creating a 4/5 enclosed space.  (I didn’t actually plan this, but a 32 ft. diameter dome has a circumference damn close to 100′ exactly, which has been handy for all sorts of mental calculation.)

Attaching the side walls left things in a particularly wind-sensitive condition for one evening, and the next morning I found a single snapped bamboo pole in the roof.  So I splinted it.

Later that day we applied the cover — a 40′ x 40′ tarp that has tarped Lightbar in previous years.  That operation took four people, two ropes, two sticks, two hours, a bit of mild profanity, and some sweat.  But was totally worth it, as you can see, because now we have a dry-ish, indoors-ish space of barnlike vastness from five tarps, 170 sticks of bamboo and only two four six rolls of duct tape.

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Today was highly rewarding: I installed a stove!  And I used that stove to make the first grilled cheese sandwich of LIGHTBAR 2009.  This year’s LIGHTBAR is guaranteed to be the warmest on record.

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(Mad props to Howie “Stove-Lender” Oakes, who in his hours off from lending me stuff (his main job) also manages to make some really beautiful portable housing, all by hand.)

Next tasks: electricity, windows, lighting, sound, heat circulation, a bar and some more sandwiches.  But as far as Bucky Fuller’s concerned, this dome is up.  With my compliments: his domebuilding plan was easy to grasp, a pleasure to follow, and makes a lovely dome as domes go.  It’ll never be a good primary dwelling, for the known set of reasons why domes just aren’t.  But for the tiny investment of time and resources, it sure pays off.

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