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[Cob] building with shipping containers, straw bales, and cob

Marilyn Pratt marilyn.pratt at
Fri Jun 27 00:44:32 CDT 2008

John - I've asked; will let you all know if I get an answer.

thx -

----- Original Message ----
From: john fordice <otherfish at>
To: Marilyn Pratt <marilyn.pratt at>
Cc: Robert Alcock <ralcock at>; coblist at
Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2008 6:59:13 PM
Subject: Re: [Cob] building with shipping containers, straw bales, and cob

What do you know of the wall conditions?
Was it an exterior wall of a building?  Did it have a roof?  Was it a freestanding outside wall?  Anything you can add?
other fish

On Jun 26, 2008, at 3:33 PM, Marilyn Pratt wrote:

I'll add this thought to the mix...  not from experience, but something from a class I just took from Cob Cottage Company.

One of the instructors has had to deconstruct a wall that had a wooden deadman in it.  The deadman was originally decorated with lots of bent nails, to hold it in place and help give it tooth so it would not move inside the cob wall.

When after a year or so he had to go back into that section of the wall, all the nails had rusted completely away except the parts embedded in the wood.  No trace of nails outside the wood.

Remember cob needs to breathe.  It passes moisture while doing so.  I'm guessing trying to combine natural materials with the containers might not work well in the long run.

But I'm just a beginner...

----- Original Message ----
From: john fordice <otherfish at>
To: Robert Alcock <ralcock at>
Cc: coblist at
Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2008 2:30:05 PM
Subject: Re: [Cob] building with shipping containers, straw bales, and cob

I'd be concerned with moisture condensation on the interior of the  
steel container, at least while the cob is drying.
other fish

On Jun 26, 2008, at 12:54 PM, Robert Alcock wrote:

> Not to want to buck the trend, here, but I don't think this post is so
> off-topic... the poster is, after all, asking how to incorporate cob
> into a particular form of construction (with containers).
> I would say that cob can likely be used to remodel the interior of a
> building with almost any material, including steel containers. You  
> would
> need to paint the steel with an adhesion coat, something that will  
> stick
> really well to steel and leave a rough surface. The cob would give a
> comfortable, organic interior with high thermal mass, which would be
> useful because I imagine containers would tend to be pretty  
> uncomfortable.
> Thermal expansion/contraction in the steel might present problems. My
> only experience with cob and steel has been setting a steel woodstove
> into a cob fireplace, and I have found that the cob cracks because of
> thermal expansion of the stove. So far the cracks aren't fatal, and we
> have achieved the intended result (linking the stove to the thermal  
> mass
> of the house core).
> Robert
>> I agree with Tim...this is the weirdest off-topic post yet to show on
>> the cob list.  Come on, this is the COB-LIST, not the "container-
>> list" or "steel-list" or "strawbale-as-insulation-list"
>> You should only post to this list if you want to discuss COB  
>> building!
>> On Jun 25, 2008, at 11:56 PM, Tim Nam wrote:
>>> Do you have access to free containers or something? I mean, why not
>>> just stick with the strawbale and cob?  Just asking.
>>> I would use the containers for a basement, if at all.
>>>  Tim Kijoo Nam
>>> Corvallis, OR
>>> tkn317071 at
>>> "We are discussing no small matter, but how we ought to live." -
>>> Socrates
>>> ----- Original Message ----
>>> From: Selvoy Fillerup <selvoy at>
>>> To: coblist at
>>> Sent: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 6:12:21 PM
>>> Subject: [Cob] building with shipping containers, straw bales,  
>>> and cob
>>> All:
>>> I?d like to discuss the possibility of incorporating recycled
>>> shipping containers with natural materials (such as straw bales and
>>> cob) to create a natural/industrial blended home. I prefer the
>>> organic look and feel of natural materials and would like to use
>>> containers as a skeletal framework on which to build. Does anyone
>>> have experience with both methods of construction?
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