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Anyone build with those reinforced boxes like the military used in Afghanistan/Iraq?  RSS feed

 
Jared Mevissen
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Just been watching some war documentaries lately and keep seeing those boxes with the fence reinforcement on the sides that they fill with dirt to create perimiter/base walls with. Seems like filing up 1 box with dirt is a lot less work than filling up hundreds of sandbags or earthbags for that matter. No idea what there called or how much they would cost thought, I figure for the metal reinforcement they must cost at least 5 bucks a piece but I have no idea. Seems like it would be a quick way to build some structures, if you have the materials to fill them with.

Here is a pic where you can see a few different sizes of what I am talking about, looks like wire reinforced square bags filled with dirt.
 
Dan Boone
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Jared, those look to my eye like a military-engineering version of a gabion. You can make your own out of wire fencing, probably at less cost. They are very useful for many permaculture purposes, although perhaps most often as water and soil management structures. The current wikipedia entry on them says:

A gabion (from Italian gabbione meaning "big cage"; from Italian gabbia and Latin cavea meaning "cage") is a cage, cylinder, or box filled with rocks, concrete, or sometimes sand and soil for use in civil engineering, road building, and military applications.
...
The most common civil engineering use of gabions was refined and patented by Gaetano Maccaferri in the late 1800s in Sacerno, Emilia Romagna and used to stabilize shorelines, streambanks or slopes against erosion. Other uses include retaining walls, temporary floodwalls, silt filtration from runoff, for small or temporary/permanent dams, river training, or channel lining.[2] They may be used to direct the force of a flow of flood water around a vulnerable structure. Gabions are also used as fish screens on small streams. Gabion stepped weirs are commonly used for river training and flood control; the stepped design enhances the rate of energy dissipation in the channel, and it is particularly well-suited to the construction of gabion stepped weirs.[3]

A gabion wall is a retaining wall made of stacked stone-filled gabions tied together with wire. Gabion walls are usually battered (angled back towards the slope), or stepped back with the slope, rather than stacked vertically.
...
Gabions have also been used in building, as in the Dominus Winery in Napa Valley, California by architects Herzog & de Meuron, constructed between 1995 and 1997. The exterior is formed by modular wire mesh gabions containing locally quarried stone; this construction allows air movement through the building and creates an environment of moderate temperatures inside.


Some relevant threads here at permies:

http://www.permies.com/t/1190/natural-building/gabion-baskets
http://www.permies.com/t/32684/videos/Geoff-Lawton-Fixing-Deserts-Gabions
 
allen lumley
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Jared Mevissen : Not to be bossy but - I Did a Search within Permies.com for gabions and had 614 hits in 0.51 seconds !

The Search feature is located on the left hand side of the Permies Toolbox at the top of the page, thois is a membership perk ! and allows you to search
the 10s of thousands of Forum Threads for previous comments on a given subject 1 Good Luck and good hunting ! For the Good of the Craft! Big AL
 
Dan Boone
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Allen, much as I love to encourage people to search for what has gone before here at Permies, it's really very difficult to do those searches when a person doesn't yet know the word for the thing they are searching for. As Jared may not have done, before I told him the word for the wire boxes he saw in the military documentaries.

I would have said it was impossible to be too quick to urge people to use the search function, but I think perhaps you may have managed it, just this once!
 
William Bronson
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I have suggested using 250 -350 gallon totes or the cages that contain them.
The ones that are not food safe are cheap. They are built to be stacked three high, two high easily clear head height.
They are rated for a lot of weight so you could fill them with water, oil, soil, stones, gravel,sand, bottles,whatever.
 
Jared Mevissen
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allen lumley wrote:Jared Mevissen : Not to be bossy but - I Did a Search within Permies.com for gabions and had 614 hits in 0.51 seconds !

The Search feature is located on the left hand side of the Permies Toolbox at the top of the page, thois is a membership perk ! and allows you to search
the 10s of thousands of Forum Threads for previous comments on a given subject 1 Good Luck and good hunting ! For the Good of the Craft! Big AL


Had no idea that was a name for them, all I could have searched is dirt boxes or something.
 
Len Ovens
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Jared Mevissen wrote:Just been watching some war documentaries lately and keep seeing those boxes with the fence reinforcement on the sides that they fill with dirt to create perimiter/base walls with. Seems like filing up 1 box with dirt is a lot less work than filling up hundreds of sandbags or earthbags for that matter. No idea what there called or how much they would cost thought, I figure for the metal reinforcement they must cost at least 5 bucks a piece but I have no idea. Seems like it would be a quick way to build some structures, if you have the materials to fill them with.


The cage would have to be filled in place, an earth bag can be filled on the ground and lifted into place. Filling the first row of cages might be easier than earth bag, but not the second row unless using machinery. Also, earth bags allow changing the size to fit doorways or windows. Custom made cages could be made too, but may be more difficult to do. It would certainly take more planning.
 
Steven Waling
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Hi Jared Mevissen,

I realize that this is a somewhat older thread now... but I just found this site. I assisted in the construction of several of these in Afghanistan... in fact, I was actually stationed at the location of this picture...

these are called "Hesco Barriers". The come in a few different sizes and they are not really for structural value but for Force Protection.
When we arrived at a location that would be made into a COP (Combat Outpost) or expansions to existing FOB (Forward Operating Base), we would get pallets/bundles of these delivered by CH-47s. If you've a got a backhoe and/or skid loader, you can fairly rapidly create a solid wall.

Predominantly, we would open the steel caged designed box {with cloth barrier to prevent dirt from falling out but it won't hold liquid} and place where it will remain. Next we would fill it with fairly large rocks and then gravel, then dirt. This would give it greater ability to stop bombs, mortars, rockets, & shrapnel fragments. typically, initial row would be built with the largest sized Hesco barrier we had around the perimeter. Being rocky/mountainous (with loose dust/dirt in the areas I was in), we could have a football field sized area perimeter secured in about 2 days (with a team or two of engineers). Once the perimeter was built with ECP (Entry Control Point - meaning a winding entrance so no one could drive straight thru [SVBIED] to force entry and blow us up), another ring inside that perimeter would be build (2 deep now) and then stack one vertically on top of the other 2... then lastly, a triple-strand C-wire ring on top would be permanently installed to prevent people from climbing over. Lastly, towers would be placed at the corners to provide over-watch, and a mortar pit created to shoot/hold ammo that, if hit, wouldn't blow up everything inside.

I hope that gives you a good idea on how we quickly created a fairly secured compound (and shooting range barrier)... to your point, these are cheap (Retail $7 ~ $15ea - size dependent) and really serve security and maybe as a sort of retaining wall, but, I don't REALLY see them as a better idea than an earth bag system. I'm still new to the idea of earth bag, and am excited to find out that there is a growing movement in Texas (where I am), and even communities and workshops - which I hope to attend soon... A google search on Hesco will take you to their site.... I think you will eventually, like the other replies, find that earth bag is probably more advantageous due to its variability and maneuverability once loaded.
hope this helps.
 
James Golub
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Check out www.unitedearthbuilders.com or the UEB thread on this forum.
 
Margaret Stewart
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Hello to Jared Medvissen from a quote about a year ago.  I am picking up on your message regarding the Hesco Bastions used for military use.  I  saw a video on them and I too felt they could be used or adapted to the earthbag structure.  I live in New Brunswick CANADA where it get pretty darn cold in the winter time.  I was planning to build an earthbag house on my isolated lot on Prince Edward Island.  Using the circle as the strongest earthbag structure I priced out the cages on Hesco and Amazon and its way over my budget.  Then I got researching and found that you can get 100' of Galvanized Welded wire mesh 4"x2" for $144.00 (here in Canada).   My structure would be approx. 94 linear feet so I would need approx 2 1/2 rolls tied every 2-3 feet with tension wire.  The bottom and sides would be covered with landscape fabric $30 for 200 ft.  The bottom 2 ft would be gravel, then the rest would be clay/sand mix tamped in using a backhoe.  Even renting a backhoe, the days you would save would easily pay for itself.  I would also dig a 12" trench 3 ft wide to place the gabion  wall on.  The last two feet on top I would use earthbags and lime mortar row to embed the roof poles.  If not too costly I would also sprinkle lime powder amongst the soil as I'm tamping.  The lime will also be used in the plastering inside and out, the wire mesh being a good network to hold onto.  The reason I am set on the gabion walls is I have limited summer days and the time to build everything from bottom to top with earthbag houses would catch me into freezing weather.  I would use bolt cutters to cut out my door ways and windows and reinforce more strongly with tension wire.  Would really like your input on this or anyone elses.  If the zoning laws are too restrictive on my 800-900 sq ft home, I can get away with 250 sq ft.  For first try anyway
 
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