the Tire Bale house project


We bought land in western Colorado in 1999 in a thick pinion and juniper forest at 7,800 ft. elevation. We had a lot of decisions to make and that's when we decided on the earthship concept for our home. We wanted to use solar for all our electrical, heating, and hot water needs. We searched the internet for information on earthships and that's when we found Michael Shealy. He lived not far from us and had designed several earthship type homes. We went to see him and he introduced us to the tire bale concept. We had already come up with a workable floor plan and Michael did the finished drawings for us using tire bales instead of single tires. We are very thankful to him for all his patience and advice.


before clearingafter clearing

We began clearing a 900 ft. driveway and homesite mostly by ourselves and by 2003 we were ready to begin site excavation. Here are two pictures of when we started clearing the trees and as of 2003.



We moved to this property permanently in May 2003 and lived in a 17 foot Casita travel trailer that was powered by one 120 watt Kyocera solar panel and one small deep cycle battery. In early 2004, after 9 months of living in the mini trailer, we decided to upgrade to a little 200 sq.ft. cabin, which is right behind the house. We have never been attached to the utility grid. The cabin was being powered by the trailer solar system, one battery and one panel. Read more on the "Solar Electric" page.



It began raining in September (2003) when the last 3 loads of tire bales were being delivered. What a muddy mess that was. The bales were delivered in 75 ft. trucks with moving floors. The tire bales become 1 ton bouncing balls as they fall out of the back of the truck.




sitting on a bale

One of the most common questions people ask is what happens if the wires around the tire bales break. In tests, it took 375,000 lbs. of pressure to break the five 9-gauge steel wires. We had three bales break at least one wire and one broke all five as they were dropped out of the back of the truck. On examination, the wires appeared to have a nick just next to the knot possibly causing the failure. In the actual bale placement in the house, the bales will be placed so that if one does break, the tires won't move.


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