Creating a ‘Half Tire’ for an Earthship Tire Wall

Using ‘Half Tires’ to Fill Odd Spaces in a Rammed Earth Tire Wall:

There is more than one way to skin a cat and several ways to approach a half tire. (my cat Mist is deeply offended that I even went there with that feline crack, however she’s been shredding the fabric on my chairs all morning and I’m less than sensitive towards her species right now.)

When is it appropriate to use a half tire and what the heck is one anyway you ask?

Well…in a tire wall the tires are staggered like bricks to create a stable knitted structure. That means you won’t pile them directly one over top of the other because we all know what happens when you stack cookies too high…they take on the appearance of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Occasionally a full tire is too big to fill the space so a ‘half tire’ is needed.

Squishy half tire filled with loose dirt at Michael Reynolds BC Earthship buildTim Hortons box cut and fit for use as a half tire at the Eco Ark Saskatchewan Earthship build, image by Monica HolyUsing wire lath to form a half tire at the Michael Reynolds BC Earthship build, image by Monica Holy

To some a ‘half tire’ actually means using a real tire and ‘squishing’ it, whereas other options include using  a Tim Horton’s box or even wire mesh lath to fill up the space.

‘Squishy’ Half Tire:

Stomping down a 'squishy' half tire into place at the Micheal Reynolds BC Earthship build, image by Monica HolyInserting cardboard into 'squishy' half tire to be filled with dirt at the Michael Reynolds BC Earthship build, image by Monica HolyFilling 'squishy' half tire in tire row at Michael Reynolds BC Earthship Build, image by Monica Holy

In the case of using a tire, squeeze the rubber to your chest effectively crumpling it up and ram it into the space. Then proceed to jump on it like a maniac until it is forced into the void. At this point if possible lay cardboard inside it and proceed to fill with sand…

Filling 'squishy' half tire in tire row at Michael Reynolds BC Earthship Build, image by Monica Holy'Squishy' half tire in tire row at Michael Reynolds BC Earthship build, image by Monica Holy

finally finishing it off to the height of the tires on either side of it.

Cardboard Box ‘Half Tire’:

Chuck Potter using a Tim Horton's box for creating an Earthship half tire at the Eco Ark Saskatchewan build, image by Monica HolyCutting a Tim Horton's box to use as a Earthship half tire at the Eco Ark Saskatchewwan build, image by Monica Holy

If you’d prefer not to beat a poor defenseless tire into submission, but rather the more gentle approach of substituting a box, then proceed to use a box with dimensions wide, deep and high enough to approximate the tires on either side of it. In Canada we’ve observed that a Tim Horton’s box is purrrrrfect. (Mist wanted to put her two cents in). Place the box in the half space, and cut to size.

Half tire box with rocks and cement at Eco Ark Saskatchewan Earthship build, image by Monica HolyScrewing half tire box to tire wall for support at Eco Ark Saskatchewan Earthship build, image by Monica Holy'Porcupine' the screws to grasp cement in half tire box at Eco Ark Saskatchewan Earthship, image by Monica Holy

After filling with a small amount of rocks and cement,  ‘porcupine’ some screws through the box into the adjoining tires.

Half tire box with rocks and cement at Eco Ark Saskatchewan Earthship build, image by Monica HolyFilling box with rocks and cement for half tire at Eco Ark Saskatchewan Earthship build, image by Monica HolyPatting down rocks and cement in half tire box at Eco Ark Saskatchewan Earthship build, image by Monica Holy

Continue to fill with a combination of rocks and cement. The purpose of adding rocks is simply to use less cement, but do use enough cement to hold the form, and make sure the rocks don’t touch each other.

Leveling 'half tire' to tire row at Eco Ark Saskatchewan Earthship build, image by Monica HolyLeveling 'half tire' box to tire row at Eco Ark Saskatchewan Earthship Build, image by Monica HolySupporting 'half tire' box of wet cement at Eco Ark Saskatchewan Earthship build, image by Monica Holy

After filling box with cement, you’ll want to check both the horizontal and vertical level to the adjoining tires. If you’ve chosen to fill the entire box with cement at once, you may need to support the box for the duration of curing. Usually it will set overnight.

Wire Mesh Lath ‘Half Tire’:

Using wire lath to form a half tire at the Michael Reynolds BC Earthship build, image by Monica HolyUsing wire lath to form 'half tires' at Michael Reynolds BC Earthship build, image by Monica Holy

The last option is to ‘porcupine’ (run nails or screws into the tires below and on either side of the space you are filling) and cut two pieces of chicken wire or metal wire mesh/lath to form the space you need to pour your rock/cement mixture into. The ‘porcupining’ enables the cement something solid to grab onto. If needed use washers with the screws so that they don’t go straight through the mesh when you are porcupining them into the neighboring tires.

Filling wire lath forms for 'half tires' at Michael Reynolds BC Earthship build, image by Monica HolyFilling wire lath 'half tires' with cement at Michael Reynolds BC Earthship build, image by Monica Holy

Depending on the volume of your wire lath ‘half tire’, you may need to fill half, and let it cure before filling the rest to the top.

Cement filled wire lath 'half tire' at Michael Reynolds BC Earthship build, image by Monica HolyNicole Chayka pointing to wire lath half tire filled with cement at Michael Reynolds BC Earthship build, image by Monica Holy

This method works well for particularly tight spaces.

Mist had no preferences herself but enjoys the theatrics of watching a tire being squished and maimed into a space half it’s size. Personally ladies I think in all fairness few of us have the upper body strength it takes to perform this bizarre ritual so I vote for the Timmy’s box myself.

Image credits: Monica Holy

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2 comments on “Creating a ‘Half Tire’ for an Earthship Tire Wall

  1. Eric Swatzell on said:

    Why not just cut a tire in half with a Sawzall?

  2. Eric Swatzell on said:

    I mean, you could cut it to remove a section, then affix that cut side to the adjacent tire so it would hold itsn shape when filled/tamped.or just use a smaller tire. Tires come in many sizes and lots of things use smaller tires. Trailers lawnmowers, etc. Tho cutting would conceivably be simpler than locating specialized sizes.

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