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2nd solo igloo my best yet!

Posted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 1:19 pm
by Banff Martin
This 9' igloo is my 2nd solo build, and certainly the best thus far. I re-read instructions/threads before this run after my November build.

The improvements were:
1. I pulled in slightly on the upper left corner of the form so the blocks lined up properly. This made quite a difference! :roll:
2. Instead of using the plumb-bob, I duct-taped a torpedo level to the side of the form for the 1st level. This made this part quite easy.
3. I used a mitt for my right hand, and packed almost exclusively with my right. Aside from changing from my 'waterproof' gloves to a water-resistant mitt (& water-resistant glove for the left) meaning my hands didn't freeze up, it works well with step 1 as well.
4. Instead of using my garden spade as much on higher levels, I used a 4L milk jug with the bottom cut away. It is light, moves a decent amount of snow, comes with a good handle, and it's harder to lose snow out of it at awkward angles. I may work ahead next time on reinforcing the edges & sides of one to improve on it.
5. Floor planning. Instead of cutting the trench in to the center of the igloo I made it short & built a step in. Then at the center of the igloo cut out a cube of space for feet, segregated from the trench. Warmer, and once the snow underfoot gets slippery you can't slip right into the trench!
(6. Old improvement - 14" square to attach the pivot point to, with a pair of cans attached to the bottom. If you pop the pole off the square, at least you haven't moved the stake!)

For future builds I think I'll work more on:
1. Advanced floor planning. As I'm inclined to make massive pads the day before a build (this one was just short of 3' deep at the deepest point), I think I can start playing towards the 'cool lounge' concept, by digging down 1' a few inches in from the walls. This would yield a good amount of headspace. On larger builds, I'd also like to consider cutting in some manner of bench seating for back support; 1/2 of the floor of an 11' could still be bedspace, with the rest loungespace. An insulating method would be needed, but my friends mylar & cardboard can make short work of that. My pads may take 4 hours to build, but I don't regret it the next day! (and they come with packed footholds on the sides)
2. Improve on the milk jug tool. Some copper wire shoe-goo'd around the outside of the unit may give it good support.
3. More appropriate air hole sizing. I'll aim for 1.5" instead of 3" and see how that goes. I'll also consider building in a sliding air vent control.
4. Packing more efficiently...I only broke 4 blocks in the entire build, but they weren't surprises. I'm pretty sure I can get the packing speed up...

Re: 2nd solo igloo my best yet!

Posted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 8:43 pm
by Igloo Ed
Yes, it certainly makes a big difference pulling on that top left corner. The fingers can be extended too, across the End Panel to help support it when packing close to it. If you see the End Panel move when packing close to it... I put my thumb in the inside corner and fingers outside.
Using a mitten for the right hand is the only way I know of keeping my hand dry. Gloves get wet, no getting around it. Glad you have got a working set up.
It will be interesting what you come up with for improvements on the milk jug. It makes sense for a solo build and using the waste bin to hold snow like you did. My shovel handle gets in the way sometimes when I'm building from the inside, the milk jug would work great if it was a little stiffer.
The way you are building your pads, I think they are very solid and the entire floor may very well be able to be cut out. But do consider if there is a layer of rotten snow. Here's a thread/picture: ... ?f=19&t=27
Only breaking four blocks is getting pretty good. The inside of the igloo looks pretty smooth.

Re: 2nd solo igloo my best yet!

Posted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 10:04 am
by Banff Martin
Indeed, a poorly packed pad would be a problem..! I'll keep this in mind when planning to carve out much of the pad.

The bottom half of this pad was boot-packed one evening, then upon being finished the next day the top half was packed by showshoes. The footsteps were packed down by boot & shovel.

Re: 2nd solo igloo my best yet!

Posted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:08 am
by Igloo Ed
It sounds like you had your base packed well enough to carve the base out without the foundation collapsing. It is the depth hoar layer that causes problems and it doesn't take all that much to pack it. It is when it isn't packed at all that it can collapse like a house of cards.