Pre-work= dense igloo with most snow types!

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Banff Martin
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Pre-work= dense igloo with most snow types!

Post by Banff Martin » Sun Jan 05, 2020 11:17 pm

Happy new year building!

We built a 9' on new year's day, with but one broken block, a new personal record!

For this build I knew snow conditioning would be important, as the snow had been slightly melted and refrozen, leaving a slight crust on top. I'd discussed with my two friends building with me that snow used needed to be trampled & swept before use. As it happened, the snow gatherer/trampler did not use the available fresh snow, but instead broke off parts of the overbuilt pad. Stomped out of chunks, this material packed well.

The day after returning from holiday visiting I made the pad without a tape measure, and it ended up having about double the surface area needed. A 15' pad is great so novices don't fall off the ledge, but what I did was overkill. I blame it on the need to burn off a lot of turkey..! =) The entire igloo was made from extra pad material. After the igloo was built and I was doing floor edits that evening (patch walls, remove a 2' cube from the middle, add 6 cushions, notepad+pencil+freezer bag), I smacked the wall and found it to be a lot denser than a normal fresh igloo! Hard to measure, but I'm pretty sure about this. I'm hopeful this will mean greater longevity of this igloo.

As I was expecting trouble from the refrozen snow, finding out that reclaiming snowshoe packed snow is very good to work with is quite refreshing! I plan to make this a standard practice moving forward as part of my pre-work.I'll pre-make the igloo pad, and then also either piles of snow or extended from the pad. This process will help in company events, where the number of helpers have meant lack of attention to snow conditioning in the past. An almost total lack of broken blocks is also nice to keep on schedule!

In related news I then used the Icebox tool without poles to add height to the 4' high, 20" wide wind wall I'd already built to the West of the igloo. Using the reclaimed snow make for strong blocks once past the ramp start. I also added a cold scarf and snowshoe packed it; it insulates the bottom two levels, and also prevents the bottom level from buckling outwards if the weight of the igloo compresses the pad - this has happened to me before and causes the igloo to lose height.

To aid eliminating chunks in the next build I've made a giant potato masher with a wooden pole and metal parts - will post pics tomorrow. =)

Always neat to improve a process!
If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right!

Banff Martin
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Re: Pre-work= dense igloo with most snow types!

Post by Banff Martin » Mon Jan 06, 2020 3:47 pm

Here's a pic of the igloo & wall, and also my extra tools.

The black unit is double-thickness cardboard & gorilla tape. The unit is for packing snow into my 4' high, 20" wide plywood wind wall form.

The new one is my new 'masher', that will be used in future builds to efficiently break up clumps when the snow provider takes snowshoe packed snow. The dowel has a pair of holes drilled near the bottom; for each an opposite pair of L-shapes are bolted in, then reinforced with a hose clamp. The rest is more L-brackets of different orientation, bolted together. After tightening I covered all the ends with hot glue, as it was quicker vs. blue nut lock. It carves off the side of a packed igloo pad well enough, so chunks already stepped on should be very tidy!
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If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right!

Banff Martin
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Re: Pre-work= dense igloo with most snow types!

Post by Banff Martin » Mon Jan 13, 2020 10:34 pm

And so an experiment has been run to gauge the change of block density! =)

I made a ramp block on the ground with 'pad snow', then built a block using same. I noted the spot on the ramp block, then carved away a 'standard' block's worth of snow and put it into a large bucket. I then built another block out of 'fresh' snow, and placed that block's snow into a pair of smaller buckets.

I brought all the buckets indoors, covered them to reduce evaporation, and waited for them to totally melt. I was then able to pour the 'fresh' water into the smallest bucket, and the 'pad' water into the medium bucket. I then used a 1L measuring cup to determine the volume of each.

About 17 3/4L vs. 13 1/4L!

So naturally a ratio is desired. Divide each by .25 and you get 71 & 53. Yes, prime #'s, also an increase in density of 1/3.

And that's the news! A new process to provide good packing snow out of poor snow, and make for stronger blocks at the same time!

I am content. :geek:
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Igloo Ed
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Re: Pre-work= dense igloo with most snow types!

Post by Igloo Ed » Wed Jan 15, 2020 4:07 pm

I have to chuckle when I see the depth of your experimenting. It's good you live in the north so it is reasonably cold. If I build an igloo on the front range/plains of Colorado, it usually melts in a few days. The mountains here are similar to your conditions but the car drive takes away the ease of access you have right in town.
Yes, the density of the snow is what matters and you could also weigh the blocks if you had a scale to get your ratio.
The old snow makes a big difference as the ice crystals are bigger/denser. It's the quazi liquid layer flowing to make bigger ice crystals.
We built one with old snow on the ground that had crystals 1mm in size. That nine foot igloo was fine after 3 1/2 months.
For harvesting hard snow like your base, I shave it off with my boot. The boot needs to be a hard rubber sole with a sharp edge. Sorrels wouldn't work.
I stomp on the top edge of a quarry so my foot goes down the wall off the quarry producing snow with very few chunks. If I stomp a full foot's width off the edge, it will produce chunks. I find a half foots worth is about right.
I can see your tools working but I've always found that chopping just produces smaller chunks. But then you have the flat one too.

Banff Martin
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Re: Pre-work= dense igloo with most snow types!

Post by Banff Martin » Wed Jan 15, 2020 4:26 pm

Indeed, it is a tidy thing to have the igloo side just down the field from the apartment building! =)

I may have the snow conditioner use a metal shovel to break off packed snow, then stomp on that & finish with the metal tool, just so no one falls over from using their boots to break off the material. The black tool is for packing within the plywood wind wall form, though I suppose it might squish chunks as well. I found that there was plenty of powder and that it wasn't just a bunch of chunks - shouldn't be an issue.
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Igloo Ed
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Re: Pre-work= dense igloo with most snow types!

Post by Igloo Ed » Wed Jan 15, 2020 4:41 pm

The shaving off the edge I mentioned is done by standing on the flat platform level and raising my let up to the top. This means the quarry wall can't be over 24 inches or so. If you base is taller, then standing on the ledge and stomp would be as you say, hazardous.
If all chunks are put into a pile and the pile is just big enough to build one block, I then put one foot into the piles and use the other foot to stomp across the pile. Again, advance just one half a foot worth across the pile with each stomp. I stomp across and close to me first and then come back the other way reaching out with my foot to get the far side of the pile. If I want less chunks, I sweep the pile up into a pile again and redo the stomping again. I use my shovel for balance when standing on one foot.
Also, once you've stomped the pile, you can slide your feet through the pile and your boot toes will make the chunks come up and out of the powder.
If one gets a rhythm going do this, it is quite easy to turn very hard chunks into loose snow.

Banff Martin
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Re: Pre-work= dense igloo with most snow types!

Post by Banff Martin » Wed Jan 15, 2020 10:40 pm

I get what you mean with the stomping/shaving technique, thanks! I hope to have the pad at least 2', so we'll see what is more efficient. The deeper i can make the pad, the easier the entrance will be. I cut as much as a couple inches above floor level in case a lot of people are in there smoking, but try to not cut higher than this for the effect of the igloo.

My sympathies for such brief igloo lifespans down there!

Now I'll be on the lookout for the eldest, most granular snow out there for the stongest builds. =)
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Igloo Ed
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Re: Pre-work= dense igloo with most snow types!

Post by Igloo Ed » Fri Jan 17, 2020 5:42 pm

I have worked with man made snow and it is generally very wet and packs very dense. There used to be a company selling the Backyard Blizzard snow making machine. I'd be you come up with something. looks like it needs a compressor or possible a high output fan.
One that I built with man made snow in MN for a demo lasted until spring and they took it down with chainsaws when they needed space for the paddle sports.

Banff Martin
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Re: Pre-work= dense igloo with most snow types!

Post by Banff Martin » Tue Mar 03, 2020 10:27 pm

Well, the limit has been found..! Tried to help another Icebox owner Saturday before last, and the snow was just too granular despite packing a pile the night before..! Likely the worst snow I've ever seen; fully exposed to sun & wind & a couple months old. Just crystals that didn't want to pack. He called it 1/3 through level 2. It may have been technically possible to build, but would have been a record fight to do so.
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Igloo Ed
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Re: Pre-work= dense igloo with most snow types!

Post by Igloo Ed » Wed Mar 11, 2020 6:26 pm

The bigger the ice crystals are, the more technical it all gets.
What were the temperatures like?

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