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Building Science …..1911

homedesign | Posted in Green Building Techniques on

Check out page 99 in this Radford book from 1911.
Quadruple Glazing, Management of Thermal Bridging…and
Ventilation without motors.
Lots of other good air barrier and water management details thru-out the book.,M1

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  1. homedesign | | #1

    I also like page 61.
    I like the illustration style.
    Even though they did not use building paper (weather barrier)
    all of the joints are overlapped or staggered.
    "Note tin flashing to keep out the water"
    Most of the water that gets past the siding is directed directly OVER THE TOP of the head casing.....maybe they were on to something?

  2. homedesign | | #2

    Ok, these are not homes that Radford is talking about conditioning.
    This was all about preserving ICE.
    This was extreme construction intended for preserving a very precious $$$ comodity.
    Ice was more valuable than meat and dairy!
    Ice was a major industry.
    Can you imagine shipping Ice from the North to the South...or storing it thru the Summer?
    Conserving the ice was very worthwhile...there was a big payback.
    Special attention was devoted to the weakest links....The windows and doors and the thermal bridges in the framing.
    The multi layered doors of the Ice house are very similar to the Modern Passivhaus Doors and windows.
    The walls were superinsulated and "tight".
    I think we need to pay more attention to the Old Guys and the Germans.
    We need to identify the weak links and conserve,conserve,conserve.

  3. homedesign | | #3

    this is not 1880's
    I still think this is a Damn good Book

  4. homedesign | | #4

    Now for something amusing from my favorite book

    Edit to say
    the link has changed
    attaching an image instead

  5. user-757117 | | #5

    John, thanks for sharing. I love books like this.
    The attention to detail reminds me of Robert Hooke's "Micrographia".
    Here is another link to "Radford's portfolio of details"

  6. 2tePuaao2B | | #6

    Hey John,
    This is a really great publication! My shop is set up to reproduce most of this early millwork. We've always done our own milling. We usually set up a" hand tool" shop on site for milling small quantities. The historic groups love it. It's also very quiet and peaceful to mill by hand.
    Not as much dust floating around either. The young carpenters are always amazed when they start handeling a well tuned shaper plane. Seems like getting paid to play. Thanks for the post.

  7. Riversong | | #7

    The same friend of mine who helped revive masonry stoves in the US also had an ice house behind his hand-built stone and oak home. It was the traditional open-top insulated-wall building that would be filled with large slabs of ice cut from a pond uphill and sledded down in winter. Sawdust would separate each layer of ice and a deep bed of sawdust would cover the top layer. The melting ice would wet the top sawdust, and the evaporative cooling would keep the ice below from melting too quickly. A full ice-house would last the summer.

    There were trellises on the ice house that had hops vines twining up the walls to help shade the sides from the sun. From the hops, he would brew his own beer which he kept in the hand-dug root cellar under the kitchen (with a counterweighted heavy trap door in the floor that could be lifted with no effort), but was cooled before drinking by the very same ice that the hops had shaded.

    This house, by the way, was one of the few I've ever been in that truly had soul. Jonathan von Ranson and his partner had spent three years building near the top of Bear Mountain in Wendell MA. They first built a two-story wooden barn/workshop/cabin to have a place for their tools and their tired bodies when they were on the land.

    The first floor was slip-formed stone (a la Scott Nearing) made of rocks from the land. The rest of the house was framed with oak that was felled from the mountainside, and the interior walls were finished with hand-planed tongue & groove oak boards. The kitchen cabinets were hand made of cherry from the land, and the centerpiece of the cozy house was Jonathan's first masonry heater/fireplace/cookstove with the traditional serpentine flue and closeable chimney cap. Water came from a nearby stream through a hand-operated pitcher pump set into the counter top next to the soapstone sink.

    This was a house that could fit well into Radford's portfolio. Hand-crafted with love and care from materials gathered within a few hundred yards of the site. Jonathan and Susan kept a few chickens for eggs, a goat for milk, grew a lot of their own food and cut hay with a scythe.

    I wish I had pictures to share, but those were the days before digital photography and my prints are stashed away somewhere in my archives.

  8. 2tePuaao2B | | #8

    I did a project in Hunt Valley MD. that led to the discovery of an 1880's ice house. Stone Hall Farm was built by soldiers under orders by a General Gist. We restored the stone home , a carriage house, tennant house and barn on this property over the course of 3 years. During that time there was a cute little stone garden shed, (at least we thought it to be a garden shed) that was used as a tool lock up. It was a handy little building that just about every sub contractor brought in took full advantage of throughout the project duration.
    At the completion phase when the time came to clean out the shed, the old wood plank floor probably had 50+ years of accumulated crud attached to it . To clean, or not to clean, that was the question! Naturally we couldn't resist the anal tendancy to"make it nice" so the sweeping and shoveling began. As the wide plank boards became visable we noticed 2 parallel cut lines across the planks in the center of the floor next to the back wall. At first I thought it was just a patch in the floor but the cleaner the place got , the more obvious it was that the board grains matched up.
    After a little stomping, poking and prodding I realized that this was a carefully made, beveled, or dovetailed floor hatch. No hinges but signs of some sort of pull, or lift hardware were apparent. When I lifted the hatch to my amazement there was a deep (14')dark hole with a rickety narrow winder stair hugging the stone wall. What a feeling of discovery this brought on~.... I didn't want to leave the hole so I sent one of the guys helping to get a flashlight. I couldn't see the bottom at the time and no way was going to test the stairs.
    When light was shown in there were six sides of stone wall going 14 feet deep. at the bottom was blackened saw dust, very strange. The bottom of the stair system was rotted but the hole was bone dry. Completely empty, except for 3 old tools hanging on a board that was attached at the top of the stairs. Initially I had no idea of what I was looking at here, I was totally confused. After sharing the discovery with a local historian we were able to determine that this was an in ground ice house that had been abandoned after it's last use, and never had been used for any other purpose since. The tools were a set of "ice tools" that were used for the gathering, storing and fetching of ice as needed. There was an ice saw that was used to cut ice chunks from streams and ponds in the area,a long pole grapple hook and a pair of those long handle ice tongs. Pretty cool stuff. I think that they would stock the ice house thru the winter by layering ice chunks with saw dust and straw to keep them from freezing together. (at least that's the way it appeared) As the summer got hotter the ice in the deeper depths remained frozen as it was used from the top down. What was most interesting was the transition from six sides of stone wall that was deep, to four sides of the square stone top building. The plank floor was 2 layers thick as well.
    Thought I'd share this one since the ice house was brought up.

  9. HDendy | | #9

    You don't find details like that in many drawing sets these days. It makes you want to take a step back and re-evaluate what cut-and-paste-CAD has/is doing to our profession (Architect here). An art form is falling by the wayside.
    How about the Trimmer Arch on pg. 58.
    pg. 143- air sealing (of sorts) a balloon framed wall.
    Good stuff, thanks for sharing!

  10. 2tePuaao2B | | #10


  11. homedesign | | #11

    bumping a thread about a cool book

  12. user-723121 | | #12


    A way to keep beer cold was a priority, my friend. The creativity of mankind is amazing, when do you suppose the energy companies (and politicians) got in the way of advanced (efficient) building techniques?

  13. homedesign | | #13

    Doug, it's amazing what cheap oil and cheap energy did to set-back good enclosure design.

  14. user-723121 | | #14


    Cheap natural gas today really holds back building efficiency advancements. The Canadian R-2000 Program, a great building program, was overidden to some extent by very cheap natural gas, about .25 per therm for a time as I recall. A house with a 60 million Btu (600 therms) annual heat loss could be heated for $150.00 per year. It is hard to justify doubling of R-values with cheap gas and a negative return on investment.

  15. user-757117 | | #15

    Sometimes when people ask me about payback on superinsulation and I don't feel like getting into it, all I say is "I don't have natural gas".

    It's a rediculous answer to the question but it seems to satisfy.

  16. user-723121 | | #16

    And I have a feeling natural gas won't be cheap for much longer, the shale gas is a lot more expensive to deliver. The cheap and easily recoverable fossil energy has been found and used, it will be increasingly expensive as demand exceeds supply.

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