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Typical Wall Construction

Here is an example of building construction technique on this project. It shows the use of materials that are not "rated" for use in structural, load-bearing applications. Construction of any building like this will likely result in jail time for any application other than Black Rock City. Steel studs are so new to the world of construction that manufacturers and structural engineers have little to no concept of using them in this way. DO NOT try this at home!!!

We start with steel studs and tracks. For this back wall section, the studs are trimmed from their 96-inch length to 90-inches. The tracks are cut to the absolute width of the wall, 43-3/8-inches for front and back walls. A 1-inch hole is centered on the bottom track for a bolt hole.


The studs which are 3-5/8-inches wide, are slid into the tracks which are just a little bit wider.


The initial setup defines the overall frame of the wall.


A grip clamp is used to hold the back of the stud to the track, then through drilled... accept a rivet. The head of a rivet is smaller than screws, so the plywood that will face the section will lie flat against the studs and tracks. Screws are fine in conventional construction where the structure will not be moved and handled for a decade, but rivets provide a more positive hold.


Middle studs are rolled diagonally into the track.


A spacer block is used to set the distance between the outer studs and the middles. These studs are riveted as described above. The whole frame is turned over on the horses and the other side is riveted. 16 rivets are used for just this portion of the section.


Breaking away from the main section, these parts are made for the top and consist of track cut to the propper width and the first half of the plywood bolt box forms are applied. A 1-inch hole is centered on each of these.


6-1/4-inch long studs are put into these tracks to form the top boxes.


When installed, these top boxes define the pockets where the beams will slide into. This is the top of the wall and on the opposite side of the building, another section with the same pockets supports the other ends of the beams. Two adjacent sections form the same size pocket as the fixed one at the center.


With all of the framing applied, butyl-rubber adheasive is squeezed onto the surfaces that will adhear to the plywood facing.


The outer skin of plywood is screwed onto the studs. This sheet is offset down and to the left by 1/2-inch to provide an overlap with the adjacent wall.


Flipped-over the bolt boxes are screwed into the outside studs and the bottom track. These boxes form a hollow space in the wall with layers of plywood applied to the stud surface. A bolt is placed into the hole through the stud and into another bolt box in the adjacent wall section. A nut is tightened onto the bolt and the two walls are drawn together. Each bolt box provides a bearing surface for the hardware because the 22-guage steel in the studs is too thin to hold an entire wall together without help.


Fiberglass wool is placed into the studs and gaps are cut around the bolt boxes. These walls have been designed to fit 15-inch insulation without trimming. Window-walls have a large 27-inch-wide opening framed in them and have rather odd stud spacing which requires perforated, Kraft-faced batts.

The section ready for adheasive and the inside skin of plywood.


A final look at the top bolt box before covering. Scrap wool is stuffed into the voids.


Self-drilling screws are spaced at 12-inces along each stud and at other important points.


The inside plywood is drilled to allow a router bit to cut a perfect square opening into the bolt box. The thickness of the bearing portion of the boxes was selected to prevent the router bit from cutting into the metal of the stud.


After the bolt boxes are routed, the beam pockets are cut out and the wall section is ready for priming and painting.


The inside of a back wall section, primed.


Four walls just painted.

Other details

These are pass-though bolt bearing units. Where walls must join in perpendicular, these units keep the wall from being deformed by a bolt torqued through it. The hole drilled in the plywood is about the same diameter as the inside of the PVC tubes, so the plywood is squeezed onto the end of the tube when bolted. This is important because steel studs don't bear a crushing load well.
Storage of supplies. Note the fake windmill from the RFBM corp. yard in 1997.
A wall frame prior to having the plywood skins applied. As production got underway, it was found that the bolt boxes should be installed prior to sheathing and screws used for the skins go right where the boxes are.
Framing work early in the project when everything was still a mystery. Each joint was riveted with a hand operated "pop" riveter. It lasted through about 1500 rivet joints before failing completely--just enough to finish the project.
Steel studs are cut in bulk with a chop saw. The light gauge ones can be trimmed as needed with metal shears.




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