SUBS #16: TOTAL SYSTEM INTEGRATION:
SUBS WITHOUT CONNECTORS!
*WRITTEN: 23 DECEMBER 2007
REVISED: 28 DECEMBER 2007 [corrects typographic errors]
*REVISED: 2009FEB11 revised, hexpanded and relEased]
When I started designing the SUBSystem
back in the early 1980’s, I first panelized,
then optimized the panel, and only then
designed the connector. That was so
successful, I’ve been working with
panels and connectors ever since.
The system is astonishing in it’s ability
to create buildings from a rather limited
kit of parts. The connectors make
everything immensely strong.
In a very large building, where there are
many rooms completely internal to the
enclosed space, the SUBSystem to date
really shines, with all those utility ducts,
conveniently hidden out of sight … but
nevertheless right where you need them!
But most buildings are not large structures
which MUST rationalize a huge utility
infrastructure to get heat, light, air, water,
data, power, etc, to all the room space.
Most buildings are houses, garages, or sheds.
Many of them have only one room. Even in a
multi-room buildings, most rooms have at least
one outside wall. Utilities don’t have to be
highly rationalized. Air comes in through
windows. Pipes and wires come in pretty
much anywhere. It’s not a problem: Stick
it on the roof and forget about it. So you
really don’t need all those utility ducts in
most building. They’d certainly be nice
in a large house, but not necessary.
The smaller the building, the less efficient
the connectors are. If the connectors are
bolted to panels on every side, they are
most efficient. In a one room building,
they are most inefficient, as they don’t
attach any other rooms. My first enclosed
structure, 4′x4′x8′ internal, 5′x5′x9′ external,
has the minimum connector overhead of
24 connectors: three for each of the eight
corners of the room. It IS an elegant way to
connect walls and create utility space,
but it’s a huge expense in small buildings.
So I started looking at the panel/connector
relationship. The connector performs two
basic functions in the SUBSystem: it creates
phantom spaces, and it creates right angles:
when you bolt it to the edge of a panel, you
“turn the corner” to the adjacent wall, floor, etc.
When I analyzed it that way,
the penny finally dropped!
Like a single celled animal, the one room
house doesn’t need a complex circulation or
utility system. So do you don’t need to use
connector rings to create duckts for utilities.
You can eliminate the duckts, and bolt the panels
directly to each other. For this, the panels have
to be redesigned WITH A RING OF BOLT HOLES
AROUND THE FACE OF THE LARGEST SIDE.
As they have been designed and used before,
panels have a standard pattern of bolt holes
around the narrow 6″ sides. Wherever there
is a bolt hole in the outer sides, [3" from the
top/side edge in a 6" panel], there will be a
corresponding hole 3″ from that same edge,
ON THE FLAT FRONT FACE OF THE PANEL.
[It's the same geometry as a #8 domino.]
Up until now, SUBS panels have had bolt holes
aligned with two of the three axes. [Around the
outside edge, leaving the large surface intact.]
When you add the third right angle, which the
connectors provide, to the panel itself, you
can then do without connectors.
This new ENHANCED PANEL can now bolt directly
to other panels, at right angles, without expensive
connectors, but maintaining the rigid 3-D bolted
connection between all planes of the building.
You can still use triangular duckts within the
room to distribute the utilities.
When you do without connectors, you are back
to the more traditional method of setting walls
on top of floors, and floors on top of walls.
P48B = PANEL 4′X8′ BASIC [FOUR VIEWS]:
THIS IS THE ORIGNAL SUBS PANEL:
P48EPB = NEW SUBS BASIC ENHANCED PANEL
Drawings of the top and bottom of the 4′x8′
SUBS ENHANCED PANEL. The marks around
the outside and down the center of the top are
the nail or screw heads fastening the plywood
sheet to the framing. It’s best glued too. The
additional 8 bolt holes in the top are most
easily seen in the p48EPbot picture. These
reflect the bolt holes in the sides and ends
onto the top surface so they can join at
ANY right angle.
The eight new holes in the enhanced panel
mate with the 12 holes around the perimeter
of the standard panel when they are turned
at right angles. The twelve bolt holes around
the outside edges make 8 holes on the top
surface when they are “flipped” up on top,
since the two at each corner on the sides
map onto the one bolt in the corner in the
top surface. The room remains a hollow
column of enormous strength.
When you skip the connectors, you need
to adjust panel widths for the walls to fit.
Thus a 6″ thick panel 42″ wide will fill in
at a corner. In rooms only one panel wide,
you need to shave off two widths, to 36″.
In a rectangular room, I’d leave the long walls long,
just moving them onto the floors. I’d use the short
panels in the short walls.
FOUR INCH PANELS
When I first designed SUBS, I wanted to make sure
it was built strong enough to pass ALL building codes,
so I went with 2×6″ framing lumber, which many codes
now require. But lots of buildings don’t need to meet
codes or inspections at all. Sheds and storage
buildings are often not covered at all. Historically,
most walls were built with 2×4s, not 2×6’s. 2×4’s
are the cheapest and easiest to use. Plus a 3.5″ x
1.5″ “2X4″ makes a convenient 4″ panel if you
skin it with 1/2″ plywood or other sheeting.
So I’ve been building 4″ panels lately, instead of
the 6″ heavy duty panels I mostly built before.
They’re plenty strong for walls and roofs, and
noticeably lighter and easier to manhandle.
Although I’m plenty happy with 4″panels for
normal walls and roofs, they aren’t heavy
duty enough for floor panels that have to
carry heavy loads. A few people on a roof is
no problem, but don’t load floors with furniture,
plus storage to the ceiling, and then throw
a big dance party. Use a 6″ floor panel.
So I’d like to use a 6″ floor panel, bolted to
4″ panels for walls and roofs. But the panels
are different thickness. The 6″ panel has a
6′ modulus, and the holes are 3′ from the end
and edge. The 4″ panel has a 4″ modulus:
a 4″ square. The connector holes are in the
center of that 4″ square. So if you drill both
sets of holes, in the same panels, their centers
are 1.4″ apart. That’s plenty of room to use
half inch bolts, but I’d scale back to a 3/8″
bolt/hole for 4″ panels.
The solution is to drill the 4″ panel with 3/8″
holes on the sides and the front face, [the
Enhanced Panel in the 4" panel size], and
to drill the 6″ panel with BOTH SETS OF
HOLES for bolts in the large flat face.
Both the 1/2″ holes, 3″ from the end and
sides, for the 6″ panels to bolt to, and the
3/8″ holes , 2″ in from the end and edge
of the 4″ panel. So you can stack 4″ walls
on a 6″ floor panel, and another 6″ floor
panel on top of that wall.
If you want to mix and match 6″ and 4″ panel
next to each other in the same wall, you would
need the hole pattern for the 4″ panel in the
sides of the 6″ panel as well as the front face.
LONG AND SHORT BOLTS:
Setting a wall on top of a floor, the bolt only has to
go through 3/4″ of plywood [the top skin of the floor
panel] and 1.5″ of framing lumber. That’s only 2.25″.
With washers and a nut, which can easily be a wing
nut for no-tools construction, a 3″ bolt leaves you
some extra threads to fasten something else too.
To bolt a 4″ roof panel on top of a wall, you need
to go through 1.5″ of framing + 4″ of the roof panel,
which is 5.5″, so you need at least 6″ bolts for
washers and a nut. Carriage bolts from the outside
secured by wing nuts on the inside makes for
good security and easy changes, as they can’t
turn the carriage bolt from outside to break in.
To put a 6″ floor or roof panel on a wall,
you need 1.5″ + 6..0″ = 7.5″ so you need
at least 8″ for washers and a nut.
At most corners, you will need the long bolts too,
since the panel faces will usually be outside, and
you have to go through the panel to get to them.
If you have internal rooms, you will use more
short bolts for the “other” side of internal walls.
ATTACH ANYTHING TO ANY WALL!
When you want to put on an addition,
all you do is start bolting new panels
to the outside of the existing structure!
The holes to bolt it up are already there!
Holes can all be drilled at the factory.
But since the faces probably wont all
be filled with bolts, the face holes can
be factory-filled with caulk, or a flush
mounted knock-out plug so walls,
floor and ceiling won’t be full of holes.
Or they could just have a locator dimple
and you would drill the ones you need.
IT’S SO EASY!
Natural evolution starts with
the simplest and easiest!
Only when that leads to a
problem is it necessary to
develop a new solution.
Connectors would be essential
in a multistory hotel. They would
be extravagant in a one room shed.
You can always add connectors to
non-connector rooms when you
are expanding, or take your old
rooms apart and add the panels
to a new connector-structure.
Bill Dur = firstname.lastname@example.org
Simple Universal Building System
“SUPERIOR BY DESIGN!”
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February 17th, 2009