The last four weeks…
We spent the last four weeks burning branches, got the water hooked up, power installed:
Digging 31 holes and moving the driveway
I checked the weather for the second week of April – and noticed they were forecasting about a week’s worth of dry weather.
If you read my last post, you know it’s been raining every 2-3 days for a month or more. So this little break meant go time. I called the excavator- he said he could come Monday.
I busted my butt finishing up the last of the pier collars on Friday, but then the excavator called on Friday and asked if he could come Saturday instead- great! Except all the rain washed away my month old paint marks for where to dig the holes. So, Friday night, I loaded the trailer with the collars.
I left early Saturday morning to meet him out there at 8:30, and the trailer was fishtailing with all the collars on it. I didn’t know it at the time, but some of them had slipped a little after I tied them, and were hanging out the back of the trailer. It wasn’t many, but enough to shift the balance of weight. I took the drive very slowly- 20 mph, but it wasn’t enough- after fishtailing, the tongue of the trailer wore out and broke in half.
Looking at the tongue, I was surprised- they used 1/8″ thick angle steel everywhere on the trailer except the tongue. On the tongue- the most important part of the trailer- they cheaped out and used 1/16″ square tube. I’ll never understand people. I could write a whole post on fixing the trailer, but let’s just give the short version: had to leave it on the highway, get my holes dug, then go back for the trailer. Used a blow torch to cut the hardened steel pivot bolt off the trailer side of the tongue. Brass welded the tongue back together at the neighbor’s house, hooked onto the trailer, and went to property to unload collars.
Then, the tongue broke again on the way back (empty). Stupid thing did a cartwheel on the highway. 5-6 good people stopped to help, and nobody got hurt. Met Matthew Hunter, who hooked me up with a new tongue and paint job on the trailer. Tongue is now 1/8″ x 4″x2″ tube steel- it’s a beast. And the trailer no longer tilts (I hated that “feature”), and pulls like a dream.
I got the holes dug- took him only two hours instead of four:
and moved the driveway:
I also fixed a flat tire on the tractor
So, how did I mess up?
Details about the plans:
Above: You can see the detail of a corner of the pier layout:
- red: pier outline
- purple: outer edge of log walls
- white: center of log wall
As you can see, the plans don’t specify a measurement or offset from the edge for where to place the logs on the piers- probably because they don’t know what size logs you will use- the plans state they are for 12″ logs, but mine are a little larger- like 18″ or something. Starting with what you know:
- base of pier is 36″ square
- top of pier is 8″x24″
- log (according to the plans) is 12″ diameter
- log is supposed to set just in from the edge of pier, not the center.
Thinking about the above brings up a practical question: How far from the bottom edge of the pier do you place the rebar (i.e. the white line goes over the top of each stick of rebar in each pier)? To ask another way, if I hang my string layout at 40’x40′ square, how far out from the string is the edge of each hole for each pier?
My mistake in laying out the foundation was that I never considered this. So I spray-painted marks where I thought they should go, but I can’t prove that is actually where they go. So I messed up.
I spent all day Wednesday burning in the hot sun to place 4 piers. I had to dig about 12″x36″x18″ of dirt to get the forms lined up correctly under the string. My wife finally talked me out of my stubbornness- and had me call the excavator. It took me five hours to fix 4 holes. I got better at it, but 31 holes means 31 hours of work if I do it by hand. I did accomplish one thing: I know how far from the string the bottom edge of the pier goes- in my case, to get the rebar 8″ from the top edge, I need the bottom edge to be 16″ from the string. I got a plumb bob and a tape measure, and spray-painted marks. Then I called Jim to have the excavator come back and cut some more out of my holes. He couldn’t do it right away, but said he would call. I was worried he won’t get it done before the next rain, but he pulled off of a job he was doing on Cloud Trail road, came over to my place and fixed the gravel and the holes. He left before we showed up- under an hour.
Leveling the holes is now taking me about 10 minutes, instead of an hour. There’s a small chance of rain next week. Cross your fingers, and pray I can get concrete before anything happens.