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Old 06-03-2011, 02:26 PM   #31
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Talk me off this ledge!


I like it. I'll post a photo of the "bedrock" I got into today. Its this PA Sandstone junk. It looks nice and solid until you brush away all the sand in the crevices and then it starts to disintegrate.

Monday I may set up on it with my pressure washer and see how much loose stuff I can wash away. Figure I'll set a tarp right under it to catch all the slurry down to a pit and then trash pump it to the front yard where I have my spoils pile.

Good news is its Angle Of Repose is way high and that means lighter walls

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Old 06-03-2011, 02:46 PM   #32
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So, what does this project have going for it? Against? Thought I might tally a quick list of Pros and Cons.

Assets ands Pros:

Free Labor: As long as our stupid laborer doesn't get his self crushed by a falling boulder (which he almost did today) he's here 24 hours a day.

Finished product will be amazing: There won't be many like it in SW PA. I'll be able to sell tickets if I want

Reasonably well funded: My wife makes the dough.





Cons and Liabilities:

Useless Laborer: Our Laborer is all old and out of shape.

Site access is terrible!: Best we can do is mini-ex and Toro Dingos

Other projects are waiting: The roof needs to be replaced this Fall, and I don't mean the shingles, I mean THE ROOF! (I told you it was a Money Pit)

Time schedule is tight: Due to my wife's career situation I need to wrap this in a couple of months, outside.

I'll post more as I think of them
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Old 06-03-2011, 03:02 PM   #33
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Picture of the "Bedrock". Its a lousy photo, exposure is all wrong. I'll put up another as soon as I get one.

Talk me off this ledge!-bedrockdiy.jpg

Problem with this stuff, I think even after its cleaned and dried
its still Pp Brown.

Anyone who has ever driven the Interstates 79 or 76 around Pittsburgh can attest to the embankment cuts. Not exactly the most picturesque ledgestone in the world. Why couldn't we get something from Maine or Upstate NY (Watkins Glen area). Now thats some pretty banks
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Old 06-04-2011, 05:51 AM   #34
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Finished a SketchUp File of the various retaining wall options available. Just block and concrete versions right now. I'll add Landscape Timbers with Deadmen, H-pile Walls and a few others as the need arises.

They are from Left to Right: Basic Concrete Masonry Unit (CMU) Wall, Concrete Gravity Wall, Cantilever, Counterforte, Buttressed and Tie-back. Most of the Concrete walls can be adapted to block (CMU)

Talk me off this ledge!-wall-optionsdiy.jpg

None are to scale and all would need to be reinforced per an Engineer to be useful.

As usual if you see any of my SU files you are interested in (none are very good) PM me.
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Old 06-04-2011, 06:03 AM   #35
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Just a quick aside about SketchUp

For those who may not know, SketchUp is a free 3D modeling program offered by Google. It is very useful for many types of DIY projects and you can learn the basics in about a day.

They also have what they call their "Warehouse" inside the program. You can go on the Web and download any model that someone has built and posted for free. Plug it into your Model and use it. Watch now as I quickly grab someones model and plug it into mine

Talk me off this ledge!-wall-options2.jpg

It took me longer to open the Image in GIMP and resize it to upload here than it did to put it in my model.


It is not free for Commercial Use (i.e. If you own a Remodeling Company and you are selling your designs) but for DIY warriors it is a blessing. I built my kitchen 3 times in SU before I ever ordered any cabinets or picked up a hammer.

Want to learn to cut roof rafters without pulling out the circular saw? Build 'em in SU. Just a lot of fun IMHO
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Old 06-04-2011, 08:37 AM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CplDevilDog View Post
Little red ants who can't take a joke: 10,000
Too funny.....

......thanks for the laugh, I needed that!

DM
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Old 06-04-2011, 08:50 AM   #37
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I looked at your photos of the exposed rock. It looks to be arranged as thin horizontal layers that have been fractured. That could be a bit worrisome for wall construction.

I suspect the near surface rock is fractured because water from the hill bleeds into the space between rock layers. Freezing then causes the rock to fracture. You can remove all the loose rock and set your footer on solid rock. But once the solid rock is then closer to the surface, will it not then be subject to the same forces that fractured the above rock? Freezing and fracturing below the footer would be very destructive to the new wall.
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Old 06-05-2011, 06:45 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by pls8xx View Post
I suspect the near surface rock is fractured because water from the hill bleeds into the space between rock layers. Freezing then causes the rock to fracture. You can remove all the loose rock and set your footer on solid rock. But once the solid rock is then closer to the surface, will it not then be subject to the same forces that fractured the above rock?
My thoughts exactly. I suspect surface water from WAY up the slope (Check Google Earth or Google Maps Earth View to see my behind me neghbors yard) become sub-surface water and then when it hit the back of the old wall it was no longer below the frostline, Freeze, crack.

One of the Engineers that visited the site before he dumped me mentioned a "Bench and Key" system of drains. Essentially negative sloping ground above some of the walls to a perf drain

Talk me off this ledge!-bench-key.jpg


I may go as far as adding a Curtain Drain at the very top wall to collect some of my neighbor's sub-surface water. Essentially a deep trench of gravel with perf pipe at the bottom. Drain both ends around the edges of the property line. "Water checks in, but it don't check out"

Talk me off this ledge!-curtain-drain.jpg
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Old 06-05-2011, 06:55 AM   #39
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Also looking into Soil Stabilizing High Pressure Grouts. AKA Jet Grouting

Essentially "Micro-cement" blown into the cracks that hardens and holds. Don't know much about it yet, other than they use it in tunnel construction a lot to stop up weeping cracks.

Need to look into cost and methods of application.
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Old 06-05-2011, 06:58 AM   #40
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Quote:
"Water checks in, but it don't check out"
Sorry, for those of you under 40, its a joke reference to the old Roach Motel brand of roach traps. Their slug line was "Roaches check in, but they don't check out"
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Old 06-06-2011, 05:37 AM   #41
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Worked on some more hand excavation yesterday. Just getting some basic terraces in right now, nothing deep enough to preclude just putting up new drystack walls. Makes it easier to move around the site.

Running into more and more of this PA sh*tstone. I decided I'd hose it off for a minute or two just to see if I could "separate the men from the boys" structurally speaking.

I figured if I could wash away some of the smaller pieces, I would be left with something approaching a usable ledge. The stuff disintegrates! I was making gravel!

I'll try and post some pics and video later today.
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Old 06-06-2011, 05:51 AM   #42
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I'm thinking our PA ledge opens up a few new possiblities while closing a couple of doors as well.

My original plan of a counterforte wall or cantilever styles are probably right out the door. I can't see any sense excavating back into ledge in order to pour a wide footer which I would then backfill with busted ledge? Seems like a no brainer

Even though our PA ledge is so ugly and fractured it does still have a very high Angle Of Repose. This should translate into thinner and lighter walls (A theory supported by the garbage construction of the previous walls which were essentially just fieldstone stood up on knife edge, stacked one atop the other and leaning against the ledge)

Structural Gunnite or Shotcrete. This is what I'm looking into this morning while I have my coffee. Some method of draining it must be available. Essentially a waterproof backing with a weeping face but I have not seen that yet.

More to come. Have a good day all
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Old 06-06-2011, 06:17 AM   #43
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YouTube Video up! Posted my first YouTube Video (Everybody say ooooh, aaaaah)

Search under "PA sandstone retaining walls"

Boy, its true what they say about video adding pounds! Like 30!

That's one serious ham hock!
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Old 06-16-2011, 11:10 AM   #44
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Ok I have to RANT a little!

I'm really starting to feel like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. The scene where she comes back from her failed shopping trip on Rodeo Dr and starts crying to the Hotel Manager about not being able to buy a dress.

"No, its not OK. Its not . See, I have all this money and no one would help me and I, and I have to buy a dress."

What is it with Contractors! I know its a big project but d***, its doable and I'm paying so why no return phone calls.

I figure its one of two things:

a) They only want the "low hanging fruit" and we're not even talking about fruit on this job.

b) Because I want to keep costs under control by doing some of the grunt work they figure I'm what is known is a "Grinder". Someone who is not willing to pay until every last ounce of profit has been squeezed out of the job. I know I like to get a good deal but not at the expense of someone's livelihood

At this point I am ready to just start advertising in the local paper.

CONTRACTORS: If you like MONEY call me 555-GET-PAID
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Old 06-16-2011, 09:16 PM   #45
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Sorry you feel the way you do.

I think you have the problem figured out, most contractors could very well be seeing warning signs on the project. In their defense, a contractor really carries no obligation to bid projects they're neither interested in nor think they profit at.

After a short amount of time, most any semi-intelligent contractor will develop a "defense" system to protect themselves from jobs that they feel they will lose their shirt on. You can't really blame them, as it really is a career, where many times DIY is predominantly a hobby. Whatever the case, it may be that you're sending some negative vibes to the contractor pool that you're dealing with. Hopefully you can find the right contractor that will be interested in the project.

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