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Old 04-28-2012, 02:37 PM   #16
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The Big Dig! (redoing a retaining wall around my driveway)


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Originally Posted by teamcampreder View Post
I have a relatively large crew coming tomorrow (5 people), and we are at the point where we need to dig out the trench for the leveling pad and base course. I thought it would be smart to mark off the area I want dug with some kind of spray or chalk. I have to run to home depot today to get a rubber mallet anyway, does anyone have any suggestions?
Rubber mallet for what?
Do you have glue for the wall stones?
Do you have crushed stone for the footing and a plate tamper to compact the stone?
Are you going to put under drain behind the wall followed by # 57's for drainage?

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Old 04-30-2012, 08:34 AM   #17
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The Big Dig! (redoing a retaining wall around my driveway)


I have the crushed stone for the footing (versalok documentation calls it a leveling pad, I guess we are talking about same thing). You can actually see it in front of the garage in my last picture.

I have the glue, but am only using it for the cap stones, per versalok guidelines. The SRW units have interlocking pins, and should not be glued to allow some flexing during freeze thaw cycles.

The rubber mallet is to make fine tuned adjustments to the blocks once I am building up to get everything flush, again recommended by Versalok. I tried it while I was re stacking the blocks and found it to be very helpful. I wouldn't want to use my hammer for risk of cracking the block or scoring the face.

I do have the 4 inch drain that is going to run along the back of the base course.

I don't know what #57s are, but using context clues, I assume you mean the 3/4th inch drainage aggregate, which I don't have yet, but just need to call for the dump truck to bring it. I didn't have it come at the same time as everything else, because I needed to consolidate the pallets of blocks.

I have a hand tamper which I am going to use for the footing, but will be using a plate compactor for the back-filling process. My boss actually owns one, and is going to let me borrow it, which is great! I have hand tamped other things around my property and don't mind it as much as everyone said I would, just going to take my time.

Maybe you misunderstood my question, I was really asking about any products that could be used to safely mark off dirt, like a spray or chalk product, without contamination. I had some flags left over from when I called 811 (call before you dig), and marked off the work area with those so we could all dig at the same time.

Thanks anyway
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Old 04-30-2012, 05:48 PM   #18
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The Big Dig! (redoing a retaining wall around my driveway)


Before you even start you need to get excellent compaction on your footer,this is the single MOST important thing besides drainage.
If you have already started you need to seriously consider what I am about to say and possibly take down what you already have up.
Once you own a wall you will notice how other peoples walls end up wavy and the root cause is improper footing or bed as you called it

To achieve this:
Forget the hand tamper and use the plate tamper ; compact it 1/2" to 1" high. Then cut it back down with a screed (board) using a string line or transit.This will assure you a solid virgin bed to build from.
I can not stress enough how important this step is.
Yes # 57 gravel is 3/4" and # 8's are about 3/8" to 1/2"
As for paint buy marking paint that is chalk based.
As for the mallet,use a block of wood and a hammer and save the money you paid for it and buy beer.
If you didn't have a mallet I will be over with my block of wood if you got beer !!!

Last edited by Ravenworks; 04-30-2012 at 05:52 PM.
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Old 05-01-2012, 07:39 AM   #19
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The Big Dig! (redoing a retaining wall around my driveway)


Sunday's Work:

Consolidated the blocks to make room for the drainage aggregate (#57). There is no access to my backyard from anywhere on the property, so the driveway has to hold all the materials.



And another shot for good measure



Regarding the plate compactor, I will consider it raven, but its worth mentioning that you are the only one out of my many sources who has said the hand tamper will not do the job right. Is it more difficult and time consuming? Yes. I don't mind that. It seems to me though that it will acheive the same level of compaction after a thorough pounding.

That being said, you put the bug in my ear, and I REALLY only want to do this once, so I may end up renting one for next week now. I know your simply trying to assist, and I appreciate that.
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Old 05-01-2012, 08:46 AM   #20
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The Big Dig! (redoing a retaining wall around my driveway)


looks like an easy site layout for using a plate tamper, certainly something to consider.
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Old 05-01-2012, 05:09 PM   #21
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The Big Dig! (redoing a retaining wall around my driveway)


A hand tamper and a plate tamper can not even be compared,I know you are putting a butt load of work into this.
On a serious note,here is what I would do,rent the tamper on a Sat afternoon and take it back on Monday and pay one day rental.
As I said before,the first course is the most important.
Next,order more crushed stone you don't have near enough,the first course of block only need to be installed 1/2 way into the ground . "stone is cheaper than block"
See if you can barrow a transit or one of those DIY lasers and shoot a couple places so you can transfer your elevations to a batter board,
Employ the string line from the batter boards for the first two or three courses then use a two foot level from there .
Wait until you get at least three courses installed before you install drain tile (pipe),then back fill with stone,alternating to dirt to tie into your existing dirt as you build.
The dirt will help hold the stone back as you come up
The stone needs to come all the way up as you build at least two feet wide from the wall.
We set Volkswagen size blocks on highways all the time and believe it or not they rest on crushed stone most of the time.
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Old 05-02-2012, 05:01 PM   #22
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The Big Dig! (redoing a retaining wall around my driveway)


Wow, this really is the "big dig". Looking good so far.

Weather looks like crap for the next few days, at least the weekend looks like it's going to be dry so far.
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Old 05-04-2012, 11:37 AM   #23
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The Big Dig! (redoing a retaining wall around my driveway)


So it has been pretty much raining all week, and the bottom of my trench is pretty wet. Its clay, and has about a 1/2 inch of give to it all the way around. I have the day off today though. Any thoughts on whether or not I can start filling in the gravel while that bottom part is that wet?

I would definitely recompact and relevel before I started laying any blocks down.
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Old 05-04-2012, 12:08 PM   #24
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The Big Dig! (redoing a retaining wall around my driveway)


I would remove as much water, and "muck" out as much slime at the bottom as possible. Depending on how much "fines" are in your aggregate, and how wet it is, it maybe able to be compacted in. What we typically do is install a few inches of 1" fractured limestone (no fines) as it will typically absorb some of the moisture as well as bind tight any of the loose soil. The soil doesn't need to be as hard as a rock, the walls are intended to allow for some flex with frost, etc...

As for compacting, one more vote for the plate compacter, it will do a far superior job. We usually set a form on the inside to top of footing height, install & compact gravel in 3-4" lifts max., and screed the last lift off with a short level to ensure the pad is level front-to-back. Once completely compacted, the gravel should be 1/2" too 1" low, which is just enough to fine-level off with mason sand to get it perfect.

One last thing, unless you're going to be installing grid, there really is little need or use for a plate compactor for the backfilling process.

Good luck, those "babies" are 82#'s a piece.........
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Old 05-04-2012, 04:18 PM   #25
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The Big Dig! (redoing a retaining wall around my driveway)


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Originally Posted by jomama45 View Post
I would remove as much water, and "muck" out as much slime at the bottom as possible. Depending on how much "fines" are in your aggregate, and how wet it is, it maybe able to be compacted in. What we typically do is install a few inches of 1" fractured limestone (no fines) as it will typically absorb some of the moisture as well as bind tight any of the loose soil. The soil doesn't need to be as hard as a rock, the walls are intended to allow for some flex with frost, etc...

As for compacting, one more vote for the plate compacter, it will do a far superior job. We usually set a form on the inside to top of footing height, install & compact gravel in 3-4" lifts max., and screed the last lift off with a short level to ensure the pad is level front-to-back. Once completely compacted, the gravel should be 1/2" too 1" low, which is just enough to fine-level off with mason sand to get it perfect.

One last thing, unless you're going to be installing grid, there really is little need or use for a plate compactor for the backfilling process.

Good luck, those "babies" are 82#'s a piece.........
What he said 100 %
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Old 05-04-2012, 07:55 PM   #26
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The Big Dig! (redoing a retaining wall around my driveway)


Universe (and ravenworks): You win.

I went outside today do some measuring and line leveling around the curve of the wall, and decided to just try 1 wheelbarrow full of gravel along about 10 feet (so only about a 1/2 inch) with the hand tamper.

It broke. About 10 tamps (?) in.

I concede. I have family plans this sunday, but will be vibratory compacting away next weekend. A big part of this was selling about another 500 into the project (overestimating) to my wife, but I referred her to this thread and she gave in lol. Thanks yall, will check back soon.
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Old 05-04-2012, 09:19 PM   #27
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The Big Dig! (redoing a retaining wall around my driveway)


You'll remember this thread every time you look at your straight wall for years to come.
I can't wait to see it done,by but don't rush to get it done.
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Old 05-05-2012, 12:58 PM   #28
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The Big Dig! (redoing a retaining wall around my driveway)


I wanted to run something by you guys. So a plate compactor is going to cost me 86 dollars for the day @ home depot, haven't really shopped that around too much yet but going to assume its at least somewhat competitive. I am going to need it for at least 5 days, now that I am using it for the base course, I actually am going to have two (the grade steps up around the driveway).

There are some slightly used (according to seller) ads for plate compactors on craigslist. I feel like if I put 500 dollars into one, I could get most of that if not all back when I was done with it. It seems like a pretty simple machine (lawnmower type engine attached to heavy metal plate...). Even if I buy it for 500 and sell it for 300 its still a win in my book.

Any thoughts on this?
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Old 05-05-2012, 02:50 PM   #29
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The Big Dig! (redoing a retaining wall around my driveway)


What brand of a tamper is it ? Make sure it has a Honda engine.
What you should do is call a equipment rental company and rent it by the week,you'll have a new machine for about $ 150 - $200 and be done with it.
Buying a tamper is your choice but I hate to see you spend money on something unknown.
Nations rent is a pretty good choice as is Hertz.
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Old 05-05-2012, 03:24 PM   #30
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The Big Dig! (redoing a retaining wall around my driveway)


renting by the week really doesn't help me out, as I can only work on this project 1=2 days per week at best.

I will take a look at them. Hertz does equipment? Did not know that. Thanks again.

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