DIY Home Improvement Forum banner
41 - 60 of 80 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,449 Posts
Discussion Starter · #41 · (Edited)
How deep is that trench? looks awful shallow.
I need to do a bit of explaining on this one. :laughing:

The power conduit almost immediately tapers down to about 3' deep (30" minumum) and the phone conduit is only about 12 to 18" deep at this point. To the right just out of the picture the phone conduit tapers down to the depth of the power conduit. When I first started this project I was told that phone service wouldn't be available but they were very nice and gave me a free roll of direct burial wire just in case it became available in the future. My plan was to just lay it in the trench about 18" down thinking I would never get a chance to use it. Then I started thinking about all of the rocks and gnawing animals and thought how stupid this was so I decided to run it in conduit.

Since I started out with only a power conduit I chose to use a 12" bucket. Luckily, I left 18” depth of trench open for laying the wire in so when I changed my mind about the conduit I didn’t have to dig anything back up as I never installed the wire yet. When I started laying the phone conduit I realized that I was doing double the work. Making a nice smooth bed for the conduit twice at 2 different levels and making sure the soil was compacted vertically between the conduits so the top conduit wouldn’t be damaged from settling. Then I got the bright idea to switch to a 24” bucket and lay both conduits in the bottom and be done with it. The hoe digs a 24” trench just as fast as a 12” trench and things are going much faster now. I’m finding other advantages with the wider trench as well but this is getting too wordy.

Fast forward one year later. I received an e-mail from the phone company a few weeks ago saying that the railroad granted permission to cross their tracks with the phone wire. Originally it was thought that the very old poles were only high enough for the power wires and no utilities. I was one happy camper to hear that all of this extra work wasn’t in vain. But if I hadn’t of buried the extra conduit I would have felt horrible. Today and tomorrow there is a crew on location stringing a phone line across the tracks and a 100’ wide river. :thumbup:

Ohhhhhh! I'm such a slow typer. Here is a pic of my 36" radius sweeps that Frenchie mentioned.

P5160024.jpg
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,449 Posts
Discussion Starter · #42 ·
Power company around here would never let that distance fly, they would require a few pull boxes.
I forgot to mention that an engineer from the power company designed this run onsite and there are no other options for different routes. I wonder though, what would be the outcome and who is responsible if they can't make the pull?
 

·
E2 Electrician
Joined
·
5,655 Posts
I forgot to mention that an engineer from the power company designed this run onsite and there are no other options for different routes. I wonder though, what would be the outcome and who is responsible if they can't make the pull?
I dont understand why he wouldn't want a pull box, the pulling tension alone on the wire is going to be ridiculous.... plus ordering ONE cut of wire, etc, etc... i see no benefit of making this run continuous.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,449 Posts
Discussion Starter · #44 · (Edited)
I dont understand why he wouldn't want a pull box, the pulling tension alone on the wire is going to be ridiculous.... plus ordering ONE cut of wire, etc, etc... i see no benefit of making this run continuous.
There are going to be 3 pulls, 400', 500', and 900'. It is impossible to get the wire truck and pull truck any closer than 900'. I suppose if all else fails another pull point could be installed half way down the hill but they would have to somehow hand carry the wire to the location and use a portable puller. I'm not sure if they are set up for this, and if they are, it would possibly be a last resort.

This is a killer steep hill and it gets so narrow that the wheels of my hoe will barely fit on the trail that has a near vertical 20' drop off on one side. Even with both rear wheels locked and driving the back hoe can't make it up this hill without loosing traction, so taking any sort of truck down there is not an option. I'm not even sure if I will have enough room for the spoils. I may have to switch back to the 12" bucket which will really suck.

Quite honestly, I think the wire will almost pull itself down the hill and I'm more worried about the 500' pull which was just plain ugly trying to get through the 2 creeks digging blind through muddy water and muck.
 

·
Electrical Contractor
Joined
·
1,994 Posts
I would bet that the engineer knows they can do it if they approved this.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
5,990 Posts
Quite honestly, I think the wire will almost pull itself down the hill and I'm more worried about the 500' pull which was just plain ugly trying to get through the 2 creeks digging blind through muddy water and muck.
This can be easily confirmed or disproved if you know the coefficient of friction between the cable and the pipe, and the pitch of the hill.

This a good test question! It depends on how much wire is already in the pipe.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,449 Posts
Discussion Starter · #48 ·
Thought I'd bump this to the top. Did Zappa ever finish this project? :confused1:
Thanks for asking. I started digging May of last year and I’m running out of steam.:( Digging is fun, laying the conduit gives me a great sense of accomplishment, but backfilling while protecting the conduit from an enormous amount of rocks is killing me and I feel that I have bitten off more than I can chew.

I have only installed 40 more feet of conduit since the pictures I posted and that work was done yesterday. I have a pretty serious predicament with this hill and I’m hesitant to continue without a plan. In order to get back on top to use the machine to backfill I have to go all the way down the hill and make about a mile trip. The problem is, my hoe has a very difficult time getting back up the hill so I can continue digging and I may not make be able to get back up the hill after backfilling from the top. I could just dig all the way down and lay the conduit without backfilling but I would be taking a huge risk if we got a heavy rain. I’m also trying to preserve as much vegetation as I can because of erosion problems and the spoil piles will kill it if left sitting for too long. What I really need is a mini excavator that can stay on top to backfill and a whole bunch of laborers would be really really nice.:yes: I’m starting to think I may have to hire someone to do the rest of the hill as I can’t take a large amount of time off of work and the property is 2 ½ hours away from my home.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
598 Posts
A little secret to digging,you always put your spoil piles at least 18"-24" from the edge of your ditch,that way if you have to walk back out over your ditch with a machine you can.

This also gives you easy access to your ditch on foot while working,and it leaves an area to help you sort through your material as you back fill.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,449 Posts
Discussion Starter · #50 ·
A little secret to digging,you always put your spoil piles at least 18"-24" from the edge of your ditch,that way if you have to walk back out over your ditch with a machine you can.

This also gives you easy access to your ditch on foot while working,and it leaves an area to help you sort through your material as you back fill.
Thanks for the tip Ravenworks and I will give this a try with a few modifications. The hill gets much narrower then the pics show and I don’t have the room to move the piles away from the trench. I tried moving the spoil piles as you suggested on the exit to one of the creeks last year in case I had to get back in and it turned out to be a huge mistake. I bed and protect the conduits from rocks by standing in the trench and pulling clean fill in with a garden hoe to about 6” above the conduits. As long as the dirt is right next to the trench it just slides right in with minimal work. Place it just a foot away and the amount of work goes up dramatically.

I hate the thought of switching back to a 12” bucket but it may be better in this case. It would decrease the size of the spoil pile but I still want to keep it right next to the trench because I will have to pull about 12” of soil on top of the bottom conduit as separation for the top conduit. What I can do however, is place the pile away from the trench toward the end of my work for the weekend which will allow room to drive past that part and get to the piles I wish to fill the trench with. The only thing I’m not sure of is the hoe being able to go up the hill without loosing traction as I won’t be able to claw my way up with the backhoe without damaging the conduit in the trench. I got the machine up the hill last time by fully extending the hoe out horizontally which put enough weight on the rear wheels so I think that may work. A 4WD drive hoe sure would be nice to have for this job.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
598 Posts
Being an old Ford four stick man and I can feel your pain,I feel like a dinoaur since the invention of the "Mini" I have relented over the last few years especially on our current project.
I remember when Bobcats first came out,we all laughed at them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,449 Posts
Discussion Starter · #52 ·
Would that be a 555? Yup…..the only people buying 2 WD drive hoe’s are crazy DIYers and farmers.

Another machine that has been made obsolete by the larger excavators is the track loader. I bought this monster for digging my basement and land clearing. It came in handy clearing a path for my electric trench.

P5210016.jpg


P8110003.jpg
 

·
Cruising into the sunset
Joined
·
612 Posts
Zappa, you certainly took on a project! WOW!

It kind of reminds me of my first job in the trades, a Six Flags where we installed miles of PCV and had some whopper long runs but I don't think we hit 900'. The longest I remember is 750' and that had (4) 750 MCM in it. The rope broke just as we were making the final 90 out of the ground.

The direction of the pull is always a controversy. Around here, we usually pull up because of the control factor. But there was one foreman who decided it would be easier to pull down. A 17 story building, a 500 MCM ground, a few junction boxes and several 90s.

While feeding in the cable from the penthouse floor the weight took over. There were three guys on top. They couldn't stop the reel. The cable sped up and all anyone could do was watch it run. In the end, the cable fed completely off the reel, broke apart the conduit at the basement level at a 90 elbow and about 95% of the cable ended up on the floor of the basement.

Needless to say, the foreman had a lot of splainin' to do.

But while most here pull wire up, the utility companies usually pull down. If they have brakes on the reels, that's fine, but I've seen them do it without it. :eek: And a couple of times they had their hands full.

Zappa, good luck with this venture. When it's over, you'll have a lot to talk about. Hope you're taking lots of pictures because most people wouldn't have a clue what it takes to accomplish this feat. :thumbup:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,449 Posts
Discussion Starter · #54 ·
Thanks for the nice wishes and great stories Julie! I can't imagine the scare of that much heavy wire free falling 17 stories and those 3 guys just standing there with a blank face looking at each other when it was all over. blink.gif

I'm only about 200' down the hill (and 200' of flat before the hill) and already my pull rope and phone wire are starting to scare me a bit by pulling too easily. After reading your story I need to pay closer attention to that and come up with a braking system before it's too late. :yes:

I have taken lots of snaps right from the start of the project. Digital cameras are such a cool invention.
 

·
Cruising into the sunset
Joined
·
612 Posts
That 500MCM running out of control down that pipe did a lot of damage. It blew out about 30' of conduit in the basement and smashed whatever was in the way. Luckily, it was far enough away from the guy running the tugger and no one was in the vicinity of the blown out pipe when it happened.

That was over 20 years ago but after that I never fed downhill unless absolutely necessary. You'd think adding all that weight pulling up would stress the wire but I've done pulls as high as 400' vertical without any problems.

If you're heading downhill, make sure you have a surefire braking system in place. Once it starts to run, it's tough to stop.

BTW, that broken pull rope story... it broke about 2' before the wire came out of the ground. One of the guys on the job spent a couple of hours threading tie wire, over and over, through the eye on the pulling head and created another eye above the ground. He used a couple of rolls in the process. Everyone was doubting it would work but sure enough we finished the pull.

It was feeding a two-story merry-go-round. Guys were still working on assembling it and the sheave was attached to the bottom of the second level. During the pull, the whole thing was shaking and the guys working on the second level cleared the deck. This is it:


I started my apprenticeship on that job. LOTS of stories there!

You'll have a great story with your project. Good luck. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,449 Posts
Discussion Starter · #56 ·
I made it through the third and final spring creek this weekend, what a relief! The power and phone sweeps are about 850’ up the steep hill at this point. My pull rope and phone line got real easy to feed but gravity didn’t quite overtake friction so I averted a self feeding disaster.

P8250004.jpg



Looks easy enough right? Piece of cake compared to the 2 larger creeks I went through last summer.

P8250013.jpg



Just a few rocks and a slight bit of water gurgling through.

P8250002.jpg



WRONG!!!! :eek: :eek:

P8250016.jpg



How did all of this junk come out of a such little trench.

P8250017.jpg


P8250021.jpg


 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,449 Posts
Discussion Starter · #57 · (Edited)
Plan B.....umm and C

It went seriously downhill from here. It’s like working blindfolded in the dark unless you can get the water out so you can see to make a nice smooth and firm bottom in the trench. No problem, fire up the pump and take care of business. Well, there was lots of flow and the water was loaded with so much junk that the pump kept getting clogged. This little road was built about 150 years ago and whatever rock they put in this crossing was completely mucked up so the water had no place to go. It took a lot of work but I had to claw a trench perpendicular to the hoe because there was no room to position on either side. The result was this huge canyon across the road and down a steep bank.

P8250025.jpg



The next problem was the 2’ of quick sand in the bottom of the trench. You can’t simply lay the conduit in it because there are sharp rocks under the sand and the conduit will continue sinking and eventually rip itself apart after everything is backfilled. I learned from the other 2 creeks that firming the bottom up can eat serious amounts of expensive gravel. This time I kept throwing large rocks in until my boots stopped being pulled off of my feet and then filled with gravel until the bottom was firm and didn’t pump. Also learned from the other creeks that the trench gets MUCH MUCH wider then you want because the sides keep caving in. Since there are no shortage of rocks here, they make a good filler which means less gravel and they do a good job of protecting the conduits.

P8260052.jpg



Lay in the conduit and you have a nice protected channel with much less gravel wasted. A bag of Sakrete comes in handy to hold the conduit down in the bed because they want to float up in the water.

P8260059.jpg


P8260065.jpg


P8260064.jpg


P8260061.jpg


I still have quite a mess on my hands but at least the conduit is in and protected from whatever might want to cave in on it. I will fill in around it with lots of large rocks and I might as well lay some drain pipe in the bottom of the canyon to keep the area from flooding when the wet season comes along.


 
41 - 60 of 80 Posts
Top