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Huff and Puff

We survived the storms! Between the torrential downpours and the high winds, my site has been under attack.  But both I and my tarp have survived I am pleased to say. With 2.5″ of raining falling in less than a 24 hour period, I would say the tarp has passed with flying colours on the water shedding task.  There has been zero ponding.  So the new shape is working well.

It also survived some really large wind gusts over the last few days.  Counter to what I previously reported, we actually have had a lot of updrafts that have billowed the tarp straight up.  It is quite unnerving but the tarp has held up quite well.  The NW previously damaged corner has some minor ripping that I will repair this weekend.  This is on the side that did not have the full rope structure system setup, so it is amazing that the damage was not worse.  The south tension line also came undone which is why you now see some sag when you look at the tarp in the web cams.  This is an easy fix as I can reach this connection when the main cable is lowered (unlike the north side that requires an arbourist to climb the tree).

So I will fix these two items this weekend, but I am also planning further strengthening of the system with more rope lines, including some lines that will go over the tarp to restrain it somewhat during the uplifts.  My vendor is out of rope, so I will have to wait a week or so for new stock before I can implement these enhancements.

This week has seen some progress in the pit floor. Wednesday morning was used up fixing the fan belt on the tractor.  What should have been a 30 minute job took a lot longer due to belt sizing issues.  The first purchase had the wrong belt in the package.  The second attempt had the right belt in the package, but I had underestimated the belt size needed (I was just using an automotive belt instead of genuine Bobcat belt, as I did not want to take the time to go all the way out to Surrey for just a belt – in the end I used up just as much time). Third time was a charm and we were running by about 11:30 AM. I spent the rest of my day  consolidating the soil to remove from the pit, strengthening the batter boards that Ted and I had put up the previous 2 days, and finishing the digging of the west and some of the south perimeter footings, and then finally scraping off the mud on the pit floor about 15′ back from the west wall in prep for some more stone slinging.

Ted joined me again on Thursday for what was supposed to be more batter board layout, but storm water management became the theme of the day.  We had to return a pump that was under performing and I bought another of the electronic units I like instead.  Now all three are the 1/3 HP Pump and interchangeable.  This was followed by not one, but two pumps developing stuck impellers (bits of gravel typically caused from me doing work close by and disturbing the area).  I had also started off the day with the north pump working well but not putting out any volume.  Took 15 minutes to figure out that a small piece of gravel had jammed the check valve, I installed in the piping, partially closed.

Once the pumps were all working again, I had to again re-scrape the mud off the pit floor at the back 20 or so ft, because the pit had flooded again and I was having crushed rock blown in with the slinger later that day.  We finally got started with the planned tasks for the day around noon. I dug out part of the garage’s east footings so they would be ready for the gravel.

Once done, Ted and I started laying out the batter boards for the western most internal footing (for some bearing walls in basement).  Soon thereafter, Raj from RRR Slinger Services arrived to sling a load of gravel.  I used RRR because they were $5 a ton cheaper than Superior which works out to about $100 per load.  J&R were the cheapest (by another $5 a ton) but were fully booked this week as they were running only one truck with the other in the shop.  I will probably use J&R for the final loads that I will need.  Once the gravel was done, Ted and I went back to the layout and finished the one set of batter boards for the internal footing and called it a day as it getting dark before 5PM and I do not have any flood lights set up yet.

Ted was busy with real life today, but my Father-In-Law returned to the site for the first time since before the excavation started.  We spent the morning building a shelving unit for salvaged wood that has been stacked on the ground.  It is soaked and in my way.  I have floor trusses in storage in Quebec that I am being pressured to have shipped by warehouse.  SO I will clear a place at the front of the site by moving all of the salvaged wood to a new storage location. We finished up just prior to lunch when Raj arrived for the second load of crushed rock I had ordered.  This finished up the areas I had prepared to date and left me a few stockpiles around the pit floor that I can use to bring the footing areas to final grade (I am generally just getting gravel down on the pit floor at this point so that the mud is stopped).

After lunch Eric worked on starting to load the new shelves with the wood, sorting it by length.  I went down to the pit floor and started moving dirt.  The idea was to move all the dirt, that needs to be removed from the pit, right up against to pit wall by the ramp, and then creating a platform part way up the ramp that I could park Alfie on to allow me to grab the dirt from the bottom of the pit and swing around and dump to the top of the pit.

This all went quite well – at first!  I was consolidating the dirt against the ramp and then build a shallower ramp that I tried to climb up on.   The soil was too wet and slippery, so I lined the ramp with wood pallets.  This allowed me to get Alfie about 2/3 of the way out of the pit hole and on the top of my temp ramp.  Poor guy probably thought he was finally free.  I was working away, digging the soil from the furthest reaches at the bottom so that I would be able to reach it all once I positioned myself on the platform I dug into the original ramp.  Then I looked down.

Soil has liquefied and I am going down.
Soil has liquefied and I am going down.

I was sinking and fast.  The vibration of the machine had liquefied the wet soil (have I told you how much I hate this soil!)  This photo was taken just as the ‘soil’ was cresting over the top of the tracks.  In the end, I sunk down so that it was almost coming into the cab.  There was no way I was driving the machine out of this one.  At this point the bottom of the tracks was about 5ft above the pit bottom.  I could swing the turret, but there was no way I could drive out or even push my machine into the air with the boom, because of the suction created by this goo around my machine. So the only hing I could think of was to dig my way down!  I continually dug the pile out around 3 sides of me and as I did so, the goop under me would flow out and I would get closer to the pit bottom elevation. After 45 minutes or so, I hit solid ground again and then was able to drive/pull myself out.  It was now dark and I was done for the day.

I am now going to have to come up with a new plan.  It is clear this stuff is going to be too wet to climb over with Alfie (even though it has been under a tarp for a couple of weeks now).  Diamond 11 machines are too big to work in such tight quarters now that the ramp is in place (last thing they dug before they left) and now that the tarp is lower.  I asked for a quote from a Vac Excavation service and they have not bothered to return my call.  I looked into a portable conveyor and it would cost $1800 for the week and would need all kinds of scaffolding to be built as it could only operate at a max of 40 degree grade. SO my current preference is to rent a larger mini-excavator. One that could reach the bottom of the pit from the top of the pit.  I would use Alfie to push all the dirt to the pit wall, and the larger machine to lift it out and stockpile in the front yard (to be used for back-fill later).

I would also use this machine to unload the floor trusses when they arrive, and once all of the dirt was out of the hole, and all the footings were dug, I would use to it pull Alfie up the ramp and to freedom.  That would be the plan anyway and we now how well I do at following plans 🙂

Thanks for visiting.

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