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The Little Alfie who could!

It was a great day on two different fronts.  The day started bright and early with me on site by 8:15 (OK- That is early for me).  Sean Wightman from Burley Boys was coming at 9 AM to do the air spading around the trees I am keeping.  Air spading is a process where a high pressure – large volume air house is used to ‘dig’ a trench down below the root zone.  The air pressure blasts the soil away from the roots without traumatizing the roots.  The roots are then trimmed at the trench edge.  This protects the roots outboard of the excavation from being damaged.

This is only typically needed when the excavation line is closer than recommended to the tree (in my case MUCH closer).  Typically, you protect everything below the drip line of the canopy above.  As these cedars have branches that radiate out at least 20ft. this would be the typical protected zone.  But due to the tree location, and the front yard setback, I was needing to get much closer.  When designing the house I  added in a notched setback at this corner to accommodate the tree somewhat, but  I still had an issue with the excavation which needed to be vertical at this location.  As reported earlier, the cost for a driven anchor and shotcrete stabilization for this corner was a staggering THIRTY FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS!  This was clearly not going to happen, so the next option is stacked concrete structural blocks.  These are about $50 a piece, so this corner will only cost around $750. The blocks will stay in place permanently.

BUT, this meant I needed to get even closer to the tree to make room for the 2ft wide blocks. In the end, I needed to be less than 2ft away on the east side and about 7-1/2ft away on the south. Fortunately, we only hit feeder roots in this zone and did not run across a single root that was larger than an inch.  So although the tree will definitely be stressed, there is not a risk that it will not be structurally sound, and it will eventually rebuild its feeder root network.

The second triumph today was the successful completion of the container move from the back to the front yard, much to the shock and amazement of all the spectators including myself.  I am still in somewhat denial that Alfie the tractor was able to get this done.  It was not easy on the girl to be sure.  When it took 30 minutes just to lift one end up 6″, I knew I had a treat in store for me.  But I have a saying “I’ve heard it CAN be done!” Yesterday, after 2.5 hours I was able to get the container rotated so that it was sitting on top of the floor slab.  A task I would not have been able to do if I did not have a double track railroad tie in the yard (was part of the foundation for an outbuilding I have since torn down).  This provided a very hard and slippery surface to rotate the container on and bridged the gap between grade and the top of the slab.

Today’s task was to get the entire container onto the floor, rotate 90 degrees so I could push it through the house to the front, and then the seemingly impossible task of pushing it through the soft soil in the front yard, rotating it 90 degrees again and pushing it back into the newly created pad I made yesterday.

Once the air spading was completed I took a quick run to the transfer station to drop off the vine maple I took down yesterday and to get some diesel for the tractor.  On my return I had a lovely lunch provided by my awesome neighbour Gail, and then set to getting the job done.  The hardest part turned out to be getting the container all the way onto the slab and then onto of the remaining sub-floor.  This took probably an hour during which time my 2 ton hydraulic jack became a heap of twisted metal.

Once fully grounded in the house, the 90 degree turn to get through the house went really fast and smooth.  I then used salvaged 2×6 ceiling joists and lubed them up with veg oil I burn in my truck.  The push through the house literally took seconds.  A deployment of another two lubed joists and a good shove and we were completely in the front yard. Now on a roll (so to speak, more of a grinding slide), I lubed up yet another two joists and placed them perpendicular to the container.  Now it was a fairly simple manner of pushing the front side and the whole thing again rotated 90 degrees. Redeploying some now free joists to the area of the landing pad and I was able to push it all the way home with minimal effort. In fact I pushed it too far and had to pull it back 2ft so it was not on the neighbours side of the property line (fortunately I am higher so it was just intruding on their air space parcel and no damage to their lovely gardens was done.

Another great use for used veg oil. Lube up some 2×6’s and it makes great skids for a 5000+ pound shipping container!

Now sitting in its new home, this shipping container will be used to store all manner of construction supplies. This will keep them dry and with the locked doors and webcams, should also keep them safe.

Now sitting in its new home, this shipping container will be used to store all manner of construction supplies. This will keep them dry and with the locked doors and webcams, should also keep them safe.This all goes to show that the ancient Romans were really smart people (where I got the idea for lubed boards – I was at a museum at the Pont du Gard in Provence where I believe this technique was demonstrated and I guess it stuck with me.  In their case I believe it was animal fat that was used).  I should also confess that part way through the day, I took out 11 – fifty pound sacks of mortar mix out of the container which surely improved my chances of success.

With the container now in its final resting place, I will be able to finish emptying the last items out of the house and proceeding on the balance of the tear down. I have challenged myself to have all of this done by the time Burley Boys come back on the 22nd to limb 4 of the trees and take down the 5th (previously topped and dangerous).

Lets see how I do.  I have heard it can be done!

Thanks for visiting.

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