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Thursday, November 12, 2015

bob the builder 3


BOB THE BUILDER 3

For years minions had been recommending a backhoe to quickly dig a pit for living, whereas I was so broke ( minimum wage, two wives to support ) I dug the thing by hand, a grand total of about $75 for a shovel and Maddox pick and a cheap wheelbarrow.  A backhoe would have been two to three grand.  And that is the first thing I’d do to improve things, hire the machine to dig a ten by thirty hole six to eight foot deep.  That would give me three times the living space of the current B-POD which would make all the difference in the world.  You might look at your palatial McMansion and note your walk in closet is almost two hundred square feet and fail to imagine how anyone could be comfortable in there, but I’m used to underground living in 75 square feet, or travel trailer living of 200.  Even living in town right now we only have 400 square feet and most of that is wasted space through poor design ( a house was turned into a tri-plex for rental income, so most rooms are compromises and afterthoughts ).  If I could take the square footage of a travel trailer and build it to my specifications, trailers designed for traveling and not really for living, that space would be for me more than enough. 

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Now, three grand might be too much.  Two would be an extravagance ( and that is me only paying half for a total of one thousand ).  My plan then would be to take whatever I could afford and tell the guy to dig a trench ten foot long and eight deep and then start working out towards that hypothetical thirty foot long, all the while working in chunks down to the bottom ( depth rather than length being the priority ).  If you are digging a pit by hand, you do NOT want to scrape off the top the whole sized hole continuously.  Digging straight down is hard work.  You dig your first trench down to the bottom ( keeping in mind you don’t want it so narrow it can cave in on you.  I like knowing I can survive those.  Down to eight foot, I’d go a minimum six feet across.  This way, while the first hole is a bitch, digging straight down, the rest of the digging is relatively easier.  Because you are going across from the bottom and when you swing your pick sideways at the bottom, gravity collapses all that above the indentation.  Rather than breaking up soil laboriously every inch down you are working hard the first foot then the other seven feet just need a gentle reminder that nothing is holding them up ( if your soil is very wet, this is dangerous and does not apply.  I’m speaking from experience with bone ass dry clay and sand ).  Your main work is pushing the dirt up to the top ( research, Low Tech Magazine, the Chinese wheelbarrows that are designed better and which require less work-although if I recall correctly they might be two man units ).  If money is tight for the backhoe, spend what you have letting the machine do the hardest work.

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13 comments:

  1. I rented a bob-cat with front loader for a week - 7 days - cost for the rental was $1000, cost for the fuel was @$30/day (diesel) for a grand total of @$1300 and a week of vacation time. During that week sun up to sun down (@12 hours a day) except for hour long lunch breaks that machine was in use (and was FUN to use - at least for the first couple of days). During that week, I excavated 1/8 mile of ditches, 50 foot by 20 foot by up to 8 foot deep beginnings of the house excavation, a 16 foot by 16 foot by 7 foot cistern excavation, a 25 by 40 foot garage shop excavation also up to 8 feet deep, and a several hundred foot long driveway and turn around spot. Our soil is "pre-caliche" so not as hard as yours Jim, but solid clay and sand with a little gravel for variety. It stays near vertical with no support over a period of years. Excavation with the bob-cat used the same sort of techniques you used with a shovel - namely digging down a hole first (with ramp to pull out the left overs, fortunately most of my excavating was into hillsides so didn't need a ramp) followed by attacking the 'wall' of the side you want to dig in.
    Learning to drive the bob cat took less than a 1/4 hour, learning to use it efficiently took about 2-4 hours.
    We want to rent it again for another week to finish excavating the house site (to extend the 20 foot width to 60 foot) put in a root cellar, and a pond, and do another 1/2 mile of ditches. The speed and effectiveness of the machine rental vs. doing it by hand is HUGE, and if you have the money well worth it. The rental included drop off, and pickup, and a little advice on how to best slope the road for drainage.
    So I don't plan to ever use shovel work for anything but trenches for plumbing, and finishing up the edges of big holes.
    Rent the equipment you need- its the way to go.

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    1. Sounds like a very productive vacation. Mine, when I can get them, involved recliner time almost exclusively.

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  2. remus is back !

    http://woodpilereport.com/

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    1. He's been posting unofficially for a couple of months - every other day - so even more than he did originally. Though, it's been strictly news links. Glad to see he's added the pictures. It makes the doom news much more bearable.

      Glad to see he made a return. I love my Ol' Remus.

      Though, his hair is not near as silky as Jim's.

      Idaho Homesteader

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    2. I love Ol' Remus myself, but the poor bastard has been sucked into an orbit he can't escape. I feel for him.

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  3. Jim call around to local septic tank company's or other company's . talk to them and ask what they would charge if they did it at " their convenience". With winter coming you will be surprised how much a difference it could be. 300 delivery plus 50 to 100 $ an hour for a good operator moves a lot of dirt. What you want done shouldn't take more than 6 hours. Compare that to how long it would take by hand at X per hour your pay.
    Simple math for every 8 hour you dig is one time you have to miss sex .How's the backhoe looking now?

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    1. I think it was more like one hour of digging per :)

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    2. Excellent idea, Gary. It would be interesting so see how cheap a person could put in the cistern going this route.

      Jim, when it comes to cisterns, bigger really is better so don't be a cheapskate. Get at least 1000 gallons or bigger.

      You can always use the extra water. Plus, it's not as cost effective to bring out a backhoe for a small hole. It would take him an extra 15 minutes of digging for a bigger cistern.

      Idaho Homesteader

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  4. The Storey's publication on building a root cellar (I sent you a copy some time back James) describes a cellar with a 7' ceiling. You dug down 4' and 3' remained above ground. After covering the above ground portion with polyethylene, and straw bale flakes, you then covered the remainder with left over Earth. The point being that there is less digging, and you still have a well insulated structure. The project requires even less effort if building into the side of a hill.

    You can opt to go with less ceiling height if you do not mind having to kneel when in the structure at a greatly reduced effort. You're then probably looking at around a 2' deep hole. This probably wouldn't work for you James, since you're trying to woo a female into living in this thing, but it's something to consider for some of your lone wolf followers.

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    1. Covered in Friday's article. BTW, there are 8 articles in the series.

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  5. What about digging 1/2 way down instead ? Dig down 4 feet, build your structure, then pile the excavated around the walls and a foot of dirt on top. Leaving clerestory windows uncovered (unless you want to go full on 'mole people') and your door. Or install a roof hatch instead of a door if you like. Green stuff grows on dirt and you pretty well set for dirt insulated home that doesn't stand out like a house does. Straight lines, vertical and horizontals angles really doen't exist very much in the natural landscape.

    Thanks for the article. And yeah Anon 2:32 - glad to see Remus posting again too, really interesting reading there.

    Big points for digging out the pit yourself - sounds like major work.

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    1. Well, you pretty much described Friday's post.

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    2. Lol - holy crap, move over Carnac ! :^)

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