Monday, November 16, 2020

Moving Rocks

 In this week's fascinating episode on how to wreck the human body . . . . granite stair treads .

August last year I removed mom's front steps in preparation for rebuilding the driveway .

The photo does not show it well , but after forty years the granite slabs had tilted and sunk due to the weight of the right hand side wall sitting on them and they were no longer level . They were so out of kilter that they collected ponds of water and ice in the corners which made them unusable in winter . The elevation of the driveway would be changing anyhow so they needed to be reset and leveled to the new grade. I got estimates for the work that ran over ten thousand dollars . 

Nope , that's not happening while I am around here .

Having consulted with Mr Google I calculated the weight on those slabs to be about six hundred and fifty pounds each , and the rating on that glorified pooper-scooper bucket was about seven hundred pounds when it was new . No telling what it is now seventy years after it left the factory . As there was no way to really pick up the granite slabs with the bucket and still have traction on the rear wheels , I lifted them with my Home Built Skidder Post on the three point hitch . 

The contractor got to us in October last year and dug up the muddy old driveway down about a foot and laid in a liner and new crushed rock .

And beautifully pitched and compacted new gravel . 

And we let it be for a year . 

Then in early September this year the pavers showed up .

And put in the nice hot top pavement . 
 
Beautiful smooth bitumen .
 
We no longer need to go four-wheeling to make it around that bend .
 
 
I can relate to that cat .
 
So last week while we enjoyed a spell of Indian Summer it was my turn to put my best "ugly stripper"  back into it . I went up to Mom's on Tuesday just hoping to shovel out the soil enough while it was still soft and dry and then wait for freeze-up to lay the granite back in place .
 
 
 But I got inspired and figured I'd try my new Flea-bay chineseum $98 forklift tines and see if I could even pick up the slabs .
 
And with the hydraulic oil in the system still relatively cold and the barrel full of rocks in the back as a counterweight , I actually had enough traction to pick up those six hundred and fifty pound granite slabs.
 
And after about two hours of digging dirt and levering the slabs , I had two of them in place . . . 

Three was  a charm .  The fourth one . . . not so much .  Took about five hours work to get this far .

That fourth slab had a big belly on the underside and was considerably heavier than the first three . The worn out and by now hot hydraulics on the tractor had all they could do to lift it six inches off the ground . It's three thirty pm and I'm beat anyhow , how about I call it good for today . I'll sleep on this one and see what I can do about it in the morning .
 
 
Wednesday morning with fresh eyes I figured I got to make it lighter somehow . So after some levering with the six foot bar to stand it up on edge  I set about trying my hand at being Michelangelo . 

Got several decent sized flakes off it and got a larger one started . . . . a minor gain .

Working the seam

So satisfying after beating on it for an hour to see it finally start to give . 
 
Aha . I'll beat you yet you bastard . That had to be fifty pounds right there . See that nice curved shelf there ? I worked that one with the chisel and maul for another forty minutes . . .
 
Got ya now . . . That had to be at least a hundred pounds in one flake . 
I probably took two hundred pounds off it by now .

With the still relatively cold hydraulics , the tractor made easy work of lifting it four feet up this time . 
 
Between getting them in place and actually having them level where I wanted , there was a lot of huffing and puffing levering with the six foot breaker-bar to dig out under them and shim in other places that never made it on camera . 
 
And the last one goes in place .
 
OK its two pm and I have not had lunch yet .  If I could only have one more slab it would get me to the level of the wooden landing . 
While chuffing down a sandwich I contemplate my handiwork . Look at that corner of the wall !  Between the chipmunks tunneling , and last winter's ice it's collapsing on us . Best to do something about that now or we'll soon have a mess on the new pavement .

 
Honestly I was going to leave that wall for the spring . . . but if I could only reset these three rocks . . .
Two hours later . . . not bad for a hack if I do say so myself .  The other corner of the retaining wall also needs a bit of mending but it can wait till next spring . The wooden stairs are in bad shape and need to be replaced , so I'll see what I can do to make it all an even run at that point too . But that's enough for this season . I really did not think I'd get this job done this year at all .


4 comments:

  1. is there anything you can't do? those wooden steps do need to be rebuilt. you can probably knock them out in no time! the granite steps look great!

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    1. Going into this one I did not know if I could do it myself. It's the first time I ever attempt anything like this. Hopefully the last .

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  2. Bravo, Mike!!! Don't be shy about stroking out and croaking on home projects! It's better than killing yourself with booze and drugs as me and the tards are doing! :)

    Hey - how hard is it to change the chuck on a drill press? Would you know by any chance...?

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    1. Most of them are just a tapered shaft fit. Some of them have a phillips screw inside them. The cheap chineseum one I have just comes loose with a good whack from a brass hammer. Sometimes it comes loose on its own.
      I think I am done for now with the big back busting projects. Working on an ongoing project for a customer right now. I suppose I should probably post about it at some point.

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