Saturday, October 29, 2011

Look at the bones, man!

I'm back in my little house in the country trying to get settled back into hermit life. I am working on things in order of how much they bug me. The wobbly gate bothered me more than my computer arrangement so I started working on that before I emptied the kitchen cupboard to replace the UPS that seems to have had a battery failure in the hot summer.

I put in this 4x6 pressure treated ground contact rated post in 2004. I felt pretty confident I did my usual thorough job of it, but it became unstable a few years ago. I braced it in the closed direction but it would bend and let the gate drag when I opened it. I was blaming the moles that dug all around it. I tried putting more concrete around it but it didn't work. So while I was gone it got a lot worse. I resigned myself to just digging it up to repack it. 

But it turned out that wasn't it at all! It had just rotted in two! I DID do a good job setting that post. The bottom part was rock solid. It failed right at the point of maximum stress. I wonder if flexing the post made it open up and let water into the wood grain? It's an interesting failure mode. I hope that's it because I built my house with 4x4s buried just like that and I hope they aren't all going to do that. There's no live load on them though, not side to side. I hope they'll last about 40 years.

I dug it up a lot then tried to pull it out with my car. The tires wore little trenches in the dusty soil so I had to dig up the post some more, get it loose. 

Then my little front wheel drive car was able to pull it out of the hole for me.

What I learned: When you put a lot of concrete in a post hole it's a great idea to let it spread out at the top so you have something for a chain to get a purchase on later when you have to get it out. Everything has to be replaced one day.

I am not in shape for this kind of work anymore. It made me very tired so I had to stop at this point and go to Home Depot to see about getting more concrete and another post. That hole is so big already something larger is in order. An 8' long 6x6 is $18.97 and would stink up my car. I think I'll try to use the middle out of a longleaf tree instead. My uncle cut a tree into 7 1/2' lengths in my yard about 6 years ago. All the sap wood is burned off and it's just a large solid column of pitch pine now. (And it's way more than 6" in diameter. I'm expect it's going to make my galvanized pipe gate look like a joke.) I just have to figure out how to get it up my driveway and into that hole. I think leverage will be involved. And that chain.

Since I have no gate tonight I redeployed my guard rabbit. Some miscreants have been drinking Busch longnecks in my driveway (judging by the litter I collected) and must have knocked my rabbit off the post for fun. I got the masonry bit on the drill and made deeper holes in his concrete butt and used longer Tapcon screws to attach him to that scrap of Trex decking and then screwed it to the bracing post again with a 3" Deckmate screw. He should be good to go. Too bad it's only humorous and not dangerous. It amuses me to no end to have that rabbit up there with that pile of deer bones. I think the miscreants might not be Monty Python fans though.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome rabbit!

    On the gate post we have at the property, we put in the post and refilled it with a dirt a bit. We actually used enough cement to make a mount that was higher than the ground level, so that wet ground wouldn't soak it...