Front Stone Wall (Part 3)

  In late 2009, I started work on the east side of the Front Rock Wall (which became Part 1). This was going to be a little rock wall to build up the slope in front of the house and frame the Front Walkways. Figured two weekends, four tops. Took eight months. That pretty much spent my rock walling spirit. Then, during the summer of 2010, we had to put stone walls around the Patio (see Patio Part 2 for that three month saga). Then, in late summer 2011, I started the West Side of the Front Wall (becoming Part 2). Here, Part Three journals my saga from May to (at least) November 2012 as I continue to work on this three to four year project.

  Click for a Larger Image November 13, 2011. Where I left off before the tepid winter of 2011-2012.

  May 26, 2012 - Memorial Day Weekend. Here I mix up some insta-rock to fill in behind the expensive face rocks. Today, I choose a Blue ensemble, with blue shorts, a flat black shirt (with a Mini iron-on graphic on the front) and matching gloves. The gloves are made of rubber to keep the moisture robbing insta-rock (concrete) from drying my hands any more than they already are. Note my special concrete mixing shoes! Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image A close look at the insta-rock factory. See, I pour the special blended dry ingredients from a yellow bags (about 80lbs). Then I spray it with a lot of water and mix thoroughly with my red handled mixing blade. Then I carefully add another yellow bag's content and mix some more. Then I roll the factory over to the wall and get as much behind the face rocks as I can. Then I hose off most of the batter that landed on the face rocks. I've learned that I can put cheap rubble into the mix to take up space, add strength (at least that what I can say) and save money.

  These are front rocks. I cut them in half with a tungston carbide Rebit chisel, making them go much further. This is about $700 worth of rock from Luck Stone. They came on one pallet of two tons, but that would make the rear of the Earthforce EF-3 go up instead of the rocks going up. So I broke it into three manageable pallets. Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image Two unglued rows sitting on top of three glued rows. Both rows were finished this afternoon and then back filled with insta-rock.

  This is what it looks like after the insta-rock is put in. Note the rubble mixed in. The corner is pretty wide to hold back all the expanding and freezing soil, lets I have a leaning wall of stone in a few years. Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image Speaking of factories, this is the rock busting factory. Typically, a rock has at least two good edges or maybe more. But I can only use one. So I cut them with the tungsten carbide chisel and baby sledge. Here are a few rocks where I doubled the edges and my money.

  See, this rock had one really good long edge (on the bottom). But then I would have wasted the left side and top edges. So I sacrificed the really good bottom edge so I could get three good edges plus maybe a corner or two. Cuts are done with the Rebit chisel - the blue cold chisels are for busting off mortar drippings and other imprecise purposes. Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image After Jun 2. This was the first day I mixed mortar first and glued rocks as I found them. That technique plus starting earlier than 4:00pm let me get a lot done.

  August 26. This is looking at the back side of the wall. This giant hole will be filled with fill dirt (mostly clay) over landscape fabric and gravel. The wall next to the sidewalk still has a few rows to go. Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image The wall is especially hard to do when no flat, straight rocks are left. So we head 50 miles up the road in the Dump Truck and get another pallet of Eagle Ridge from Luck Stone. This time, we scored a big flat boulder as well. It road in front of the dump bed so I could dump it after I got the pallet of rocks out.

  Here is the rock dumped off the back. I did not lift the dump all the way up, attempting to prevent the rock from flipping over and crushing stuff. The pallet is still caught between the bed and the rock. When I moved forward, the rock flipped the pallet out of the way. The only thing required was to turn the rock a little clockwise. Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image Here, the Earthforce EF-3 nudges the rock a bit clockwise. The rock weighs 1.7 tons, which is about 3400 pounds. The Earthforce is spec'ed for 3360 lbs. It lifted the rock but just barely.

  Speaking of tons, here is exactly one ton of concrete sitting on a pallet in the F250. The EF-3 had no problem lifting this out. The only thing is that with that much weight on the front, the back gets a bit light, so I extend the backhoe boom out a bit. Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image The English Castle method of Wall Construction. Using the Concrete Mixer, I mix up 160 lbs of concrete at a time. Then I shovel it behind the facing stone (protected by plastic). I use some rubble to take some space up, lessening the concrete bill. More rubble acts as the back wall.

  Here is the progress as of today, Sep 30, 2012. Another ton of concrete and about 1000 lbs of rubble. You can also see the west side courtesy lamp that will light up the walk at night. It has a conduit that will go through the wall and be connected to the other one. Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image October 6, moving to the stretch that's about three stretches before home stretch. Doesn't matter anymore, cause I finally reached final height! I decided on a height that started level from the walkway and started to slope progressively about four feet out. Here, about 1/3 of the top course is placed but not glued.

  By October 21, the whole top course is in place and glued. Here, we look west down the sloped line. Little hand sledge #2 sits close to the carbide tiped chisels. Note the red rebar stake. This is two e-fence poles welded together to get a high enough pole. There's another one on the other end. Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image Looking up towards the house, we can see what's left to be done on the west sidewalk side wall. The rocks have all been found, test fitted, trimmed, replaced, shaped (same as trimming), and taken off and carefully placed on the steps before mortaring. I cut some slots in the steel poles to locate my mason line so I wouldn't have to remeasure each week that I slog out to work on this four year saga.

  All the rocks which were set on the steps above have made it back to the wall with mortar under each. I use the little orange bucket as a portable mortar pail when I'm working at the high levels of the wall. Its nice to be about 74% complete. Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image My two little steel buddies. These things have been fantastic. They are Rebit chisels with tungsten carbide tips. The tips are pretty blunt so they don't crack. One is an inch wide and the other is two. Some of my nicest tools.

  The walkway as it will look when finished. I have to bust off the low step and re-lay the slate cause it puddles. While I'm at it, I will use some muratic acid to get some of the white lime stain off of the other vertical surfaces. This is a long way from the original. Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image The back of the finished west walkway wall. Its kind of like Windows now - a finished look from the front, but from the back, you can see all the rocks propping up other rocks. But soon, those voids and props will be filled with solid concrete and rubble. Where rip rap has made up the inside wall face to about three feet, the last foot will use the better rock, though just waste pieces.

  When I build walls, I only want to do it for one decade. The west end was kind of short - originally, there would be a different material on that side. But as I progressed, I figured it needed to be continuous wall and not change materials. So, this is the new foundation for the remaining west stone wall. Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image A closer view. Its about two feet deep on the far (north) side and three feet on the south side, cause it goes uphill. That is all cleared by the hoe with no need for laborer shoveling. That's good cause I'm the laborer. I wore my concrete shoes just in case.

  Filled with aggregate (Fifty-sevens from the Gravel Store at $15 per ton. This is about three ton (there are no plural "tons" in gravelspeak). Some landscape anti-weed, pro-drain, anti-dirt, pro-filtration fabric went in around the edges before the 57's. Tamper was of limited use - I'm substituting gravity and time. Note the cleanly picked spoil pile already gone. Click for a Larger Image

  Click for a Larger Image The other ton of gravel covered up the inside base of the main wall, including the drain pipe which is covered with more landscape fabric.

Rock On