This page follows the literal ground-up restoration of my early 1900's bungalow. Being stubborn and cheap, which means I won't pay someone to do it for me, some thought was required about how to maintain the livability of the house while installing a full basement under it. First off, I have to remove some 240 tons of compacted clay without using heavy equipment. Yup, 240 tons. Digging was fine, but how to get rid of all that "muck"? I had heard horror tales of folks doing it with buckets and ice cream pails...NOT! A solution was needed.
Presto. Build a seat-of-the-pants conveyor system out of old lawn-mower wheels, scrap lumber and an old electric motor. So far, it has moved about 75 cubic yards of dirt with only minor repairs and adjustments, at a cost of about 200 dollars. If it does the whole job, I'll get it bronzed and send it to the Smithsonian Institution. However, some folks have expressed interest in inheriting the machine for their basement project. Patent?
Photos for this page were produced by video frame capture and with an old Kodak DC50 digital camera with a handy PCMCIA card for interfacing with a laptop. Oh yes, Best viewed in Netscape.
A conveyor designed for a quick get-away. Install quickly, load out, and...
...put away, all before the dirt notices. It's good exercise, too.
So far the dig has encompassed about a two-thirds of the total needed to produce a full basement...several truckloads so far.
Removing the old foundation involves some tricky support puzzles...as you can see, the house was suspended in thin air for a while. New walls were constructed in sections and stood up on new footings, then the forest of jackposts was removed to transfer weight onto the walls.
Ever impetuous, I felt that the conveyor system was not up to snuff. My (its) own worst critic, I decided to replace a slipping belt drive with a chain drive (this while on a McGyver-esque impulse-buying trip to Princess Auto one afternoon). For a measly few sheckels, I flanged up the system with a modified centrifugal clutch and a set of sprockets, and looky there, the cart's capacity was nearly doubled. So, off to the races I went, hurling great heaps of damp clay up to the pile, when Kzzhhhweeeeek-gzzzzzzzzzzzt---BONK, the setscrew stripped on the main winch shaft and the venerable old wagon came hurtling down the ramp, fully loaded. In my rush to get more up the ramp, I had neglected to failsafe the system with.....brakes? The cart did a somersault back into the dirt pile, trashing the motor drive mounting in the process. Umm, OK... Back to the drawing (??) board (a cobweb-infested recess in the back of my mind) and presto!, a new system (oh yes, with a positive shaft-key holding all that torque in check....heh heh), and brakes fit to stop the Rocky Mountaineer loaded with uranium heading downhill at Field, BC. Now (he says cautiously) the drive hauls like mad, and the clutch disengages at the top of the ramp, allowing a controlled free fall (with sound effects) back to the bottom. The brakes hold a full load on the ramp with about one Kg of effort on the lever. (No, No, Mike, you don't need a wireless CCTV monitor....).
More coming as I get the time! Seems I have very little, because the pace of work is outstripping my ability to keep up the website...I'm totally obsessed with dirt these days, having produced 8 truckloads at eight tons each so far this year...