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Old 06-12-2015, 07:38 PM
doc doc is offline
Grand Master Pontificator
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: The Driftless Area, WI
Posts: 1,531
Default Barn Raiing

My buddy & I have spent the last four days getting started on building the barn on the 40 acres in WI hill country. I picked a spot about 100 ft or so from where the house will go, a spot that seemed to be reasonably level on this very hilly location. We eye-balled it and agreed the highest corner was about three feet above the lowest corner. No problem. Just move about a foot-and-a-half from the high side and put it on the low side.

We moved that dirt (really tough initially getting thru the thick sod) in no time, just roughing it out. Then measured out our sides and dug the post holes- pretty easy with the post hole digger/tractor- only hit rocks big enough to break the shear pin on the auger twice. Then we planted the five 6in x 6in x 12ft posts, leveled them and cemented them in. (-had to lug water in jugs about 1/4mi from the little stream down in the valley in order to mix the cement. A 60 lb bag needs about 1 1/2 gal.)

Then we planted the other two corner posts and stepped back to admire our work. -- They seemed awfully high compared to the low side. We checked our level. It was good. We under-estimated the grade by quite a large amount. We wound up renting a Bobcat and excavating down about 5 feet!

Once the 6x6 lintels were up and we stood at the top of the property looking down, the structure looked amazingly lopsided. We re-checked the levels and they were right. We couldn't understand it. But it became apparent that it was an optical illusion. I guess our brains got so used to walking on the sloping ground that we thought it was flat. Once the ceiling joists and roof rafters started going up, giving the structure more parallel lines, it corrected the illusion. The structure now looked level viewed from the top of the hill, and that excavated surface that we thought looked like it was going downhill looked flat.

Sometimes you just can't believe your own eyes, I guess.
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Old 06-13-2015, 10:17 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: South Dakota ~ Zone 5A
Posts: 240

Pictures doc!
Real men have stood on the yellow footprints!
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Old 06-13-2015, 10:30 AM
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coaltrain Male coaltrain is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: NW Penna
Posts: 1,722

Originally Posted by doc View Post
Sometimes you just can't believe your own eyes, I guess.
Quite true - that is why I depend on my level and other tools - no eyeballing for me!

Even after being around and running heavy equipment most of my life I still don't have an eye for a grade. Some of the operators I've seen are just amazing with being able to see and/or form a grade with a bulldozer or grader.
It is what it is
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Old 06-16-2015, 01:14 PM
TickFarmer TickFarmer is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Near Stockton Lake in MO
Posts: 258

I have the same problem at the Tick Farm, with the additional oddity that North is about 60 degrees off...
Eyeballs can get fooled easily. We tend to start by guessing and drag out the level about halfway through the dirtwork. Now, if I could just quit hitting the grade stakes things would go a little faster...
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Old 06-30-2015, 07:54 PM
doc doc is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: The Driftless Area, WI
Posts: 1,531

We spent another three days, totaling about 8 hrs of actual work due to intermittent rain, working on the barn. Cousin Jeff was kind enough to bring over his 85 hp Bobcat and make short work of excavating the interior space for me. Now with the floor graded level and all the ceiling rafters up, that optical illusion is corrected. Half the roof is up and we hope to knock out the rest this Thurs & Fri. We'll be using railroad ties as "retaining walls" to hold the bottom of the siding panels and eventually the gravel floor in place. Probably won't get to put up the walls until the next trip north in 2 weeks.

Once the barn is finished, we can use it for storage as we start to move junk up before the old house is sold. Putting in the drive and septic system will be started soon and I'm still waiting for the well pump guy to decide if my plan to use a solar powered pump/cistern/gravity feed plan will work.
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