Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Day 223 - Stuck in the Mud.

I have one word about DIY earthworks. Probably a good idea to stay away from it and get in the professionals.  Rather than start at the doom and gloom part, lets start from the beginning.

We have been thinking for awhile that we need to get a bobcat and excavator onto the block so that we can level out the ground around the house so we can lay turf before we move in.   It all sounded so easy.  I work for a builder, they have a bobcat and an excavator and my brother can drive them. How hard can it be? How long can it take????

As my boss was using his excavator, we hired one.  It was $350.00 for the weekend and being a long weekend, we could get an extra days use for free - bargain.  So I went down on Friday afternoon and picked it up.

First thing, I am in my mid 30's, but look a lot younger than that. So when I went to pick up the excavator the owner got very nervous.  I don't think it helped that the office lady said that I would be driving it, and even though I had no experience, I was keen to have a çrack at it.   I spent a long time with the guy going over how to use it and giving plenty of details that seriously went in one ear and out the other - I was only a by-stander.  One thing that did stick in my mind was - it is clean - it needs to come back clean. "

Getting home was fun... NOT.  Maybe I should have taken that as a sign of the weekend. Mat had gone to work, so it was me and the kids towing the excavator back.  Have a look at the poor car.

We have a Nissan Xtrail. It probably weighs 1.5t.  This excavator was 1.7t, but with all the buckets and with the trailer, we were knocking on 2t. The car may be rated to tow 2t but it could barely move.

When we pulled out of the road where the hire place was, me trying not to burn out the clutch, I drove past one set of highway patrol. I knew there was a random breath test up the road and this was where the Police sat just incase people tried to skip the breath test. One funny look, but thankfully I was not pulled over. I pulled out onto the highway.  80km/hr was the speed limit - my max speed was 40km/hr and we went past the second breath test - another funny look, but they let me pass.    I went down the road and turned into a street so I could do a u-turn to get back on the highway so I could go home.  I go past my third set of police, and you guessed it another funny look, but thankfully I was not pulled in.   We limped home, with me jumping at every bump.  I express my apologies to all the people that were trying to go on holidays on Friday afternoon that got stuck behind me.

Saturday morning it was RAINING.  Not what we wanted, but hey it was only a sprinkle, how bad could it be.

My brother Mike, he was on his way up to our place, my parents were also coming up to see the action. Mat didnt want to wait and thought he would  take the excavator off the trailer.  Slowly things started to come back of what the guy at the hire place said - it is very easy to roll - so be careful when you take it off the trailer.

Thankfully he had a brain wave and got the excavator off the trailer by reversing the trailer up to the mound, so the tracks were horizontal. Thankfully he didnt roll it, or require a new pair of shorts.

When my brother showed up they started to dig more dirt out of the side so we could widen the driveway enough to part the caravan down the side of the house. 

The problem with our block its clay.  We knew the clay was bad, but we were not prepared for how bad it was. Once the surface water started mixing with the clay and the excavator went on it and started churning it up, it got sloppy, really sloppy.

Sunday morning my boss dropped off his bobcat.  I think we must have had it all of 20 mins and we realised how bad the clay and mud actually was - when my brother driving the bobcat went around the back of the house to start moving the soil that they had pulled out from the side and he got bogged!

Now this was panic stations.  How the hell do you get a bobcat bogged??? How the hell do you get a bogged bobcat out????? How the hell was I going to tell my boss?????

Firstly they tried to pull it out with the excavator. That was a complete was of time as the bobcat is heavier than the excavator.  I rung the person who cut the block in the first place, but his machine was a 20T excavator and was being repaired.  Who else do you get on a Sunday of a long weekend.

Thankfully - Craig the excavator man came to our rescue.  I rung him in a distressed voice and he got in his car and brought his excavator straight over to see if he could pull us out.  He took one look and realised there was no chance, but said his boss down the road had a JCB and that would pull us out

He was right - we  were out in two minutes flat and he reassured us "dont worry, everyone has done it"

How much do you think this man is yellow shining armour charged us for his Sunday efforts.  $50.00!!! I nearly died. I am going to find out his address and drop in a case of beer. 

Sunday afternoon was pretty uneventful after that. I think everyone was scared of bogging the bobcat again. I think if you call out him once, it is beginners error. I think if you do it twice, you look like a twat and I don't think he would charge only $50.00

Rather than going anywhere near the backyard they concentrated on the driveway. Mike on the bobcat and Mat on the excavator. 

So now, for three days of hard work, we now have more mud than we ever thought possible. 

The driveway looks pretty good now - forgot to take a picture of that yesterday afternoon. Now we need to get someone in to make sure it is all level and then lay some roadbase so you can get into the driveway.

What did the boys get for their three days of work???? About 5 hours of using a petrol gurney to clean off the machines - guess what that means??? More mud!!!

So my word of warning. Take clay seriously. It is evil stuff when it is wet.  Basically it is like trying to polish a turd - there is never really a positive outcome (even if you do roll it in glitter)  Get in the professionals. I think what we did in 3 days someone could have done in a couple of hours. It would have saved a lot of time and effort - plus I would have not lost a few years off my life while trying to work out how to get a bobcat out of a hole!!!

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