Digging In Frozen Ground...

 
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Old 12-13-2017, 01:16 PM   #1
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Digging In Frozen Ground...


My sub canceled last minute on cutting in a new temp. driveway for me and indicated they won't be able to do it for a few weeks.

I'm trying to get a few dependent tasks done before the area is covered in several feet of snow (can't wait until spring if at all possible for other reasons), so, I think I might rent a mini excavator and do it myself. Start of the driveway area right now is a 30% grade over first 20ft, so need to get that area more manageable so trucks (well drilling, logging) can get in/out. I'll have to re-grade the driveway in the spring to get it down to the final slope in the grading plan when all of the other site work is done (with a much bigger machine.)

It looks like it will be a few degrees below freezing as the high 3 - 4 days before I would start next week, with the low getting down to 12 - 15 degrees at night.

A few questions:

1. I've never had to dig in the "cold" months, how "difficult" should I expect based on the above, using a mini (Bobcat E20)?
2. I've never had to dig right next to the road (right off of shoulder), what types of safety methods are typically used? Cones around me, etc. I will probably be doing this portion solo.
3. Debating how much rock to put down, given that I'll probably have to dig up that area in the spring again to get it down to the right grade since the driveway is much longer than what I'd be putting in right now.

Thanks!
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Old 12-13-2017, 07:03 PM   #2
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Re: Digging In Frozen Ground...


if it "has" to be done, a bobcat mini if ground is froze isn't going to do much.

first i would rent a ground thawing unit. something like this





depending on depth of frost, you may be able to put a single shanked ripper on excavator and get it busted loose with that. sure you're going to find out if you have over 8-10" of frost, you're going to spend a lot of time and wear out a lot of teeth trying to get through it. i'd thaw it if frost were deeper than that.'

if this is something you will tear out again in spring anyway, consider 3-5" crushed concrete where they haven't screened all the fines out of it. the angulated surfaces lock together well, and make a great base
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Old 12-13-2017, 07:45 PM   #3
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Re: Digging In Frozen Ground...


So far this year it has been mostly above freezing during the day and the ground has been thawed when I checked recently.

However, when I get the chance to do this next week, weather report says ~4 days below freezing all day prior... I'm not sure how "deep" the frost will be.. Given that, do you still think I would still need to use a ripper or if it's likely I might be able to get away with just the bucket?

Thanks for the tip on the crushed concrete, I'll probably go with that.
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Old 12-13-2017, 08:33 PM   #4
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Re: Digging In Frozen Ground...


bobcat excavator will not go through much frost. remember, a LOT more stress on components pulling/prying/ripping. i've torn excavator buckets in two. i've cracked booms and sticks. then i found ground heaters. LOL....if it's just an inch or two, you probably can handle it. keep your pull close to you, not stretched out. try to lift it out vs. prying it out. cheaper to have bucket rebuilt than boom or stick.

if it's not froze yet, or not bad.....rent some blankets and cover it. make sure you get your blankets out at least 4-5' out further than you want to dig. the frost will creep in from the sides.

i've bought myself some time just covering it if not too bad.
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Old 12-14-2017, 08:14 AM   #5
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Re: Digging In Frozen Ground...


Quote:
Originally Posted by dayexco View Post
bobcat excavator will not go through much frost. remember, a LOT more stress on components pulling/prying/ripping. i've torn excavator buckets in two. i've cracked booms and sticks. then i found ground heaters. LOL....if it's just an inch or two, you probably can handle it. keep your pull close to you, not stretched out. try to lift it out vs. prying it out. cheaper to have bucket rebuilt than boom or stick.

if it's not froze yet, or not bad.....rent some blankets and cover it. make sure you get your blankets out at least 4-5' out further than you want to dig. the frost will creep in from the sides.

i've bought myself some time just covering it if not too bad.
I had nat gas scheduled to go in two days ago. Itís below 0 right now. How do those guys manage? I wonder if theyíll postpone the install now? Iíve always been able to squeak it in before a hard freeze but all the utilities are way backed up this year. I donít know why?
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Old 12-14-2017, 08:51 AM   #6
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Re: Digging In Frozen Ground...


Frozen ground is a pain to work in. I have even had to use a jack hammer before on it. It has been so mild here this year zero frost yet. I would say to cover it to if you can, it is amazing how well a good snow cover slows down the freezing of ground.
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Old 12-14-2017, 10:45 AM   #7
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Re: Digging In Frozen Ground...


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Frozen ground is a pain to work in. I have even had to use a jack hammer before on it. It has been so mild here this year zero frost yet. I would say to cover it to if you can, it is amazing how well a good snow cover slows down the freezing of ground.
Ever notice, you can be digging in a grassy area, froze a little bit, but not bad?

Then somebody drives all around the site, crumpling the grass down, and that's where you're going to have issues. Takes all the insulation value out of the grass.

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Old 12-14-2017, 02:37 PM   #8
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Re: Digging In Frozen Ground...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Bush View Post
Frozen ground is a pain to work in. I have even had to use a jack hammer before on it. It has been so mild here this year zero frost yet. I would say to cover it to if you can, it is amazing how well a good snow cover slows down the freezing of ground.
Going through your fine state Saturday. Hopefully weather holds and can go south at Bozeman and not have to go through Spokane. Merry Christmas

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Old 12-14-2017, 04:00 PM   #9
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Re: Digging In Frozen Ground...


An E20 isn't going to do anything with frozen ground. I can say that with nearly absolute confidence because I own one. If I have to dig in the frost, I go for the biggest machine I can get on site, and use a ripper first. I've used a bobcat E45 with reasonable success. I also use the smallest bucket possible. More force at the bucket teeth.
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Old 12-14-2017, 06:38 PM   #10
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Re: Digging In Frozen Ground...


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Originally Posted by dayexco View Post
Going through your fine state Saturday. Hopefully weather holds and can go south at Bozeman and not have to go through Spokane. Merry Christmas

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Have safe travels. I kind of hate going west during the winter, 3 passes for us to go through and they can be a bear at times. So hopefully this year they are not to bad.

Merry Christmas to you and yours too.
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Old 12-14-2017, 09:22 PM   #11
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Re: Digging In Frozen Ground...


Tub big round Hay bale grinder and spreader.....2-3" of hay will slow the frost quite a bit in DRY conditions....
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Old 12-16-2017, 10:14 AM   #12
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Re: Digging In Frozen Ground...


Most logging companies around here will build their own access roads, year round.
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Old 12-16-2017, 08:46 PM   #13
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Re: Digging In Frozen Ground...


Well since we don't know what part of the world you are located in, most advice here will not necessarily be helpful to you.

We just had a few days or so with lows in the 20 degree range, had a few inches of snow and some wicked cold wind. The frost here is only a couple inches thick so far.

I dug some up today by hand with a square shovel.

Next week is supposed to reach 60 degrees mid week. So you should be good to go...if you're located in the mid Atlantic.

Otherwise, I would use concrete blankets or put down straw and black plastic.
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Old 12-16-2017, 09:16 PM   #14
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Re: Digging In Frozen Ground...


Buy a calendar for 2018, Plan the NEXT job to allow for the normal and near normal weather conditions.....
look for plan b, c and d subs that have the proven capabilities to perform what you need WHEN you need it at near market rates---Maybe it is time to move up & away from least cost subs to mid level subs?

Captain Sully: Checklists, checklists, and More Checklists....

Write a Excel spreadsheet with differing completion cycle times for your typical projects, and who delays of various sizes lowers YOUR and your customers profits/ increased losses and delays mortgage payoff dates by years sometimes on rented Real Estate.

You pooped your bed(messed up by delaying the dirt work) now pay MORE money or wait till spring and make less money next year....

You might also think about increasing the amount of money you invest in the jobs to facilitate widening the time "window" of your subs by having work performed a few days/weeks ahead of actual need to reduced project delays of Critical Path tasks... Even raising your credit line PRIOR to need, i.e. meet with your banker before hand.
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Old 12-16-2017, 09:48 PM   #15
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Re: Digging In Frozen Ground...


One thing a lot of guys will do here is to get the concrete in the ground before it gets to bad in order to keep going during the winter.

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