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Old 03-19-2003, 08:12 PM   #1
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Question Help...my Airstream is homeless (bridging a trench)

It's a long shot, but..... Any farmer, logger, engineer,.... ?

Our Airstream is presently parked on our road. Right in front of the door of the shop.
We intend to build a pad for it, and connect it to our sceptic system.
The problem is to do that, we will have to cross the drainfield, at about 1/3 of length, leaving about 50 feet untouched. And we will have to do that 2 or 3 times a year, with a 8300Lbs trailer, towed by a 15,000Lbs truck.
My idea is, the drainfield is well oversized for 2 people living in that trailer, home about 8 months a year. Let's just crush the end of it (and hopefully not sink).

The other solution is maybe a way to bridge the trenches, to distribute the weight, go safely on the other side without damaging anything.

You never know, maybe some of you have ideas about that, or know where to look for ideas. We will of course try to get feedback from our local contractors too, but they may err too much on the safe side, worry about stuff like "code".

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Old 03-19-2003, 08:22 PM   #2
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How deep is it buried? I have driven across a field buried about 2 feet deep with a 12,000 lb back hoe for 15 years and it still works fine. If it is deep enough and you vary your path so you don't compress one area I wouldn't worry.


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Old 03-19-2003, 08:32 PM   #3
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Thanks for the encouragement.

We will have to check about the depth, but I doubt it is less than 2 ft.
We started to panic this morning when we realized the situation. We got used this last 2 weeks to having a 3rd Airstream in our line of sight, but we know we had to move it someday.
And, too, we will have to get rocks and cement to build the pad. I guess we could use a wheelbarrow, but I rather not.

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Old 03-20-2003, 07:39 AM   #4
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Chantal & Mike,

I'm a landscape designer here in central Virginia. I've been dodgeing septic fields for over ten years while trying to install various items such as walls, irrigation, plants, water gardens...

What many of the fellow Airstreamers may not be familier with in our neck of the woods is the infamous Virginia clay. Unless you are closer to the beach, and have sandier soils, the problem you will eventually run into is soil compaction.

I agree with John. I doubt that you will crush the pipe. You MUST not drive over the tank or distribution box. If you do, you will almost definately sink and destroy the box as well as getting your rig stuck.

As far as the field itself, I wouldn't be worried about it if you are only driving over it a few times a year. If you drive over it more than that, the clay will compact and the liquid from the septic tanks will not be able to leach out into the soil.

Good luck

P.S. Where in Virginia are you located? I'm in Charlottesville.
Patrick Crusse
'74 Tradewind 25', Rear Bath - Center Twin, Mostly Original except wood floors.
Tow Vehicle: '99 Dodge Ram 2500 w/ Cummins Diesel, Auto Trans. Tows great even without equilizer hitch.
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Old 03-20-2003, 03:16 PM   #5
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Everybody here gave us a lot of good ideas and we are very grateful for all those advice.
In return, I will pass on a tip on what to use not to sink in the ground:

In spite of Mike telling me to ask my father, I postponed doing so, because after 25 years in the States, I couldn't find french words for drain field,....etc. My father is nearly 80 years old and lives in France. He operated a road building company for 40 years, and before that was trained as some type of engineer in a similar field. So, I just called him and he didn't hesitate one second - it takes me longer to sort all this between 2 languages:

On small airports where the ground is too soft or muddy, they use metal plates, perforated with about 4" diametre holes. These plates are about 20 to 24" wide, 80" long. They are very light and strong, and are hooked end to end to make any length. They are used too to move vehicles in the sand.
He advised me to look for similar products at a metal recycling place. I believe that what they use in factories and similar buildings, for loading platforms or pedestrian bridges will be similar, maybe too heavy.

an on line dictionary taught me that what I am looking for is called: PERFORATED (STEEL) LANDING MAT or PIERCED STEEL PLANK(ING)

for you history buffs, I found on the Net: "By the end of April 1943,.... It took just 14 days to build an operable airstrip on Adak. (in the Aleutians)...The first bombers were flying for runs over Kiska after the perforated steel landing mat was laid down."

It makes sense that something similar to that would still be used in third world countries, where temporaries roadways are needed by industries, military,...? In the States, could that be used by loggers, oil companies setting up temporary air fields,.....? By the US Army Corp of Engineers ? Now it sound overkilled !!!

The moral of this story: When he was still in his 40s, my father hanged a plaque on a wall, saying something like: "when we are kids: dad knows everything..... teenagers: it's amazing how little the old man knows..... when old ourselves: if only dad was still here so we could ask him." I guess he was right.

Thanks again for your input.
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Old 03-20-2003, 05:18 PM   #6
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swamp mats

are what you want, we use them to drive very heavy utility equipment across customers lawns.

they are large sheets of fiberglass about 1/2" thick. they have a rope loop on them for pulling them around.

we only use eight at a time, four are under the truck at a time. and the other four are set up ahead to drive onto.

kind of a leap frog technique, drive ahead, stop, move the mats, drive ahead again, move the mats, etc. etc.

when used we have never caused any soil compaction, just bent grass blades! that is with a international 4800 4x4 line truck that weighs almost 29,000 lbs.

where do you get them? don't bother they cost major bucks!

instead, just go get some 3/4 sheets of plywood and add some holes and rope. presto instant swamp mats!

you would need four for your trailer and eight for your truck.

you will be surprised the small amount of damage you will do to sensitive areas with this method.

and yes, we have used plywood to cross drain fields too!

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Old 03-20-2003, 08:15 PM   #7
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I guess, in the end we will build that bridge, one way or the other.

Thanks again for confirming that there is a way to go across without crushing everything. Somebody from Canada in the drilling business, said they use black plastic matts to cross lawns and the like. I suppose I am going to ask him more info.
This has become a real international quest !!!!

For the time being, it will be plywood then.

BUT: if just getting truck & trailer across was not enough, we will someday, build a house on the "other side" too. Plenty of truck traffic then.
We'll build that bridge stronger when that time comes, maybe look into what my father said. He must have other ideas on the subject. I have seen his heavy machinery going through small towns when redoing stuff like sewers, sidwalks, schoolyards,...... I have time to pick his brain more about that.
The leap frog technique you mentioned is like what my father said they do to drive in the sand with these landing mats. He talked about Rallies in the desert !!! Not in France. Maybe the Sahara.


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