Monday, March 30, 2015

Timber sleeper retaining walls

Timber sleeper retaining wall. These types of retaining walls are very easy to build, most people would be able to do it themselves, especially if they have a description how do do it, like the one we are writing here under. So if you need to build one keep reading and you will see how easy it could be.
Timber sleeper retaining walls
Dearer readers, as we have said in our last post where we talked about retaining walls, there are several types of retaining walls, but in this post we would like to show you how to build one of the easiest retaining walls, which we believe would be a timber sleeper retaining wall:
Building a low timber sleeper retaining wall is very easy, well at least this is what a tradesman thinks if he is going to build it himself, but somebody that has never done it needs at least to know how to go about and this is what we are going to tell you. We believe that just about everybody that if fit enough would be able to do it, you can do it yourself, if you follow our explanation in this text here, all you need is a crowbar, a post hole shovel, a hammer a few long nails or screws, a saw, a type measure and a few treated pine sleeper that today are easily available at most timber yards.
Here are a couple of addresses of local timber merchants and hardware to get what you want, just for everybody to check them out; you need to find your own, if you live somewhere else.
Now, you have visited your local supply and you have got all you need and you are ready to start, you have also worked out where you want your sleeper wall to go; So start digging the first hole where the wall starts, you need to dig this hole about 600 mm or more in the natural ground for the post to be strong enough to hold the pressure of the retaining wall when the wall is back filled; you may have to concrete around the post for extra strength, but this is not a must do, if the retaining wall is low, because you can replace this with, packing the soil tightly around the posts and if you have some rocks, wedge them between the top of the hole you have dug and the post at ground level, because the rocks will exercise their pressure on a larger surface of the natural soil than the post, they will be able to hold back the soil pressure of the wall more easily, now that you have done the first post, you can repeat the same procedure for next post and so on.
Posts can be made from the same material of the sleepers; you just have to saw them to the right length and fix them in the ground as we have said above. Just to make it easy let us say for the time being that your wall is going to be just the length of a sleeper plank and you have dug the two holes and fixed the two posts. So now you can just place the first sleeper against the posts at the required level; the levels of the sleepers would be better if you work it out from the top down, because it is easier to change the bottom than to top, you see, in this case you can always dig a bit or add a bit of soil at the bottom to fit the bottom sleeper. So mark on the posts the level you want to reach with your last sleeper, and then mark down from this level the number of sleeper you are fixing on these posts, once you have done that you are ready to fix your sleepers on the posts.
Fixing your sleeper to the post
To fix the sleepers to the post now is simple, but still you need to do a few things right, if you want your wall to last as long as possible with the materials you are using. Now it is useful to know that in this case it is highly advisable that you use galvanized nails or screws to fix the planks to the posts, because the retaining wall is in contact with the wet or humid ground constantly and therefore normal nails or screws will rust easily.
You have bought some 75 mm and 100 mm galvanized nails to do the job, so you hope to be able to drive these nail into the sleepers and posts just by using a hammer, because you have not got a drill, and even if you have you think that nailing them is the fastest way to get the job done. 
Okay, if you are good with your hammer and can drive nail easily it is the best way to go, provided that the timber is soft enough to do that, and if you have used treated pine sleeper it can be done, as all you need to do now is to place the sleepers where you have marked on the posts and nail them in, and then you can backfill behind the retaining wall and the job is done.
But what about if you are using hardwood or old dry hardwood, because you got it very cheap from a second hand timber yard, because they were overstocked they sold this timber at a very special price, which was less than half the price of the treated pine sleepers; so you were happy to buy it because it was really cheap and the timber being hardwood would last for a very long time, but now you might have a problem to fix the sleepers to the posts, because it is near impossible to drive nails into this old dry hardwood timber, unless you drill a hole for every single nail, and even then the nails might bend even if you are an expert with the hammer.
If this is the situation and it is hard to nail this timber together, you could be able to overcome the problem by using couch screws or bolts, so you use a drill and drill a hole for your galvanized couch screws or bolts and tighten the screws or the bolt nuts with a spanner. But if you don’t want to do this extra work and you want to use the galvanized nails that you have already bought, then you could do the following: drill a hole as deep as you can just use a bit a fraction smaller then the diameter of your nails, then try first with the 75 mm nails how you go, if it works and you believe that the nail go deep enough into the supporting post and hold well then your problem is solved, but if the nail bends or don’t go deep enough then you can try the following, and this is one of the last tricks of the old trade, which not many people know or use, this trick is not a trick at all and once you know it, you could feel even stupid for not thinking about it yourself; so what is it? Okay, when you pick up your nail to nail in the hole you have drilled, dip the point of the nail a couple of centimetre into a bit of Vaseline or mechanical grease, if this is not available just wet a bar of soap and rub the point of the nail on the wet soap, this greasing of the end of the nail will make it easier to drive it into any wood including dry old hardwood.
I believe that I have said enough about simple timber retaining walls, for you to have some idea how to build them, so, now let us talk about another type of retaining wall that could be easy to build, it is a type of concrete wall that the blocks are laid dry, so anyone can have a go; and if you don't get it right the first time it is easy to fix, because you can relay them the way you want. See you later in our next post,
Link Block Mortar less Walls.  

This is: 
Menfranco general blog, 
Timber sleeper retaining walls
Next time with, Link Block Mortar-less walls
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