Tuesday, October 6, 2015

All about the driveway.

After a very busy and physical weekend, our driveway looks very different from how it looked last we checked in on it, and far better than it looked in 2014 before the Lady of the House and I repaired it by hand. This time fortunately due to different circumstances we had the proper equipment to handle regrading the driveway, and just as importantly someone who knew what they were doing.

One of my co workers before he was in IT had been a farmer for most of his life. He'd been driving bobcats for a long time and kindly offered to come help out. I can confidently say from my exploration of driving the bobcat that if he hadn't been there to help out I wouldn't have been able to do as good of a job, and it would have taken much longer. One of his friends also kindly came along to help me with the ground work which I greatly appreciate because he did a lot of the hard raking work, and had a good eye for uneven areas.
I continue to have trouble showing any sort of relief when photographing the gravel of the driveway, so you'll have to take my word that things started off as you can kind of see Right with small piles of gravel down the lower part of the driveway. As you saw Top we also had a second larger load up top. What that comes down to is 15 cubic yards of gravel in one pile up top, and 15 cubic yards spread along the bottom third of the driveway where we regularly have the worst damage, thus needed most work. All told the two 15 cubic yard dump trucks of crush gravel comes out to about 40 tonnes of gravel. We purchased from a local quarry that makes their crush gravel out of the leavings from their more precise quarrying operation. I like using both local, and re-purposed even when it comes to stone.
In theory the process is simple enough. Fill in the holes, spread the gravel out evenly to both sides of the driveway, and make sure that the outside is higher than the inside so if we slide in the winter we'll go into the ditch rather than off the edge. Simple right? Eh, sort of, at least when there's a bobcat doing most of the work. Just because the bobcat does much of the work doesn't mean having two people raking the gravel more precisely where you want it, and more clearly able to see the slope, and evenness of the gravel that is being put down. As you can see Above Left even after the center is solid, we had more to do to get the edges even and solid to avoid running off.

So from piles, to filled ruts, to an uneven coat of gravel, to an even coat of gravel is a long process. Right you can see the first steps on a relatively even area where there is gravel down, but the edges are uneven to non existent. On the left of the photo the edge of the drainage ditch has formed a lip relative to the level of the driveway that has been skimmed off so the water can run off that edge of the driveway instead of being trapped in the driveway to run further down. You can see how as it moves along it looks more and more like a solid paved driveway, but due to not having quite enough gravel to do everything we want to, the edges aren't as fully defined as we might like. They are wider than we need the driveway to be though which is good. If we can do another pass of this next year we'll be able to solidify the edges with an already solid core of the driveway, if everything goes well of course. Even if we don't get to do what we want and do this again next year it's going to hold up much better over the winter and spring than if we started with the rutted mess we had.
After doing the core of the driveway, putting in a water bar (think speed bump), and getting a good solid skim over the whole thing this is what we had left of the 40 tonnes of gravel unused. My co worker took this and re leveled our parking area which is going to make life much nicer when snow clearing in the winter. Ideally we'd also rent a steamroller and run that up and down a few times, but we don't have the money to do everything perfectly. A lot of things come down to not having enough to do it perfectly means doing it twice.
Either way, for the season the driveway is as done. That allows us to move on to other projects. In fact at home we've already done so. For now though, let's just admire the excellent work that we were able to do with my co-worker, and his friend's efforts. The driveway no longer takes skill to get up, just a little attention to not get air over the water bar. A little speed control when driving to not have water speeding down the driveway is well worth it to my mind. That may of course be influenced by hating dealing with the driveway constantly. I hope that between the work we just did, experience, and skill in using the snow blower that we for the first winter won't have to fear the driveway.

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