Big Dig II from the bridge to the gate May/June 2012

We enjoyed operation of the gate from the house only for a few months when wiring somewhere between the gate and the bridge went bad. There was no hope of finding the bad wire in the 500' of distance between, so it was necessary to trench the distance and install new wires. However, the big difference this time would be the installation of conduit and makeup boxes so that if the wires ever go bad again, no trenching will be required. All that would be required is pulling new wires into the conduit.

It wasn't a pleasant task, but we tackled it beginning the weekend of May 19th and 20th.


A walk behind Toro trencher was rented from Hertz and trenching began at the bridge. However, areas like this near the Juniper had to be done by hand as there were also phone/communication lines buried here. Don't want to cut them with the trencher. Most of the distance to the first light in the background was done by hand. There is also a 7,500 volt power line crossing under here so no trenching machine could be used here.


Starting at the light the trenching machine was used and it moved along pretty well.


Here is a photo of the trencher. The "cat tracks" instead of wheels are pretty neat. Gives good traction pulling or pushing.


Oh no! The little trencher met it's match in the form of root under maple trees. It just could break these. A LOT of ax work and manual digging will be required here. Also the bank was so steep here, the trenched just slid side ways down the bank.


There were several casualties. This is one of two water lines severed in the trenching. Beside the water line was the power feed to the lights along the driveway. I cut that too. Murphy's Law proves true!


Again you can see where the bank was so steep I couldn't keep the trencher on the hill and just had to give up trenching some areas.


More casualties. Again this was wiring feeding power to the lights along the driveway. Wasn't planning on replacing this wire at the moment, but will be now!


One of the steep areas again. The bank is about 45 steep here.


This was a pretty good run of trenching with no problems.


This area was trenched extra deep as this is the area we routinely drive over accessing the field.


In the top of the photo you'll see another encounter with maple tree roots. Again, lots of hand chopping and digging was required.


At the end almost!


This is one of the makeup boxes installed in front of each light. This seemed like a good location and would be easy to remember and feed wires from these to each light. The conduit is 1-1/4", so there is plenty of room for lots of wires.


Made it to the bridge! The final elbow turns up and there will be a makeup box here or an LB going into the gate control box.


Looking back as the conduit was starting to go in place. You can see the 200' lengths of conduit already glued together and laying along side the driveway, awaiting installation.

Lastly on Sunday afternoon the dirt was pushed back into the trench with the front end loader.

All the trenches have been filled in, raked smooth, and what mulch is left spread over the bare dirt. Here the pine needles have been laid out read for spreading. It'll take about 120 bales to do the driveway!


Very pleased with how the pine needles turned out. Just never liked the look of the mulch put out 2 years ago. We always used pine needles at the other house and will be switching everything to pine needles here too.


This area never had mulch on it because we ran out. Looks pretty good in pine needles. Compare the before and after below. What a difference!

All done by 6/16/12. 4 weeks total.

While this was going on I removed the lights at the gate entrance and masked them off and painted them in PPG automotive paint.

West light.


East light.


Missy and Sheila's hard work putting out pine needles.


And finally a look from outside the gate. Turned out it took 215 bales of needles to do along the driveway!