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Thread: Square logs;cribbed foundation?

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    Default Square logs;cribbed foundation?

    In the next year I will begin the steps towards building a cabin on the lower kenai peninsula... access will be by plane, and perhaps one or two boat trips depending on weather. All milling will be with a chainsaw mill.

    My first question is: has anyone built with square logs/beams?

    - I am planning on building with 10 or 12" square beams due to the size of the trees available and can only assume that it would be very similar to construction with 3 sided logs...

    Second question: Any and all suggestions for a foundation using materials available on-site?

    - Concrete won't be available in any major quantity... although pressure treated or creosote timbers might be available.


    I have had several different possibilities suggested... from building right on the ground with creosote timbers as a foundation, to using tree stumps as foundation posts... Has anyone built in coastal regions that can give me some direction?

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    Several questions, and a couple of thoughts- first, have you done anything like this before? This sounds like a major operation- how much time/ manpower can you devote to this? What square footage? How's the soil/ topography of the lot? I would recommend Sonotube piers with a treated post/beam/skirting above, and considering smaller logs, maybe 8"-10". If you can haul in creosote timbers, you can haul in Redi-Mix in bags. I would toss the stump idea out the window, unless you're planning to move the structure within a couple years. Where's this at? Bear Cove?
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    I have helped build two cabins both of which were three-sided log cabins. Logs were in the neighborhood of 6-8" in width. Although I didn't help with the foundations on either...

    The cabin will be 14'x20' on fairly level ground with gravel/large rock about a foot or two under soil. I am assuming (unfortunately) that frost heaving is not going to be an issue...

    Thanks for your confirmation on using stumps... while it might be adequate for a small cabin like this, I think it is only a small matter of time before I'm sure they would simply rot away.

    This location is on the outer gulf coast where plane access is semi-reliable, but boat access is not only expensive, but very weather dependent. I tend towards pressure treated lumber simply because it can be floated into shore (don't ask ). But concrete not only runs the risk of being ruined by becoming wet... but flying bags of concrete is simply not going to be a realistic option...

    But don't get me wrong... if you can talk me into pouring sonotubes I'll figure a way...

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    One more thing I wanted to ask for input on is log construction based on: post and beam, traditional full length/butt and pass, or vertical logs?

    Post and beam and vertical log construction is attractive simply because I will be able to manage and move most of the logs by hand (with help).

    There will be a very capable winch available and setting up an overhead boom is not out of the question...

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    Wow, you definitely are facing some logistical hurdles in taking this on! Sounds like you have got a plan and determination, though, and that's all it takes. Based on the footprint and soil type, I think you could just sink treated posts in the ground, four feet at least, unless they're sitting on solid rock. There's a place in Anchorage that sells 8"x8"x8' creosote timbers for about $17. I don't know anything about upright log construction, but there's a thread on this forum on the subject; personally, I'd just do 3-sided log or squared logs with butt-and-pass corners. That's a pretty tried and true method.
    "– Gas boats are bad enough, autos are an invention of the devil, and airplanes are worse." ~Allen Hasselborg

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    I have seen a few cabins built in the bush that had foundations made of empty 55-gallon drums. They had buried about 2/3 of the barrel and then filled them with either gravel or rocks. They then just built a standard log structure on top of this platform.

    Most of these cabins were very remote and relatively old (probably 25-30yrs) in age and seemed to have held up rather well. I think most of these were built this way more out of necessity back in the day but regardless it seems to have worked well.

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    Wow, that is something.... I guess as long as the barrels were under the house and didn't get too much moisture in them it would be a pretty good design.

    I came across these today: http://www.ellisok.com/ellisok/produ...jacks.html#SJ6

    Have you ever had any experience working with these? It seems to me that if I could come up with a solid wide base for each jack I could build right off the tops of these?

    Do you have a number for that place in Anchorage that sells creosote timbers?

    Also is there any sort of sealer that can be applied to logs/beams that even compares with pressure treated or creosote timbers?

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    I don't think moisture would be a problem (ie the barrels rusting out) as long as you put a few holes in the bottom so water could drain out. The ones I have seen have been there a while and the barrels were still holding up.

    For some reason most the examples I have seen of this use of barrels for a foundation were out in western AK. After thinking more about this topic, I remembered that there are a number of buildings on the State DNR base in McGrath that use this system. They were built in the late 1960's to early 1970's and still holding up well. I will likely be out there again for work this summer so I will try to get a few pictures if I can remember and post them in this forum.

    There is also a old storage shed about 15x10 at the airstrip that has siding entirely made up old flattened Blazo fuel cans - I definitely need to get a picture of that when back there.

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    Use plastic drums and as long as you keep the sun off (paint or otherwise cover) they will last longer than we will. You can also use them to float in any cement you may need. Standard log but and pass lagged together will take a seismic load way better than vertical logs will.
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    From the examples I have seen the plastic drums would not be a good idea. It is hard to explain without a picture, but once you start to put the load of the structure on the barrel, it tends to deform the top of the barrel somewhat.

    I think that this constant pressure load on the plastic would eventually cause it to break the plastic barrel where it is exposed above ground - especially if the plastic was exposed to cold temps and became brittle.

    Once you put a structure on the barrels there is no turning back and if it fails you have a bit of a mess. Personnally, if I built something like this I would go with metal as I have seen it in action, know it works, and holds up even after several decades. While a plastic barrel may work fine, I don't want to be the guy to test them and find out, when I have a solution that I know that works.

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    Plastic drums full of sand are a standard deal in Mexico since about 1980. I know of one that’s 3 stories tall of stacked drums full of packed beach sand. If they will hold that unsupported above ground I don’t see why they will not hold a much lighter log structure when the sides have support from the ground.

    As for freezing I have 5 of them that catch runoff from my roof and I use to water my tomatoes. They freeze solid every winter and have been 8 years now without even a leak when the steel drums I used first pushed the ends out.

    I put a steel drum in the ground over my septic tank and it lasted about 6 years before it started caving in from the rust. I will be replacing it with plastic this summer. If you use steel tar the heck out of it inside and out or it won’t last ten years. This is extra important with today’s extra thin steel drums that are less than half as thick as they were back in the 70s and early 80s.

    Plastic drums are the Rodney Dangerfield of drums, they get no respect but they are much stronger than people give them credit for. They were originally designed for chemicals and to take a 4’ drop to concrete when full, like falling off a truck. Try that with a steel drum and it explodes the ends right off where the plastic bounces right back.
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    Or use galvanized barrels, they wont rust out.

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    Default Plastic barrel question

    I don't have a dog in this fight, just wondering about the concept of making use of plastic barrels.

    I recognize and would myself be warry of building a cabin on top of a series of sealed plastic drums. However the idea got me to thinking. Rather than lay your timbers on the top of the plastic barrels, where theoretically they could cave or crack in the cold, would it be a better suggestion to bury the drum 3/4 or fully, lay in a steel or thick plastic base, (or maybe even fiberglass to reinforce the bottom of the plastic drum) at the bottom of the barrel for support, then throw in a stout wood verticle pillar into the plastic barrel and surround the pillar with gravel contained within the barrel. A top lid, cut out to the diameter of the pillar could be fabricated to keep out water, perhaps out of liquid plastic or even a some more of that fiberglass to seal in the top of the barrel from water seepage and you might even consider some water drain holes in the bottom of the barrel, just in case. The idea is to contain the heavy gravel within a long lasting dry environment that would facilitate the non-rotting properties of pressure treated pillar/posts. Seems to me that this system would provide a stable post and beam constructed base from which to build upon. I envision some criss crossing diagonal string lines to square up the pillars to a level height and you're on your way to a very durable long lasting pillar foundation.

    Thoughts/comments on the viability of this idea?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ex1811 View Post
    I don't have a dog in this fight, just wondering about the concept of making use of plastic barrels.

    I recognize and would myself be warry of building a cabin on top of a series of sealed plastic drums. However the idea got me to thinking. Rather than lay your timbers on the top of the plastic barrels, where theoretically they could cave or crack in the cold, would it be a better suggestion to bury the drum 3/4 or fully, lay in a steel or thick plastic base, (or maybe even fiberglass to reinforce the bottom of the plastic drum) at the bottom of the barrel for support, then throw in a stout wood verticle pillar into the plastic barrel and surround the pillar with gravel contained within the barrel. A top lid, cut out to the diameter of the pillar could be fabricated to keep out water, perhaps out of liquid plastic or even a some more of that fiberglass to seal in the top of the barrel from water seepage and you might even consider some water drain holes in the bottom of the barrel, just in case. The idea is to contain the heavy gravel within a long lasting dry environment that would facilitate the non-rotting properties of pressure treated pillar/posts. Seems to me that this system would provide a stable post and beam constructed base from which to build upon. I envision some criss crossing diagonal string lines to square up the pillars to a level height and you're on your way to a very durable long lasting pillar foundation.

    Thoughts/comments on the viability of this idea?

    I think they were going to fill the plastic barrels with concrete.

    I don't mind the idea of a hole full of gravel with just a block of treated wood on top. There are log cabins over 100 years old in Eagle with the bottom log sitting right on the soil. It's rotten...but still there. Mind you...I haven't seen these cabins myself, this is word of mouth. They might not be there after the flood last year.
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    I've been up to Eagle quite a few times before the flood and there were a lot of buildings with that sort of construction. Probably built in a time when they either did not know better or did not care about the structure lasting more than a couple of decades. There is lots of buildings like this all over the place built 50-100 years ago - Copper Center, McCarthy, etc.

    Anyways, the whole barrel thing is simply just a simple way that the people could build a structure and get the wood off the ground to prevent rot. They did not have treated timbers to work with and had to use the materials available and metal 55 gallon drums is what they had which ended up working fairly well. The fact that there are numerous examples of this in AK speaks to the practicality of the idea when you are really remote and don't have a lot of materials to work with.

    More than likely if you simply laid treated timbers directely on the ground the foundation would still be in pretty good shape by the time we are all dead and gone


    Quote Originally Posted by martyv View Post
    I think they were going to fill the plastic barrels with concrete.

    I don't mind the idea of a hole full of gravel with just a block of treated wood on top. There are log cabins over 100 years old in Eagle with the bottom log sitting right on the soil. It's rotten...but still there. Mind you...I haven't seen these cabins myself, this is word of mouth. They might not be there after the flood last year.

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    Default Foundation Recommendations

    I have done several crib foundation designs in the bush communities over the past few years and here are some of my recommendations.

    I highly recommend that you go with the treated timbers, regardless of how you get them out there, ensure that they are "dry" when installed. Lag them together with galvanized lag bolts to help resist corrosion.

    As for the soils information you have reported above, get rid of the organics and ensure that the timbers are bearing directly on the rock / gravel of the site, even if this means digging. This will ensure that you will NOT have heaving problems, removing the need for the jacks you linked above. Should you need to jack / level, use a regular bottle jack; it'll be kept inside and a smaller chance of rusting / freezing in position.

    Recommend first two layers are of sufficient width to spread out the loading, alternate the layers and lag together, after that, use timbers on the exterior and continue alternation of layers. (PDF attached of what I'm talking about).

    Simpson Strong Tie makes a couple good connectors to tie the main timbers of the home to the timber cribbing. Or you can just lag everything together to resist the seismic loads.

    As for the lags, make sure you have at least enough threads to get grip of 1/2 the thickness of the lower timber, ie. use min 12" lags for 8" timbers. Pre-drill for anything over 1/2" diameter. Minimum 2 lags per connection.

    I typically call out 1/2" dia. lags for treated 8x8 timbers.

    HTH
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    This is where I am at right now with the plans for the cabin... 14x20' with 10" logs.... I can't figure out how to attach files, so I hope the url shows up.

    Thank you for the info on setting up cribbing... that is a very feasible approach. I will be over at the site this spring and I will check and see how far down until I am on gravel.

    link to pic: http://www.flickr.com/photos/26316359@N05/4349932392/

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    That’s a great PDF detail, the only thing I would do different is pin it down. I would drive about fore 1/2"X48” rebar through the bottom cribs bending over and embedding the last couple inches flush into the top of the crib. They would rust in place to help stop any lift and laterals.
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    While I agree to pin it down, it was a detail just to show what I was talking about in concerns to the timbers. I have called for the first two layers to be buried in NFS material or pinned in a similar manner as you suggest in the past. It all depends on the project location.

    As for why the OP can't post attachments, its due to your current post count. You do not have enough as of yet to post them. It can be a pain, but it's to keep down the spam.

    HTH

    Bill

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    http://www.ahfc.state.ak.us/iceimage...-bsmt-crwl.pdf

    Page 4 shows some examples of crib foundations that might not be as labor or material intensive as your example in the photo.

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