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Screw piling or helical pilings

 
Posts: 19
Location: Sleetmute, Alaska
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Has anyone out there in permies-land ever used hand installable screw pilings to build on?  I’m looking at getting some but having difficulty finding a USA based supplier.  Everyone I’ve looked at so far says they need their hydraulic equipment to install which won’t work with my very remote location.  
 
steward
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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I haven't seen them but would this be an option: Titan deck foot

My buddy builds saunas and he uses a cement thing with diagonal holes in it.  He drives steel rods through the angled holes and it locks the piling in place.  My google-fu is letting me down at the moment or I'd post a link...
 
Posts: 1133
Location: Bendigo , Australia
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Screw piles are used in land that has been filled or land which is very spongee so to speak.
Foundations need to solid and unsinkable.
Screw piles are usually screwed into the soil until a particular amount of resistance is measured.
One pile may go down 2M and another 6M.
Other than for fences I an not sure what you are seeking exists.
Tell us more about what you are planning?
 
John C Daley
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Location: Bendigo , Australia
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Those Titan devices appear to be very useful for small stuctures, they may suit your tak.
 
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Anything can be done with enough muscle power. Usually for these things we use an attachment for a skid and those can go most places. Screw-piles work great in a lot of soils if you install them correctly. What kind of site/soil do you have?
screw_pile.png
Manual Screw-Pile
Manual Screw-Pile
 
T Hayden
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Location: Sleetmute, Alaska
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There are a couple of products that I have been looking at that gave me this idea to begin with.  The first comes from Technometal post.  It is a large foundation helical pile, but the screw is about 12” in diameter and requires hydraulic equipment to install.   A no go for my location.  I am located 200 miles by air from the nearest installer and my location would only be float plane accessible to them.  I need something I can lug up the hill on my back.  Then I found a Finnish company called Paalupiste that has a screw with a 6” blade that can be put in by hand, 1 or 2 guys and a couple of pipes will do the job.  But, I haven’t seen anything like it available in the US yet.  Close to the Paalupiste 150mm is the Pylex 10555, again it’s got a 6” blade, but it has a much smaller pipe, only 1.25”.  I’d like to find something that’s made from 2” schedule 40, schedule 80 pipe would be better, and hot dip galvanized instead of powder coated would be good I think.  I want to put an 8x16 sauna on some and also a large timberframe high cache of 12x12 base dimensions and an overall height to the peak of about 20’. For the high cache I could just sink 4 long trees 6’ in the ground, but then how do I keep them from rotting out?  The ground is hilly terrain with moss and tree roots for the first 6” to a foot, then dirt for as far down as I’ve cared to dig so far.  There’s gravel down there somewhere, I just haven’t hit any yet.
 
Posts: 207
Location: Beavercreek, OR
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I'm feeling inspired by chefs who "deconstruct" things like an omelette and somehow recreate the experience with a hard-boiled egg and an onion salad.

The piling does two things:
1) it holds the building up from the ground and prevents it from sinking down further
2) it holds the building down and keeps it from being blown away

So ... why not separate those two functions into two separate pieces?

Use found rocks or somesuch to keep the building from sinking.  Use screw-in anchors as anti-wind tie downs.

If rocks aren't an option, I've used OzPost products in several projects.  Nothing magical about them - its a giant lawn dart that you drive into the ground and then add a wood or steel post.  With this: https://ozcobp.com/product/12-oz-deck-plate-for-t4/ added, you've got a lot of surface area to prevent sinking.  But not so good at the "resisting the wind" thing.  

For the wind, just add screw-in tie-downs.  These are available everywhere - some are itty things meant to hold a badminton net, others are earthquake straps for mobile homes, and my local logging rigger sells massive ones with a 10" screw that can take up to 13,000lb pull. see https://www.westechrigging.com/arborist---tree-gear-helical-auger-anchors.html.

Given your remote location, the duckbill anchors might be a good alternative - these rely on a cable instead of a shaft of steel to take the load and thus are a LOT lighter. See https://www.westechrigging.com/shop-by-brand-duckbill.html
 
John C Daley
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Location: Bendigo , Australia
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What about building it so it floats on the ground?
Are you building in snow country ?
Perhaps tell us more?
Are you carrying in timber, or using timber from the site?
 
T Hayden
Posts: 19
Location: Sleetmute, Alaska
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There are lots of buildings around here that are built on a kind of floating foundation.  Most of the houses are on post and pad in the village. I’ve built this way lots of times, my garage, all of the saunas I’ve built, and even the timberframe airport terminal waiting area I built Are all sitting on post and pad foundations. It works, it’s cheap, but the freeze thaw cycle creates its own challenges.  I usually crib in a pretty substantial set of foundation beams underneath to help the building stay together.  It is not uncommon for the pads to heave differently throughout the seasons, so even with the heavy timber cribbing I end up with issues with doors shifting and getting sticky at different times of the year.  The house I currently live in is sitting on a frost protected concrete footer and even this shifts with the seasons.  The deal with the screw piles that I’d really like to try is to get below the frost line with the screw and see if it really will eliminate the heaving issues I experience with pretty much all of the other systems that I’ve used.  I could do straight pilings, but unless you put a pretty significant foot on them, the frost will even heave these right out of the ground. Please, try to remember that I am in a pretty remote location.  Anything that requires heavy equipment, tons of excavation, or yards of concrete just aren’t feasible.

For my homestead project, I have a portable sawmill, WoodMizer LT20 aluminum.  It’s kind of a rare model, as they only made the aluminum one for a couple of years in the 80’s, but it fits my needs. It breaks down small enough to fit in a small plane and I can carry everything but the saw head by myself.  I drag logs to the mill with a chainsaw winch and use a peavey to move them around from there.  It’s all a lot of manual work, but I enjoy it.  Once milled into boards or beams I can usually manage them by hand. A 16’ 8x8 is a chore to carry, but not so much that me and my wife can’t move it together.  All of the framing material is cut from spruce, trim work and flooring from birch and I also make paneling from cottonwood or black poplar.  I try to cut as much of my material at or near by the place that I’m building.  I’ll mill up to 5 miles away and boat lumber back to the site if I need to.  I did bring in 1700 lbs of framing material last year from 100 miles away, but that was just cause I didn’t have my mill there yet.  The frost line is between 4 and 5 feet here.  We get around 4 feet of standing snow in the fields, a little less in the woods.  Spring doesn’t start till May, no matter what the groundhog says.
 
Mike Haasl
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Posts: 7478
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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This might be a dumb question then, but why not just dig down 6-8 feet and use concrete footings (sonotubes or the like)?
 
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