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portable wood shed (on skids)

 
paul wheaton
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This is from a design I drew ten years ago.

The idea is that you drag this out to where the trees are that you want to cut up for firewood. You fill the shed and leave the shed in the woods. When winter rolls in and you need wood, drag the shed to where you need it. The wood is now much drier - so everything will be lighter.

 
John Polk
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I like that. Not only will the wood be lighter when you decide to move it, but if there is enough snow on the ground, there is a lot less friction involved in the towing operation. I know people in ME, VT area that only move their firewood when there is plenty of snow on the ground.

Besides that, here in WA, the tax assessor includes wood sheds in the property assessment (as improvements). If it was not attached to the ground, or a building, perhaps he would not be able to call it a property improvement.

 
David Livingston
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Sorry but a tax on building a woodshed ?!
Is the oxygen still free?
Paul how much do you expect the shed to weigh? Are you just going to drag it on level ground ? Uphill? Downhill?
The one good reason I can think of gettting a horse would be to move tree trunks

David
 
Tom Gauthier
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Just doing the math ...

I am making an assumption here, but that shed looks to be 8'x8'x8', which is 512 cubic feet.
Air-dried oak (20% moisture) weighs about 45 lbs per cubic foot.

Therefore you'll be skidding 23,000 lbs !!!

You also need to consider not just the weight, but the ground pressure on each skid ... it could be tough sledding.

- Tom
 
Peter Smith
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I like the idea, but I think it would need some cross bracing. It appears to have none, and the first time it sticks a bit, I think your wood would fall over shed and all.
 
David Livingston
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I wasnt just thinking the mass but the momentum and on ice ......

I have noticed it gets a bit cold out there
The idea of drying before moving it is great

David
 
Michael Cox
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Also, I presume you'll be throwing logs in loose, rather than neatly stacking. Neat stacks will fall all over the place when you start moving.
 
Sam Barber
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There actually is cross bracing in the wood shed. However since the picture is of the top of the shed it is kind of hard to see it. Here is a picture of the cross bracing as seen at a different angle.
Office rocket mass heater and porta shed 012.JPG
[Thumbnail for Office rocket mass heater and porta shed 012.JPG]
 
Peter Smith
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That looks to be in the floor, which is important, but I don't think it will stand up to dragging unless you have a way to pull evenly on all three skids simultaneously. Also I think the walls will need bracing. Stopping and starting will be hard on them.
 
Sam Barber
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[quote] Just doing the math ...

I am making an assumption here, but that shed looks to be 8'x8'x8', which is 512 cubic feet.
Air-dried oak (20% moisture) weighs about 45 lbs per cubic foot.

Therefore you'll be skidding 23,000 lbs !!!

You also need to consider not just the weight, but the ground pressure on each skid ... it could be tough sledding.
[/quote]

This would be true if we were putting one solid 8'x8'x8' block of oak into the shed without any airspace how ever this is not the case as there are no trees large enough to supply us with a piece of dried oak that large. But since we will be stacking four cords (4'x4'x8') of wood in the shed it will contain approximately 80% solid wood and bark and 20% airspace. So if we take those numbers and apply them to the 512 cubic feet we get approximately 409.6 cubic feet of solid wood and bark which if it is dried oak weighing 45 lbs per cubic foot with a 20% moisture content would only weigh 18,432 lbs. However a majority of the timber on the property is coniferous it will weigh much less. If we take the weight of dried Douglas Fir at 30 lbs per cubic foot and multiply it by the 409.6 we get the weight of 12288 lbs of split stacked wood.
 
Sam Barber
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There are only two skids on the wood shed and when we drag it is done really slowly so it won't need cross bracing on the walls.
 
Sam Barber
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Michael Cox wrote:Also, I presume you'll be throwing logs in loose, rather than neatly stacking. Neat stacks will fall all over the place when you start moving.

Well the plan is to stack the logs inside the wood shed so that we can fit more in then if just tossed them in. This will be alot less work since we will only need to stack the wood once.
 
Sam Barber
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So the plan is that the wood shed will be full enough so that the wood won't have any where to fall. and the entrance is going to have some straps across it during the moving process sop there won't be any logs falling all over the place.

I like the idea, but I think it would need some cross bracing. It appears to have none, and the first time it sticks a bit, I think your wood would fall over shed and all.
Also, I presume you'll be throwing logs in loose, rather than neatly stacking. Neat stacks will fall all over the place when you start moving.
 
David Livingston
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12000lb is still a lot if you try pulling it on runners and if it gets away from you .........
Its about 5000kg thats over 50 me s lots of momentum hard to get going and harder to stop . What are you going to use to pull 5 tonne ?

David
 
paul wheaton
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When it was about half done, Tim was doing some similar math and expressing that the next one we try should have a smaller capacity for similar reasons.

Of course, when fir dries, it usually gets closer to 15%. And, as a softwood, it is significantly less dense. But even still, we suspect that this will be too heavy.

Tim and I have already talked about some ideas to mitigate the weight. But we agree that the first thing to do is to use it as designed and see what happens.

As for cross bracing - there is a lot of cross bracing that isn't showing up in the pictures provided.
 
David Livingston
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I once wrote a car off as we say in the UK . I was being towed by a land rover out of a snow bank . He stopped ,my car just kept going in silence not fast but unstoppable into the land rover over the ice . brakes sterring no effect . It was scarey because it was in silence not fast but inevitable

David
 
paul wheaton
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It was built at basecamp, so it needs to go on a trailer to being its maiden voyage:




Now at the laboratory:

 
Sam Barber
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I think that due to the weight of it and the amount of friction supplied by the skids it isn't going to build up a lot of forward momentum.
 
Bill Erickson
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paul wheaton wrote:When it was about half done, Tim was doing some similar math and expressing that the next one we try should have a smaller capacity for similar reasons.

Of course, when fir dries, it usually gets closer to 15%. And, as a softwood, it is significantly less dense. But even still, we suspect that this will be too heavy.

Tim and I have already talked about some ideas to mitigate the weight. But we agree that the first thing to do is to use it as designed and see what happens.

As for cross bracing - there is a lot of cross bracing that isn't showing up in the pictures provided.


Looking at the pictures of the property I have seen, you are probably looking at some "fun" moving this around unless you are looking at fairly flat land. A smaller shed would likely work much better, but you'll need more of them. On one of my pieces of property, even in the snow, that monster isn't going anywhere fast, not without a dozer to haul it. Even on my flatter property, that would be fun, but with a dozer to pull, should bring to right to where I want it. Unfortunately, I only have a neighbor with a dozer at the topologically "interesting" property. I need to get up there and talk to him about this and see what he thinks.

Overall, I think it's a great idea, just may be a little more "fun" than expected, or a simple downsize might solve all of that.
 
paul wheaton
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Our electric tractor is on order and should be here in february.
 
gani et se
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You all have so much sun, and are so dry that plastic roofing isn't helpful for drying, but might be helpful for (a small amount of) weight reduction? Here I'd face the (plastic) roof south and enjoy faster drying time all summer. Of course here it would be skidding on MUD when it was time to move it.
 
Bill McGee
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The ancient Egyptians are thought to have moved the heavy stones of the pyramids with perpendiculalr rolling logs under the skids of large stones. Another thought is oiled log tracks were used under the skids. Windlass' also may have been used for lifting the skidded stones.

Maybe some of these applications could help.
 
Wytze Schouten
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Hi Paul,

This mobile shed is a winner! Nice roof too.

I'd say go for it. The risk of the thing not moving when full of wood, or not stopping once it does get momentum, is real. But...

1. There is a perfect use for this shed without such risk: if you only move it when it's empty. You will still have a great way to dry your wood in the location where it's been cut. That way, when it's ready for the fire, you will be using your wheelbarrow or whatever to collect lightweight firewood instead of heavy, wet logs. So that's progress in itself. When all the dried wood is gone, you move the shed to wherever it is needed next.

2. If you really do want to move the whole shed while full of (dried) logs, you could adjust your landscape and your logging plans to the shed, instead of the other way around. The principle should be: drag empty shed uphill, let full shed slide downhill.

How? From your home, create a path into the nearby loggable area. The path should be consistently uphill, even if that means it has to be a little bendy. Make sure your path isn't too steep, so the shed won't gain too much momentum. Optimize the shed for taking gentle bends, not for dragging wet logs across bumpy terrain with the risk of sudden mudslides, snowslides, etc.

Preferably, don't target the last stretch home straight at your house. Just in case.
Preferably, make sure the path ends in a gentle uphill incline. Let gravity stop the wood where you want it.

As for names, why not call it the Shled?

Or the Woodschlepp?

Trademark hereby granted

Good luck!
Wytze
 
Bill McGee
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And/or jack it up and add wheels to the skids when it's ready to tow. Use two tractors, one in front with a tow bar and the one in back to act as a brake when needed?
 
paul wheaton
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FWIW: I did a litte cruising around the internet and found that cord of dry pine or fir weighs about 2000 pounds. So if this structure is full, that would be about 8000 pounds. I found a lot of different places where people were arguing over a lot of different ways to measure it and finally found a spot where a guy actually went through scales before and after.

plastic: we are trying to move away from plastic as much as possible.

There is a perfect use for this shed without such risk: if you only move it when it's empty.


Exactly. I think for a lot of things, it is better to have done something poorly than to have done nothing. We can still get heaps of value out of this even if it doesn't end up doing what it was originally designed to do.

------

Tim and I have talked about off-road casters that can be mounted to the sleds of buildings on skids.

 
Bill Erickson
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Paul, I wasn't trying to Negative Nelly this. I agree that you do something and then see if it works, if it doesn't then you refigure and keep going until you have a solution.
8K pounds pulled across snow/ice should work fine with the tracked electric tractor that I think you are getting. The only fun part with all that weight will be getting it up onto the snow, might even need some soft of "ship's prow" arrangement so it cuts through the snow. That could easily be retrofitted to it.
I know a lot of people think that we don't get much snow, but I'm looking out my office window at the "3-5 inches" the weather guessers said we'd get here in the Flathead this past day and figure you guys got a much bigger slug down there in the Bitterrroot. This is fairly normal, just be glad we aren't getting what used to be the "normal temps" for this time of year. When I was a kid in the 70s, last week of January to middle of February was a nice day when it was -10F for a high.
Anyway, I'm interested in seeing how that bad boy hauls through snow with a load on it, and how well the tractor handles it.
 
paul wheaton
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Paul, I wasn't trying to Negative Nelly this.


Didn't see any of that.

This good information exchange is just the thing I want in these forums.

I designed this thing ten years ago. It's good to see it become a reality. The weight thing is something I had not fully penciled out. Now I am curious about how this might pan out with a full, dry load.

 
Paul Ely
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You could put wheels on one end. Depending upon the tractor you may be able to pick up the non-wheeled end when moving.

I do something similar with pallets and let the wood dry where it fell or where I unload it from my pick-up.

I have a masonry stove so need to split my wood more than a convential wood stove. I get used feed sacks from folks who farm that way. After splitting the wood it goes straight in a feed sack which then get stacked. As they breath the wood still drys well. When I need wood, just grab a feed sack. It's removed some on the wood handling. I was thinking of using hardy kiwi vines to tie bundles before I 'developed' the feed sack method.

Well done on the wood shed. My civil engineering background agrees that some cross bracing on the walls would be a smart investiment. There are bound to be some 'interesting' forces towing this across uneven ground.

Cheers...Paul
 
Bill McGee
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Are the sled runners rounded on the bottom (can't tell from the photo) that may slide better on frozen ground.
 
Bill McGee
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With a team like this you should be able to pull the shed
1472818_577563495645472_27920908_n.jpg
[Thumbnail for 1472818_577563495645472_27920908_n.jpg]
 
paul wheaton
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Since our EVs are 30 horse power, then we should be fine.

 
paul wheaton
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We are now talking about building another one of these. But smaller (thus more likely to be draggable).

First, I want to suggest something where the roof is a sort of board and batton. Not water proof, but it will shed 98% of the water. Then the shed roof can be hinged. When the roof is low, it is good for transportation, and when the roof is high it is good for access to the wood.

I think the new shed design should end up at about 1.5 to 2 cords.

So, maybe six feet wide, eight feet long, six feet tall at the back and five feet tall at the front. (and the front can be propped up to be 7 feet)

My math says that this is about two cords. So there is the weight of the shed plus about 4000 pounds. So probably still too heavy. But I feel like I want to try it and see.
skiddable-shed-roof.png
[Thumbnail for skiddable-shed-roof.png]
 
Mark Rose
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If you'll only be moving the shed in winter, using corrugated metal roofing on the bottom of runners will make even the big shed slide very easily on snow. Maybe too easily. You only need to see melting snow slough off a metal roof once to understand. It will also slide better than wood on soft ground. Make sure to bend it up both ends of the runners so it will compact snow. I would also countersink the screws so they don't shear off.

I would also add corner to corner cross bracing on the back side. It's likely when you stack wood inside that there will be a lot of weight pressing against the sides before you even move it. If you ever have to jerk the shed to get it moving, there's an excellent chance the momentum of the wood up top will have enough leverage to deform or break the shed. I would also consider removable corner to corner bracing for the front side.

I would build your new sheds at half the height where you won't have to worry about the momentum of the top wood, with 4x4x8 dimensions (1/4th the size). For a roof I would use a single sheet of plywood, perhaps hinged at the back, with a stick to prop it up when needed. If you're opening it daily in the winter the snow build up will never be that much. Make sure to fill it up enough to support the plywood while drying. Most rain falls straight down, so there's no need for much of a roof overhang, especially with the reduced height. The whole thing full of 2 year dry wood would weigh about 3000 lbs. That's manageable with any tractor. With four small sheds you can also spread them around, build narrower roads, and get them closer to your wood sources. At 3000 lbs, you could easily put wheels under them, too.
 
R Scott
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Look up deep snow sleigh runners. I will see if I can find a link when I am at a real computer, too.

Basically, you have a 2-4 inch strap of steel down the middle as the ice runner, the the log is chamfered so it won't drag on ice or dirt but help float in mud and snow.
 
Noah Jackson
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Good to see and the crew building so much, Paul. We've had many of the issues you've mentioned on the last few podcasts. Keep plugging away. For our sheep barn and chicken coop, which are both on skids, we've attached heavy-gauged metal roofing to the 4x4 and 4x6 skids. You can do something similar to preserve your wood, if you are worried about that. It's working out really well, and we can pull both buildings with our tractor. We've just used fir and utility grade salvaged timbers. Our moveable coop will eventually be upgraded to wheels, but the moveable coop moves every week and holds more than 120 birds and is quite heavy - much heavier than your empty woodshed, I reckon since it was a quick large-timber construction. For long term storage, when they aren't using them, we'll put those two skiddable buildings on blocks.

As we start to have multiple outbuildings with wood heat, we are electing to have the wood drying in separate sheds near the buildings. You've got the dump truck and, if you need another portable wood-getter, that f250 7.3 diesel we have is still for sale. Let me know if you are interested. It would be a great winter vegetable oil conversion vehicle if you want another project! Keep up the struggle.


R Scott wrote:Look up deep snow sleigh runners. I will see if I can find a link when I am at a real computer, too.

Basically, you have a 2-4 inch strap of steel down the middle as the ice runner, the the log is chamfered so it won't drag on ice or dirt but help float in mud and snow.
 
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