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    Default OT - how to dig a very narrow trench in soil?

    I'm tired of renting a DitchWith type of trencher and cutting a 4" wide trench across my lot when I want to lay a bit of pipe or conduit that is 1" wide. The backfilling is always a pain and leaves a visual scar fro some time.

    In this case, I want to run a single length of 12ga. UF-G direct burial 'Romex' type cable about 200'.

    I'm thinking there must be some way to create a thin trench- maybe 1" wide at most - to allow that.

    Could I fabricate a disc with a stop then bolt it to my truck's rear end in place of a wheel? I could then just drive 200' and be done. I'm thinking it would sink pretty well in the damp rock-less dirt around here. Hell, even with a normal tire the truck leaves a good rut.

    Or? Is there some other method that is not too costly and/or time consuming?

    I also have a tractor with a PTO...but it seems making a spinning trencher gets costly quick

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    The local CATV company used a Case Minisneaker (vibratory plow)to plow in tv lines and you can hardly tell it was there afterwards. Something along those lines would do it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GregSY View Post

    I also have a tractor with a PTO...but it seems making a spinning trencher gets costly quick
    How big of a "Tractor" ?
    Single Tine Ripper 3-Point Pipelayer-Pipe Layer Attachment

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    The Comcast guy buried my new cable a few years back. He used a shovel to make a slit and pry the ground open a little, then stuffed the cable into the slit with his fingers. It only took a few minutes to bury about 50 feet of cable. It was invisible within a few days. I think the cable is about 2 or 3 inches deep, more or less.

    But I think real electricity, like 110 or 220 V, should be a lot deeper than that. Is the minimum depth in the NEC? My American Electricians Handbook 12th Ed. division 9, section 218 says the minimum is 24 inches for unprotected UF cable. Rental time?

    Larry

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    Neighbors chainsaw! But seriously, there is a type of trencher I saw at our local hire centre, basically a chainsaw with dirt specific chain. I've seen a guy lay data cable with one, seemed effortless and fast.

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    A friend of mine bought one of those chainsaw jobs from a company that sells logging supplies in the Wash./Oregon area. Big fat blue catalog. The chain was available in 2 widths. Something like 7/8 and 1¼.

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post


    Probably not big enough to pull that through the soil! I have a homemade ripper and I can't bury it very far without it stopping me.

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    The vibratory plow looks good but it doesn't seem anyone here rents them...which is odd considering how big Houston is.

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    Take a look at the machines they use to install lawn irrigation tubing and see if that provides an idea of how to do it. As I recall they leave a very narrow slit.

    Edit: This is based on 12" depth which is allowable only if 120v at 20A max with GFCI at feed end (Column 4, top row).

    http://www.xwalk.com/images/Table_30...over_Reqts.pdf

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    Whatever you decide on using, DO call the local utilities so they can come out and mark the existing runs BEFORE you start. Otherwise, it will be your fault when you cut into one. $$$$$s.

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    The smallest trenching shovel I have seen is about 2" wide.* I think you could make up two parallel disks about 18" diameter with a spacer between. Maybe two old big saw blades. Use it to rip the ground on both sides of the trench then use a shovel to remove the dirt between. Kind of like the old edgers on steroids. A rototiller could be the start of the power source.
    Search for "pipe puller" to get more ideas
    Bill D

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    I don't see myself digging 24" deep...that's for sure.

    I wonder if I'd gain some degree of credibility if I didn't have an underground line but rather a "buried extension cord"? In other words, the cable would be buried but at the power source end (my shop) it would not be permanently connected. In order to send power down the cable, you'd have to plug it into the exterior wall, just like you would with an extension cord. I could even have it plug into a GFCI receptacle.

    This is because the run of cable is needed only once in a great while, like for 45 minutes once a week or less.

    Yes, I could drag a real extension cord out there but that poses too much in terms of pain-in-the-ass and risk of someone tripping over it. Plus I'd have to reel it in every time or fear mowing it over with the lawnmower.

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    How deep does the trench need to be? There are lots of different disk blades out there that should easily make a 1" trench. I know they come in at least 30" diameter for use on chisel plows and disk rippers in this area. You can get flat, convex, fluted, etc. Or use two disk blades placed in a v configuration, (like Bill suggested) with the leading edges of the blades almost touching, and the rear edges spaced an inch or so apart. Run a pipe vertical in-between the disks and feed the cable through the pipe and into the trench as you make it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GregSY View Post
    I don't see myself digging 24" deep...that's for sure.

    I wonder if I'd gain some degree of credibility if I didn't have an underground line but rather a "buried extension cord"? In other words, the cable would be buried but at the power source end (my shop) it would not be permanently connected. In order to send power down the cable, you'd have to plug it into the exterior wall, just like you would with an extension cord. I could even have it plug into a GFCI receptacle.

    This is because the run of cable is needed only once in a great while, like for 45 minutes once a week or less.

    Yes, I could drag a real extension cord out there but that poses too much in terms of pain-in-the-ass and risk of someone tripping over it. Plus I'd have to reel it in every time or fear mowing it over with the lawnmower.
    Forty five minutes, once a week?

    I'd prolly go fetch a stout inverter and pull that tractor or pickup out to where I needed the power, run off battery. Or hand-truck a battery or two plus inverter out there manually.

    Could probably buy a small gen set for the same cost as Ditch-Witch rental plus backfill and re-landscaping labour. One run of #12 is only about 2400 Watts worth if even you need all of that anyway.

    Or a PTO generator head for the tractor.

    Then you'd have a general-purpose solution for other use as well. Not to mention 200 feet less of copper wire to buy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GregSY View Post
    In this case, I want to run a single length of 12ga. UF-G direct burial 'Romex' type cable about 200'.
    What's the voltage drop on this 12 ga. 200' run?

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    I haven't looked but I am confident it won't be too much. Or I could use 10ga wire. But essentially I'm only looking to run a couple light bulbs or a very small motor so I am anticipating 5 amps or less draw.

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    I have a generator but I'd rather not hear the noise of it. Plus it becomes a pain to drag out there, too. If I can't just walk out and start using the power, it's going to limit my actual use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GregSY View Post
    I haven't looked but I am confident it won't be too much. Or I could use 10ga wire. But essentially I'm only looking to run a couple light bulbs or a very small motor so I am anticipating 5 amps or less draw.
    5 A @ 120 or 600 VA.

    IF you don't mind buying a PAIR of, say 750 VA 120/240 <=> 48 VAC dry type 'grounds lighting' transformers, I *think* code will let you traverse that 200 feet as "Class 2" and not have to go 2+ feet deep. Around 12.5 A @ 48 VAC to give you 5 A @ 120 VAC, so even #14 would do, #12 better for lower Ohmic loss.

    A 'mini-breaker' that screws into an Edison-base socket on the same duplex outlet box cover as the ON/OFF switch is what I use to get the low amperage for my yard lights here as the branch circuit it taps is a 20A one for the other outlets on it.

    If laying shallow, I'd use plastic conduit, marker tape above, even for Class 2, just to reduce risk of a landscaping shovel-cut years after the route has been forgotten about creating extra work.

    Someone on PM will know the current Code. I am no longer he.

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    I wonder if you could cobble together about a 1hp electric motor with old mower blade on it and put it on a swing arm hanging off your trailer hitch. Even could make it out of a couple of 2x4s and a couple of bolts. Put a platform at motor end so you can pile some weight on it to control bouncing.

    Here hold my beer and watch this.....

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    Check rental stores. There is a trencher that works like a huge lawn edger. Has carbide teeth. Lowes rental stores (Sun Coast) has them. The one I use belongs to a propane store in Dayton, You use a broon rake to put the dirt back. Sorry I do not know the actual name of the machine.


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