Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘asphalt driveway

That’s Done

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We are thrilled to have a new driveway and even more thrilled to be able to enjoy some peace and quiet today. While the paving crew was working on Tuesday, we needed to choreograph access for the regularly scheduled delivery of a pallet’s worth of 50lb bags of feed for the horses.

Yesterday, it was allowing access for the farrier to get in and trim the horse’s hooves. All this was achieved under a constant soundtrack of propane burners, diesel engines, and backup beepers. We ended up using a back route through a few gates and across the hay field to move some people and equipment in and out.

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Actually, we’ve decided to use the back route across the hay field from now on and not let any vehicles ever drive on the new asphalt. It looks too good to mess up with traffic driving on it. It’s like having a brand new car and freaking out over the possibility of the first scratch or dent happening.

It was very rewarding to see the new asphalt laid all the way to the road. Maybe the township will notice the road is beginning to look as bad as our old asphalt did and schedule repair/replacement sooner than later. I’m beginning to feel like a pavement snob.

Honestly, even though I’ve longed for this new driveway for years, I’m suddenly becoming aware that I now have to adjust my attitude from complete disdain and intentional neglect to actually caring for it. I shudder at the thought of rolling the big tires of the Ford New Holland diesel tractor over the pristine surface of asphalt on a warm, sunny day.

If a parked delivery truck has an oil leak, I’ll become distressed. Most of all, I’ll labor over deciding when a new seal coat is needed.

Ah, but that is not living in the moment. Today, I will focus on the present. The project of getting the old driveway fixed is done. Well, mostly done. We could only afford to have the asphalt applied. The landscaping of the edges remains for us to do.

I may dabble with picking up loose big rocks today, but most of all, I hope to allow time to enjoy the comparative quiet of having no big machines rumbling for the first time all week.

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Written by johnwhays

July 21, 2022 at 6:00 am

Million Bucks

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It was an asphalt ballet as workers seamlessly moved around obstacles and each other to wield their specialty tools or switch them out with another to work the hot material into the perfect final form.

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In the areas by the house and the shop/garage the new asphalt was overlaid on top of the old driveway surface. We were able to do that because the base in these sections had stood the test of time and not fallen apart like so much of the rest of the driveway. I had no idea how they would start the process and was duly impressed to see what they could achieve using just their hand tools.

The Bobcat would deliver a bucketful of loose hot asphalt and the crew then made quick work of shaping and packing the first edge with their “T” poles. The big machine would then move in and set up directly over what they started and slowly roll away leaving a perfect layer of pavement behind it.

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At every seam or corner edge, the guys wordlessly collaborated to fill gaps, shape edges, and perfect the finish of the surface. They all demonstrated an impressive attention to detail.

The garage gained a new piece of equipment.

Almost looks like it belongs, although I’m not sure I would be able to put it to good use beyond flattening all the mole hills and tunnels annoyingly prevalent everywhere we turn.

By the end of their workday, they stopped between the shop/garage and the turnout to the barn. Today, they won’t have to deal with any more corners. It’s just a straight shot to the road now. If all goes well, they should complete their work today.

Already, the portion they have completed has our place looking like a million bucks.

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Written by johnwhays

July 20, 2022 at 6:00 am

Driveway 2.0

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Our next big project is now underway. We have committed to spending too many of our hard-earned saved dollars to fix the driveway that has been crumbling since the first few months after we arrived here. That was almost ten years ago. In the ongoing saga of our adventure of leaving the suburbs to create a sanctuary of rural bliss that we call Wintervale, this improvement on the land might be the least important but the most visible.

The old dilapidated pavement was still driveable, but it looked completely neglected (it was!) and was becoming increasingly more of a nuisance by the day. Smooth new asphalt will be a joy to have and it will make this place look even more amazing than it already did despite the lousy driveway surface.

We are contracting with two different companies that have worked together many times before. Yesterday, the excavating company that has supported us on multiple projects in the past, started the process of removing the old asphalt from a majority of the length. Specifically, the portion just above the shop garage all the way down to the road.

The asphalt company will overlay new pavement on top of the old asphalt in front of the shop garage and up to the house where little deterioration was evident.

After the excavators pulled up the first chunks of asphalt, they deduced the material used for the base looked like it was not as coarse as they recommend and it was not applied as thick as it should have been, especially in the low area where wetness and our clay soil combine to create a potential for problems.

Watching the process was mesmerizing for me. I stared in wonder like a little kid. The man operating the backhoe was an artist, deftly manipulating the controls to efficiently pull up and then break chunks of asphalt in one smooth motion.

After the first load of broken asphalt was hauled away, the truck returned with a full load of gravel to slowly pour out over the length of the excavated section. Then, that truck would be positioned beside the backhoe to receive more removed asphalt.

Eventually, a second truck showed up with gravel and joined the rotation. By quitting time, they had torn up about three-quarters of the length. They should be able to finish the entirety of their portion of the work before the end of the day today.

The asphalt company has us on their schedule to start next Monday with their work. When the quote was made this spring, the man said it would be best if they could lay the pavement during the hottest days of summer. It is looking good at this point with high temperatures in the 90s°F expected.

When your driveway is 900 feet long over two rolling hills, it becomes a significant feature of the overall property. I’m really looking forward to having ours updated to a new and improved version 2.0.

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Written by johnwhays

July 12, 2022 at 6:00 am

This Why

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This is why we can’t have a nice paved driveway like the other folks around here whose asphalt looks incredibly well-maintained.

We have an ongoing need for dump-truck loads of lime screenings for our paddocks.

That loaded dump-truck really makes an impression on the land. As he prepared to depart, I asked the driver to NOT center his truck on the driveway on the way out, and instead to run one set of wheels right down the middle. I’ve been trying to do the same with our vehicles ever since his visit last year, but haven’t had much effect on the eruption of cracked pavement the truck left for us that time.

Household discussion last night:

John: “Should I try to spread some lime screenings tomorrow?”

Cyndie: “Maybe.”

J: “Should I pull the T-posts instead?”

C: “Maybe.”

J: “Should I move the composted manure out?”

C: “Maybe.”

J: “Should I work on dividing the chicken coop?”

C: “Maybe.”

I think she got my point, and seeing as how I wasn’t getting any help with prioritizing, I chose not to continue with the thirteen other things also deserving attention.

It’s a good thing we are so smitten with each other, or these kinds of exchanges would take on additional unstated intentions. In our case, it just added to the love already present. Her refusal to take my bait brought a smile to my face. Our current healthy communication is a return on an investment we made long ago toward a few years of couples therapy.

This is why we can have nice conversations unburdened by alternate unstated agendas.

Well, that and the fact Cyndie gracefully puts up with my endless ribbing. If she wasn’t so saintly, I’d have needed to make myself a bed out in Delilah’s kennel years ago.

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Good Footing

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It’s the time of year again when the thawing ground turns to mud, especially in areas where the horses walk. The first couple of years after we moved here were extremely wet in the spring, so we got a thorough lesson in worst case scenarios. The best thing that came from that was a recommendation for using limestone screenings in our paddocks.

I was unsure, at first. The searches for information we conducted tended toward extensive projects involving removal of all topsoil to some significant depth, and then installing expensive plastic grids and laying down thick layers of sand or crushed stone.

We opted for the least complicated idea, as a first test. We simply spread a thick layer of limestone screenings over the existing soil. The first time it rained, I figured we had made a big mistake. The lime screenings took on the water and became like thick, wet concrete. The horses sank right down in it. If it got below freezing overnight, the endless craters of their hoof prints would create an almost unnavigable landscape until the next thaw.

All it took was added time for the screenings to cycle through being packed down by the horses and baked by the sun, to set into a firm base that could support the horse’s weight. Other than the setbacks of losing a lot of material when heavy downpours created deep rills and washed screenings away, the overall result was proving to be worthy.

We simply ordered more limestone screenings and filled in the voids. So far this year, the surface is holding. Look at the dramatic difference from the areas we haven’t covered yet:

IMG_iP1148eIMG_iP1154e.

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We definitely need to order more, as we have yet to cover the critical heavy traffic areas around, and through, gate openings. The big challenge with bringing in more loads of screenings is the damage caused by the trucks delivering the heavy weight. We need to determine the right compromise of cost per benefit. A smaller truck would do less damage, but having smaller loads delivered drives up the cost a huge amount.

I find it hard to decide how to calculate the cost of damage that the full-sized truck does. Mostly, it costs me peace of mind, as it bums me out to break up more of the asphalt or get deep compressed ruts on our land. We figure the driveway is already a lost cause, so it becomes a matter of tolerating the additional damage until we take on the project of resurfacing it. Getting rid of the deep ruts hasn’t been a piece of cake, either, and who knows what damage it is doing to roots or my buried drain tubes.

For the most part, we plan to confine dump trucks to our driveway, and we will just have to move the delivered loads to any final destinations using our tractor.

Here’s a shot of Hunter showing how nice and dry the footing is on the well-set limestone screenings up near the barn. Niiiiice.

IMG_iP1147eNo complex process of soil removal and inorganic sub-surface installation. Just limestone screenings dumped on top of the existing surface and spread out to a depth of 6-8 inches. Oh, and time. About a year of horse traffic, hot sun interspersed with soaking rain, more limestone screenings to replace what runs off, more sun, and more packing. Walaah. Good footing.

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Written by johnwhays

March 3, 2016 at 7:00 am