After consulting the Google gods and finding out a lot about concrete 'piers' (that's what they call them in America) but not much about wooden piles I just decided to treat them like house piles.
I paid our neighbour’s son (who was fundraising for a soccer trip) to dig seven holes for me 600mm deep and about 400mm wide. The soil was very dry and hard so I was really lucky that I could pay the poor boy to do it. His Dad even got roped in to help – he’s a good sport!
However, before getting started on our “plan A”, we changed to a “plan B” when the helpful fellow at our local building supplier advised me that rather than using standard timber piles, it would be better to use bowman brackets. These clever metal brackets are inserted into the wet concrete and then timber bearers (8 x 4 inches) can “simply” be bolted onto them. This sounded like a good idea to me because I was worried about getting the piles level, and this seemed like the easier option. If this all sounds a bit complicated for you, you might want to skip the next paragraph, which mentions some of that maths stuff you learned at high school and thought you’d never have to use in real life!!
After getting a trailer load of builders mix, my partner Gabor and I put in the first set of piles on a wet Saturday afternoon. It all seemed to go reasonably well, and later that week I used a string line and Pythagoras’ theory (!!) to mark out the perfect angles to put the rest of the piles in their holes. Luckily my good friend Kirsten came around and after some adjusting (and more Pythagoras) we managed to concrete the rest of the piles in. Oh and when I say I used Pythagoras’ theory, I did actually kind of cheat by using a calculator. Although dredging all that “A squared plus B squared equals C squared” out of the depths of the “I’ll never need to use that” section of my brain was no mean feat in itself!
So, the whole process is going swimmingly thus far, and as you can imagine, really, nothing could possibly go wrong… (you may detect a hint of sarcasm in that sentence).
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