View Full Version : Can You dig it ?

05-19-2007, 08:06 PM
How hard is the digging in your area? I work in a valley with a hardpan layer on almost every job. Some is hard enough to make a D8 ripper chatter on top and not penetrate. Here a dozer without a ripper is usless, I know some of you must have good going as there are alot of bareback dozers in the sale magazines. DP

05-19-2007, 08:33 PM
Where I worked last summer in North Phoenix for a couple of weeks was a tall & hard lava bubble with exceptionally hard bunch of big boulders sorta cemented in. Very difficult for D8R to rip loose, tho the boulders on top weren't too bad. Had to clear ROW up to top without boulders going outside property line. Other location was virgin development further north off I-17. Ranged from topsoil to dust to rock to very hard rock tho still rippable with D9N, D8R didn't like it so good (house pads with 4" cut in sold rock). Dusty topsoil was laced with Valley Fever spores, Bad stuff!!!!! Pushed 631's here and the next job -- fun!.....

Further east job was clay with decomposed rock in strata or layers, some topsoil and reddish dirt, plus the hardest rock I've hit so far in Arizona. Much ripping and dozing with corner of blade to get an inch or two with D9N. Snapped ripper tips into two or more pieces in this stuff. Previous dozer hand on this last job didn't follow instructions and pushed fill into natural streambed of creek by highway. I had to go in with D9 and get it out. Very soft & wet and the more I worked it the worse it got. Bad deal, but I pushed most of it back uphill and the inspector was very happy.

Prefer to work a Cat with a ripper on the back, handy you know, but a winch or counterweight is fine depending on the work.

05-19-2007, 08:43 PM
Alot of clay, hardpan and rock around here. We wear out teeth on the excavators like they are butter.

05-20-2007, 02:05 PM
Red River Valley silt and clay around here. Topsoil about 3-4 feet deep, then 6-10 feet of yellow silt. Then you hit the most beautiful clay you can possibly work with, quite often it crumbles into little cubes once you start moving it around, then it packs back into place very nicely after. It is very nice for shaping. There are places where it gets very hard thow, Like right now we are digging the basement for the airport terminal in Winnipeg, very hard clay with little stones in it. Our trimmer man on the D3G, just hates it because he can't shave it, it just sucks his blade in. Gonna have to get the D5H in for him most likely.

King of Obsolete
05-20-2007, 05:04 PM
CatSkinner77V, any pictures of the project???? up here in the great white north, rock, swamp, sand, that is all.


05-20-2007, 05:13 PM
No I do not have any pictures, but i can take some on Tuesday if its not too wet by then, and i can get them on here for ya.

King of Obsolete
05-20-2007, 05:17 PM
oh it is pouring rain here in the KINGDOM, 15mm is to come tonight. good for meltng the ice away and that is it. going to be a mudddy week.
sounds like a lousy long weekend in the south too.


05-21-2007, 10:54 PM
we have mostly clay that turns to muck when wet. some rock but nothing that a little blasting wont solve.

05-22-2007, 02:17 PM
Tons of rock here...........

05-23-2007, 07:34 PM
mostly sand. might hit some clay everynow and then.

05-23-2007, 09:49 PM
Here on one job you can several different materials, so you never know.

05-24-2007, 10:07 AM
I dug up a Volkswagen once:beatsme ........but mostly its sand and rock here.

(Being the conscientious earthworker I am; I did check the Volkswagen for tourists before I buried it again:rolleyes: )

05-24-2007, 05:43 PM
heh, pretty nice up where im at. just good ole clay, with a little rock,

I have worked in a area where it must have been a scrap yard/ junkyard back in the 60's.

I started digging, the clay was bright orange like rust...

go a little further..... bam, start hitting engine blocks! the Junkyard went outta business and musta buried everything right in the lot to clear it out? .... was pretty funny.

If i had found that now with iron and steel prices so high... id have pulled all that metal out, and shipped it off to the local scrap yard sadly its back and buried under a couple office buildings now :/

08-30-2007, 09:28 PM
Beautiful hard carolina red clay!

08-30-2007, 09:45 PM
lots of clay and solid rock. Some places you'll hit glacial till that will wear a set of teeth out in no time. digging with an ex310 and you are lucky to scratch 3 inches off with each pass.

08-30-2007, 10:28 PM
Good old glacial till, thanks for reminding me. We hit that on job digging the foundation. It took 3 days with a backhoe. We did the whole project and needed to save money on every turn so we just parked the backhoe there to use for everything.

It was an old farmers field so the top foot we took off with just the front bucket. Just about the time we were thinking about finishing in half a day, the bucket just stopped going down:Banghead . Should have just rented an excavator, but it didn't seem right when the backhoe was right there. Oh well, lesson learned.

08-30-2007, 10:41 PM
last foundation i dug in till was only 3' deep, and the footprint wasnt that big. took 3 days with a 160 and i ate a set and a half of teeth.

Deas Plant
08-31-2007, 06:19 AM
Hi, Folks.
Interesting thread. Well mostly, we 'dig' operating machines. LOL.

On a more serious note:

The main area that I work in has a LOT of different soil and rock types. They range from genuine, unadulterated sand, through coffee rock (indurated sand - great for wearing out tracks), red basaltic clay that is hell to compact in anything over about 4" layers, to various other types of clays, including marine mud that sets almost like concrete, and on to various types of shales, some of which are rippable/diggable with a 943, 953 or Cat D5B, and some that are automatic hammer (rock breaker) country. There are about four small areas within this main area where we just plain don't go without an excavator with a hammer.

This area would be about 80 miles North/South by about 60 miles East/West, and ranges literally from the mountains - such as they are - to the sea and almost all of our work is levelling house sites. Up to 12 machines, working usually 5 1/2 days a week and just one customer, a major home builder, would have us level in the vicinity of 6-700 sites per year. On any given day, it is a fair bet that at least two of our machines are working for this particular builder. Toss in several more builders doing 3-400 sites per year and the odd developer's job lot of 40-60 sites in a single order and you have a fairly busy bunch of operators working a fair range of soils and rocks.

Tn Bulldog
09-09-2007, 01:54 PM
West Tn clay here round North of Memphis up towards Nashville when ya start hitting rock round here



09-09-2007, 07:19 PM
On the highway project where I´m currently working in south-western Iceland it is mostly lava, ranging from several hundred to several thousand years old. Much of it is rippable with smaller machines and much of it is absuloutely not. The other day the broke both the ripper, the bucket and the quick coupler on a Hitachi 760 excavator trying to loosen some of the boulders. So blasting or breaking with a. hyd. hammer is the only way.
Hasn´t been tried yet with a dozer, but nothing less than a D10 would do.

09-24-2007, 10:07 PM
:) in south la our dirt ranges from runny to like diggin in a cement waste pile.

09-24-2007, 10:25 PM
We bid most work as rock here, but sometimes you get lucky
It might rip with a dozer or be east of I-35 ( clay to 50 ft)

09-24-2007, 11:05 PM
Southwest wisconsin is in a unique area known as "The Driftless Area", meaning that when the glaciers came down through for some reason they parted and went around this area and not too far south of here they came back together and con't on. Lots of hills, steeper as you get towards the Mississippi River and rolls out the further east you travel. Very good black dirt, lots of red clay and ROCK, lots of "good places to start a quarry". This is also one of the nations largest lead regions as well. I've been in places where you can dig as far as the bucket can reach and never hit a rock and the next hill over is a few inches of black dirt and BAM, soild rock. For the most part very nice limestone, even some sandstone in some areas. We have a front mounted ripper for the dozer that we have used many many times, somtimes even to plow silt fence trenches. On most bid projects, roads and large scale building sites, there is a rock clause(usually go time and material when that happens, and it usually does).
Heres a zoomed in photo of one of our dozers with the front ripper on it.

09-24-2007, 11:13 PM
I thought I'd replied to this thread. :confused: I guess not.

Here in western PA, you get all sorts of digging. I've been on a job that had 35 feet of sand. A prehistoric river bed. They drilled caissons for the building foundation, and that's how deep the sand was.

On another job, we were hammering three feet of blue limestone to install water service lines four feet deep.

On other jobs, you'll see three different colors of clay, and then shale, that comes out in big chunks or very fine pieces, and then sandstone. And then there's the occasional coal seam...

09-24-2007, 11:53 PM
Very interesting thread topic. Here in NW Oregon, you can find everything from bare outcrops of tinkly glass hard basalt to deep deposits of silt and clay.

The best stuff to work in, in my opinion, are the red clays, because they're fairly forgiving... you can break it loose, and it will compact back in place if it doesn't get too dry. I don't like yellow chunky clay for the same reason. Blue and gray clays spell trouble, since they indicate a high water table usually.

For aggregate, rock here can be good blue hard crushable basalt, volcanic dough-rock that has no strength when crushed, and sedimentary rocks like sandstone and shale that have no value as far as I know. The best quarry rock, nice hard black columnar basalt, came here from 300 miles away up the Columbia River, in massive lava flows.

09-25-2007, 10:43 PM
I'm a little east of the Kansas flint hills which are rock hills with a little dirt and grass on top.
In my area you see black dirt, red clay, green shale, blue shale, limestone rock, generally in that order as you go down. How deep it is to rock will vary quite a bit.
The red clay here can be so hard it needs ripped. The green shale is generally not real hard. The blue shale can be like rock. And a lot of the limestone is quarry bait, makes good hard crushed rock.

09-26-2007, 12:45 AM
here in oregon we have dug in stuff so hard we went trough 2 ripper teeth a day on a d9g and in other place's we have had lgp cats stuck it was so soft.

10-21-2007, 06:35 PM
Here in Michigan we run into clay and sand. Both are fairly easy to work with. In the areas with clay you usually have about a foot of topsoil. In the areas with sand your lucky to have 6 inches of topsoil. Topsoil tends to be valuable and gets screened and sold off. Around here if you find a stone larger than your fist it was dropped by a glacier. Most stone you find here is no larger than a pebble. Most gravel is brought in by lake freighter or train.

Also worked in central Oh. Lots of clay and lots of topsoil. One job we ended up stripping out 9 feet of topsoil. We also got into glacial tills and blue clays. That stuff was sweet. Place and compact it and the stuff would move all over the place. Let the sun hit it for a few days and dry things out you could barely dig through it. Once and a while we would hit a sand seem. That meant water and mud on top of the clay. Most topsoil was buried in borrow pits and the bottom of ponds or in green areas on site. On one 86 acre commercial site we ended up exporting over 50,000 cubic yards of topsoil.

Worked in Washington Pa once. You guys can keep that stuff. Enough clay mixed with rock to make everything a muddy mess when it rained. The job was messed up from the start. Project manager thought he could move the world with a D8R with rippers and a Pc650. He found out that he couldnt bust rock like he needed to. Called the blaster after all the cover was stripped off the rock. All that could be done was crack the rock, not shatter it. It makes for a long day placing boulders the size of a pickup in a fill.


10-21-2007, 08:41 PM
Welcome to HEF Turbo21835! :drinkup

10-21-2007, 09:21 PM
My area is a mix of sandy loam , sand, A gravel. In the lower areas beautiful black topsoil and clay. Not to many rocks but about 2 hours north of here most jobs require blasting.

10-22-2007, 05:22 AM
Mostly bone, river bottom type material. There is a river that runs through town, one side of it the bone starts right under the grass, on the other side there is 4 feet of topsoil, then some coarse sand, then you start to find the bone. Every once in a while you will find straight sand, no rocks at all. There is also a lot of hardpan, and ledge. For the most part it's pretty rough digging.

10-22-2007, 02:48 PM
I sometimes wish we had hard clay, sand and rock. Around here all we have is clay, silt and MUD! If we have 20% moisture that's a good job. Thank goodness for a little thing called lime stabilization, but sometimes owners don't want to pay for it and then your stuck for a day or two trying to dry it out. Nobody around here has a ripper on a dozer. Go down 20' and sometimes your might hit sandstone or shale but usually only when putting in deep sewers.

10-22-2007, 07:18 PM
Thanks for the welcome Countryboy

10-23-2007, 11:45 AM
Sorry for going a little off subject but new member and cannot post new thread yet. Based in Ireland but involved in a sand dredge mining project in Africa. The scrub is cleared by dozers but the roots from the scrub and bush are causing problems with the dredge cutting equipment. We want to rake the sand and remove or break up the roots as much as possible in front of the dredge pond. Anyone know of any equipment which we could use for this. We would prefer a pulled attachment rather than a front/blade attachment if possible. Any leads would be much appreciated.

10-23-2007, 02:08 PM
They don't call New Hampshire the GRANITE STATE for no reason
Use to be we had a lot of farmers raising rocks in there fields-But they quite when it was found rocks would grow just fine with out the farmers care!

10-23-2007, 07:34 PM
Welcome to HEF terryfitz! :drinkup