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Old 07/14/05, 09:40 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Florida
Posts: 174
need to pack dirt prior to mobile home

I got my mobile home move-on permit rejected because we didn't have a test to prove how firm the dirt is on the site.

We've moved in some new dirt to elevate the site a little, and it's not packed down well yet (a friend of dh spread it with a tractor)...our suv tends to dig into it. Before we got the new dirt, the site was really hard (for just bare dirt).

How can I pack this down before we get the test done? I don't want the test to come back showing the site too soft because there's no predicting what the permit office will demand of us then; maybe a concrete pad for the mobile home (=more time, more money). I wonder if a "lawn roller", the kind you fill with water that Tractor Supply carries would do the job? Or do I need to rent what my husband calls a "steam roller" from an equipment rental company? Anyone have experience with packing dirt down?

Thanks in advance for any advice.
I'd rather be a truthful loser than a lying "winner".
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Old 07/14/05, 10:32 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Ohio
Posts: 597
You can do the job with something called a vibrating plate compactor. Like shown on this site. Can rent them at most tool rental centers.

Can be a bit on the heavy side. Something under 200 pounds should work for you. Note the weights as listed. Best to place the dirt in 4" - 6" layers and go over it with the compactor. Lightly wetting the dirt prior makes it better and eliminates the dust.

You might also want to consider the Rammer compactor. Probably can pack it tighter but works far slower, might work better with deeper layers. The real trick is not to try to compact very deep layers all in one go.

Large rollers are overkill for the job. Just the transport costs to the jobsite can kill you.
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Old 07/14/05, 10:42 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Florida
Posts: 174
Thanks, Cosmic.

It may have been a mental block that I didn't think of those...I really loath the vibration they make, but you're right, it's a lot more practical than a roller. I guess I'll load up on ibuprophen before and take my prescription Tylenol2 afterward!
I'd rather be a truthful loser than a lying "winner".
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Old 07/14/05, 11:17 AM
Blu3duk's Avatar  
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: central idaho republic
Posts: 1,843
The problem with the little compactors is now that the dirt is already in place it will not compact very deep.... generally you can only come up about 12 inches per lift at the most with a small walk behind unit to achieve satisfactory compaction [had to use one in an 800 foot trench over sewer pipe until we could use a D3 and a 5 ton roller].... but the idiots wanted 90% compaction cause it was under a street of any dirt we disturbed, as opposed to the 65% compaction of the dirt that was already in place.... government at work you know.

the best thing to do is call the tax district for specs and do it right the first time and save the expense.... or call an excavating company that can give you an idea. In the end its all about collecting revenue for the local government to run on so they can be more a part of your life.... so might as well get it done up front! or file for a variance with the local government and take a few months and then end up doing it their way anyhow.

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Old 07/16/05, 07:56 AM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: ohio
Posts: 222
to aid in compaction you could bring in a load of 304 limestone which has alot of fines in it, in ohio its 13 bucks a ton delivered, mix 50% to 50% dirt then compact like Cosmic said. we do this to build up drives before finish gravel the 304 compacts down to a blacktop hardness, not as hard as concrete but good enough to drive on and not get ruts.
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Old 07/16/05, 02:31 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Ohio
Posts: 597
Yup, kmaproperties has hit on a good idea, you can change the soil bearing properties with various additives. Here in Ohio some sort of limestone is the product of choice. In New England it is granite dust. What is it in Florida????

So part of the problem is understanding what is the "Preferred Stuff" in your area. Did your buddy bring the nice stuff????? Or do you just have "Dirt" of a bastard quality????

Couple other tricks to getting compaction. We used to dig up sidewalks to get at the utilities underneath. Then of course needed to repour the sidewalk. To eliminate renting a compactor, I would use a garden hose and plenty of water on back fill in the trench which could be 6 feet deep to make a mud slurry. If all the dirt went back in the trench exactly at the same level as before it was dug, we had the same compactation. Actually could achieve it a couple of days with the right techniques. Then repour the sidewalk with no problem in future settling.

So if you have access to large amounts of water have get very nice compactations, even over large depths just by creating and containing a mud surry. In your case, the sticky wicket is large fills without treatment in layers, no matter your treatment method.

Today I sort of have your problem. Need dirt to fill a large depression in my planned parking area. Getting some sand / clay free from former flood debris, put it down and roll over it with the truck if dry. Compacts good in small layers, can still be a bear if rained on. Will eventually need a limestone gravel mix to make useable. ---- difficult to get "Dirt" here. Good gravel, still ain't found the "Right" source.

Soil mechanisms is an art, science and what do you have to work with. What you got??? Followed by how much does it cost and what can you do to influence the properites??? I need some large limestone gravels made for driveways, spread just so as cheap as possible. Truck charges are probably going to eat me alive. Locals are no help. Local concrete company wants $15 a ton for fine gravels. Mumble, Mumble.

So, it comes down to:

Treat in small layers

Get the "Right Stuff" for your area

Understand a bit about soil mechanics

Understand your time horizon and how much compactation do you expect from your present methods and techniques based on the soil types you are working with. Ask around the locals, should know the practical answers. It has all been done before.

Last edited by Cosmic; 07/16/05 at 08:30 PM.
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