Backyard retaining wall & fence project #4: Concrete footing from fence post #1: completed removal after 5 hours

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Blog entry by Holbs posted 06-06-2020 11:04 PM 902 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: 65' long x 3' high x 12" deep excavated. About to remove first cement post footing Part 4 of Backyard retaining wall & fence project series Part 5: 98% done digging.... »

OK. I didn’t expect this. Was hoping 2 hours per post. But that’s ok. I have no deadline. And this was my first one and I think I figured out a faster way than the first couple hours.
I purchased a digging bar knowing I’ll be digging below ground level. It’s hard to swing the mattock with the 3’ wall only 12” away. I also purchased a new fiberglass post hole digger as my older wooden one was on it’s last leg. Once again, I tried to do the simple route of Hi-Lift jack and chain. No go. Started to use the mattock and shovel. Way too slow as I’m hitting super hard rocky soil and 1,000,000 year old red clay, took a good 3 hours just to go 8” x 3’. I wanted to excavate 3’ to the right of the post down 24”. I swapped out to the digging bar and post hole digger, much much faster and less effort for some reason. Maybe cause not bending over or swinging something heavy. That’s how I’ll do the rest of them unless I find an even faster by hand method. Took a little over an hour to finish digging to 24” deep in a 3’ wide trench. Used the Hi-Lift jack and chain to lift it towards the excavated trench, whalla…like butter. How to get this 90 ton cement footing out of the ground? Thought of building some lifting contraption (A-Frame with hoist chain). Then I remembered how I got a 500lb Jet 15” planer up into the Dodge 1500 pickup bed: lean it all the way to the left, put a board under it, lean it all the way to the right, put another board under it, rinse/repeat.
I did initially try to sledge hammer some concrete off the footing when I started to help things out. Naw…didn’t do much good. Only got maybe 6”-8” off the top (you can see the discoloration on the wood). Completed waste of time and energy.
Is good to have to excavate 3’ x 24” anyways because frost line is 24” and that will be the depth of my retaining wall block footing too.
1 down…8 more to go.
Kinda funny. The Youtube video’s of removing posts must all happen in wet black soil, dinky cylindrical concrete footings, and only upon 4”x4” posts. This footing is 24” deep, square, and 4”x6” in hard rocky soil/compacted clay.

Picture #1: boards being inserted to slowly raise up this 900 ton cement fence post footing

My foot is place where the post was and how much I excavated to the right:

My size 13” foot, sitting on the footing to give reference of how big this cement footing is (and that is after sledgehammering probably 25% off) :

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter "xylokopos/ξυλοκὀπος"

2 comments so far

View LittleBlackDuck's profile


9454 posts in 2312 days

#1 posted 06-07-2020 10:47 AM

You’ve earned my admiration Holbs for sheer determination… Personally I depend on a modern tool called a tradie contractor... a tad more expensive, but keeps my drinking elbow out of danger.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View Holbs's profile


2389 posts in 3521 days

#2 posted 06-07-2020 02:36 PM

Duck… due to the physical location of the fence line, retaining wall, 3’ drop, and cramped spacing to rearward neighbor’s own fence line… no machinery could be used for excavation. Would have to be all done by manual labor by myself or hired help. Due to the limiting budget (I am still working in the black from the $2700 home insurance claim to repair original fence/timber retaining wall), I could in no way afford hired help. I have 293 retaining wall blocks arriving Tuesday at the cost of $1100. I’ll be using Postmaster metal fence posts (haven’t decided 4’ spacing or 6’ spacing) at $35 each. And then the fun woodworking begins of custom fencing with redwood inspired by LJ member FenceWorkshop which may put me a tad red over the insurance claim but would be worth it to me. Besides, I like challenges :) We are all here on Lumberjocks because we are DIY folks.
After hopeful success of the fence project, I’ll keep this blog going as I will be laying down pavers afterwards.

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter "xylokopos/ξυλοκὀπος"

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