Post Hole Digger

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
2,757
Downeast Maine
I'm looking into a PHD for my tractor and the County Line from TSC looks really nice. The handle and stand are the selling points to me. A downside is 12" max auger diameter, I'd like 24". Can one simply use the machine to dig a couple of smaller holes next to each other to make a larger hole? My planned use is digging holes for sonotube footers and setting fence posts.

PHD link: https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/countyline-3-point-post-hole-digger-602377?cm_vc=-10005
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
4,626
Northern NH
FYI, if you have bony soil, post hole diggers are exercise in frustration. The rocks can really raise havoc on the equipment. With clay soil and deep frost sonotubes are best installed with "big foot" bases and on important stuff insulating the footing base properly and wrapping the sonotube with plastic to keep the frost from grabbing onto the tube. Both require a backhoe.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
2,757
Downeast Maine
FYI, if you have bony soil, post hole diggers are exercise in frustration. The rocks can really raise havoc on the equipment. With clay soil and deep frost sonotubes are best installed with "big foot" bases and on important stuff insulating the footing base properly and wrapping the sonotube with plastic to keep the frost from grabbing onto the tube. Both require a backhoe.
I was afraid of this. Originally I decided that I would pass on a PHD due to all the stone. There's a growing pile of boulders that were sticking out of the ground where I put a path for my tractor. This was the area we figured had the least stone... Watching the giant auger that was used to place a pole for our electric hookup gave me hope that it could be possible. I assume then we would be better off investing in a PTO cement mixer to pour slabs (insulated per the Hot and Cold video you posted a while back) for future structures. FWIW our house is on a slab (above grade it seems, but I'm no expert) and it hasn't heaved, was built in 1975. I ran into a local concrete professional in town and he personally has a slab for his home as well. My wife and I suspect, despite the prevalence of basements here, that slabs are probably the way to go.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
14,886
Philadelphia
Can’t speak to PTO mixers, but PTO augers have never worked very well as a one-man operation. Primary issues:

1: auger size limits, broken gearboxes
2: no down force on a 3-point hitch, you usually need a buddy to help pull down on it
3: 3-point causes auger to lean as it goes up/down, it doesn’t stay vertical
4: some are too close to pintels, and thus have limited range of height/depth

A hydraulic auger on your FEL would work more like a skid steer auger, and those work very well.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
2,757
Downeast Maine
Can’t speak to PTO mixers, but PTO augers have never worked very well as a one-man operation. Primary issues:

1: auger size limits, broken gearboxes
2: no down force on a 3-point hitch, you usually need a buddy to help pull down on it
3: 3-point causes auger to lean as it goes up/down, it doesn’t stay vertical
4: some are too close to pintels, and thus have limited range of height/depth

A hydraulic auger on your FEL would work more like a skid steer auger, and those work very well.
I have seen a skid steer PHD, but haven't looked into pricing yet.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
2,757
Downeast Maine
The front end digger is pretty nice, but that would have to wait for a while. It might even be useless around here. The truck that dug the hole for my electric service was huge. I'm pretty sure it was a 36" auger with a massive articulated boom. The operator did have to dig two holes and I assume it's because he hit a boulder. I took pics but with my flip phone. I'll have to figure out how to get them on the computer...

A backhoe or mini ex is probably the best option. Sometimes I consider a cheap 3PT (non subframe) "imported" backhoe, but I know better.
 

sloeffle

Minister of Fire
Mar 1, 2012
555
Central Ohio
I have seen a skid steer PHD, but haven't looked into pricing yet.
I doubt your tractor or my tractor has the hydraulic flow to run a front mount PHD via 3rd function valve. You generally need a skid steer with high flow ( 10 - 20GPM ) hydraulics to run it.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
2,757
Downeast Maine
I doubt your tractor or my tractor has the hydraulic flow to run a front mount PHD via 3rd function valve. You generally need a skid steer with high flow ( 10 - 20GPM ) hydraulics to run it.
I would just run a long set of hoses from my remote since one has detents. Holding a third function switch for long periods of time would suck anyway. Kioti rates the pump on my tractor to be 16 GPM. Honestly I debate the usefulness of any style PHD for where I live since I'm on a low rocky ridge line. The county line 3pt PHD looked good with the long handle to guide the auger, but it's not suitable for much beyond setting fence posts. I do want to build a fence, but pushing $800 with an auger is too much for one small fence.

We want to build a wood shed and a decent sized garden shed this fall/winter and thought maybe a PHD would work for sonotubes. Peakbagger pointed out that a PHD isn't the right tool for this anyway. Now the thread has sort of morphed into me revising shed plans. My local lumber yard sells these plastic footings that are allegedly superior to the pre cast concrete footers. Perhaps that's the best way to do the shed? I figure that will still heave as well.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
78,566
South Puget Sound, WA
24" diameter hole for a sonotube? What size posts are going up for a garden and woodshed? 4x4 should be sufficient.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
2,757
Downeast Maine
24" diameter hole for a sonotube? What size posts are going up?
In a few years I'd like to build a garage with a roof/door tall enough to accommodate my Class A RV. The sonotube diameter needs to be three times the post size. A 6x6 square post would need an 18" sonotube and most PHD augers are 18 or 24" diameters.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
78,566
South Puget Sound, WA
For a one-shot deal I would hire someone locally that has an 18" auger for the holes.

Hope there aren't any boulders like we found when we did the same. For our garage no sonotubes were used. The post went right into the gravel bottomed hole, then concrete was poured around it. I'll see if I have any pictures.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
78,566
South Puget Sound, WA
This is just the tip of a large boulder we found in one hole about 2ft down. Fortunately, there was only one. We tried everything short of dynamite to remove or at least break up the big rock. Eventually we had to get a variance from the bldg. dept. to anchor that pole to the rock and rebar sunk alongside the pole.

IMG_1276web.jpg IMG_1277web.jpg IMG_1289web.jpg
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
2,757
Downeast Maine
For a one-shot deal I would hire someone locally that has an 18" auger for the holes.

Hope there aren't any boulders like we found when we did the same. For our garage no sonotubes were used. The post went right into the gravel bottomed hole, then concrete was poured around it. I'll see if I have any pictures.
I'm still in the planning phases, so we haven't committed to any building style or technique yet. I'm pretty sure the glacial till here is just like where you live. There's a large pile of boulders near the top of my driveway as evidence of the plethora of boulders in the ground. Perhaps a slab is the best route, but I would prefer a building method that I can do myself without outsourcing anything (aside from materials of course).
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
2,757
Downeast Maine
This is just the tip of a large boulder we found in one hole about 2ft down. Fortunately, there was only one. We tried everything short of dynamite to remove or at least break up the big rock. Eventually we had to get a variance from the bldg. dept. to anchor that pole to the rock and rebar sunk alongside the pole.

View attachment 247665 View attachment 247666
Locals have told me it's easier sometimes to just anchor to the rock.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
78,566
South Puget Sound, WA
Yep, that was our decision in this case. The local inspector was a pita and red-tagged the project saying she didn't get to see the hole and anchoring before it got filled with concrete, even though we had clearance from the bldg. dept in writing. Fortunately, I took lots of pictures at all stages. They helped get the red tag removed. Our garage is overheight for RVs too, but class B and 10' doors. The floor is poured slab with fiber mesh reinforcement.

gravel bed down IMG_1294web.jpg slab pour IMG_1308web.jpg
 

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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
2,757
Downeast Maine
Thanks for posting the photos. Did a truck come in to pour that slab? Originally I thought that with a mixer attachment I could do it all myself, but without a means to buy Portland cement in large quantities this is prohibitively expensive. There are several quarries nearby so aggregates are affordable and available.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
78,566
South Puget Sound, WA
Yes a truck, and a crew of 4 guys. That's a lot of concrete.

IMG_1306web.jpg
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
14,886
Philadelphia
For a one-shot deal I would hire someone locally that has an 18" auger for the holes.
This. In fact, I have someone headed out here with a 24" or 30" auger on a skid steer in two weeks. They're here once per year, planting trees, way quicker and cheaper than owning one for that minimal use.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
18,613
central pa
Thanks for posting the photos. Did a truck come in to pour that slab? Originally I thought that with a mixer attachment I could do it all myself, but without a means to buy Portland cement in large quantities this is prohibitively expensive. There are several quarries nearby so aggregates are affordable and available.
If you were going to mix it yourself you would need to pour it in about 6x6 or 8x8 sections to keep it from getting ahead of you depending upon the temp. It takes pretty long to mix that much concrete in a small mixer. I would just find a standalone one used I think the PTO ones are overpriced.
 
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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
14,886
Philadelphia
If you were going to mix it yourself you would need to pour it in about 6x6 or 8x8 sections to keep it from getting ahead of you depending upon the temp. It takes pretty long to mix that much concrete in a small mixer. I would just find a standalone one used I think the PTO ones are overpriced.
I used to think I needed to own every tool, or put more accurately, every project should justify the purchase of at least one new tool. However, I've reached a saturation point... I'm tired of storing tools. I've become a big fan of paying the big boys to come in a do a job that would require the purchase of a tool I'll seldom use. I'm also a fan of renting any tool I'm going to use less than three times in a decade.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
2,757
Downeast Maine
If you were going to mix it yourself you would need to pour it in about 6x6 or 8x8 sections to keep it from getting ahead of you depending upon the temp. It takes pretty long to mix that much concrete in a small mixer. I would just find a standalone one used I think the PTO ones are overpriced.
You think 8 Cuft would still be too small? I like the PTO mixers because I can mix in the driveway and then drive to the location and dump it. Like a tiny cement truck. My wife and I were thinking about building a few small cabins and such and thought the mobility of the PTO mixer would make it worth while. Disappointing to see they aren't very good.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
2,757
Downeast Maine
I used to think I needed to own every tool, or put more accurately, every project should justify the purchase of at least one new tool. However, I've reached a saturation point... I'm tired of storing tools. I've become a big fan of paying the big boys to come in a do a job that would require the purchase of a tool I'll seldom use. I'm also a fan of renting any tool I'm going to use less than three times in a decade.
The only downside to the big truck is access. Most of my land isn't developed and those trucks aren't known for being nimble.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
78,566
South Puget Sound, WA
I used to think I needed to own every tool, or put more accurately, every project should justify the purchase of at least one new tool. However, I've reached a saturation point... I'm tired of storing tools. I've become a big fan of paying the big boys to come in a do a job that would require the purchase of a tool I'll seldom use. I'm also a fan of renting any tool I'm going to use less than three times in a decade.
Agreed. You not only have to store them, but you also need to maintain them. I too am reducing rarely used tools and supporting our local tool library more.
 

AlbergSteve

Minister of Fire
Dec 11, 2017
577
Vancouver Island
I have placed hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of concrete in my 25 years as a carpenter. I would never, ever, even think about trying to mix anything more than a meter or two by hand. And "by hand" I mean any mixing that doesn't come out of a concrete truck. Unless you live off the grid, don't have any access, are less than 22 years old, don't mind a few cold joints in every pour, don't mind your slab looking like a patchwork quilt, have lots of time, then fill your boots. And there is NO saving money. A simple example. It takes 68, 30kg bags of Quikcrete to make a meter of concrete. At $6 a bag, that meter of crete is $400. I can have a meter of concrete delivered for $220. And in the time it took to set up that portable mixer, get the hose out, and start cutting open bags, that truck has already delivered and place your meter of concrete and you're sitting back having a cold one. Sure, you can save a few bucks and have sand a gravel delivered, and it is a LOT of sand and gravel. To make 1 cubic yard of concrete, you'd need seven 94-pound bags of cement, about 1/2 cubic yard of sand and just over 3/4 cubic yard of gravel. Multiply that by the total cubic yards of concrete you need. When you see that pile of sand and gravel sitting in the yard, you'll wish you'd made that call to the ready-mix company. And to push that point home just a little bit more, a 40'x40'x4'' slab requires about 80,000 pounds of sand, gravel, and cement. Hope you have lots of young friends with strong backs. And if access is and issue, book a line pump. I'm the first guy to say "hey, I can do that job, I don't need to pay a so called pro to screw it up for me!" Placing concrete is not one of those jobs.
 
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