cleaning the trail with Santa and his Billy Goat?

Jim Brannon has done a masterful job mounting our industrial strength trail blower, a 9hp Billy Goat 902 model blower on a Honda 350 Rancher atv (photos below).  Jim is the owner of FreeWheeling Honda-Suzuki in Douglasville,GA.  Jim, in addition to being a champion motorcycle and go-cart racer (he’s won the Baja 1000 twice) is an avid recumbent rider.  Both he and his wife Becky love riding the Silver Comet Trail.  I met Jim and Becky while working at the tunnel on the clean-up project.    Jim is a modest, like-able character.  You see, he looks like Santa Claus.   When I found out he was a motorcycle dealer, I had already been thinking about trail blowers because of discussions with Danny Ashley about the Polk County blower.   Danny had asked me to take a look at their blower because of the problems they had towing it.

Jim took the Polk blower and rebuilt the carb, remounted the pull point, based on our discussions of the towing dynamics.  It was this blower that we used for our first prototype.  Here’s the video of Jim testing out the prototype atv-blower at the tunnel.  Note, this was a section that the Paulding County guys had cleaned with backpack blowers two days prior.   In this video, it is the return trip, note the color differences in the concrete as Jim had already cleaned the left side of the trail.

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He really does look like Santa, but this Santa would use his 180 mph go-cart.  Check out the video below; this guy is fast.

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This is our Billy Goat.  A monster 9hp Billy Goat blower hung off the front of a Honda 350 atv. (click images to enlarge)

Billy Goat blower, Honda 350 atv

Billy Goat blower, Honda 350 atv

Difficult to tell from the front view photo, but Jim fabricated a steel sub-frame to suspend the blower.  It almost looks like the blower was designed to fit the Honda ATV.  The precise fit extends the blower speed and nozzle control to within driver reach.

Billy Goat blower, Honda 350 atv, side view.

Billy Goat blower, Honda 350 atv, side view.

A big THANK YOU to Jim for all his hard work and design/fabrication skills.  And an even bigger THANK YOU to FreeWheeling Honda-Suzuki for providing the Honda 350 ATV.  Also, a very special THANK YOU for Paul Wright, whose generous donation helped pay for the ATV.

Tunnel Amazing!

I had a really nice solo ride out to the tunnel today.  Shot some photos.
This is the absolute best I can ever remember the tunnel looking.  With all the lights working too.
The photos tell the story.  (click to enlarge)
Tunnel east entrance

Tunnel east entrance

 The single largest source of water in the tunnel was the ground water entering at the first light.  The small white plastic diverter attached to the wall, now channels nearly all this water out a drain hole.   This constant stream of water was the source for the major puddle at the east end of the tunnel.   It’s now just a damp spot on the floor.

New silt fence and tunnel entrance

New silt fence and tunnel entrance

The new silt fence will control the mud and silt coming off the south rock wall.  Contoured drainage on the right will feed into the new settling pond.  Frogs have already moved in.

Settling pond

Settling pond

Brushy Mtn Tunnel East entrance nears completion

I guess we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Major changes this week as the work at the tunnel East entrance nears completion.  The real credit goes to “Taco” Tony Martinez and his excavator.  He removed ALL the sediment at the “mud fall” and deepened this area to form a settling basin for the rain run-off and spring water from the north wall.    We deepened the trench for the 6″ drain line provided by Paulding County and buried about 160 ft of 6″ drain line.   Tony also “collected” several large rocks to form a sitting area, similar to the west entrance.    He also cleared a major amount of soil on the south wall so we could place the silt fence.   By the end of the day, we had made major progress.  Tony and his excavator had done the heavy lifting, both literally and figuratively.   AP, Skip and I toiled moving modest amounts of soil in comparison.  We filled in and contoured the drainage along the north wall, near the tunnel entrance.  It must have been a dozen wheelbarrow loads of soil that we moved.  Mostly from the south wall, which also needed to be cleared for the silt fence.  We needed the silt fence on the south side to control the remaining major source of mud feeding into the east grate.

Please, take the time to thank Tony, Skip and Al when you have the opportunity.  Skip worked late into the evening helping me finish the silt fence.  It’s the best looking silt fence I’ve ever seen.  Thanks for all the help Skip.

Now for the pictures and video that tell the story better than I. (click images to enlarge)

New settling pond to collect rain runoff and spring water, allowing the sediment to collect and not foul the drain line.

Settling Pond

Settling Pond

Tony running his excavator.

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Viewed from the tunnel entrance.

Sitting rocks at the settling pond.

Sitting rocks at the settling pond.

Tour of our day’s work…

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Tunnel Work: East Grate Drain

It’s been a lot of work getting to this point.  I was ready to set the french drains into place for the grate at the east entrance of the Brushy Mtn Tunnel. To keep the gravel and french drain from clogging with mud and silt I engineered a two stage filter and 3″ over-flow pipe.
In the photo below you can see the open cell foam block which will act as the first filter. I fabricated a filter wall to allow water flow into the gravel and 20 ft of manufactured french drain. I also removed the mud from the legacy drain pipe and plugged it with filter foam to hold back the gravel. The wall is a three layer assembly of filter fabric, garden fence (for strength) and 1/2″ plastic mesh to retain the drain gravel. A short piece of 3″ pipe was inserted as a place holder and later replaced with the actual over-flow pipe. (click images to enlarge)

Filter "wall" installed

Filter "wall" installed

There was still much digging of muck and contouring the trench in preparation of placing the 20 ft of drain line.  Much of the material still in the trench needed to be removed.  You can see the two 10 ft segments of drain line.

click to enlarge

French Drain and Trench

After the trench was preped, the drains were assembled and placed in the trench.  The trench was filled with gravel to the level of the over-flow.  The 3″ over-flow PVC line was assembled and laid after this (not in photo).  The first portion of the trench was then back-filled with gravel.

Drain with gravel fill.

Drain with gravel fill.

It was getting late and I didn’t have time for photos.   The drain area was back-filled with gravel to the top of the grate and gravel was spread the length of the drain pipe.   The gravel and drains were then covered with silt fence fabric to prevent mud from fouling the works.

We rode up on Tuesday and I’m pleased to report that everything functioned perfectly in the torrential rains of the previous night.

Drain section w/ over-flow pipe

Drain section w/ over-flow pipe

Much work to be done; need to get the lines buried.   Hoping Tony can help this weekend…

3" over-flow pipe

3" over-flow pipe

Brushy Mtn Tunnel elevation profile

Just completed compiling the tunnel data taken with the Hilti Laser level.
This data is important because it tells us how high the planned curbs need to be to have the condensation coming from the tunnel walls flow out the west end of the tunnel. Since conjecture and “perception” had people telling me that there was a high spot in the middle of the tunnel and water was pooling east or west of that point, was that indeed true? I hoped not as it would be difficult to ever get water out of the east end of the tunnel.

Hilti to the rescue. I went by Hilti to discuss attachment methods to concrete. They were very helpful and offered to loan me one of their precision laser levels (discussed in previous post). I finally had the technology that would allow me to take accurate data on the grade within the Brushy Mtn Tunnel.

Data Summary:
Most important, the tunnel elevation drops 30″ east to west. That is very good news, it means we can get the water out the west end of the tunnel where we have natural drainage. Unlike the east entrance that is about 10″ below the road grade apex. The plotted data showed the North side to have a 1.8″ trough between the 220-360 ft marks. So, we will need a curb height of at least 2″ in this section to contain the water. (click images to enlarge).

Tunnel Elevation Profile North Wall Data & Plot

Tunnel Elevation Profile North Wall

Tunnel Elevation Profile North Wall

Tunnel Elevation Profile South Wall Data & Plot

 Tunnel Elevation Profile South Wall

Tunnel Elevation Profile South Wall

Trail Work 20100801

A big thanks to Tony and Skip for working today. Tony has done an incredible amount of work for us with his excavator. Today he started by grading off three areas of slumping along the trail.
Before: (click images to enlarge)

Slumping adjacent to trail

Slumping adjacent to trail


After:
Grading to remove slump

Grading to remove slump

In addition to simply pushing the rock and soil away from the trail we also improve the grade to run water away from the trail and fill-in section that are below trail level. This improves trail safety and eliminates the boggy sections that were accumulating water.

Grading adjacent to trail.

Grading adjacent to trail.

Tony deepened the trench on the east side of the tunnel. We started at the entrance and set a laser bubble level on a sawhorse to help maintain the depth.

Laser at tunnel entrance

Laser at tunnel entrance

We used a yardstick to check the depth of the trench; note the laser “dot” in the photo.

Checking the trench depth

Checking the trench depth

Skip and I were tired after all the grading, trench work and clean-up, but we both wanted to see how the wet vac would work on slurping the mud from the tunnel floor. So, we unloaded the generator and hooked up the wet vac. We collected some of the mud/water into an existing pool with squeegees and started to slurp up the mess. It worked great. I shot a photo showing how good it worked on a section of floor that had been squeegeed.

Wet vac results

Wet vac results

We managed to work our way over to the large batch of mud that Tiffany and I had accumulated last week, between lights 3&4. Skip pushed some water from adjacent sections over with the squeegee and we managed to capture nearly all the mud, before cracking the vac nozzle on the concrete. Since we couldn’t vacuum the flat surfaces we started cleaning out drains. It’ll be interesting to see if the drains work better with the extra sludge removed by the vac.

my saddle pack contents

I often need to help people on rides or stranded on the trail. This is what I carry:

saddle pack contents

saddle pack contents

(click image to englarge)

    spare tire (used tire, wrapped in kitchen wrap)
    Park multi-tool
    Innovations IH CO2 inflator
    CO2 cartridges (bulk pack from WalMart)
    Hurricane HPV mini pump
    two spare tubes in sandwich bag to protect them
    pair of tire “irons”
    flat kit
    “green” spoke wrench
    two tire “boots” cut from old road tire
wrapped tire

wrapped tire

Wrapping the spare tire tightly in kitchen wrap makes it very compact and manageable. I’ve need to use that spare tire several times myself, but more often I’ve donated it to other riders with cut tires. It’s a savior when you need it.

measuring the grade

Thanks to the Hilti company for loaning me one of their super accurate laser levels for the weekend. I spent a portion of Friday and Sunday afternoon-evening taking measurements on the the tunnel gradient. Good news, the tunnel is definitely going downhill to the west and we will have no drainage toward the east entrance. Total elevation drop east-to-west is 30″.

I must say that it is really nice to have access to some first class equipment to do these measurements. The Hilti level is accurate to 1/16″ in 300ft, self-leveling with a detector that tells you how far you are off zero with audio cueing. There’s no guessing with this data, I took readings every twenty feet over the measured 723ft of the tunnel. Very kind of the local Marietta office of Hilti to help us out. Still need to plug the data into a spread sheet to calculate the height of the curbs we will need to divert the water out the west end; however, reviewing the raw numbers, it looks like the 2″ height for the curb I was thinking of will be adequate for most of the tunnel. There is one “bump” ~60ft in length on the norhside of the tunnel that will require some lowering to make the curbing work efficiently.

Hilti laser detector

(Click image to enlarge) In the enlarged image you can see the red light from the rotating laser beam. The self-level feature made this soooo easy. Just attach the laser to their tripod and press the “on” button. It was ready to go in about a minute! Hilti provided everything except the sliding transit stick which I had to buy from Home Depot… the $50 dollars was well spent as it made the measuring process easy. Just slide it until the detector read “zero” (like the photo) and read the height on the stick.


Butterfly

Butterfly


Also managed to sneak in a photo of a butterfly that was visiting our work site. Sorry that the macro quality on my camera isn’t the best, but a colorful subject.

Brushy Mtn Tunnel, update July ‘10

We’ve achieved some amazing results with our clean-up efforts at the Brushy Mtn Tunnel on the Silver Comet Trail. Dry weather during early July rewarded us with a nearly dry and mud free tunnel to ride through. (Click images to enlarge)

Brushy Mtn west

Brushy Mtn Tunnel west entrance, early July

Inside tunnel, near the east entrance:

Inside tunnel, early July '10

However, with the return of warm humid weather, the cool interior temperatures of the tunnel cause a rapid transition. The high humidity causes the formation of tunnel fog. In early morning you often can’t see the other end of the tunnel. Wisps of fog emanating from the tunnel form “tunnel ghosts”.

Tunnel Fog

Tunnel fog, approaching west entrance to tunnel.

Tunnel fog at west entrance, the east entrance is not visible due to the dense fog.

Tunnel fog, early morning.

Tunnel fog, early morning.

As the exterior temps and humidity rise, the tunnel walls begin to condense water. The condensing water trickles down the walls and pools on the tunnel floor.

Condensate on tunnel wall.


If you click and expand the image to the left, you can see condensing moisture running down the tunnel wall and pools of water forming at the base of the wall.

When high humidity and warm temperatures persist for several days, the interior surfaces of the tunnel will become saturated with moisture. During the late evening, the interior lights of the tunnel and evening sunlight from the west entrance can form a shimmering effect on the moist tunnel walls and floor.

Evening at the tunnel.

Evening at the tunnel.

I don’t like the tunnel being so wet, but it is a pleasant visual treat and dramatically demonstrates how the water accumulates in the tunnel.

Sunset on the Trail

Snapped this photo leaving the Rambo Trailhead the other day.
(Two images, digitally stitched, click to enlarge.)

Sunset Rambo Trailhead