Build your own Air spade?

Discussion in 'Pesticides and Ferts' started by wyoclimber, Jul 3, 2014.

  1. wyoclimber

    wyoclimber Well-Known Member

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    Has anyone built their own? I'm looking to get into using one, but it's tough to drop that kind of money on one when you've never sold any of the work.
     
  2. Tom Dunlap

    Tom Dunlap Longest registered member

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    I made two...there's a thread here. I don't have time to search it iut right now

    Use 'homespade' as a search word
     
  3. wyoclimber

    wyoclimber Well-Known Member

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    Awesome. Thanks Tom.
     
  4. TreeLogic

    TreeLogic Well-Known Member

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  5. Tom Dunlap

    Tom Dunlap Longest registered member

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    TL

    Thanks for linking the thread :)
     
  6. wyoclimber

    wyoclimber Well-Known Member

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    Thanks a lot guys. We have a lot of issues with soil compaction here in Wyoming and most everyone treats the root zone like it doesn't exist. I've got a lot of learning to do in this area as well so any tips are appreciated.
     
  7. djm

    djm Active Member

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    We have used a homemade one for years and then bought a commercially made model this year. I never used to be able to make money air spading till this year. The commercially available airspade is way more productive. The tip is the key issue.
     
  8. opposablethumb

    opposablethumb Active Member

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    The 'homespade' lives on!

    Search the thread and see who coined that term...haha...
     
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  9. cerviarborist

    cerviarborist Well-Known Member

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    I took the plunge and bought an Air-Spade several years ago…and looked at it for a couple months before I finally sold some excavation work. The tool has earned it's hay again and again since then, and has proven to be one of the better business purchases I've made. From a risk management perspective, I'm a lot happier using a purpose made industry standard tool. I don't think my liability insurance underwriter would be any happier with me using a homemade pneumatic excavation device powered by a huge compressor, than they would if I decided to bring my own version of a chainsaw, chipper or any other tool to a jobsite. My contract specifies that I'm using tools and techniques customary to the industry for whatever my assignment might be. It's what my clients expect.
     
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  10. Tom Dunlap

    Tom Dunlap Longest registered member

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    It was hard enough for me to convince my employer at the time of the value of air excavation. Even after doing the RCX and showing the girdling roots they couldn't see how much good I could do for the younger trees. My boss thought that spending the hundred dollars plus rental and time wasn't a good use of funds. Oh well...
     
  11. cerviarborist

    cerviarborist Well-Known Member

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    Tom, you can lead em' to water…..but you can't make em' sailors! ;-)
     
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  12. Tom Dunlap

    Tom Dunlap Longest registered member

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    I know...even if my boss was an alleged irrigation specialist ;)
     
  13. rfwoodvt

    rfwoodvt Well-Known Member

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    I built my own. Got the aluminum pipe for $10, got a high volume hand valve from Guard-air (http://www.guardaircorp.com/products/big-air-guns/force-5-series-safety-air-gun) brand new for under $100 off ebay, bought a 175 cfm nozzle from Air-knife for about $300. Put it all together, insulated the tube and handles (air gets hot) (not dielectrically insulated)added a side handle and deflector shield made from a mudflap and plenty of hose from an oilfield supply company for $300

    All told I have a working air excavator for $710

    Also picked up a used Grimmer Shmidt tow behind compressor for $2200

    I can undo a 12" norway maple root collar with full volcano mulch in under half an hour. No volcano mulch and its open in 10 minutes.

    Lemme know if you want pictures and I'll try to get some posted this weekend.
     
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  14. lifeinbeats

    lifeinbeats New Member

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    I know this is an old post, but I just built my own and found this to be invaluable, so I wanted to do a quick post and provide a couple of tips for anyone wanting to do this in the future:

    1) I used Xavier's instructions found here.
    2) I rented a tow behind 185 CFM compressor and found it suitable but a little underpowered. Would have preferred a little more in some places.
    3) The airspade worked well in some areas and not in others, it just depended on the soil. We have sandy soil in our neighborhood and the airspade blew through those spots quickly. Other areas it barely dented.
    4) BUY A FACE SHIELD. I saw a lot of photos and videos of people doing this and thought it was just a safety precaution. I spent about an hour blasting my face with dirt (with eye protection of course) before I sped off to home depot for a face shield. It's not just safety, it's incredibly annoying not to have one on and you'll be hocking up sand filled phlegm for the next few days.
    5) These things get hot! Buy some decent quality pipe insulation (extra too) as the place where you grip the wand will melt eventually.
    6) Xavier says to buy multiple brass tips, but I found that two lasted me the whole day (around 7 hours of airspading).
    7) Wet the soil a few days before you begin. It'll help soften up those hard spots.
    8) You cannot control the direction that the dirt sprays. 1/3 of the time, the air creates a pocket instantly, which then forces the dirt straight towards the user. 1/3 of the time it goes in the direction the wand is pointing. And 1/3 of the time it goes sideways. If you have trenches you need to dig near a property line, ensure that there's nothing valuable within a 5-10 foot radius as it will get blasted and dirty.
    9) BE AWARE: your trenches will refill themselves as you move down the line. This is unavoidable. The dirt flies in every direction, even sideways into your newly excavated trenches. The only way I found to (sort of) deal with this is to go back over the whole trench a few times after you're done "digging" to remove the dirt. It will never get it all though unfortunately...
     
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  15. JD3000

    JD3000 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah trenching and RCX is a classic PIA.
     
  16. jhale

    jhale New Member

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    For a nozzle, why not look into a sandblasting nozzle? The tips come in many sizes and are shaped, hard metal so they might concentrate the airstream and have the high durability you need.
     
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  17. southsoundtree

    southsoundtree Well-Known Member

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    I've wondered about containing the mess versus cleaning up the mess. Would walls made from suspended tarps, set back from the trench a few feet contain the soil, and keep it where it can be amended, if needed, and back-filled?

    Would laying a tarp into the trench and up the sides to the ground contain the soil in a functional way?
     
  18. JD3000

    JD3000 Well-Known Member

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    Tarps need to be secured with bricks, rocks etc but do help contain the mess
     
  19. cerviarborist

    cerviarborist Well-Known Member

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    I use five foot wide rolls of landscape fabric and landscape staples, augmented by a bucket of scrap ends of threaded rod from tree support systems. Here's my process:

    1. Lay a ring around the base of the tree you're going to RCX, at the edge of the area you intend to excavate. Pin/weight it down.

    2. Put another concentric ring around the outside of the first ring. Overlap the first ring by about one foot. Pin/weight it down.

    3. Blast soil all over the freakin' place.

    4. Unpin/unweight the outermost edge of the outer roll of landscape fabric and lift it up, so that the soil falls neatly into the inner ring.

    5. Unpin/unweight the outer edge of the inner ring of landscape fabric, lift it and all the soil goes back to where it came from.

    6. Pack up, get paid and go home.
     
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  20. TCtreeswinger

    TCtreeswinger Well-Known Member

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    I use a 3 panel plywood stump grinding shield. Works pretty decent.
     
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