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Tractor Talk Discussion Forum

Power pole use for creek bridge and corral

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02-23-2011 16:51:15

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Hi. The power company is replacing a high voltage transmission power line at the half section line. Going from a double pole to a single pole. They offered to let me have all the poles I wanted. They are 80' long and are 12" in diameter just above the ground. New poles are 80' long and 20" at base and 12" in diameter at the top.

I have a creek bottom down there I'd like to bridge. I was going to get some old sewer pipe but this may be an opportunity for a freebie.

The creek bottom actually splits into 3 gullies each about 5' across and 5' deep. Two of them are about 40' apart, then an open space, and then the third one. Total span is about a 100'. To long for one pole length so I'd have to double it. It is all basically level bottom land in there.

I't thinking of laying the poles lengthways in rows alternating thick and narrow ends making two of them end to end for 160'. Probably 12' wide or so for a tractor/combine and then cover them with dirt. The trucker unloading the new poles this afternoon is a former logger from the Mount St. Helens area and he said he built a lot of cord bridges after it erupted. He said to weave cable through the rows at each end and pull the cable tight and nail the cable ends down with railroad spikes and not to use cable clamps.

80' poles would also make some heavy duty rails for a 3 rail corral about 6' high if I could figure out how to do the support posts and such. These are old enough the creosote is gone.

Anyway I'm interested in any feed back you guys have for using these power poles. I suppose I'll take all they want to give. The contractor doesn't really want to haul them out. They are replacing about 25 miles worth. The contractor said he would lay them with his equipment. He probably won't delay his work so whatever he does will be a quick before they move on down the line. And I don't really want to spend a bunch of time with the chain saw either. I can have all the cross bucks but there probably aren't enough to make planks across that long of a bridge and probably more trouble than it would be worth.

Thanks for any input.

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02-24-2011 07:09:18

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 Re: Power pole use for creek bridge and corral in reply to bc, 02-23-2011 16:51:15  
Ive replaced a lot of poles in my day,and have used old ones for just about everything including bridges,,First and this is very important,take a small sledge and hit on pole all the way up checking for rot and woodpecker holes,check it carefully,this is why they are normally replaced. any that sound punky use for fence posts only.second these are generally made of pine,not oak or fir like most bridge timbers are so they are not near as strong.plan on setting a post as deep as you can about every 5-6 ft in creek bed if you are going across it with any load at all.Third if you know what loads it will carry and the wheel spacing,double up poles laying flat where normaly wheels would run.fourth plan on cross bracing poles at ends,and set in middle of creek,water can have a huge amount of force when it pushes against poles.fifth ive tried splitting them and using them for planking.what ive found is they dont last very long that way.much better to bite the bullet and buy bridge planks.Bro in law just this last weekend finally replaced the planks on his that we built nearly thirty years ago.the frame work on his is made of old poles,spans about 15ft,and has supported large weight loads from large tractors daily.dont quote me but I think he told me he paid $43 apiece for new 16ft oak planks.dont, by the way, put dirt on top it only holds moisture and wont let your planks dry out. hope this helps!

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02-24-2011 05:59:09

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 Re: Power pole use for creek bridge and corral in reply to bc, 02-23-2011 16:51:15  
Sell some to the deer hunters for making blinds and stands.

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02-23-2011 18:40:19

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 Re: Power pole use for creek bridge and corral in reply to bc, 02-23-2011 16:51:15  
Thanks so far. It isn't worth investing any cash for milled lumber even if I could find a mill. It basically will be used to link up to 16 acres of CRP across the creek. The farmer who farms the place quit farming it years ago and put it in crp. It was side slope ground and he said the soil type wasn't very good and it never made as much in wheat. It's the same soil as the other side of the creek but that's his story. He use to take his equipment around the section to get to it.

I just signed it back up for crp again. So for now I need to access it by pickup and then an average size tractor with seed drill as I have to overseed it this year. Probably need to get a spray rig in there as well.

It isn't a real necessity to bridge it but it ought to be done someday and may help if we ever sell it. The farmer uses big 4WD JD tractors with 30' equipment and a big JD combine. Guess I'd want it to hold that. I've got a gully in the pasture and ditches bigger than these gullies in the creek bottom. What I have been wanting to do is go up to the other end and do some dirt work so the creek just takes one channel again. There was a beaver dam up north on the neighbor's property years ago that caused it to take separate channels which are all tree lined and wind around the bottom now. For now I'll just advantage of the free poles. When we replaced a yard pole during the ice storm, they wanted 5-800 bucks for a used pole. Guess I can sell them.

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02-23-2011 18:14:09

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 Re: Power pole use for creek bridge and corral in reply to bc, 02-23-2011 16:51:15  
I had almost the same deal with a cross-country power line. If 'twere me, I'd use them to build a traditional bridge(s) with vertical support posts, 5 or 6 for runners/beams/joists (depending on expected loading) and planking sawn from the poles. I built a lot of cattle guards, bridges, corrals, barns, etc out of the things. Be aware that creosote is a KNOWN CARCINOGIN and appropriate measures need to be taken when sawing it. I don't think it's possible for all the creoste to leach out. There should be someone around with a portable band mill to saw them for you. Lumber from them also makes great trailer decking/flooring.

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Adrian Billheimer

02-23-2011 17:05:42

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 Re: Power pole use for creek bridge and corral in reply to bc, 02-23-2011 16:51:15  
Poles have more strength in the verticle position than horizontal, I don't know if they would be strong enough for large tractors and combines, If you want to make a fence, you could drill them and find either long bolts or all thread with a nut and washer on each end, or if your capable make your own bolts- weld a piece of all thread to the needed length of round stock, I would use at least 5/8" diameter stock.

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02-23-2011 17:05:35

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 Re: Power pole use for creek bridge and corral in reply to bc, 02-23-2011 16:51:15  
Did you say what kind of loads you will be wanting it to hold up, or did I miss it?

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02-23-2011 16:57:38

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 Re: Power pole use for creek bridge and corral in reply to bc, 02-23-2011 16:51:15  
Doo it, it will last for a long time. I would not put dirt on top, I would have a local sawmill slab some of them into 3" planks and then use them for decking. Dirt will make the tops rot faster than desired, the tops usually have less creosote than the bottoms and have been weathered and climbed with spikes. Pole barn nails to hold together. I like the cable weaving idea. set the ends on creek rocks and or concrete rubble to (again) keep dirt away from the wood. Jim

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02-23-2011 18:46:03

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 Re: Power pole use for creek bridge and corral in reply to Janicholson, 02-23-2011 16:57:38  
I agree.

I would almost just make 3 bridges to keep them off the ground. I have used them for all kinds of stuff and the bottom part that is in the ground is more often then not the soft part that makes them need replace'n (cept the ones I got from the ice storm two years ago, they wasn't soft just busted). Don't know how much you are think'n of spend'n but I'd at least lay them on rip rap if not bolted to a poured pad. Go on and make them 15'. I am have'n to put a poor boy oil field pipe bridge over one of my creeks because the co-op that does my spray'n traided in their 90" Apache for a Rogator that will not go in past 120" and my 11' culvert won't work good for them any more. Local Amish saw mill here will cut light poles into planks pretty cheap, have them cut them into three or four inch planks 15' long.

I would (and have) take all you have time and energy to haul or pull home.

I like the cable idea.

As for the corral idea, they are going to be a pill to man handle to get bolted to the post, going to take a lot of big post and bolts to get held up. At least have them sawed in half, and if you have critters that can bust through a half a 12" light pole, you don't need a corral you need a 30/30.

Good luck.


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