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Post hole digging

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BigE44
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 5
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2010-06-30          171977


I am having a problem digging post holes for a fence that I am installing. I have very dense clay that I need to get through and the auger that I rented went down a good 4" in 2+ hours. Then it refused to go any further. There is no room for big equipment since this is in my backyard and I live in the city. I am at a loss!

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auerbach
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2168 West of Toronto
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2010-06-30          171980


Test the hole with a pick for a rock, and try a hole in softer ground to confirm it's not a hitch problem. Then wet the ground, sharpen the leading edge of the flyte with an angle grinder, and (unless you have power-down) add lots of weight to the implement or hitch. ....

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
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2010-06-30          171986


I'd look at the travel at the hitch, more specifically the top link which may be inhibiting downward movement.

Also, look at the bottom of the auger for a flat plate just above the lowest point of the teeth. If it has one, it is called anti-submarining or plunging plate. It's designed to prevent the auger from digging too quickly. Most likely the clay is getting balled up under the plate acting like ball bearings, or it's roots or stones doing the same. I had this happen when helping a guy use a 2-man auger from Home Depot--it took everything we had to push the auger down and pull it up. And it had the plate I mentioned.

You could cut it off with an angle grinder, but be advised that if you do, the auger could screw itself into the ground. The only way to get it out is a big pipe wrench to unscrew it. My skid steer has an auger but it reverses. There have been times I've screwed into the ground and liting it straight up ain't happenin'---and I can lift over 5,000 lbs ....

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kthompson
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5219 South Carolina
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2010-06-30          171987


BigE, is this on a tractor or hand held auger?

Is the auger clogging with the clay or not cutting into it? Grass over the cutting edge will also slow you up. If this is tractor mounted then do follow Auergach suggestions.

One other thought, some soil will cut better slower than faster, try varying the speed but be careful as high speed and it catches. Also if on tractor are you sure you are letting the lift down sufficient? ....

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BigE44
Join Date: Jun 2010
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2010-06-30          171991


I was using a one man auger from Home Depot. The issue is definitely not rocks or stones. The clay is incredibly dense and does not absorb water very well. Can't get a tractor in due to limited space. Unfortunately there is no softer ground to test on, and renting an auger by the hour will get very expensive if it take a couple of hours per hole. Sounds like I'm screwed! ....

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BigE44
Join Date: Jun 2010
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2010-06-30          171992


The auger is not even cutting into the clay beyond the first 2 inches of the bit. ....

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kthompson
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5219 South Carolina
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2010-06-30          171996


BigE, check around there are augers, that are larger probably for rent, that still will roll through an area a push lawn mower will fit. At to rental don't price it by the hour, as per day or even three day rental. The shorter period of time you rent by the harder they know you plan to run it. Here small machines for a week is about a three day rental price. ....

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Post hole digging

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
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2010-06-30          171999


Sounds like the end of the auger pilot screw is really worn or missing. But I go back to the plate keeping it from digging too especially since it's a one-man---they don't want to you to auger too fast.

Back to the pilot screw, there are different types---ask. Them if they havew what is called a fish tail type. It looks like two twisted prongs. These really stir and loosen the soil. The other type looks like a Dairy Queen as a tip and are useless.

I'd ask to rent a Toro Dingo which will fit through a gate and an auger head and auger. It has down force and about 800 lb of up too. ....

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BigE44
Join Date: Jun 2010
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2010-06-30          172000


Thanks for the suggestions. I will give them a try. ....

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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2010-06-30          172002


I'm going to take another route here on the auger thing.
Not many mechanical things scare me too much, but a three point mounted post hole auger scares me to death. I bought one used it once and couldn't sell it quick enough. The little gasoline powerd ones like EW used aren't too scary, but will either make a real man out of you or kill you from all the pulling, lifting, etc., did that too.
There is a fellow in our neighborhood who has a post driver on his skid loader, he does custom fencing.
After the tractor mounted auger scared me out I hired him to pound eight inch, eight foot long woooden posts for a new cattle yard fence. It didn't take him long and they were still rock solid after twenty years when we sold the farm.
Frank. ....

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auerbach
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2168 West of Toronto
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2010-06-30          172009


Big: Sorry, I somehow assumed it was tractor-mounted.

Hard: What did you find scarey about a rear-hitch auger? ....

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
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2010-07-01          172013


Auer, Frank's just generally a scaredycat. Meeeeow. ....

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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2010-07-01          172018


EW;
OK now, it seems I have to splain everything to yous any more. Do you have trouble tying your shoes too, sometimes I do, but back to the fraidy cat thing on augers.
My first and only post hole auger was a no name elcheapo from TSC or some fleet store, not sure I remember where I bought it.
This death trap machine had a long handle that was meant for the operator of the tractor to use kinda over his/her shoulder to guide the auger where you wanted it to drill the hole. That worked out about as good as the Edsel, so you then turned the handle backward so a person standing behind the auger used this handle to guide the auger in and out of the hole to clear the dirt. It wouldn't drill a hole and auger the dirt up at the same time you had to lift it out several times per hole. The only safe way to bring the auger up or back in the hole was to stop the PTO which didn't work real good because without the auger turning it wouldn't come up out of the hole without bending the frame of the machine. So here stands this person behind the running auger with dirt flying all over with the auger flopping about and oh my get rid of that thing before someone is killed, which I promptly did.
Now remember this is the only auger I ever was exposed to so there likely are much better and safer ones built than I had. ....

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
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2010-07-01          172025


Me thinks it was all due to a loose nut behind the steering wheel. Am I right Franky? ....

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auerbach
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2168 West of Toronto
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2010-07-01          172026


Good to know, because I'm looking for an auger, and wouldn't have thought it useful to take it for a test drill before buying. ....

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
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2010-07-01          172029


There's something fishy going on with augers lately.

I drilled (17) 16" x 48" holes today for a pole barn building company. They hadn't used me in three years apparently using rental equipment.

The laborers told me on the last job they rented a NEW Bobcat brand skid steer about the size of mine (80 hp) which is on the bigger end of the scale.

They said it took an hour per hole to drill the same size hole I dug in about 3 minutes (4 or 5 plunges to clean out hole). The Bobcat bogged down and at one point wouldn't turn the auger. Mine's rated at 1,700 pound feet of torque at the auger. Clay was the material.

They noted that I have flat, carbide chisel teeth on my auger. It's rated as "extreme duty" supposedly rated for drilling asphalt, but I doubt it. It can auger through frost which is like asphalt, but makes chips like wood shavings from a wood plane.

So I wonder what may driving the lack of ability with augers across the spectrum. ....

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kthompson
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5219 South Carolina
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2010-07-02          172041


"So I wonder what may driving the lack of ability with augers across the spectrum." EW


You could be right there could be a cut back in design due to some liability issue...and not trying to offend anyone it could all be operator errors in these cases.


Frank, I understand some of your concern with an auger and know there have been people killed by them and those I think were often clothes caught in the PTO shaft or auger itself. One thing that some people don't understand is augers and mowers are totally different on PTO speeds. Often augers need to run slow due to safety while mowers always needs the high rpms for tip speed. A full 540 rpm speed on some augers look like what is it, a disaster waiting for location.

Auerbach, if you have the ability to use hyd to power the auger would suggest it. That way if the bit becomes jammed you can reverse it while with the normal PTO model as EW has already mentioned that is a hand job and often with pipe wrench or bar. Neither fun or fast. Realize the PTO models cost less. ....

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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2010-07-02          172045


KT;
After the fact I now understand that my auger was at the bottom of the quality scale, there were many much better ones built, but I went for cheap, so that's what I got.
The hydraulic drives have the reversing feature, a blessing from above when roots or gravel rocks are involved. The "Thing", I'll call it that I had was shearpin city to say the least.
I do remember somewhere seeing an ad for an auger that had a very safe look about it. Somehow there was a sort of supporting frame that sat on the ground and the auger went straight up and down within the frame without anyone having to hand guide it.
Frank. ....

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kthompson
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5219 South Carolina
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2010-07-02          172054


Frank, thinking back to the days of the tractors with single stage clutch bet using a PTO driven auger would not have been any more fun than running a heavy rough cut mower around a pond or ditch. It would not be smart to have the pto running while the auger was swinger free and such. Not saying you were doing so but that thought sure came to my mind here.

Have a great 4th of July. ....

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