Is My Retaining Wall Level : Landscape Design  -- Landscape Discussion Forum and Review Is My Retaining Wall Level : Landscape Design -- Landscape Discussion Forum

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 09-16-2003, 11:54 Post: 64040
ScooterMagee



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 Is My Retaining Wall Level

Iíve started my retaining wall project and have two separate walls to build (1) about 40í long and (1) about 80í long. Iíve pulled strings, used hanging line levels, and a 4í beam level, but am still not comfortable that I have the base row level. So, my question, without renting (or buying) a rotary laser level, does anyone know any ďtrickĒ (= inexpensive) way to check level over such a long length. There must have been a method to do this before rotary laser levels. And, in the scheme of things how close is close enough over an 80' length?






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 09-16-2003, 12:00 Post: 64042
AC5ZO

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 Is My Retaining Wall Level

A water level will work and is very accurate. Connect clear tubing to a garden hose and let the water rise to its own level along the length of the project.

Water levels hold a fixed volume and need to be recalibrated when you move them, so I don't like to use them for checking intermediate points. I use a cheap laser level and set it up over the long interval with a water level. A cheap laser level may be good enough on its own, but in combination with a water level, you can level to better than 1/4" over your 80 ft distance.






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 09-16-2003, 18:24 Post: 64060
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 Is My Retaining Wall Level

Here is a trick to using a water level. Buy 3/8" clear tubing and tape one end into a milk jug. Fill the milk jug full and then lower the tube until about 1/2 the jug is empty. This way you'll have enough water volume to fill the tube, and you can hold the free end of the tube as high as you want without worrying about losing water. Also, I believe it makes the water level more accurate.

Brent






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 09-16-2003, 20:02 Post: 64075
TomG

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 Is My Retaining Wall Level

I used 1/4" tubing and wished I had used 3/8th. Air comes out of most water inside the tube and bubbles can form air locks that really throw off the level. I still use my 1/4" level but it takes the bubbles a long time to rise through 30' of 1/" tube (half my level length). Air rises a lot faster in 3/8th tubing.

The reservoir idea on the fixed end is good. A large enough reservoir in relation to the volume of water in the tube and for most purposes you don't have to re-calibrate the level when you move one end. 3/8" tubing holds more water than 1/4"and takes a larger reservoir to achieve the same accuracy.

Lazers are dandy but a water level can check the level between points that don't have a sight line. You just have to be sure you don't get an air lock at the top of anything the tubing goes over, and it can't go over anything higher than the tubing ends.

For checking grades I tie the ends onto some lighting stands I have and then measure down to grade along a plumb line. It works better if there's a bit of a head of water at each end of the tubing. I can just raise the stand at the low end to get about 10' of head if I need to.






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 09-17-2003, 08:09 Post: 64114
AC5ZO

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 Is My Retaining Wall Level

I have used the reservoir idea before and it does help. It also cuts down on the fluid oscillating back and forth whenever you move one end of the water level, also.

If I have a straight sight line, I still like the laser, because I can turn it on and use a wood block with a mark on it to check the level height all along the line. But, I have also found the water level to be better than the bubble levels that are in some of the cheap laser units. For me, putting a block of wood on the fence and looking for the laser spot is the easiest way to go. But Tom makes a good point about the water level working around corners and obstacles.






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 09-17-2003, 08:49 Post: 64127
ScooterMagee



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 Is My Retaining Wall Level

Okay, I gave it a try last nite. Used a 50ft garden hose, a couple of hose fittings and a couple of pieces of 3/4" clear tubing. The 40ft wall was perfect (plus-or-minus 1/16"Wink yeah right. However, the 80ft wall was off about 1-1/16" over 50'. Darn, I thought I was closer than that. Oh well, since I only have the first row of blocks set, I think I'll pull 'em back up, and adjust. Thanks for the advice, all. This worked out well.






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 09-17-2003, 09:38 Post: 64134
DRankin



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 Is My Retaining Wall Level

Is there a Costco near you? They have a laser level for $13.00

Actually,you get two. One for your pocket and one that adapts to a camera tripod.






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 09-17-2003, 10:12 Post: 64142
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 Is My Retaining Wall Level

No Costcos in Omaha.

My concern with the "torpedo" type laser levels is not with the laser, but with their leveling bubbles. Even if you are only off a 1/64" over 9", you will be 1-5/8" off over 80'. That's why I really liked the water level idea.






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 09-17-2003, 10:25 Post: 64144
AC5ZO

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 Is My Retaining Wall Level

The bubble levels in some of the cheap laser levels may very well not be very accurate, but they shoot a straight line of laser light none the less. In my previous posts, I suggested using the water level for the best accuracy and the laser level for best convenience. Bear in mind that some of these laser levels have a screw for adjusting the beam to the bubble level and you can use the water level to calibrate it.






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 09-17-2003, 11:34 Post: 64147
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 Is My Retaining Wall Level

I would agree, once you have established your two points with the water level, just align the laser to pass thru both points and you have a straight & level line. For what Iím doing, I marked the water level heights on two stakes, 50ft apart, and pulled a string between them. From there, I will measure down a constant height.






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