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View Full Version : Need help w/RR tie Stairs...


Storm861triple
06-03-2007, 08:16 PM
When it comes to working on my house, I'm a retard. Or at least I feel like one. You'd think w/all my years of being a mechanic, I'd be able to apply my knowledge and skills form that profession to house repair. I can't however...at least not very effectively. :rolleyes:

My house has those RailRoad ties for a stair case going up to the house (I didn't install them). Burried underneath them is the water pipe that goes to my garage. The pipe has sprung a leak, and I've pulled up the deck and started shoveling out sand, but have realized that I need to disassemble at least part of the stairs (starting from the top down). It appears that the stairs are held together w/HUGE nails; like 1/4" thick, and 10-12" long. I can't get the nails out. Any advise? I need to be able to put them back together too, so a chain saw won't work.

JohnnyB
06-03-2007, 08:23 PM
Used the same type of nails for a retaining wall.....the only thing I can suggest is something large to pry between the railroad ties....pipe with flattened end, solid metal ice chipper????

I'm not sure how I'd get the ones apart that I installed either.

Storm861triple
06-03-2007, 08:28 PM
Ice Chipper!!! That's a great idea! I'm going to go "Rail" on it w/that...

Thanks!

JohnnyB
06-03-2007, 09:09 PM
Let me know how it works....someday I may have to disassemble mine, too.

One is held together with those spikes and the other one I used 1/4 rebar instead.

BuoyChaser
06-03-2007, 09:12 PM
you need constant pressure in a direct upward pull...as a mechanic you'd appreciate an old bumper jack ricked with a nylon webbing strap wrapped around the "rebar" to pull directly upwards...

my grandfather rigged a similiar system to pull pipe out of the "clay lake bottom" after it would sink down after years to readjust the dock...

jrhollow
06-03-2007, 09:57 PM
Use a Sawsall to cut the nail and the just re-nail them when you put the stairs back together.

milkmania
06-03-2007, 10:52 PM
Use a Sawsall to cut the nail and the just re-nail them when you put the stairs back together.

that's got my vote:cool:

JimN
06-03-2007, 11:23 PM
You can use a prybar to separate them enough to get the blade in. Use the carbide sawzall blades since they don't dull fast. They're sometimes called "demolition blades". The big nails are usually called "landscape spikes" but if you find them with the rest of the normal nails, they're in the 64d (64 penny) range. You're not going to drive them in with a 16 oz claw hammer, either.

milkmania
06-03-2007, 11:29 PM
You can use a prybar to separate them enough to get the blade in. Use the carbide sawzall blades since they don't dull fast. They're sometimes called "demolition blades". The big nails are usually called "landscape spikes" but if you find them with the rest of the normal nails, they're in the 64d (64 penny) range. You're not going to drive them in with a 16 oz claw hammer, either.

true dat! http://www.freewebby.com/action-smilies/dev2.gif

JimN
06-03-2007, 11:32 PM
A forging hammer is what I would use.

Storm861triple
06-04-2007, 01:26 AM
The ice chipper, a few mechanics pry bars, a 16 lb sledge, and a shovel did the trick. Not easily, but I got it. A Swasall would have been teh way to go for sure, but I don't have one.

Thanks to everyone who replied. Unfortunately, I didn't get to read all the good ideas as I did read the "Ice chipper idea" and that was better than what I was doing so proceeded w/that.

My goal was to unearth the pipe, fix it, and button it up today, but I'm betting that anyone who knows anything about contracting/house repair, knows that wasn't going to happen. I don't know anything about contracting/house repair.

I took off the top step and a half, which was three RR ties. Prying w/a BFPry-bar, the ice chipper, and the spade they all came off together. Hopefully I can get the bedding right and nail them back together decently when I reassemble.

So by 8:00 PM I was able to uncover the pipe. The house is 33 years old, and I expected to see a rotted cast iron pipe. I was happy to find a copper pipe. I dug straight down to w/in 6" of the leak and a couple more minutes of digging laterally got me to the leak. It is on the bottom of the pipe, and it is a small hole, about 3/32" in diameter. I don't know how it got there. It wasn't dented like if it were sitting on a rock. Any ideas?

I'm inclined to plug it w/JB Weld, and wrap the pipe in that are w/JB as well and bed it w/good sand and bury it up again. Let me know if this is the wrong way to fix it. Thanks again everyone!

Thrall
06-04-2007, 08:54 AM
Tom,
I wouldn't JB weld it! That stuff's only to be used on Fords and Polaris's!!
Just cut the pipe and solder in a new piece/coupling.
If the pipe had froze (even if that's not what caused it to break), it will be expanded a bit and a pain to get a coupler on. CUt out a small length where the repair is to be made. Replace one side w/ coupler and sand/file the "nubs" out of the other coupler so you can slide it over the pipe and then slide it over the other splice once it's together.
Make sure you scuff all the connections good and use plenty of flux when you solder it.
You'll need MAPP gas for your torch, propane takes forever w/ solder now that it's lead free (higher melting point).
If you're having trouble getting the coupling over the pipe, sand both to get clerance. If that doesn't work, you cna heat the coupling to expand it a little and that will help. DOn't burn your fingers.

JimN
06-04-2007, 09:45 AM
Unfortunately, if there's one hole, there will be at least one more soon. I would replace the whole section. 30 years is a long time for copper underground, with no protection. Also, galvanic corrosion is probably to blame. If one or both ends connects to galvanized pipe, it should have a dielectric coupler. Dissimilar metals create small a voltage and that, in addition to the characteristics of the metals, causes corrosion.

If you don't replace the whole section, you'll want to screw the ties in place because you will be removing them if you stay there. Better to fix it once than keep going back to it.

chudson
06-04-2007, 09:58 AM
Just a word to the wise, the ties will loose the creosote over the years and termites love that !!!

Storm861triple
06-04-2007, 02:30 PM
Unfortunately, if there's one hole, there will be at least one more soon. I would replace the whole section. 30 years is a long time for copper underground, with no protection. Also, galvanic corrosion is probably to blame.
Well sheit. You just told me what I already kind of knew, but didn't want to hear. Since I do not have the money to hire a plumber, I need to figure out how to deal w/this, which is stressing me out now.

The deck the pipe is under is about 40' long, and the pipe is burried about 4' the whole way, then there are the RR tie stairs that go from the deck down to the garage; about another 20' laterally, and a ~10' drop. The pipe is under those stairs from at least most of the distance, I'm guessing. I can't hand dig all that dirt. I can't afford equipment.

Chudson, you're right about the creosote; it's fading and the wood is getting bleached out. Ants are moving in. What can I use to protect that wood now days? I think creosote is illegal now days...isn't it?

Thinking....please hold :(

Upper Michigan Prostar190
06-04-2007, 02:37 PM
Also, galvanic corrosion is probably to blame. .
Galvanic, now there is a word you dont hear every day.

JimN
06-04-2007, 02:49 PM
UMP- "Galvanic, now there is a word you dont hear every day."

Yeah, I say a lot of crap people don't hear everyday.

JimN
06-04-2007, 02:53 PM
Storm- If it's in sand, maybe you can cut it at the bottom and vibrating/gyrating with a steel rod in it and then pull it out in one piece. If you can do this, sweat a cap on the downhill end and as long as the hole is large enough, you should be able to slide a replacement into position. Once it's at the bottom, remove the cap and sweat a coupler on, do the same at the top and pressure test it.

Looks easy from here.

Upper Michigan Prostar190
06-04-2007, 02:53 PM
UMP- "Galvanic, now there is a word you dont hear every day."

Yeah, I say a lot of crap people don't hear everyday.
thats why we keep you around. 8p ;)

I like those words.

For fun, I like to throw this one out there: Multiplicative. It messes with people. you know how people will say, "well its an exponential return" or something like that? I always throw "Multiplicative" at them, it confuses the hell out of them. I have no idea if its even a real word, probably not. but Its fun to mess with people's heads using it.:D :)

JimN
06-04-2007, 02:55 PM
Yo know the movie 'Multiplicity', with Michael Keaton?

"Hi Steve!"

Storm861triple
06-04-2007, 05:28 PM
Storm- If it's in sand, maybe you can cut it at the bottom and vibrating/gyrating with a steel rod in it and then pull it out in one piece. If you can do this, sweat a cap on the downhill end and as long as the hole is large enough, you should be able to slide a replacement into position. Once it's at the bottom, remove the cap and sweat a coupler on, do the same at the top and pressure test it.

Looks easy from here.
O.K. That's a good idea, and the pipe is bedded in sand. Here's what I'm thinking:

I'm thinking about cutting and patching that pipe w/another piece of copper as Thall suggested, and here's why:
1. It will get me water sooner and cheaper
2. It will get me a cross section of the pipe that I can examine for general pipe integrity.
3. Where the pipe is leaking, and where I've unearthed it is about in the middle. So having a hole dug there does me no good as far as a long term fix (replacement) is concerned.

Does this sound right? To replace the pipe as per JimN's advise, I need to work it from one end or the other, as I understand it. So having it dug up in the middle is littel help...

When I get home tonight, I'll take a couple pics and post them.

Upper Michigan Prostar190
06-04-2007, 05:32 PM
Yo know the movie 'Multiplicity', with Michael Keaton?

"Hi Steve!"
"What's up?"

"just spittin on bugs."

I got a huge kick out of the retarded one taht wore the WWII leather pilot hat with the goggles. Hilarious!:D

TX.X-30 fan
06-04-2007, 08:55 PM
A forging hammer is what I would use.



Be sure to get one of the kids to hold the spike for the first few strikes. :D :D :rolleyes:

Storm861triple
06-04-2007, 11:11 PM
Here are some pics...

The pipe:
http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w165/Stormer861/AquariumPowellPipe096.jpg

The pipe, w/it's destination (just to left of grill) in the back ground:
http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w165/Stormer861/AquariumPowellPipe098.jpg

Total run of pipe -from just to the right of the slider, to behind the grill:
http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w165/Stormer861/AquariumPowellPipe099.jpg

Pipe w/Snap-On pick in the hole. What is the copper wire for?:
http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w165/Stormer861/AquariumPowellPipe100.jpg

Workin' 4 Toys
06-04-2007, 11:23 PM
Well sheit. You just told me what I already kind of knew, but didn't want to hear. Since I do not have the money to hire a plumber, I need to figure out how to deal w/this, which is stressing me out now.

I am going to tell you something you also may already know but don't want to hear. Do it right now, or you'll be doing it again later.:( Jus' Sayin'...:o

You might want to consider digging out as much as you are willing to do? And the rest at a more appropriate time??

Workin' 4 Toys
06-04-2007, 11:25 PM
Be sure to get one of the kids to hold the spike for the first few strikes. :D :D :rolleyes:
You may want to consider asking UMP to hold it instead.

JimN
06-04-2007, 11:52 PM
After seeing how far it needs to go, I would consider bringing it out from under the steps and put it somewhere it can be worked on easier in the future. Yeah, it's a lot of work but will save a repeat job later. Crossing under the steps is one thing but centered along them is another.

Upper Michigan Prostar190
06-05-2007, 12:01 AM
You may want to consider asking UMP to hold it instead.
Why not, I am just sittin here spittin on bugs. :)

Workin' 4 Toys
06-05-2007, 12:07 AM
Why not, I am just sittin here spittin bugs. :)Fixed it fer ya.....:D

And to ask a question about the wires.....How many are there? Looks like 4. Do you know if they continue the length of the pipe? Or is that all you see? Might just be scrap..

Thrall
06-05-2007, 11:31 AM
If you're considering replacing the whole line, is there somewhere else to route it that doesn't require tearing up as much landscaping??

The other option, possibly, could you pull a new line through the old one. Old one looks like 3/4" flexible copper, would be great if it was 1".
If you can get a fish tape through it (no hard 90's anywhere) you could posssibly pull a 3/8" or 1/2" polyethylene line (copper may be too hard to bend??) through it, depending onyour water requirements in the shop. A 1/2" would run a sink or washing machine. A 3/8" line would still work for a sink, just not alot of pressure. WOuld save digging up the whole yard.

Storm861triple
06-05-2007, 06:09 PM
After seeing how far it needs to go, I would consider bringing it out from under the steps and put it somewhere it can be worked on easier in the future. Yeah, it's a lot of work but will save a repeat job later. Crossing under the steps is one thing but centered along them is another.
I figured that some pix would shed a little light on the magnitude of what I've gotten myself into. I like the idea of re-routing it...except that it will need to be drained and gblown out in the fall...but that may just be the way it's going to have to be right now.

If you're considering replacing the whole line, is there somewhere else to route it that doesn't require tearing up as much landscaping??

The other option, possibly, could you pull a new line through the old one. Old one looks like 3/4" flexible copper, would be great if it was 1".
If you can get a fish tape through it (no hard 90's anywhere) you could posssibly pull a 3/8" or 1/2" polyethylene line (copper may be too hard to bend??) through it, depending onyour water requirements in the shop. A 1/2" would run a sink or washing machine. A 3/8" line would still work for a sink, just not alot of pressure. WOuld save digging up the whole yard.
This idea is the most appealing, as I'd be able to retain my winter freeze protection. My "needs" at the shop are mainly for washing the cars and the boat. So I'd like some decent volume/pressure down there. Right now (or last summer anyway) there was way more than enough pressure at the garage. Any Idea if a 3/8" polyethylene line would have enough flow for a decent toy washing?

jrhollow
06-05-2007, 08:21 PM
This idea is the most appealing, as I'd be able to retain my winter freeze protection. My "needs" at the shop are mainly for washing the cars and the boat. So I'd like some decent volume/pressure down there. Right now (or last summer anyway) there was way more than enough pressure at the garage. Any Idea if a 3/8" polyethylene line would have enough flow for a decent toy washing?

If you go with 3/8' polyethylene you better make sure it is blown out 100% in the fall. I can't even begin to imagine how big of a pain in the @ss it would be to locate and fix a split polyethylene pipe inside a cooper pipe.

Thrall
06-06-2007, 02:45 PM
I don't think a 3/8" line would serve well feeding a garden hose and still get good pressure, but I'm not positive.
Should be no need to blow out the line as suggessted, unless your 4' of frost cover was insufficient. Doe's it look like the other line froze/split?

Workin' 4 Toys
06-06-2007, 03:57 PM
May I suggest something. I don't know that its the best solution, but it certainly sounds like it would solve a few headaches.

Get a couple 50' lengths of 3/4" Goodyear garden hose and be done.....Roll it up when not in use?

playtherapy
06-06-2007, 05:25 PM
Just a word to the wise, the ties will loose the creosote over the years and termites love that !!!

I know you have a lot of "tie steps" but ya need to replace them. We found termites in the ties that were a flower bed boarder, then we found them in the house! They will even eat sheet rock or at least do a number on it that makes it crumble!

Storm861triple
06-06-2007, 07:18 PM
I don't think a 3/8" line would serve well feeding a garden hose and still get good pressure, but I'm not positive.
Should be no need to blow out the line as suggessted, unless your 4' of frost cover was insufficient. Doe's it look like the other line froze/split?
Nope, it didn't break from ice. It just has one, little hole. That's it. No visible corrosion or anything. I'm starting to think that it was a defective piece.

Playtherapy, That is good info about the ties, but there is NO WAY I can afford to deal w/that right now. :( The stairs are going to have to stay for a while longer.

TMCNo1
06-08-2007, 07:46 AM
:popcorn: :popcorn: :popcorn:

Storm861triple
06-09-2007, 09:08 PM
Welp...

As I stated before, since the hole I dug doesn't really do me any good with respect to replacing the whole pipe (especially w/a re-route), I'm going to sweat in a new, small section, and if it ever leaks again, then I'll dig up at the valve, and at the spigot, and install a new pipe, one way or another.

For anyone who is interested, here are some close-ups of the section of pipe w/the hole in it. Notice the wall thickness. It doesn't seem to be very corroded to me. I don't know why it has the one hole... (?)

Pipe I.D. and cross sectional thickness
http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w165/Stormer861/Pipe002.jpg


I.D. again. Doesn't look bad to my non-plumber eyes...
http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w165/Stormer861/Pipe003.jpg


Another showing cross section
http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w165/Stormer861/Pipe004.jpg

The whole piece I cut out
http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w165/Stormer861/Pipe005.jpg

ski_king
06-09-2007, 09:59 PM
Note to self: Use heavy wall polyethylene pipe for underground installations.

I would rather be out sking thang digging up pipe