We have just about finished the dry stone walls we started earlier in the summer. Just as well since we seemed to have used up all of the stone that we had left over. It is difficult to believe that the huge mountain of stone that was left over from the old barn and outbuildings has now been moved and forms the new dry stone walls. We moved all of the stone by hand with the aid of an old dumper. We just kept chipping away at it and eventually it was all gone.
We are now left with a new sheep pen (for housing the dumper and other stuff for now) and a new dry stone wall along the top field. Give it a year and it will have all blended in.
This used to be a mountain of stone, but now we just have the few odd shaped stones on the left. Goodness knows what we will do with them, but we have used an angle grinder to cut some of them into more usable pieces. Difficult to believe that this mountain of stone was all moved by hand and transported in an old dumper!
Here’s the pile of stone before we started building the last of the dry stone walls.
Well, we didn’t quite move ALL the stones by hand. Some of them were just too big to lift by hand!
Well, we are almost there. Just as well since our mountain of stone has almost all gone. Amazing to think that all of this stone has been moved by hand with just the aid of our old dumper. It has been a little slow on occasion, but we got there in the end.
A little while ago we were wondering what we were going to do with the pile of stone from the old barn. Now, it has almost all gone.
There was a fair mixture of stone in this pile. To be fair, most of it was pretty good walling stone so it didn’t take long to build some new stone walls in the top field.
We started building a sheep pen around the pile of stones – partly to hide it and partly to use up the stone. It soon became obvious that we had to think of something else to do with the stone.
Over the last few weeks we have made good progress on the remaining dry stone walls. We haven’t got much to do now. Which is just as well, since there isn’t much of our mountain of stone left!
Once we turn the corner, this wall in the top field will join up with the old wall in the bottom field. Then all of our stone will have been used up. Well, at least that is the plan!
There was always a wall here, but in days gone by I think the wall collapsed and what is left is hidden under the grass in the bottom field. So now is our opportunity to re-build, but this time not to have it too close to the edge of the escarpment. It is the same height as the back wall (and the sheep pen) in the top field. It will come around to the right of the large oak tree and then join up with the existing wall in the bottom field. This will then enclose the bottom field while not obscuring the views from the house.
All of the stone has been moved by hand with the aid of our old dumper. Compared to some of the other walling we have done, this has been quite a quick job – mainly due to much better building stone.
We have always dug all of the footings for our dry stone walls by hand – not this time! We just happened to have access to a machine (and a man who knows how to drive it). It only took a couple of hours to do what might have taken a couple of days by hand. We used our old trusty dumper to move the soil elsewhere. It is probably a good 30-40m run.
We are using our old dumper to move this stone from the mountain to the other end of the field. The stone is pretty reasonable walling stone (even if some of it is a little big!), so the wall goes up pretty quickly.
When we had the digger here we used it to lift some of the bigger stones into the dumper. I then dumped these along the wall to go into the foundations of the wall. Although many of them were too heavy to lift, I can just about roll them into position. Zep is lying in the grass by the red trug in the background.
This is the view from the other side of the wall looking up from the bottom field. It doesn’t look too bad, although it does feel bigger and taller when viewed from this side.
Almost there! Which is just as well since we don’t seem to have much stone left! It is amazing to think that most of this wall used to the old barn.
In order to use up some of the left over stone, we decided to build a “sheep pen” in the top field to house our dumper and other bits and pieces. Part of these walls have been built through the mountain of stone by building the wall a section at a time – we have been moving the stone from in front of us to build the wall. This in turn allows us to dig the footings for the next section and the process starts all over again. Laborious, but it works!
It was a bit daunting when we started this job, but at least the stones didn’t have to be moved far!
We came out about 4m from the existing wall (and at the same height). Now it is time to turn the corner! We built this wall about 1.5m at a time – each time digging the footings by hand and then taking the stones from in front of us to build this wall. This way we managed to build the wall “through” the mountain of stone.
The foundations of the wall are built on top of the subsoil – we dig a trench to remove all of the turf and top soil. This means that the foundations are out of sight – this is a good place to loose some of the old bits of concrete block and old bricks. It provides a good solid base without using up good stone. The footings are all dug by hand.
The buckets are full of smaller stones that are used to “pack out” the middle of the wall. You’ll be amazed at how much stone can be used up doing this and how stable the smaller stones make the whole structure. While I get to put the bigger stones in place, Jo gets to work fill the centre of the wall behind me.
We progressively worked our way building through the mountain of stone. You can see where the “mountain” used to be because there was no grass under the mountain. We are now using some orange string to provide a guide for the top of the wall. Our aim is to build this wall to the same height as the old wall behind.
We are going to stop building the sheep pen and turn our attention to building the wall along the top edge of the field. If we have any stone left over, we may come back here and build out the pen a little more. But for now, we are done here. You can just see the top of the stone pile behind the wall.
We had a real mountain of stone left over when we demolished the old barn. It was of little use when re-building the extension, but since it had been here for the last 200-300 years, we didn’t really want to get rid of it. So the big question is what do you do with around 250 tons of old stone?
We are still “raiding” this pile of stone left over from the renovation to rebuild and repair different bits of our dry stone walls.
Our first call was to build a “sheep pen” around the mountain of stone. This would give us somewhere to park various bits of machinery where it was out of site. In the short term, it would also be a good spot to store horse manure/compost. And who knows, eventually even some sheep!
The next step was to re-build the wall in the top field along the boundary with the lower field. There had been a wall here previously, but I suspect that it was built a little too close to the edge of the escarpment and it just end up as a pile of stones along the edge of the bottom field. This old wall can still be seen in places. The new wall is just a little back from the edge, so hopefully the same fate will not await our new wall.
I reckon by the time that we have finished this wall that most of the mountain of stone will have disappeared (or rather, been repurposed!).
One of the things you quickly realise when you digging around a property that used to be a farm is that, in the old days, they used to bury a lot of rubbish. I guess it would have been in the days before council rubbish collections. The organic stuff has rotted away, however, there is a lot of metal and glass left behind.
Jo decided to clear the nettle patch next to the new opening in the orchard. The area is around 3m x 2m. It took Jo the best part of half-day to dig this area over. The amount of metal that we came across is impressive and I suspect that there is a lot more to come (should we wish to dig any further).
We sorted out this opening a few weeks ago and this area was covered with some old roof slates until recently. It didn’t take long before the ground was reclaimed with nettles.
All of this metal work came out of this very small area of ground. It gets to a point where you want to stop digging!
Over the past couple of months, we have been doing odd jobs around the place. We concentrated on getting the work done rather than keeping the blog up to date, so here’s a quick round up……
We finished the dry stone wall along the orchard and top field last month and had quite a bit of stone left over. With the arrival of our new dumper (well, new to us), we were in a position to move the stone out of the way into the bottom field. This means that in time we should be able to mow the grass up to the new wall. All in all, it took about a dozen trips in the dumper.
There was a lot of odd (and orrible) stone left over when building the dry stone wall – rounded lumps of stuff that weren’t of any use in a wall. All of this has now been moved and the grass is starting to grow over the bare batches. If we had had a bit more rain, I think this would look a lot better, but time will tell.
We have a bit of land in the bottom field under the trees where we have been dumping the left over stone from the top field. There must have been a dozen or so dumper worths here.
Some of this stone will be used for building a new wall here, but some of it is just junk. Unfortunately, the incinerator got a bit too close to the dumper. Ho hum.
Turned out the poor performance didn’t have anything to do with the engine – the right hand front brake was seized on! Good job I didn’t go to the hassle of changing the diesel injector!
The brakes have now been sorted together with new oil, new oil filter, air filter and fuel filter. I am proud to say that I managed to do it all myself. It seems to run a bit better although I do wonder if it was worth all that effort.
Despite its age, parts are readily available and I even managed to find a maintenance manual online.
We fixed the ceased brakes and then change the oil, oil filter, air filter and fuel filter. It seems to run (and stop) a little better than when we first bought it.
These are pretty easy machines to work and designed to be repaired in the field (pardon the pun!).
This is a 1976 15cwt Thwaites dumper. Just in case anyone is interested, it is powered by a single cylinder Petter PH1 diesel engine. We had quite a few problems getting it started, but finally succeeded by bump starting pushing it down a hill. We did manage to start it after this using the crank. We half filled it with stones before it finally conked out going up a slope in the bottom field. Now, it will not restart.
I am guessing that it is a problem with the fuel lines – the engine turns over and has no electrics, so it can’t be much else other than a lack of fuel. The tank is half full so I suspect that driving it up a slope caused dirt to get into the system somehow. This would also explain the lack of power when we started her up. Looks like the next job is to strip the fuel side of the engine and give it a quick clean. I will take the injectors off first, and crank the engine, to see if it is delivering any fuel.
You are not going to win any races in one of these. In fact, you are not going to make any progress in one of these if there is the slightest incline. Admittedly, it does go downhill a lot faster than uphill, however, I put this down to the almost not existent brakes.
For some reason, it doesn’t quite capture the feeling of driving one of these! Maybe, it is the lack of the phut-phut-phut of a single cylinder diesel engine. The seat seems to be a replacement – the current one is a wooden seat from a child’s swing!
Going up this slope was the final straw and we haven’t been able to start it since. It sounded like it slowly ran out of fuel despite the fuel tank being half full. My guess is that there is dirt in the fuel system – there are any electrics and the engine still cranks over – so it can’t be much else. We’ll see.
There is a dry stone wall between the orchard and the top field. There has been a gap in it for a while – where we didn’t quite join the new dry stone wall to the orchard wall. We have decided to close this gap and make a proper one a little further along the wall. The ground level in the top field and the orchard is slightly different, so there will be a step down into the orchard. Fortunately, we had a piece of ashlar left over from the renovation. No one can remember why it was ordered, but it seems to fit here a treat.
The step is level – honest. We used a spirit level on it. There are a couple of flagstones at the back to increase the width of the step. You can see that we have started to build up the left handside. We have overlapped the wall onto the step to make it all a little more robust.
The left hand side has now been built up. Like the walls themselves, the end leans back as it is a more stable structure.
We used some big stones out of the old barn directly on top of the step.
Both sides of the new opening have been built up. The next job was to make sure that the top of the wall was level – both sides of the opening – before putting the coping stones on.