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Ex-Hasbeen

Sleeper Retaining Wall

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Has anybody had experience with using 50mm treated hardwood sleepers for a low retaining wall? I'm worried the sleepers may warp & get out of true. The wall will only be 2 or 3 high, and the word "retaining" is a misnomer. The dirt behind it is rock that took a jackhammer to move (see picture below). In the past I've used ex-railway sleepers & they've been great, but they won't go with this new house.

 

So all I want to know is has anybody had experience with 2in hardwood sleepers warping, and under what conditions, or has anybody had them in for a good length of time without any issues.

 

Thanks

 

 

IMAG0164_zpsbe1a5373.jpg

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If you buy well seasoned timber warping should not be an issue. Creosote all faces before installation. Drill holes and use coach bolts to anchor the bottom layer into the ground and the following layers on top of each other.

 

We have a garden bed edging 2 high that has sat perfectly true for at least 10 years. We did not have much to retain, but the warping question is still relevant. The timber will age and possibly split like ours has, but it certainly has not warped.

 

http://i697.photobuc...zpsa0075679.jpg

http://i697.photobuc...zpsad742127.jpg

 

In your situation I would just make sure that you have really good drainage as you have the potential for some hydrostatic pressure that could tilt the little wall with that bank behind it if you just backfill with clayey soil. And it looks like you might end up 4 high.

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Ex-Hasbeen,

 

I have the sleepers you speak of at the back of my place as a retaining wall, starts at about 4 foot high dropping to approx 2 foot high. When the guys put them in, they used heavy duty nails to attach to the posts. Sure enough, it didn't take too long until they started warping. I then put coachscrews in myself, managing to "bend back" to some extent some of the recalcitrant sleepers, and any of the recalcitrants or any new ones have warped since. So my take is, yes they are prone to warp but they need to be secured properly. The other option is to have those iron (I think) posts where the sleepers effectively "slot" in. I'm sure they'll be even more stronger as I've seen them on other properties and no such warping issues there with similar type sleepers.

 

Cheers

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I agree with Tortoise :)

 

I have used treated pine sleeps in 2 ways and both appear toi be in good nick 10 years later.

 

1. Used Treated pine sleppes 3 high on a retaining wall - 200mmx50mmx2400mm (20cm wide, 5cm thick, 2.4 metre long. They all were bolted to a square post set in quickset concrete.

 

2. In this case i had treated pine sleep layed flat as a border around a grassed area 9ie: these were embedded into the ground. I used for this exercise 100mm (10cm thick) sleepers and had varying length of 2.4m and 3.0 metres. very minimal warp in the 3.0m length but not enough for most people to notice....and note...these are not pinned/bolted to anything.

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Have done a few walls in both hardwood and softwood. Given low wall height I'd opt for softwood, possibly size up to 3000x200x75 which will reduce the number of posts and should still stay pretty straight due to the extra depth. Cheap unseasoned hardwood sleepers (ie. the ones most landscape suppliers sell) tend to misbehave over time (shrinkage being very noticable) and creosote has been off the market for years. Another option is to go with 'timber-look' concrete sleepers.

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NEVER use 2 in treated pine for retaining anything.

It will warp very, very quickly.

 

3 inch thick as an absolute minimum.

 

I dont like using treated pine for retaining walls anyway. It too unpredictable and much of it available these days is rubbish (heartwood of the tree).

If you must use treated pine it MUST be H4 treated or it wont last long when in contact with the ground.

 

Personally, I would go for a dry stack retaining wall block. There are plenty available that dont need a concrete footing (only a compacted gravel base) and can go to 1 metre high if required.

Bit more expensive initially, but will last for ever, will never warp, rot and wont need any maintainence (apart from the odd pressure wash if they face south) to keep them looking great.

 

Oh, and tell your builder that the roof guard rail doesnt not compy with the Australian standard and I should call work cover/safe/or whatever theyre called up your way :lol:

 

Regards,

Your friendly transitions builder

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Im with Tinny. im yet to see a treated pine retaining wall that doesnt look awful. I hate the things.

Go the dry stack, or dig a little trench, put a small concrete footing in, level it with a straight edge, and build a little bessa block wall. Those things are so easy to lay, even a teacher could do it. Then you can bag it or paint it with one of the great acrylic products available.

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Thanks Tinman. I was never going to use pine. I've seen the issues with that before so was looking at Hardwood. Really just wanting to know whether 2 inch Hardwood would cope, or whether I'd need to go to 3 inch. I would love to go dry stack blocks, but at this point, the cost is many times that of the sleepers. Maybe in 10 years if the sleepers hold out that long.

 

And as for your "little trench" Derny, I'm not digging any further into that granite than I have to. I'm still recovering from last weekend. :censored:

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Even 3 inch hardwood will bow and cup to buggery these days as what little hardwood is available is all very "green" and highly unstable.

You can expect up to 10% shrinkage (depending on the actual moisture content) and a shed load of cupping.

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Sounds like a cold day!

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Don't do it. (unless you're planning to move in the near future).

I'm just about to replace 50m of treated sleeper retaining wall that has completely rotted out from the back. Apparently its only been there about 5 years.

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I have built several sleeper retaining walls up to 1200mm high, no warping whatsoever, used 3000mm long lengths and put the ventricle posts at 1500mm, just make sure if you are going higher than 600 go pretty deep with the in ground and concrete around the posts, not that hard really. Also I made the mistake of hiring a one man orga first time to drill the piers, took forever, better off paying a machine to come drill the holes, way quicker!

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Well, like all great plans, the wife changed it.

 

Apparently ex-railway sleepers will look good, as long as I do a nice low garden in front. The last 2 days have been spent digging holes, cutting sleepers, laying out stringlines (even that seems hot at 35deg +), and concreting in posts. All in all a very constructive weekend when most people said it was too hot to venture outside.

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Pics of the finished product, please.

 

Still a work in progress. At this point I have 2 sleeper posts to put in along the front (no time to buy more concrete blend yesterday afternoon), and a couple at each end when I work out what contours I want there. Next weekend I'll do the 2 posts, then a concrete strip the length of what's done (35m). After that I have to wait till next month to buy some more sleepers. The only decent supplier here in SEQ is only open to the public on the 1st Monday of each month. I'll get 20 then, & another 20 each of the next 2 months & I should be finished by the time the builders finish the house.

 

Sleeperwallstage1.jpg

 

The shot above I took to show the off-site foreman (wife) what the heights will be like. The sleepers I used are the ones I cut for posts as they are easier to move around (only 25kg).

Behind will be low about 6in of soil above the rock, with a few small plants, but mainly ground covers trailing from the top where there is some natural soil. In front will be a low garden only reaching about 30-40cm in height.

 

I'll put some better shots up as they come.

Edited by Ex-Hasbeen

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Pics of the finished product, please.

 

This is the model for the wall. It was the one I built at the last house. It was 12yr old when this photo was taken, in an area that had termites attack anything you left on the ground. Without that problem at the new place, hopefully it will see me out (at least till I retire back into suburbia or to the beach).

 

1stSept2012028-1.jpg

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Hasbeen, could you let me know where you get the sleepers? Needing some myself. Looking good by the way.

 

Denpaq is the company. They are behind the "Big Orange" on the highway just before Gatton. They are only open on the first Monday of each month, so it can be a bit of a pain, but all the landscape shops I've seen them at locally are selling what are B-grade at Gatton, for around $20-$25. Denpaq sell them for $11.

They weigh about 50kg each, so you will also be limitted in the number you will be able to carry back each time if you're getting them in a small trailer.

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Next stage of construction completed. i got the last of the posts in & the concrete strip along the bottom finished on the weekend. Now I just have to wait till I can get some more sleepers next month.

 

IMAG0182.jpg

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The makings of the wall look great. Now about those downpipes........

 

You're the 3rd person today to mention the downpipes. Hasn't anybody ever seen temporary downpipes?

 

I suppose where they consider 100mm in a day a torrential downpour, they don't really need them. Here, where that can happen in an hour, it can make an awful mess of the ground around the slab.

 

edit: and thanks Tortoise & Tinman.

Next stage in 3 weeks when I get the next load of sleepers. Hopefully it won't be as hot & humid as this weekend was.

Edited by Ex-Hasbeen

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You're the 3rd person today to mention the downpipes. Hasn't anybody ever seen temporary downpipes?

 

 

 

Temporary? I had them on my old house for at least 6 months while renovating/slacking off on installing the new ones!

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I noticed the dp's and thought glad Im not the only one that uses them as soon as possible.

 

And with the rain we had on the Aus Day weekend, I'm glad they did.

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Ok. Update on the wall. The supplier I'm getting the sleepers from is running low on reasonable quality sleepers. Seems QR is flogging off all the metro sleepers at the moment, so SEQ is flooded with 2nd rate ones. These aren't as good as the rural ones, but I was still able to get a dozen good ones to at least get some progress this weekend.

 

IMAG0227_zps78748597.jpg

 

IMAG0225_zps653dd3ea.jpg

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Nice work mate.

Looks like you had a bit of water coming over that bank.

Hope you have allowed for drainage otherwise all your hard work my be for nothing the next time you get a decent downpour.

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Nice work mate.

Looks like you had a bit of water coming over that bank.

Hope you have allowed for drainage otherwise all your hard work my be for nothing the next time you get a decent downpour.

 

Agi-pipe & gravel in the bottom, and about 6in of gravel against the sleepers all the way up to let any water seep down to the pipe, and to keep the sleepers from staying sodden.

 

It normally wouldn't be as bad, but that erosion is the result of 400mm in less than a day, and the gale force wind blew what fell on the footpath up the slight rise on the footpath & down the bank. I'm also going to have a raised mound along above the bank that will stop that ever happening again.

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I'm also going to have a raised mound along above the bank that will stop that ever happening again.

 

Stopping the massive amounts of water getting to a wall like that is far more important than worrying about some seepage with ag drain and gravel.

I mean, its not like the sleepers are water proofed behind so that they will hold the water.

 

Nice work. Fancy coming down south for a working holiday :lol:

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Well, my arms & back say I did a lot of work today (but the scotch is starting to solve that problem). This is where the wall will stay till I move in. I'll probably put some soil up tha bank, plant it out, & cover it in mulch, but no more sleepers gravel & fill. The supplier I had has told me Qld Rail are only pulling up sleepers that are had it for the next 6 months (cost savings), so my supply has dried up for now.

 

IMAG0249_zpsc8a15296.jpg

 

 

 

 

IMAG0245_zps9f456a33.jpg

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I saw a truckload of sleepers heading for Cannon Hill station the other day.........

 

Yeh, I'm trying another tack at the moment. I grabbed 20 this weekend from a guy who has a contact in QR (though I paid a lot more than I was before). He managed to get them outside of the normal path. They were still legit, but not through the major tender. I'll have to get 100+, but like him, I'll sell what I don't need. If this works out, there may be a post in Tritrade for sleepers.

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Yeh, I'm trying another tack at the moment. I grabbed 20 this weekend from a guy who has a contact in QR (though I paid a lot more than I was before). He managed to get them outside of the normal path. They were still legit, but not through the major tender. I'll have to get 100+, but like him, I'll sell what I don't need. If this works out, there may be a post in Tritrade for sleepers.

 

 

I'd be keen for them...

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Well, just about done with the walls. It's been a long job, interspersed with moving, fitting out the house & other landscaping jobs. What was going to be a 45m wall at the front of the house has expanded into another 70m across the back of the house & below the pool. A few to go at one end of the house, and a tiny 15m wall above the pool to go. All up I've used about 240 sleepers, and will probably reach 300 by the end.

 

If anybody is after a labourer to build them a wall, go elsewhere. I'm done.

 

 

IMAG0011_zpsfcb059c6.jpgIMAG0006_zps42de154f.jpgIMAG0009_zpsac188e09.jpg

IMAG0010_zps94125034.jpg

 

edit: Just realised that was about 12 tonne of sleepers I've dragged & lifted around the block 50kg at a time.

Edited by Ex-Hasbeen
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Not sleepers, but finally the avant-garde artwork which has been building in our back yard is going to get put to use. There's about another third sitting in the front yard. 35989ce104d90ee5511bc1df4dbdc9ed.jpg

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Nope. Opposite side. Highfields is all about little house blocks these days.

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Raining, so haven't taken a photo today. This was where we were at on Friday

1b687017f0a40e33a18709046aedae14.jpg

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Ex got a photo of what yours look like 3 years on?

I thought about that the other day, but have been waiting for the rain to clear so I could take one. It's certainly changed.

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I thought about that the other day, but have been waiting for the rain to clear so I could take one. It's certainly changed.

Wetter? :D

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And

 

Well, just about done with the walls. It's been a long job, interspersed with moving, fitting out the house & other landscaping jobs. What was going to be a 45m wall at the front of the house has expanded into another 70m across the back of the house & below the pool. A few to go at one end of the house, and a tiny 15m wall above the pool to go. All up I've used about 240 sleepers, and will probably reach 300 by the end.

 

If anybody is after a labourer to build them a wall, go elsewhere. I'm done.

 

 

IMAG0011_zpsfcb059c6.jpg

IMAG0010_zps94125034.jpg

 

edit: Just realised that was about 12 tonne of sleepers I've dragged & lifted around the block 50kg at a time.

 

DSC_0590_zpsdqdour61.jpg

 

DSC_0591_zpscfxpml1i.jpg

 

DSC_0588_zpsqunb0kbl.jpg

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