Using a canister vacuum to move a large load of dirt.

I am planning construction of a 3 foot retaining wall, and I plan to
level my back yard with approximately 2000 cubic feet of dirt. The
dirt will be dumped in the street in front of my house. I recently
watched my neighbors spend three days of a similar project hauling
wheelbarrows full of dirt (less dirt than I plan to use) and it made me
seek out alternative, cheap methods of moving all the dirt in one day.
Renting a little earth mover for $400 for a day (delivery/pickup fees,
diesel, rental) is too pricey in my estimation. My new idea is to
instead rent a high-horsepower canister vacuum, or perhaps re-purpose
my home's central vacuum unit, using 90 feet of PVC tubing as a
temporary dirt conduit from the front street through to the back yard.
I anticipate the supplies and rental should cost less than $200. The
first and last thirty feet will be flexible tubing to allow maneuvering
the vacuum discharge around to position the dirt as it's sucked through
and to move with the dwindling pile of dirt in the street.
I figured that if my central vac unit is rated at around 100 cubic feet
of air per minute, I could get perhaps 10% of that sucking large
amounts of dirt, so 2000 cubic feet of dirt at 10 cubic feet per minute
would in theory take 200 minutes. The electricity cost would be small
for several hours of operation, but I'm wondering whether a rental
vacuum or my home's existing unit would burn out under the strain or
need numerous cool-down sessions, pushing the total time spent to many
hours more than I want.
Can anyone tell me why this is a dumb idea? Do you have any better
cheap dirt moving ideas? Any suggestions for other forums on which to
inquire?
Thanks,
Nat
Surrey, British Columbia
Reply to
njolsson
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There is a real-life device called a mudsucker which is used to suck mud, silt, etc. out of the bottom of ponds, etc. (hence the name.) It basicallly is a vaccum with a very long hose attached to it: Of course in that case the dirt is extremely wet, which helps to lubricate things....
Reply to
Timothy
Have you factored in the cost of replacing the blower motor on your vacuum when you overload it in this fashion?
Sounds about as smart as using a Yugo to pick up the bags of cement to pour a 200 sqft driveway.
Reply to
Bob Ward
Thanks for the idea, Timothy.
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shows a gigantic trailer-hauled bad boy. I imagine it would cost quite a bit more than $200 a day to rent that thing. Also, I don't think I could direct the output dirt they way that I want to. But I'm pretty sure I couldn't burn out its motor!
Reply to
njolsson
Just hire some cheap labors with shovels and wheel barrows, buy them lunch, they will get it done fastest and cheapest $7/hr for 4 guys.
Reply to
Baruchspinoza
Is the city really going to let you dump a pile of dirt 10X10X20' in the street in front of your house? Will your neighbors appreciate this?
Why not make room and have the dump truck dump the dirt in your back yard?
snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:
Reply to
MS
Dear njolsson:
Dynamite. Catapult. Rotate your house so the rear is in the street prior to having the load delivered. Rent a "bobcat", and let 12 willing horses and water-filled tires make short work of it. Rent a belt conveyor, and shovel the dirt onto the conveyor. Have a crane lift the dumptruck up and empty it in the backyard.
How much is your time worth?
You are correct, the motor is not usually rated for 100% duty cycle. You will be emptying the cannister every few minutes. You will not get 10% volume movement... more like 1% if you have any hope of not clogging the delivery lines.
"Spend a pound to save a penny."
Be sure and grade the yard so that surface water is directed *away* from your house.
David A. Smith
Reply to
N:dlzc D:aol T:com (dlzc)
David-- My wife agrees with the spirit and letter of all of your comments. But I'm still convinced it's a workable idea. I need a few more humiliating responses (preferably from physics Ph.Ds) here before I give up and hire a Bobcat, etc.
My one quibble with your analysis of the vacuum: the canister would not be attached; I would be directing the output hose straight onto the ground.
Nat
Reply to
njolsson
If we could, we would have the dump truck drive down the public walkway next to our house and dump in the back yard. Our neighbors already established the precedent of leaving a honking pile of dirt in the street for a few days with no one seeming to mind. The street is already narrow because only one side of the street has been developed with houses.
Reply to
njolsson
I'm guessing his plan is to hook the vacuum hose directly to the intake of the vacuum impeller so that all the dirt will have to pass through the vanes of the impeller. This is the way many cheap vacuum cleaners are designed in that it eliminates the need for a hard body chamber to hold the vacuum. This means that all the dirt they pick up in their lifespan passes through the impeller (which is what often wears out first). I doubt these type of vacuum cleaners last for 2000 cubic feet worth of dirt (which they only move a short distance). If this guy actually succeeds in moving a couple of wheel barrows worth a 100' with this contraption I would be impressed.
-jim
Reply to
jim
I'd estimate my cleaner collects less that 0.25 cubic foot of fluff a week. It that's typical then 2000 cubic is about 153 years worth of fluff let alone regular dirt.
Reply to
CWatters
Yup... let alone moving it 50 feet or more! Sometimes there is no substitute for elbow grease (so to speak).
Reply to
MS
Dear njolsson:
My intention was not to humiliate. Who's idea was it to "fill your back yard"? If it originate with your wife, it may be an attempt to get you to "tone it up".
You need to review the inner workings of a vacuum: hose -> enclosed canister (for settling) -> particulate filter -> fan blades (driven by a motor to move air) -> atmosphere
If you "open the canister", the fan simply draws from the atmosphere, ignoring your hose. Try that now, rather than waiting for the big day of delivery.
A company called Exair makes what is called an "air amp". It takes a stream of compressed air, and directs it around the inside of a specially shapped "funnel". The Coanda effect causes this higher velocity stream to stick to the walls, leaving the air in the center to respond to being surrounded by unidirectionally moving air. If the downstream side of this system is open, 1 part compressed air (at 6 or 7 bar) can cause 15 parts of total air movement down, say, a pipe or hose. This is used to vacuum parts off a floor (for example), but hose lengths are short and almost always vertical.
David A. Smith
Reply to
N:dlzc D:aol T:com (dlzc)
The little I have read about vacuum physics (aha, ignorance is the culprit!), and a presentation by an unsuccessful vacuum salesman a few years back tell me that a vacuum works through air flow, not suction. My home's central unit has the intake flowing into a removable canister, then the air flows through a large filter hanging in the center of the canister and then out an exhaust tube. My plan was to remove the bottom of the canister so the filter was hanging free in the open air, then direct the dirt away into the yard before it hit the filter. Will I have destroyed the loop and lost all air flow by doing this? Will the vacuum motor burn out by being forced to age 153 years in one day? It looks likely now. I have to hope that I don't injure myself, another, or our property with a Bobcat, or that the cheap laborers I hire don't injure themselves on my property and sue me.
Nat
Reply to
njolsson
David,
I enjoyed your comments and was not really humiliated. If I cared about the potential for humiliation, why would I ever consider posting on USENET? The idea to fill the backyard came from watching the neighbors turn what the home developers left as an uncomfortably sloping back yard with dying grass from not enough topsoil into a still quite sloping (therefore no flooding the basement) but better toned yard.
Nat
Reply to
njolsson
Umm.. the density of the dirt with respect to air? You will definitely overload the motor.
I like the "pay some kids $7/hr to move the dirt" idea, or even better, pay them $50 (or whatever seems reasonable) to get the job done- no slacking that way.
Reply to
Andy Resnick

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