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  1. #1

    Default build your own dirt conveyor?

    Thank you for your time for looking at my question. I have fallen off the rocker or so my wife says but I am looking to dig out my crawl space to make a finished basement. Thankfully my father in law has a mini-track hoe and BobCat so that has reduced my costs significantly. However, in planning out the excavation of said crawl space, I figured that it would take numerous trips with the BobCat to move the dirt from under the house to outside the house. I am thinking that a type of conveyor system will help cut the number of trips down.

    My question is this: Has anyone every built a dirt or other type of material conveyor from scrounged parts? If so, can you attach photos or drawings?
    I am fortunate in that the company I work for has lots of scrap structural angles, channels, and the occasional tube so material the basic structure won't be a problem. My problems will be an adequate belt system (made from old tires?) and how to drive the sprockets. Any help, advice, or ideas is greatly appreicated. I have my EIT (Civil) and have already taken into account how to reinforce the joists so that I can have a clear space beneath the house (20'x40'); please don't be afraid to get technical.

    In search of my next cold one,

    NearBeer

  2. #2
    Platinum Member srjones's Avatar
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    Default Re: build your own dirt conveyor?

    I haven't built one, but take a look at a hay bale conveyor or better yet buy one and modify it to suit your needs.

    What part of the country are you in?

  3. #3
    Super Member Iplayfarmer's Avatar
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    Default Re: build your own dirt conveyor?

    I live in the heart of Potato Country, so conveyors that will carry dirt are plentiful. I've never had to build one because there's always an old surplus one to be had. The concept is pretty simple, though. A cylindrical drum on either end with some framework in between. For added "traction" you can wrap some rubber around The drive roller and rivet it. Drive the roller with whatever you want... Lovejoy coupler, chain and sprocket, splined shaft, etc.

    The one trick is tracking the belt. You need to build a mechanism on both ends to adjust the pitch of each roller so that you can adjust until the belt runs straight. Part of this trick too is getting the belt cut and laced straight. Your cuts need to be exactly 90 degrees or you will always have a hard time tracking the belt.

    I'll see if I can get you some pictures of belts. Keep in mind what I'm showing you will be higher end food grade stuff. You won't have to be as shiny and polished as what I work around.
    From now on I will only buy cars that are a silver/grey color. Then I can make all body repairs with Duct Tape.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: build your own dirt conveyor?

    I haven't built one either but thought of it a time or two. I would use some aluminum (help keep weight down) 1x4 for side rails use shop rollers for support of the conveyor belt weld a belt pulley to the last one attach motor of your choice electric,gas you would have to experiment to get the right pulley sizes for belt speed. You could also probably use an old extension ladder as the frame as long as you could find or make the rollers to fit between the rails. google conveyor belt and you will find some suppliers. I want pics when your done

  5. #5
    Elite Member
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    Default Re: build your own dirt conveyor?

    My question is how big is the basement? By the time you excavate enough room to position the conveyor, room to maneuver to the conveyor and also excavate... would the basement be done?

  6. #6
    Elite Member woodlandfarms's Avatar
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    Default Re: build your own dirt conveyor?

    Search this site, I swear someone dug out his crawl space to make a basement. Dug a long sloping ramp and punched a small bobcat through. I think that would take less time / money than building your own conveyer...
    Power-Trac 1850, grapple, hoe, 90" mower, 72" box blade

  7. #7
    Gold Member
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    Default Re: build your own dirt conveyor?

    Depending on your time frame you may just want to rent one.
    In my youth I worked at a rental yard. Their conveyors were basically two long oval pieces of tube steel connected by ex's with a roller in front ( non adjustable) and a roller in the rear ( adjustable). The rear roller had a large chain sprocket on it, then connected to a jack shaft with a small sprocket on it.
    The other end of the jack shaft had a large pulley on it and that would connect via belt to a small pulley on a hinged elect motor hung above the roller/ belt.
    The weight of the 1 HP motor + a spring would tension the belt.
    The conveyor belt would slide on thin sheet metal rails on each edge the full top length and the belt would just hang off the bottom on the way back.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: build your own dirt conveyor?

    Not all that complicated to build.
    Ladder frame, 50/1 reduction gear box 3/4 (1/2) hp electric motor 8" or so drive drum and 8" idler drum that is adjustable for tension and tracking.
    Some sides attached to the frame to make the belt cup a bit to avoid spillage.
    Depending on the slope/elevation you might need some cross bars to pull the soil uphill.

    But you'd then need a bobcat to move the accumulated pile!

    No, I think the answer is a big enough opening to allow the bobcat to travel in and out and that way he places the material where you want it!

    The excavator will not be able to keep up to the bobcat, those things are fast and agile.

  9. #9
    Platinum Member 6sunset6's Avatar
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    Default Re: build your own dirt conveyor?

    I dug mine out with 2 five gallon buckets Took 14 years and
    I was 23 when I finished . My father started before me and my grandfather started before him.
    Bob H
    NH 2007 TC34DA 1985 MF30E Hoe

  10. #10

    Default Re: build your own dirt conveyor?

    All:

    Thanks for the ideas so far. I guess I wasn't as clear as I needed to be on my idea. I'll have to dig a ramp from the side/back yard that goes down to basement finished grade; bottom of ramp will be deep enough to allow BobCat/Mini-excavator to be driven in. Call me not so bright (I did vote Republican) but the finished grade will be 10' beneath the house; that will give me plenty of space to drive the BobCat around once I enlarge the opening. It is after I get the opening big enough that I want to use the conveyor. It will take up a lot of time to get a bucket full of dirt, drive up the ramp, dump in back yard, drive down ramp, get another bucket of dirt, etc etc.

    For those interested, I have attached some pics from a blogger who dug out his crawlspace in Northern VA. I tried to find his blog but google didn't turn up anything.

    Our company makes pallet storage products; they have a system that can store pallets up to 15 pallets deeps and they flow toward the front of the storage rack on skate wheels. Dumb me for not thinking about using our existing skate wheel rails in conjuction with some type of belt system.

    IF this project gets off the ground, I assure you I will post pics, drawings, and structural notes so others may follow along.

    SRJONES...I am in Greenville, SC (1/2 way between Charlotte and Atlanta on the I-85 corridor).

    PILOONL...I agree that the most efficient way is to drive the BobCat through a hole big enough but I think the conveyor will allow the excavation to proceed quicker.

    PS...basement is to be 20'x40' with finished grade 10' below the existing joists. That way, I will have room to hide ductwork, wiring, etc.

    Thanks all for your time.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails -french-drains-jpg   -gravel-geo-fabric-covering-french   -tie-foundation-footing-new-floor   -track-hoe-crawl-space-sonotubes  

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