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  1. #1
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    Default Pole steps for hillside ?

    Hi all,
    My property drops off in front down to a river and I am trying to improve the means to get down there (e.g. stairs, landings, etc.). Can anyone cite me to some sources for construction techniques for outdoor stairs, such as stairs with pole supports, how to construct and attach stringers, etc. ?
    I don't have pictures yet. But it looks like given the variances in the slope at different points, it will be a combination of some regular simple earth steps dug into the face (with stakes retaining log footings), a few 10 foot stretches of "regular" steps, a few landings to make turns (since some parts are a little too pitched to make a vertical run down so I'll have to traverse sideways to a landing and then back).
    I want this to be fairly permanent so I don't have to redo it 10 years later when the wood rots. So I'm probably looking at a one-man posthole digger, putting in concreted poles for supports rather than wood, etc. I can weld and cut, so even with steel prices being what they are, at the very least I was going to make sure for safety and permanency that at least the basic structural components at some places were solid and thought of pole barn construction. But I'm sure there are some sources for basic techniques and tips on pole step construction, and, for that matter, outdooor step construction- even a trail construction book might have tips on just the stand alone steps made from stakes and logs...
    Any suggestions ? I've checked Amazon and searched this website to no avail...
    BTW, its about a 200 foot distance down to the river. Alot of it can be handled by cutback trail with convention steps but there are perhaps 3 places where the vertical drop, while walkable, is a little too taxing where steps with stringers and handrails might be more practical, comfortable, safe or even necessary.
    Thanks.
    Bob
    Farmer Bob
    Kubota 7500DST w/FEL,box blade,posthole digger,brush hog

  2. #2
    Epic Contributor MossRoad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pole steps for hillside ?

    At my childhood home we had steps going down a 90' escarment that was about a 60 degree angle. My dad tried earth paths. No way. Then he went with broken concrete sidewalk pieces that he salvaged here and there. There were seven landings with switchbacks. Very steep. About 135 steps. They worked very well. I remember helping him repair them every spring after frost damage. Lugging concrete chunks and cement bags up and down a nine story building is no fun, but it builds character!!!

    Those were the days before pressure treated lumber. If it were me, I would use pressure treated posts in DEEP holes concreted in on the steepest slopes. Remember, steep slopes are very prone to errosion, so the less you disturb the soil, the better. Try to avoid killing any vegetation that's roots may be holding the soil to the hillside. It may take a few years for the roots to die, and then the slope goes bye-bye in a good rain!
    MossRoad

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Pole steps for hillside ?

    Thanks for the helpful reply. I'm curious as to how the cement sidewalk chunks were anchored. Were they just buried into the dirt, or were wooden stakes used, or what ?

    Bob
    Farmer Bob
    Kubota 7500DST w/FEL,box blade,posthole digger,brush hog

  4. #4
    Epic Contributor MossRoad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pole steps for hillside ?

    It was a nightmare!!! He started by chucking the pieces, which were usually about a foot deep by two feet wide, over the edge and watching them splash into the lake. Bombs away!!! Then he'd hang onto a rope and lower himself down the hill to the bottom. He sank some footings and built a landing at the bottom, cut out a path into the side of a hill at an angle to the left and went up about 10-15 feet. He'd just stack them on the footing and cement them in. Once he got about 10-15 feet up, he'd dig out a place for a landing, sink some footings back into the hillside and start up to the right. It took him several years to finish it. That was in the late 50's/early 60's. About 1985 or so the neighbor sank concrete footings into the hillside 4' apart and about every 10 feet down. Then he attached 4x4 posts with hangars. He had an entire pressure treated stairway built and installed in one summer just working on it when he could.

    After my dad passed away in 1995, we sold his place. I still go by there every year. When there is good ice, I walk across the lake and "inspect" the steps. They are still there, but the dirt and leaves have overtaken them. Many are popped out due to frost and it would take me a couple weeks to repair them. On the other hand, the neighbor's pressure treated steps look fine. Any repairs would require a saw and screw gun. The posts were bolted to hangars that are bolted to the footings, so the posts never contact the ground and get no ground contact. I suspect, with regular waterproofing, they will last several more decades.

    Knowing all this, I would go with wood on cement footings if I ever had to do it again.
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  5. #5
    Super Star Member EddieWalker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pole steps for hillside ?

    Quote Originally Posted by MossRoad
    Knowing all this, I would go with wood on cement footings if I ever had to do it again.
    I've never done anything like what you're describing, so I hope I'm not too far off base here. I think MossRoad hit on the key component here with the cement footings.

    His story about all the work involved in maintaining the steps is something you really want to avoid. If you do this right, you should never have to mess around with it again.

    Digging the footings into the ground is going to be the hardest part. Depending on your soil conditions, you'll have to get yourself a good digging bar. I've put in fence post that we spent the day hammering with a sledge hammer on a digging bar and scooping out the rock with our fingers. On realy bad holes, we'd get one dug in a day.

    Depending on your slope, I'd want the holes at least three feet deep. Four would be even better. The problem with not going deep is that the wall on the downhill side of your hole isn't very secure.

    For areas that you want to build up off the ground, I'd consider galvanized steel pipe. I just bought some 4 inch galvanized pipe 20 feet long for $90 wholesale. You don't kneed anything that big, but it gives you an idea of what it goes for.

    Take you time, have a detailed plan and do one hole at a time. This sounds like a project that will take a very long time with allot of labor. In the end, it will be amazing, but until then, it will be a nightmare.

    Please post pics of it when you start. Whatever you decide, it will be a great thread to follow.

    Enjoy,
    Eddie

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Pole steps for hillside ?

    Thanks for the entertaining clarification. It would just be my luck in the Olympic Cement Chunk Toss that they would only make it 1/2 way down. So i think I'm taking your suggestion with the concrete footings and hangers. Only trick is going to be auguring out footings with a one-man posthole digger. I may find myself in the river with posthole digger before end of job...

    Bob
    Farmer Bob
    Kubota 7500DST w/FEL,box blade,posthole digger,brush hog

  7. #7
    Epic Contributor MossRoad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pole steps for hillside ?

    Something else to consider is using cardboard tube forms and some rebar attached to the anchor bolts for the hangar. You could prefab up a bunch of them up on top of the hill. Get a matching pair of holes dug, slip in the tubes with re-bar, level the tops of the two tubes and pour concrete. Then move on to the next. You could probably knock out a pair of holes each Saturday without too much problem. Or, if you choose to abuse yourself, get a friend to help dig all the holes at once and slip in all the tubes before the holes collapse. Then go back and pour concrete into the tubes as you have time. Just keep the tubes covered with plastic so they don't fill with rainwater.
    MossRoad

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  8. #8
    Platinum Member Tim_in_IA's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pole steps for hillside ?

    If you are making steps down a steep irregular hillside wraughtnharv had a project like that a while back you might want to check out. He made a steel track and attached stone slabs to it. I'll try to find it for you...
    Kubota B7610HSD, RCK60-24B MMM, LA352 Loader, Maschio 50" tiller
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    --------------
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  9. #9
    Platinum Member Tim_in_IA's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pole steps for hillside ?

    Kubota B7610HSD, RCK60-24B MMM, LA352 Loader, Maschio 50" tiller
    Mahindra 6500 4WD ML265 Loader, 72" Bucket & Toothbar, Root Grapple, Pallet Forks, Spear
    511 Backhoe, Bushhog 296 Rotary Mower, Woods 700 blade, Jinma 6" Chipper, 3pt Spreader
    440IC John Deere Crawler
    --------------
    -Tim

  10. #10
    Platinum Member Defective's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pole steps for hillside ?

    How come Harv's name hasn't popped up here yet???

    A fenceman can fence anything, almost....

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