Today we started putting the geothermal tubes in place for our greenhouse.
That sentence doesn't begin to capture...
We rolled the first one up pretty much the same way we got it off the truck yesterday, except one on each side to keep it straight the length of the driveway (329 feet, if you're counting).
Once we got to the greenhouse site we cut off the strings, and the snake sprung. It was nuts. If you've wrestled with a coiled garden hose, you have a tiny inkling. You can't stretch it out or shake it out or pull it to length -- you have to unwind every coil all the way down the length. Once we completely untangled all of the loops it did lay out pretty straight and was easy to maneuver. We pulled it into place, to lay out the 230' trench route: from one end of the north grow bed, out anywhere (eventually 8' deep), and back in the other end of the north grow bed. We mainly used the driveway to avoid tearing up more terrain. It didn't look too bad! But we had to find an easier way.
OK, I admit, yesterday Allen from Antioch Machine (who build the Greenhouse in the Snow kits) did tip me off that people have been telling them that rolling out the tubes is the biggest problem, and they need a better solution. Allen is working on a contraption that they can send people to use for rolling out the tubes, and then send it back. We didn't have time to wait for that, but he did suggest making a wheel hub out of 5-gallon buckets. So that gave us the idea to try to unwind it like a wheel using some sort of axel.
We used a length of PVC pipe we had laying around, and tried that with the second tube, unwinding from the bottom of the driveway. We figured they were pretty easy to move when on the ground, and why roll them 329 feet before unwinding them 250 feet? It worked pretty well with Chip holding one end of the PVC tube, me holding the other, and rolling it out. It was a little floppy and unwieldy, but it worked! (We need a photographer to really show this!)
Once unwound, we still had a long way to drag the tube. We did, and pulled it in line with the first one.
Randy dropped the excavator off, and headed in to Albuquerque to pick up a wider bucket so they can dig the trench in one pass. The digging will start tomorrow. We had a chance to look at the trench route and discuss logistics.
Unwinding tubes wasn't bad, but we decided to move the coils up to the build site instead of unwinding them on the driveway and then dragging them. After Randy left, Chip and I rolled 5 more rolls up the 329 foot driveway. They aren't bad to move, but it is a workout. We decided to see how many we could haul in the truck. The answer is three! (I won, in case you are wondering. Chip guessed 5.) So it took us three truckloads to get the last 9 tubes to the site. Funny how much heavier the last three tubes were than the others! The tailgate got really heavy by then, too.
We kept two tubes out along the actual trench path so the crew can see them tomorrow, but the tubes obviously have to be out of the way when the trench is being excavated. Randy said they can pile the dirt outside the loop, so we decided to roll out the remaining tubes in the yard area between the driveway and the greenhouse. We got 5 more unrolled before dusk (and before we were ready to call it a day, tired, hungry, and a little crabby, but feeling good about the work).
I'm not sure how many of today's 20,122 steps were spent lugging 90 pound tube coils...