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  1. #1
    30° Czech
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    Building with gabions

    Lately I've been thinking that gabion would be ideal tool for building retaining walls or similar features on a trail that is (for one reason or another) unreachable to heavy machinery.
    Does anybody have any experience with them?
    What forms are best, what sort of wire to use, ...
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  2. #2
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    For those unfamiliar with this structure:

    Gabion - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I have no experience with them. Could be a tough sell with the property manager?

    Walt

  3. #3
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    Most of the Colonnade is built this way.

  4. #4
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    I used to fabricate a lot of Gabions with my landscape business. Everything from the ultra-cheap to semi-expensive.
    Ultra Cheap is using re-bar as the frame material. Cut and or bend the rebar to the shape you need. Use #4 for stout framing stuff that usually the ends of the gabion frame. Use #3 for the stringers and pieces to tie the whole thing together. Basic shapes are boxes, and the largest single box using #3 rebar is about 20"x20" without the steel bending too far. #4 rebar can make up to a 24"x24" box without excessive warping. Frame wire can be the 2"x4" fencing material that you can buy at any home center. It is galvanized so be careful when welding the wire onto the frame. Thicker gauge is better.
    For a better longer lasting welded wire material, I bought 4'x10' sheets of 2"x2" plain steel welded wire from the McNicols company. Sheet or coil products constructed by welding or weaving wire into a specified grid or pattern. The wire thickness was around a 14 gauge. It seems like they have a number of distribution sites across the country.
    For an upgrade of frame material, I used plain steel tubing usually a 1-1/2" square in a 16 guage thickness. BUT this can get expensive. Number 4 rebar worked the best.
    In many places I welded the frame material at home and transported it to the work site. Hopefully you will have rocks on site. Importing rocks is no fun and its expensive. To give an idea of how much I charged for a complete gabion, filled with rock, the pricing was about $35 a linear foot. This was for a 24" tall, 16" wide gabion.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Building with gabions-img_0200.jpg  

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  5. #5
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    Anybody else using Gabions for retaining walls?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by nov0798 View Post
    Anybody else using Gabions for retaining walls?
    No. Nothing against the idea but a bridge is about as much as we've shuttled to an area, and land managers I've worked with have wanted natural materials except for bridges. We've built bigger walls via mini ex with rock that has been shuttled or found at the work site. A mini ex really is the ultimate MTB accessory.

  7. #7
    saddlemeat
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    I'm thinking about using tire bales as gabions for a retaining wall, there are lots of them around and I can get them hauled for free by the City. Obvious drawback is the appearance, just wondering anyone has ventured down this road? The wall I need is about 20' high in the middle x 50' long, tapers down some towards the ends.
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  8. #8
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    Not mine, saw it on Pinkbike. Guy does some seriously nice work, worth checking out his albums.

  9. #9
    Formerly of Kent
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    Quote Originally Posted by cerebroside View Post


    Not mine, saw it on Pinkbike. Guy does some seriously nice work, worth checking out his albums.
    Nice.

    That looks like an ideal solution for a creek bed I've been wanting to build across for a while now. There have been plenty of winter days where I've had to turn back earlier than planned because, while the trails were dry (or frozen), the creeks were up and there was no way to cross without getting very, very wet.

    I'd contemplated using cylindrical concrete forms but that looks like a much better solution.
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  10. #10
    middle ring single track
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb View Post
    I'm thinking about using tire bales as gabions for a retaining wall, there are lots of them around and I can get them hauled for free by the City. Obvious drawback is the appearance, just wondering anyone has ventured down this road? The wall I need is about 20' high in the middle x 50' long, tapers down some towards the ends.
    They tried using tires for retaining wall structures in central California quite a few years ago; it seemed like a win-win until a brush fire came along and ignited one. Hard to put out and a horrible mess to clean up and put right. Maybe OK for a small structure on your own property but not a good idea for large scale and where it can't be babysitted. (guarantee of no fires)
    The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not represent any policy of the CA Dept. of Parks & Rec.

  11. #11
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    Anyone ever used reclaimed chain link fence to build Gabions?

  12. #12
    30° Czech
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    I've seen gabions made out of what looked like chain link fence. I think reclaimed would work just fine for trail building.
    If life gives you lemons, cry like a little girl

  13. #13
    middle ring single track
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    Quote Originally Posted by nov0798 View Post
    Anyone ever used reclaimed chain link fence to build Gabions?
    If you happen to live in the Sultanate of Oman your go-to gabion supplier is the Chain Link Fencing Co, LLC:

    Chain Link

    The stuff I've seen used here in the USA looks like chain link but is 2 ~3x larger; I'm sure for smaller jobs recycled fencing would work fine.
    The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not represent any policy of the CA Dept. of Parks & Rec.

  14. #14
    saddlemeat
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    Quote Originally Posted by pliebenberg View Post
    They tried using tires for retaining wall structures in central California quite a few years ago; it seemed like a win-win until a brush fire came along and ignited one. Hard to put out and a horrible mess to clean up and put right. Maybe OK for a small structure on your own property but not a good idea for large scale and where it can't be babysitted. (guarantee of no fires)
    Fire would not be a problem. They would probably be shot creted over where exposed, or otherwise plastered or veneered so as to be invisible. The leveled area in front of the wall will be a race staging area, perhaps with a permanent canopy constructed of recycled wooden bridge timbers.
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  15. #15
    beer thief
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb View Post
    I'm thinking about using tire bales as gabions for a retaining wall, there are lots of them around and I can get them hauled for free by the City. Obvious drawback is the appearance, just wondering anyone has ventured down this road? The wall I need is about 20' high in the middle x 50' long, tapers down some towards the ends.
    A 20' high wall needs to be properly engineered, as you're looking at some serious lateral forces at that height. Even precast segmented block walls will require tiebacks on a wall that tall. Shotcreting over a relatively flexible face will leave a cracked mess in a short time.

  16. #16
    saddlemeat
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    ^I realize this, but the City can provide the engineering. My greatest objection is the appearance and providing a haven for rodents. Might have to pass on the tire bales, although the City would like to do something with them. The site doesn't really need much retainage as it is backed up to a large rock outcropping and in my opinion the tire bales are redundant. I appreciate the feedback on this.
    I ride with the best people.




  17. #17
    middle ring single track
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb View Post
    ^I realize this, but the City can provide the engineering. My greatest objection is the appearance and providing a haven for rodents. Might have to pass on the tire bales, although the City would like to do something with them. The site doesn't really need much retainage as it is backed up to a large rock outcropping and in my opinion the tire bales are redundant. I appreciate the feedback on this.
    These folks have done the engineering Earthship | Tire Building Code

    I think they're saying 20' tall is beyond what rammed earth can do and must be concrete filled.

    Looks like it's a lot of work to do it right. (But anything that tall will be a lot of work)
    The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not represent any policy of the CA Dept. of Parks & Rec.

  18. #18
    saddlemeat
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    ^I'm talking about these... there's a big retaining wall at the link below, scroll down.

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  19. #19
    middle ring single track
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb View Post
    ^I'm talking about these... there's a big retaining wall at the link below, scroll down.

    Touch the Earth Ranch
    Those are news to me; who'da thunk!

    Have you gotten a price from the supplier?

    Like the link said, shipping would be a bear!
    The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not represent any policy of the CA Dept. of Parks & Rec.

  20. #20
    saddlemeat
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    Quote Originally Posted by pliebenberg View Post
    Those are news to me; who'da thunk!

    Have you gotten a price from the supplier?

    Like the link said, shipping would be a bear!
    I can get as many of these tire bales as I want for free from the city. It's what they do with tires at the landfill. I can get them hauled and stacked for free too, that would be the advantage of using them.
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  21. #21
    middle ring single track
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb View Post
    I can get as many of these tire bales as I want for free from the city. It's what they do with tires at the landfill. I can get them hauled and stacked for free too, that would be the advantage of using them.
    OK; win-win as they say.

    Get the tie-back engineering done and you're well on your way.

    You'll probably need to engineer some expansion joints in the shot-crete (or spec it as a free-floating veneer).

    I still worry about fires.
    The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not represent any policy of the CA Dept. of Parks & Rec.

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