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deep piers, hand dug

sunsen's picture

I have a friend who works for the power company where I'm working. He was telling me about two tools that are used in conjunction with one another to hand dig holes for power pools when access is restricted for a drill rig. Apparently sometimes they have to go up to eleven feet deep for larger diameter poles.

Anyway, one of the tools is basically a long handled spade and the other is a tool that can scoop up what the spade breaks apart. I've never actually seen these items in use but I'm wondering if anyone here has and knows where to find them, online or otherwise. Also, if there's more than one option, any recommendations...?

I have some deep holes for piers, 18" in diameter that I need to clean out and they're fairly inaccessible to redrilling.


(post #127252, reply #1 of 15)


Or you can search any supplier of the teleco/power companies.  The above operation is a family owned business and genuine nice people to talk to.

Edited 2/5/2009 9:52 pm ET by MikeRyan

(post #127252, reply #2 of 15)

Thanks for the help Mike.

(post #127252, reply #3 of 15)

welcome...I believe they are called spoons, and they have them from 6' to 12' handles.  The super long post hole diggers were cool too!

(post #127252, reply #7 of 15)

All I saw on the reliable equipment site was hydraulic tools Mike. I did find spoons though, on an oskosh equipment site up in Wisconson. Apparently they've been making tools for power companies for years. I'm thinking this'll be the way to go.

(post #127252, reply #8 of 15)

Oshkosh is one of their suppliers, so you're cutting out the middle man!  They do sell specialized hand tools like the spoon, but they are profitable enough to make it to their website though!

Have fun digging!

(post #127252, reply #4 of 15)

go to GARANT universal post hole digger...the heavy duty one with the levered "scoop" will hand dig any size hole you's about 14 lbs. and cuts roots as you drive it into the time guarantee..made in canada..


today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday..E.R.

(post #127252, reply #5 of 15)

It looks to me like that levered scoop design would have it's limitations. You'd have to have a really long handle/lever setup in order to dig in a 18" wide 9' deep hole. But then when you're pulling material out of the hole the lever would be too high to work, unless it locks or something. Plus, I can't tell how much clearance is required for working the lever. It'd be good to see one up close so I'll call around tomorrow. Thanks for the input.

(post #127252, reply #15 of 15)

you have to use it to believe it..the spade part is driven into the soil and then you pull the lever to "lock" the soil against the fixed spade part..the lever stays put,holding the pull the handle up with the load,swing it away from the hole,pull the lever up to empty the load..unlike the two handle post hole diggers that lose most of the "load" on the way up,this fella holds it all..the long wood handle will do 5' holes ...but improvising with a longer fixed handle wouldn't be rocket science but for hand digging a dosen't get any better than this's hardly fun ..but close...


(post #127252, reply #6 of 15)

These are friction piers but I wouldn't feel comfortable having anyone down in the holes. Too much like a vertical grave for my sensibilities.

(post #127252, reply #9 of 15)

You said these piers were 18" diameter but didn't say how deep.

OK here's another one from the "that's ridiculous but I did it" files. <G>

Friend of mine was a super on a commercial site, and someone somewhere along the line dropped the ball, result was no hole for a hydraulic elevator shaft and the building was closed in.

He called me for help, I went and looked at it, there was room for two guys to work, but that was about it.

I got two HoDepot shop vacs, an SDS-max rotary hammer, and five feet of 3/4" black pipe. Cut a chisel bit in half for the rotary hammer, welded each half to either end of the pipe, making a bit almost six feet long.

And off we went.

It's comical taking the dirt out one shop vac at a time, but if we had a third person emptying the vac into a wheelbarrow and carting it away it would've been better.

I hope your situation is not so constrained, but there is a worst-case scenario that actually worked, for what it's worth.

If only a laugh. <G>

(post #127252, reply #10 of 15)

These holes are 9' to 13' deep. Fortunately the constraints you described aren't happening in this situation. That elevator hole does sound like quite a project.

(post #127252, reply #11 of 15)

I Hve seen companys like  this for Hydro excavating

(post #127252, reply #14 of 15)

Interesting. Thanks for the link. I'm guessing that'd be on the costly side.

I actually picked up a very long handled spoon shovel and a long handled spade this morning which my PG&E neighbor says they use all the time for power pole holes. I'll have the drill rig back for the accessible holes when the weather clears up. That'll just be a couple of hours time with them.

My mistake for attempting this in the rainy season. Sometimes I get a little anxious to get rolling. Oh well.

(post #127252, reply #12 of 15)

can you actually get work done in a 18" dia space?  And add the bucket that you suggest?

Quick measurement puts my shoulder width around 23".  Hmmm... 18" vs 23"......

(post #127252, reply #13 of 15)

Wow! That dimention went right past me. I deleted my posts. I need to slow down and read the post. Sorry.

______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ There are three kinds of men: The one that learns by reading, the few who learn by observation and the rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. Will Rogers