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I have been removing around 30 cubic meters of dirt and broken rock that I have excavated manually from our backyard using a jackhammer. The access to the backyard is limited through a narrow corridor of only 1.2 meters wide and I have to carry the rubble down a steep driveway (about 30 degrees) to dump in the front yard around 60 meters away. I have removed almost half of the rubble using a garden cart but it is taking forever and I am exhausted.

What equipment/machine would you suggest me to use to make the job easier and faster considering the narrow access and steep slope?

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    The usual solution for a one-time job of this type is hired help. Which can range from a "contractor" to "day laborers at 7-11 or Home Depot" (based on "meters" those may not apply, but I think every area has some equivalent) to "friends". The last choice usually works better for easier stuff like "unload furniture from a truck into a new apartment" but depends on your friends. Jan 17 at 2:22
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    Further to the suggestion of @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact, you can make it a BYOWB pizza party. Many hands make light work, and it's great bonding.
    – P2000
    Jan 17 at 6:09
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    People power probably will be best. A second choice would be to rent a small skidsteer loader, but that will be like threading a needle both ways. Would want a good driver, depending on what the sides are, dirt/rock be nicer than nice homes.
    – crip659
    Jan 17 at 12:59
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    The even cheaper solution is just time. It's not always applicable but if there's no hard deadline, just take a longer about it. Do a decent bit at the weekend and a little every night after work. Not putting too much in a wheelbarrow can be a help, as you have to lift some of the weight so more trips but much easier, especially if you can get the centre of gravity closer to the wheel by carrying less
    – Chris H
    Jan 17 at 17:15
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    You excavated 30 cubic meters manually with a jack hammer! Impressive! As for removal, this will be a serious undertaking, as that is about 4 dump truck loads!
    – Glen Yates
    Jan 17 at 17:54

5 Answers 5

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A wheelbarrow or cart is pretty standard.

You may be able to rent a powered wheelbarrow or cart that will fit. You'll want one with excellent brakes, given your steep driveway.

Impractical (expensive, specialized, not commonly available for rental) but belt systems are also used for transporting dirt in narrow spaces. With the addition of water, sluices are also used for downhill transport.

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    If you can get one down, renting a mobile belt from a farmer out-of-season might work, like a potato belt.
    – Mast
    Jan 17 at 21:04
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Depending on where you live, you might be able to rent a conveyor. This is a Miniveyor, available in the UK.

Miniveyor mini conveyor belt

I considered this for a similar job in my back yard, but I only had about 12 cubic yards of debris. I removed a fence panel and brought in an excavator

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  • Jewson quoting around £100 per 3m length per weekend. As an alternative, I remember seeing something years ago that ran on a standard ladder and was being used to take material to the top of a block being built: I wonder whether something like that is still available- or could be rigged up? Jan 18 at 11:41
  • @MarkMorganLloyd that's an elevator for lifting roofing. I doubt it would work as well when horizontal. Though, anything could happen.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 18 at 12:32
  • @FreeMan I'm inclined to agree, and ladders abused by being used as horizontal track would have to be cut up and scrapped afterwards... but anything's better than a barrow. Having since spent a bit of time on (UK) plant hire websites, it turns out that it's possible to hire powered barrows with tracks which I suspect are narrow enough to fit OP's constraints: for that matter I measured up a mini-digger a few months ago and I think it was less than 1.4m wide. Jan 19 at 13:13
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Look into renting a small excavator, front loader or bucket loader.

Your local tool/machinery rental store will have a lot of options. You bring the description of your working conditions (maximum width, slope) and they'll tell you what machinery they have that will fit the bill.

Based on the general browsing I've done at rental stores in the US*, it could cost anywhere from $100-$500 per day for a rental of equipment like this, so you'll have to weight out the cost/benefit/safety analysis for yourself.

*Your use of meters indicates you're not in the US, so availability of rental equipment and rules on who may use it may vary based on the country you're in.

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    For 1.2 meters access, you'll most likely be looking at the "walk-behind" types rather than the "sit on/in" types.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 17 at 12:58
  • That's true, @Ecnerwal, but powered equipment will make for easier work than manual equipment, especially if it has a shovel for self-loading.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 17 at 13:18
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    For the cost of that rental you can just pay two guys with a truck to come pick up a load of junk in most cities.
    – J...
    Jan 17 at 17:40
  • True, @J... and worthy of its own answer. I was attempting to point out that this was an option but that it was a pricey one and some serious consideration should be given before going down this route. Cheaper than hiring a crane! (see another answer)
    – FreeMan
    Jan 17 at 17:42
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    @FreeMan Actually, I missed that OP is trying to get rid of 30m^3 of rock and dirt. That will take several dumptrucks and would be a lot more expensive. $500 will get a 1-ton box load taken away where I am, but four dumptrucks is a different matter altogether.
    – J...
    Jan 17 at 17:57
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One method I have heard of being used is craning a skip over the house!

This was done where there was no access to the rear (except through the house). A mini digger was placed in the skip and craned over the house. Once the work had been done, the full skip was craned back over. Obviously this requires a skilled crane operator who knows what they are doing.

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    The cost might make this not worth it. A large enough crane to go over a house and wait for the skip to be filled, probably cost a bit more than a case of beer for friends. It is a good idea if no other way.
    – crip659
    Jan 17 at 15:53
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    TBH, @crip659, for 30m^2, it might start to approach the break even point. That's a lot of material to haul out!
    – FreeMan
    Jan 17 at 18:17
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This may sound crazy but you could rig up a really cheap zip line with 1/4 or 1/2 inch braided steel cable.

Buy a dozen buckets from the hardware store and thread the cable through the handles. Tie one end to a tree in the yard and tie the other end to a tree downhill.

Then you just need to push the buckets uphill, fill them up and let them slide down one at a time. Walk down, turn them upside down to empty them and then push them back up. Repeat. Probably cost you around $100 but would take some trial and error.

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    You'd want to have pulleys on the bucket handles, rather than riding them on the handles themselves. I doubt the handles would last more than 2-3 trips without the pulleys, depending on the load. Also, emptying buckets that are attached to a cable like this could very difficult or impractical. Jan 18 at 18:45
  • Interesting idea, but I can see a problem with tensioning the rope enough, so the buckets would not touch the floor in the middle of the line, while at the same time keeping them at a convenient height to fill and empty them. It might in fact be somewhat dangerous to attempt that. The distance to the front yard is supposed to be 60m. Jan 19 at 13:18
  • Like I said, it would take some trial and error. My immediate concern would be that the buckets might get cracked as others bump into them. I think you could definitely get more than 2-3 runs if the buckets have steel wire handles, though.
    – jugg1es
    Jan 20 at 0:20
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    Actually it's not crazy at all; aerial ropeway is one of the most efficient ways to move loose aggregates, and the technology has been in use for at least a century. See youtu.be/6RiYXI1Tfu4 for a Tom Scott review of the last operating cableway in Hibernia.
    – Conrado
    Jan 24 at 20:15

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