Jump to content

Recommended Posts

I was leafing through the 1911 City of Portland Building Code (thanks, Blair Pruitt) and came upon this interesting entry:

Foundation walls are to be laid on solid natural ground wherever practicable. Where solid ground is not obtainable, the foundation walls are to be supported on caissons filled with Portland cement concrete or on piles, spread footings, or ranging timbers.

Any idea what the heck a ranging timber might be?

Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems like, whatever it was, they were trying to increase surface area to compensate for soil with poor bearing qualities. At first I imagined something like railroad ties run perpendicular to the concrete stem walls. But it makes no sense to support a foundation on timbers that will be placed underground - especially when the other offered alternatives are concrete caissons & spread footings. It's just strange. Wouldn't the timbers just rot?

Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems like, whatever it was, they were trying to increase surface area to compensate for soil with poor bearing qualities. At first I imagined something like railroad ties run perpendicular to the concrete stem walls. But it makes no sense to support a foundation on timbers that will be placed underground - especially when the other offered alternatives are concrete caissons & spread footings. It's just strange. Wouldn't the timbers just rot?

I've read about old construction methods of using hewn timbers for footings when they are to be below the water table and are likely to remain saturated.
Link to post
Share on other sites

I've read about old construction methods of using hewn timbers for footings when they are to be below the water table and are likely to remain saturated.

I can certainly believe it. But, in most cases, 1911 building footings around here are nowhere near deep enough for that. In our climate, the soil 6-8 feet down goes through wide swings in dampness and soil saturation. Stuff at or slightly below footing level tends to rot pretty readily.

If it's deep enough and wet enough, though, I could see how it would work. I recently worked on a new construction project where the site had been filled in about 100 years ago. During excavation, they discovered all kinds of lumber buried down there - it seemed to be about 20 - 30 feet down. It was all in great shape; solid and hard as a rock. Pics of one chunk are attached.

Click to Enlarge
tn_20141132471_IMG_4623%20(Medium).jpg

102.05 KB

Click to Enlarge
tn_201411324731_IMG_4624%20(Medium).jpg

79.08 KB

Link to post
Share on other sites

Old growth timber is highly decay resistant if it's kept wet. Green oak is used extensively for breakwaters and other erosion structures on the Great Lakes. I have green oak timbers that we installed >20 years ago still working fine.

Link to post
Share on other sites

That's right. Folks are "mining" old timbers out of bays and estuaries where logging was big business >100 years ago. Logs that have been buried in muck for 120+ years are in perfect condition.

It's also why one has to be very careful when pulling their old boat out of the water for repairs. When they dry out, they might fall apart.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Saturated wood does not rot?

Marc

They salvage old growth logs from ship wrecks. Big money.

Gary, I always cringe at your long-winded posts. Please, for the love of God, try to be more concise.

Thanks Chad for the kindly direction given to Gary.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...