The driveway

Regular Muse readers probably know more than they want about the driveway at Chateau Thompson.

We’ve chronicled our struggles over the years with the steep, 450-foot long driveway that rises above Sandy Flats Road.

It’s challenging enough with a car and even more so on a motorcycle.

This short video is what I face each morning when I ride my bike down the driveway.

I usually tell people that the most terrifying parts of my motorcycle rides are the first 450 feet and the last 450 feet.

Who says you can’t dirt-track a Harley?

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2 thoughts on “The driveway”

  1. Thanks for the vidclip Doug. I played it over at least a dozen times pausing every few seconds to study the surface closely. Seemingly the drive does have a coarse rock foundation with the finer gravel on top. Whether the drive was simply constructed on the topsoil or not is not readily apparent, but I don’t see any obvious swales, depressions along its length other than erosion as a function of the rain and snow melt runoff. You could dig several test holes on the edge of the drive along its length to see how deep the gravel goes and if it’s on top of hard pan clay or at least deeper than the surrounding sod levels.

    My next recommendation is to have your entire drive “graded” via a commercial machine that has both mass and blade width. Sometimes folks will use a tractor with scraper/grading blade, but they are simply toys as far as I’m concerned. You should instruct the equipment operator to use a slight blade tilt in order to help generate a gentle crown on your drive. At first will look like a low pitch triangle, but the last act would be to level the blade, then to truncate the generated peak of about 30% of the overall driveway width. After it’s graded with generated crown then you can put coarse rock in the ruts and eroded areas where the edges have slumped and are still visible below grade. Once complete then top the drive off with 3/8 x 5/8 with fines left in from the crushing process. Washed rock of this dimension is used as the binder rock in asphalt. The fines will cement up over time as you roll over the road. You might even enlist the folks that grade your drive to roll it out for you in order to give it a head start on compacting the fines on the surface

    You should get at least three or more bids. There are lots of hungry equipment operators out there in these times. After they bid, then come back with what you think is a reasonable offer. They’ll either take or leave it. You might also check out their bonafides via a site that rates contractors and tradesmen in your area. We have “Angie’s List” which allows a subscriber to rate the contractors via feedback to the site. They’ve built up their d-base over time and provide valuable information concerning contractor performance. They even rate doctors, veterinarians and a host occupations. I don’t care for BBB ratings and have been burned by trusting them.

    Here’s a good link to give you some ideas on drive way construction. As another thought you might put concrete drainage pipe across sections that experience heavy water flow across the driveway surface allowing the bulk of the flow to take the path of least resistance through the pipes under the drive.

    I think I’ve become obsessed with solving your driveway issues. : )

    Carl Nemo **==

    • I watched a few times also and didn’t see anything dramatic or unusual. A video riding the grade doesn’t show much about the grade. What I did notice is it’s long straight shot downhill where the biggest rut develops. It’s already been suggested to try some remedy to reduce the flow velocity that moves the gravel.

      So, I can think of a few DIY or cheaper experimental ideas. The country folk in Kentucky would create hog backs. Essentially a speed bump to divert the water before it could generate the volume and velocity to move much of anything.

      My other alternative would be to dig trenches, perpendicular to the driveway (with a slight pitch downhill), and fill them with large diameter rocks. The theory is it’s a French drain. It’s not a culvert because I don’t see the problem as water crossing the road, it’s fast moving water running down the fall line. The trenches allow the water to fall in segments without enough force to move the large rock drainage base which can be topped off with smaller rock that shouldn’t move if these trenches are close enough together.

      That’s my theory and I’m stickin to it. The shortest path ie. straight uphill is not always a great road design. Cows and wildlife are smarter if you ever noticed how they make paths on steep terrain.

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