Sighting and Trenching a Level Foundation for the First Row of Tires:
The hole is dug, the dirt is piled off to the side and you are ready to lay down your first course of tires, right? Psych! No not yet. One small but infinitely important step is to ‘sight’ your foundation from the east side wall all the way across to the right side to make sure the ground that you are about to put your course on is level. It would really suck if you started pounding away only to discover there was a foot difference between one end of the building to the other. The sighting tool is called an Optical Level and it allows you to measure the height all the way along the foundation so that you can scrape away and thereby level the trench that the first course will lay in. This must be done before pounding your first tire.
Of course if you don’t have an Optical Level (or an automated one such as a Laser), there is a low tech method of figuring out how to make the foundation ‘level’ from one end of the building site to the other called ‘the Egyptian water level’ method’.
Thanks go out to Mr. Ed Wishart for showing us ‘kids’ this ancient yet effective means of leveling the site at the Eco Ark Saskatchewan build in 2009.
Drive two stakes into the ground at each end. Now unravel a translucent water hose and cap it at one end. Add just enough water to almost fill it from the other end and wait until the water travels through the hose and stabilizes itself. As water will always seek its own level the height of the water mark in the hose is recorded on the wooden stakes at both ends and now you know how far to hill up or scrape down the earth to make the trench for the first row of tires.
Low tech – High tech. Whatever gets you there!
Image credits: Monica Holy