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how to work with clay?

Discussion in 'BMX & Dirt Jumping' started by p2djer, Apr 12, 2008.

  1. p2djer

    p2djer Chimp

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    So at the local public dirt jump spot there was a lot of dirt dropped off.

    There isn't any loose topsoil left and underneath the topsoil was a lot of really wet dirt/ clay mixture.

    When I tried to work with the dirt I would dig some out of the pile and it would just come out in huge chunks. I would bring the dirt to the jump and pack it in and everything. When I would try to shape the jump and chunks of clay would just rip out of the topsoil of the jump.

    Any advice or techniques what you guys do building jumps with clay?
    thanks a lot.
     

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  2. Cru Jones

    Cru Jones Turbo Monkey

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    Dirt with a lot of clay is usually perfect. Is the dirt moist enough to pack and stick? Or, maybe you're trying to pack the moist clay stuff on top of the old dry dirt. If so, that won't work, the old stuff will need to be moist to stick to the new stuff. Or, maybe the clay stuff is too wet to work with. It's hard to say without a better description or some pics.
     
  3. ZHendo

    ZHendo Turbo Monkey

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    i'm facing the same situation at my house. we have a back area that is pretty much a little grass field, and the dirt is pretty much completely clay. it's moist enough to stick, but very hard to work with because it's so hard to dig and it takes about 3x as a long to dig as it would with normal dirt. is there a secret to working with it? also, when i managed to build a small jump with it about a year ago, the jump cracked severely within weeks. did i do something wrong in the building process? i kept decomposable stuff out and also watered it enough, but it just kind of fell apart. i've heard using pam on shovels helps quite a bit with getting the clay not to stick to the shovel, but can anyone provide input?
     
  4. manhattanprjkt83

    manhattanprjkt83 Rusty Trombone

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    guys you are nuts people dream of having clay type dirt to build lips. That is all we work with here in PA...

    We build the jumps with those massive chunks of clay then beat them into submission with a flat shovel carefully skulpting the lips...you have the best dirt possible...

    once you pile the clay you do need some water to pack everything in effectively
     
  5. p2djer

    p2djer Chimp

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    Who was complaining about the clay?
     
  6. stino

    stino Monkey

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    for mixing the two types of soil, I'd suggest you first take your shovel and rip the top of the layer that's allready there apart. (just stick the shovel in for 2-3inches, twist it too loosen the soil, move on) that way, if you put the fresh soil on, the two blend together nicely.

    @ZHendo: don't know how you'r building the jump, but I used to have the same problem until I changed the building technique.. Reading any 'dirt jump building howto' they're always like 'yeah, just make a big pile of soil, then start shaping, then compacting'..
    That didn't work for me, you end up with a big pile of loose soil with a hard top layer. After some rainfall, the inner pile simply starts collapsing, taking the hard layer along and cracking the hell out of it..
    Instead, I tend to start a pile, compact it just by walking over a few times, gradually building shape layer by layer. The lip gets smashed extra hard (btw the smaller the shovel for smashing, the better. A large shovel just divides all your smashing force over a large area, so it doesn't compact as good) It's more work, but I found out that I was left with jumps/corners that are really rock hard.
     
  7. ZHendo

    ZHendo Turbo Monkey

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    yeah, thanks for the advice, i'll give it a try once i get some time to build.
     
  8. scag

    scag Monkey

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    two words.... Smear Pack!

    you need to pile a ton of those big chunks on whatever you are facing with this clay. Then, when you pack, you dont want to just slam the shovel onto clay. You have to hit and drag the shovel downwards all in the same motion. Its kind of hard to explain, but i dont really know how else to. Also, bring some water bottles and wet down the dry dirt that you are putting the wet clay on. Wet clay wont stick to dry dirt unless you wet that dry stuff first.
     
  9. ZHendo

    ZHendo Turbo Monkey

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    yeah, i knew about the smearing technique, i tend to always use it when i build. some other advice i've seen work is spraying pam on your shovel head. it keeps the clay from sticking to it as much.
     
  10. WaveDude

    WaveDude Chimp

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    Clay is the best jump material ever. With really goopy or wet clay, once you're done packing and shaping, poke a BUNCH of 1/2" holes in it--everywhere, 1-2" apart. That way air can get to it more and it will dry more evenly and faster. It's a pain but it works. Otherwise it'll dry with only a thin crust on top and stay too soft/wet underneath.
     
  11. ZHendo

    ZHendo Turbo Monkey

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    i'm pretty sure that was my problem, probably what caused the whole jump to fall apart so quick. thanks for the advice.
     
  12. WaveDude

    WaveDude Chimp

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    See all those holes. This was a few days of letting it dry. It's hard as rock. And all those horzontal lines are from packing it like crazy with a 4x4 post. This lip had to be redone once after about 2 years of use.

     
  13. Zach Dank

    Zach Dank Turbo Monkey

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    There is way more than one type of clay out there. I've worked with a bunch of it. Some of it, is the best building $hit ever, and some of it, is about impossible to deal with.
     
  14. sperkins

    sperkins Monkey

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    if you have the right kind of clay, you are well on your way to building some great jumps.