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Backyard wood Pier

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#1 D_talley

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 10:59 AM

I decided to build a wooden pier in my backyard for the times I don't want to drive out to my dark site. I live in the city but can look at the brighter objects. After seeing the posts about other wood piers I decided to copy the setup.
My goals was to build the pier for under $200, have it so that one person could build it and also give the future owners of my house the option to remove it without too much work.

I bought 4x 6x6 pressure treated wood from the local Home Depot. That and the hardware to bolt them together was less than $100. I also bought 2x 12x12 inch steel plates from the local metal shop for $20 each, much more than I expected but that is ok.

My first task was to cut the 8 foot 6x6 down to 6 foot and then glue and screw them together. I used glue to make sure there was no shifting of the wood. I bolted all four together using 12 inch bolts from Lowes.

Here is a photo of the finished 6 foot pier. It weighs in at 220 pounds!!!

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I used my drillpress to drill the holes for the plate used to mount the G11. If you do this by hand make sure you mark each plate to make sure the holes line up later.

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I painted each plate with two coats of paint, but expect some rusting in the future since the steel is not coated.

I then dug the 3 foot hole with the help of my nieghbor using a power digger. No, I am too old to try that with a post hole digger. The bottom of the hole was lined with gravel to help drain water and a large brick was placed there to sit the pier on.

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I used a hand truck to move the pier to the hole and lowered it in. I aligned the axis of the pier to the north using a compass. Made sure that it was level and poured in the concrete. I only put enough in the hole to come up halfway, the rest filled with rock and dirt. Future owners can cut the pier below ground level or break the concrete if needed.

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The bottom plate was next. I used 8 inch long bolts to connect the bottom plate to the pier, one for each section. I had cutout spots on the pier to leave room for the nuts that holds the top plate on.

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The top plate went on next with the mount for the G11. I had to move the G11 controller a few degrees to clear the edge of the 12x12 plate.

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I like the way everything came into place. Took just a few hours over the weekend to set this up. I next will stain the wood to match the house. I also need a clear night to do my drift alignment and then lock down everything. Now I will be able to come home from work and just attach a scope and image. By the way, the pier is solid!!!

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#2 EdTheEdge

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 11:08 AM

Nice! Thanks for the pics and detailed info!

#3 EdTheEdge

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 11:08 AM

Nice! Thanks for the pics and detailed info!

#4 Ranger Tim

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 01:37 PM

What is your plan to combat condensation under the cover when it's in place? A waterproof/breathable cover? Virginia - the land of humidity.

#5 Raginar

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 01:38 PM

Beautiful Dwight, I really like my wood pier too. I didn't go quite as robust; mine is a single 6x6. She'll shake a bit when you move the mount; but once she's tracking I don't notice any issues. And, like you, I wanted something removable.

Great job documenting it! How was drilling through the steel plate?

#6 D_talley

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 01:41 PM

I plan on storing the G11 in my trailer, away from the condensation. Once setup it will not be hard to just mount and shoot. If I had power at the pier I would have used a small watt bulb to keep the water away.

#7 D_talley

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 01:47 PM

....How was drilling through the steel plate?

I expected that to be the hardest part but drilling the holes for the bolts was harder. I slowed the drill down to 800 rpm and use oil to keep the bit cooled.

Now cutting the bold holes through 12 inches of wood took forever. Don't try it with a battery powered drill. I had to buy an electric drill to do the job.

#8 Erik30

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 05:06 PM

This is a great idea, thank you for posting it.

#9 Wembley2000

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 10:12 PM

Nice job, I have been kicking around the exact same pier design. How much concrete did you end up using and what is your hole diameter?

Brian

#10 shawnhar

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 11:14 PM

Nice!
I love my wood pier so much I built a deck around it with a slide away plastic shed, scope stays on it all the time now.

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#11 D_talley

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 04:30 AM

Nice job, I have been kicking around the exact same pier design. How much concrete did you end up using and what is your hole diameter?

Brian


The max size of the powered hole digger was 12 inches. I then had to use the post hole digger to expand it to around 18 inches. I used one 80 lb bag of concrete but realized that was not enough and had to use 1/2 of another.

#12 Wembley2000

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 01:30 PM

Thanks for the info!

Brian

#13 Lorence

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 02:33 PM

Nice job, I have been kicking around the exact same pier design. How much concrete did you end up using and what is your hole diameter?


I have a similar pier. Rather than digging it in I had it driven into the ground by an excavator. I sharpened one end like a big pencil. The excavator drove the pier over six feet into hard clay. No digging.

The excavator weighs over 30,000 lbs. The operator pushed the pier in as far as it would go then used the bucket like a hammer and drove it in another foot or so.

There has been a few threads about the possibility of the wood pier moving over time. I haven't noticed any movement in mine. If it did become a problem I would simply get the excavator back and pull the pier out of the ground. The existing hole would be the base for a concrete pier.

#14 John Miele

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 08:58 PM

Boy this looks great Dwight :bow:! As far as protecting the wood from moisture long term, I was wondering if drowning it in something like Thompsen's water seal or maybe several thick coats of spar varnish would keep the wood completely sealed? Or is the pressure treating enough on its own?

Oh almost forgot to ask, how thick were the two steel plates?

Thanks...John

#15 D_talley

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 11:19 AM

Boy this looks great Dwight :bow:! As far as protecting the wood from moisture long term, I was wondering if drowning it in something like Thompsen's water seal or maybe several thick coats of spar varnish would keep the wood completely sealed? Or is the pressure treating enough on its own?

Oh almost forgot to ask, how thick were the two steel plates?

Thanks...John


Thanks. I thought about putting a water seal on it but was rushing the job and expect the pressure treatment to be good enough for now. 6x6 posts last a long time here and 4 of them should be stable for as long as I need them to be.

The steel plates were around 1/4 of an inch I think. I will have to measure when I get home. They were very heavy and had no flex.

#16 HunterofPhotons

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 02:18 PM

.... As far as protecting the wood from moisture long term, I was wondering if drowning it in something like Thompsen's water seal or maybe several thick coats of spar varnish would keep the wood completely sealed? Or is the pressure treating enough on its own?.....


There's no practical way to completely seal wood. Dipping it into epoxy several times might get you close.
There are two types of pressure-treated (pt) wood. One is rated for ground contact, the other is for above ground uses.
The problem with pt wood is that it is made with junk wood, wood that is more susceptible to twist and warp than other woods. Not all finishes are compatible on pt wood. Check before applying.
Since wood absorbs moisture primarily through its end grain, don't skimp on those areas.

dan k.

#17 Pat at home

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 05:21 PM

Alternatives to pressure treated lumber are torified wood, and naturally resistant species like tamarack, cedar and white oak. These options are more expensive.

#18 D_talley

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 10:46 AM

Had my first light with the mount last night. So much nicer than using a tripod! No legs to trip over, no shakes or wiggles. I did a quick polar align and my gotos were spot on.

As you can see in the photos I am surrounded by trees and I have a limited view of the sky. Betelgeuse is the southern most point I can see. So I will be limited in what I can image.

The light pollution is high enough that I am limited to 2 minute exposures using a Hutech IDAS-LPS. The new mount will allow me to make long Ha exposure. I wish this mount was in the middle of New Mexico.

#19 Phillip Easton

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 08:02 AM

H I wish this mount was in the middle of New Mexico.


You could always pull it up and move it ;)
Seriously, thanks a lot for the information! Looking at options for doing a pier too so it is extremely helpful!

Cheers!
Phillip

#20 Jeff Smith

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 11:38 AM

Looking good! The convience and lack of tripod legs is great.

#21 coopman

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 11:46 AM

How much does that G11 mount weigh? Looks pretty heavy.

#22 Patrick

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 12:00 AM

Nice job Dwight! My wood pier is still serving me well!

Patrick

#23 D_talley

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 01:12 AM

Nice job Dwight! My wood pier is still serving me well!

Patrick


Thanks. Yours is the design I tried to copy, seemed logical and easy to build. Thanks

#24 D_talley

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 01:13 AM

How much does that G11 mount weigh? Looks pretty heavy.

I don't know at the moment. I am not taking it down right now since I have it zeroed in.

#25 korborh

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 11:20 PM

Very nice work Dwight. 4x 6x6 wow!






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