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Author Topic: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker  (Read 3387 times)

Offline ID_Joker

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My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« on: November 12, 2012, 08:24:21 PM »
Needed a shed for the tractor at my new property until we get a house and barn and equipment shed and stuff up.  I like Sepp's underground log structures and figured that once I don't need it for the tractor I can still use it for storage as well as livestock quarters or other purposes.  It will also be a nice camping spot while building the house.

Didn't quite finish before rain and stow started, so will have to wrap it up in the spring, but I got enough that all of the tractor but the end of the loader is covered. 

I like to refer to it as my tractor bunker.   8)






Offline joeinwv

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2012, 08:49:10 PM »
I like it. Any issues with water coming in through the walls?

"Honey, I NEED a tractor - so I can build a bunker to park my tractor in..."

Offline ID_Joker

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2012, 09:31:11 PM »
Plan when done is that there will be geotextile and then plastic over the top and down most of the sides, forming kind of an umbrella.  It will then be covered with dirt and planted.  That should take care of keeping everything dry enough.  In the mean time, hoping the blue wally-world tarp will do a good enough job until spring.

Offline Samuel Fairlane

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2012, 10:36:00 PM »
Did you move all that dirt with that tractor? If so, what size is it? Every time I see one of those I want to build a wofati?

Offline ID_Joker

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2012, 07:38:58 AM »
Yes, all dirt was moved by tractor.  Holes for posts were also dug with tractor and then hand tamped as filled.

Offline Roundabouts

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2012, 07:39:50 AM »
Did you move all that dirt with that tractor? If so, what size is it? Every time I see one of those I want to build a wofati?

Drooling.  Oh please say you did.  If so that's it I gotta have me one of these.  Course I gotta have a back hoe attachment too. And.. 

This is way way cool.  Love it.  Did you put any thing between the dirt and the logs?  What kind of logs are they?  Were they fresh cut? 
There is no $50 job that I can't do without a $100 worth of new tools.

Offline Roundabouts

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2012, 07:43:36 AM »
Our posts passed in cyber space. ;)   Yes Yes Yes now I just gotta get my own tractor.  So tired of renting one.  If I had my very own I could play and build and dig and…. till my hearts content.   :D
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Offline Samuel Fairlane

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2012, 09:07:34 AM »
That is one cool structure.

Offline ID_Joker

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2012, 11:37:00 AM »
Tractor does have a backhoe attachment; it's definitely key.

Side benefit is that the S.O. really wants herself an in-ground swimming pool.  Since I only dug down enough for about half the structure, the rest of the dirt is coming from my new pond/swimming pool/wildlife hotspot -in-the-making.

Logs are a mix of pine and larch and fir.  All were harvested on the property just before I bought it this summer, so they aged for about 3 months before I started using them.  (Prior owner 'rough-cleared' several acres.)  I didn't do a completely perfect job of it, but I debarked most of them before use.

There's nothing between the dirt and the logs.  If I wanted to make this last a thousand years, I would need to.  however, it's WAY overbuilt.  Once I get the plastic 'umbrella' over it, the dirt next to the logs should get and stay pretty dry.  We don't have as much problems with bugs here as you would further south.  (Not to say that bugs can't be a problem, but it's not as big.)

Offline yodal

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2012, 11:47:15 AM »
AR AR AR Arararrrr... In my best Tim the tool man voice! Thats awesome...
I need a tractor... :-\
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Offline scoob

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2012, 02:00:24 PM »
A hugel-tractor... brilliant!   ;D

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2012, 08:22:51 PM »
That's one of the big things I miss in suburbia; a tractor to dig holes with and move dirt around. 
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Offline LJH

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2012, 09:17:09 PM »
A hugel-tractor... brilliant!   ;D

 :rofl:

ID_Joker, that's pretty stinkin' cool!

What model is your JD? I just bought a 2005 3120 (TLB) and honestly don't know how I managed without it. I think I'll be doing something similar come spring, got the perfect hill for it.
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Offline ID_Joker

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2012, 09:48:06 PM »
JD is a 4520 with a 400X loader and a 485 backhoe. 

It's got a 24" bucket on it now which is nice for moving lots of dirt, but I'll probably try to find a 12" for trenching and stuff.  (That 24" is a pain to backfill if you just want to run a small line!).  When my grandfather saw a photo of it, he immediately claimed naming rights....so now it's lovingly referred to as "Brute".   

It's been good to me so far; I'm quickly learning that one of the big dangers of tractors is in the attachments.  Wonder if someone would mind getting me a post hole auger for Christmas!?!?

Offline LJH

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2012, 11:20:24 PM »
Ah, yours is bigger.  ;) Mine is a 300CX loader & 447 backhoe. It's hard to tell from a front-on shot like that, they all look pretty similar (green & gorgeous).

Attachments: Oh yes indeedy! I do have a second 12" bucket for trenching; super-handy - get one, you'll love it. Also a nice Frontier box blade. Our driveway is <> ½ mile long with hills & turns and by spring thaw it's always trashed. Box blade is going to earn its keep for sure.

I'd love an auger but we're so steep & rocky there's only a couple of places I could use it, the rest is hand work only so I'm asking Santa for a GRAPPLE. I have more rock walls to build. Rocks will fear me with my grapple attachment.  ;D
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Offline ID_Joker

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2012, 07:43:58 AM »
We're the exact opposite of rocky.  To give you an idea, we had the well put in a couple weeks ago.  It was 295 ft before the driller even hit a rock.   :o

It's hilly with some steep parts, but also lots of mellow hills and flats. 

My driveway is about like yours, so I'll have to have a robust solution for snow removal.  However, road is just roughed in at this point, so I have until end of next year at least before I have to deal with it.

Green and gorgeous, definitely.  S.O.'s dad is a 1000+ acre farmer in KS and he's all green.  He was very proud when we went green instead of orange.  LOL.

Offline Morning Sunshine

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2012, 08:12:29 AM »
It's been good to me so far; I'm quickly learning that one of the big dangers of tractors is in the attachments.  Wonder if someone would mind getting me a post hole auger for Christmas!?!?

absolutely - if you don't mind bringing that baby down to dig me a few fence posts holes  ;)


We're the exact opposite of rocky.  To give you an idea, we had the well put in a couple weeks ago.  It was 295 ft before the driller even hit a rock.   :o

golly - I cannot dig 3 inches without hitting a rock
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Offline Bonnieblue2A

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #17 on: November 14, 2012, 08:39:16 AM »
JD is a 4520 with a 400X loader and a 485 backhoe. 

It's got a 24" bucket on it now which is nice for moving lots of dirt, but I'll probably try to find a 12" for trenching and stuff.  (That 24" is a pain to backfill if you just want to run a small line!).  When my grandfather saw a photo of it, he immediately claimed naming rights....so now it's lovingly referred to as "Brute".   

It's been good to me so far; I'm quickly learning that one of the big dangers of tractors is in the attachments.  Wonder if someone would mind getting me a post hole auger for Christmas!?!?

I'm quickly finding that out as well. I purchased a used JD 3005  off eBay (as a starter tractor); and, accessorizing it is at least as addictive as accessorizing an ERB but oh so much more expensive.  :-[

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Offline Roundabouts

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #18 on: November 14, 2012, 10:48:58 AM »
Ahh Morning Sunshine got ya beat.  Our rocks come to the surface for harvesting and breeding. LOL ;)  dig 3 cm and there's a rock. 

Oh I just gotta get me one of these!  Green Orange blue or even PINK I don't care. Long as it runs.    Fence holes tree holes swales ponds terraces mucking stalls moving piles….  Me thinks I gotta have a heart to heart with santa ;)
There is no $50 job that I can't do without a $100 worth of new tools.

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #19 on: November 14, 2012, 02:44:16 PM »
That was a very common method for building cellars in the great depression.

Offline ID_Joker

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #20 on: November 14, 2012, 02:46:02 PM »
You mean the previous one or the current one?   ;)

Offline endurance

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #21 on: November 14, 2012, 04:12:08 PM »
Reminds me of that old adage; anything worth doing is worth overdoing. ;)

Another thing to consider for waterproofing is used billboards.  A local (Denver area) company sells them for $25 a piece and they're much more sturdy than your standard 6mil plastic sheeting.  http://www.repurposedmaterialsinc.com/advertising-billboard-vinyl-tarp.php  If you could find a local outlet, it would definitely be worth looking into.
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Offline ID_Joker

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #22 on: November 14, 2012, 04:31:21 PM »
Thanks Endurance, those might be perfect.  I'll be swinging through Denver in a few weeks anyway so I might be able to pick them up on the way by!  (Not much in the way of vendors up here where I am!)

Offline endurance

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #23 on: November 14, 2012, 10:23:35 PM »
Make sure you call for pick up first.  They have a tendency to go out and leave the office unattended a lot unless you pre-arrange a pick up time.  It's a very small business.
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Offline rogersorders

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #24 on: February 12, 2013, 07:39:50 AM »
Joker got some questions for you:

How long are the vertical posts
How deep did you sink them into the ground
What's the final plan for the roof

The traditional Holtzer log shed uses all vertical logs for the walls.
Why did you go horizontal with yours
Are you afraid that the spirit of Paul Wheaton will come and tear it down because you didn't do it exactly like the great and glorious Sepp  ;D

It looks awesome, can't wait to see some new pics
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Offline ID_Joker

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #25 on: February 12, 2013, 08:19:50 AM »
The vertical posts are sunk about 4 feet in the ground (some a little more).  Height above ground is about 10 feet if I recall correctly.  Might be wrong on that though...could be a little more.  It seems so long ago!

Final plan for the roof... I picked up a recycled billboard while in Denver over Christmas.  I'm going to do a layer of geotextile, then probably a little straw, then the tarp.  It's huge...big enough to cover the top and go all the way down the sides.

I started with vertical logs but quickly found that it was REALLY hard to get them vertical and keep them there.  These are big logs and pretty darn heavy.  I put up about 6 or 8 vertical but kept having visions of being smashed like a bug when one fell over.

I am sure Sepp has a method for doing it that way, but what I found was that horizontal was MUCH easier.  I just had to sink the posts in the corners and mid-way down the sides -- then could just pile logs against the outside of them and backfill with dirt as I went.  Structurally, I can see a little bit of advantage to the way Sepp does it, but I don't really think it's a material difference.  I am also guessing he uses a lot more heavy equipment than I did.  That said, I'd be interested to see his process sometime!

I am sure Paul spends his time searching google earth for blasphemies such as this, so I will have to be careful to keep a low profile!


Offline Rutger

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #26 on: February 12, 2013, 09:08:20 PM »
That is awesome... I am jealous and I hate you BUT not enough to unfollow this thread. Carry on...  :popcorn:

Offline Cedar

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #27 on: February 12, 2013, 09:18:16 PM »
I just found this thread and it is very much like a root cellar. Here is mine I built http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=26771.msg300549#msg300549

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Offline ID_Joker

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #28 on: February 12, 2013, 09:51:35 PM »
Nice cellar Cedar!  I'm going to build one of those at some point too, but have to do the house done first! :)

Offline OKCPrepper

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Re: My Sepp-inspired tractor bunker
« Reply #29 on: February 13, 2013, 01:11:19 AM »
Nice job ID, I have plans for a similar structure project of my own. I don't have the kind of logs available to me as you do, I have found a good alternative to use for making the walls out of.



These are a concrete block that a local company builds, we see a variety of these blocks used in our area primarily in gravel yards. They use them to separate different sizes of gravel, rock, you name it. The one I am using here in this picture have a decorative texture on the outside surface.

The blocks are 2 feet wide, 2 feet tall and 4 feet long. They have a V shaped ridge on the top and one end and a corresponding V shaped groove in the bottom and the other end. This makes the blocks lock together. They weigh 2500 pounds each so it takes some fairly large equipment to handle them.

The beauty of these is there is no need for a poured footing. We use a laser level to build a flat grade to set them on. We compact the soil by driving the tractor over the footing area several times, water it down to settle the soil and compact again. you can use a thin layer of sand to create the final grade. Once you get the first course of blocks lined up, the rest stack on top very easily.

For water proofing, we use a heavy roofing tar to smear between the layers. We trowel it on in a row about 3 inches wide and an inch tall, once the next blocks is set tar pressed down and created a nice moisture barrier. On the outside surface we use a sandwich layer of 30# roofing tar paper and 10mil plastic sheeting and more tar paper.

The wall shown here is 20' long and 8' high, you could stack then 5 or 6 high without worry. There are two ways we go about the roof on the structure. We have used bar joists to span the blocks. We use concrete lags to secure the joists to the blocks and then lay 2 layers of 3/4" plywood over the joists and screw them down with self drilling machine screws. You could also use 2x6 or 2x8 or 2x10 boards on edge depending on the span and soil load you plan to put on top.

My plan for the equipment shed will be these blocks on three sides like you have done with the logs. They will be stacked 5 high creating a 10' tall wall. I am collecting used telephone poles to span across the blocks and then use Sepp's method of covering the roof logs for waterproofing. I plan to use one log on each side wall laying lengthwise to the block. It will rest on the block at one end and be held up 6" at the entrance end of the wall. This will create a slope for the cross logs to lay on and give us better drainage off the roof.

I am using these blocks for a variety of projects. I am building a greenhouse this winter where I use a row of these blocks down each side and across one end. I have fabricated steel support brackets to bolt the greenhouse pipes to the block. I went this way for 2 reasons. The first reason is it saved me having to drill and pour cement in 18 holes to anchor the posts. The second reason is we are going to use the blocks as a means of passive solar heat storage. The outside and top of the block will be covered with 1" board insulation and 10mil water proofing along with several inches of soil. The inside wall, the textured side faces into the greenhouse. The idea is the block will heat up during the day and then give back that heat over the night. We can lay a sheet of insulation against the inside wall in the summer months to shade the blocks and not overheat the structure.

The blocks cost me $36 each, I pick them up. So the wall shown has $650 worth of block used. This would not work for everyone but for my needs they work great, relatively cheap, easy to stack and incredibly strong.

One more comment to make on lighting the tractor shed, I have sourced an excellent 12V LED light that we use in other areas of our farm. They are a 720 lumen lamp, they draw very little power, I have a row of 10 of them mounted in the ceiling of a storage container and the total current draw of all 10 lamps is less than 2 amps. You could use something like this screwed to the ceiling of your shed, mount a small 20-30 amp battery and a 40-50 watt solar panel to charge the battery. You could run 10 of those lights on a battery that side for 10 hours straight with no problem. This method would let be independent of your normal power system and would work great for off grid or BO locations.