Moving a big Rock

topic posted Wed, September 27, 2006 - 11:47 PM by  Ken
Any body have any good idea on how to move a big rock?

I have been asked to move in and instal three big basalt pillers, big as I can move.
The problem is the yard is fully landscaped, and there is a fence with a three foot wide gate. Which means no machines. I have to move it with old school skills. Eyptian style.

They wiegh anywhere from 400lbs, to 3000lbs. I was thinking of getting three, the biggest being around 1200lbs.

Any thoughts on moveing such a big rock by hand?
posted by:
offline Ken
  • Unsu...

    Re: Moving a big Rock

    Thu, September 28, 2006 - 6:22 AM
    The few times I have seen people moving monster chit over manicured lawnd they used the same equip,ent they always use ( little skid steer) ans first they laid a couple layers of 3/4" ply as their little road bed.

    Most folks pick up the plywood and relay it in a movable road so they don't have to buy so much.
    • Re: Moving a big Rock

      Thu, September 28, 2006 - 7:58 AM
      THere are pavers on the ground, so I will have to use plywood to protect the ground.

      cant use a skid steer, the gate is too narrow.

      I was thinking of putting the stone on wjeels, but everything I have found so far, maxes out around 500 pounds.

      The only other Idea I have had so far is to build a sled. Strap another pice of plywood to the bottom of the rock, then grease it up with something slippery that wont destroy the garden. Then tie ropes around it drag it through the gate.
  • Re: Moving a big Rock

    Thu, September 28, 2006 - 8:06 AM
    I've moved many a such rock. The easiest , take out a section of fence for a skid stear ( Bobcat) . Or there are severail manf. of walk behind materail movers, from powered wheel barrels, to 2 and 4 wheel fork lifts.
    If the ground is soft, put down plywood, If you're lucky you can find a tracked mover to rent, and forgo the plywood.
    If the walk behind won't handle 1 1/2 tons " spin " the rock . pick up one end and spin it around to a point just past the direct line twards point "B". put a piece of plywood under the end, so that when you spin it it doesn't tear up the turf. You can also use the spin technique by hand ( very old school ) For the larger rocks, use levers. Elavate both ends of the rock with 4x4" or 6x6". PLace the support on th "B" end perpendicular to the rock so that you can travel the length of the support as you spin the rock. Use an 8' length of 4x4 as a lever, put something under the focrum end, so as not to tear up the turf. scootong the B end of the rock along the support. You can move 5-600 pounders by hand lifting the B end. When you do this , DO NOT twist your back while holding the weight. move only the distance you can swing your arms. Brace your forarms on your upper legs, lift with your legs only enuf to move the rock, do not take your arms off of your legs, do not stand up all the way.
    In my hey-day ( HEY-----, there WAS a day ! ) I could move 800 lbs +or- hand lifting like this. The most important word here is-------- BESAFE !
    I hope this was clear enuf, god I wish could have schetched this out !
  • Re: Moving a big Rock

    Thu, September 28, 2006 - 8:27 AM
    > Any body have any good idea on how to move a big rock?

    With a big lever, and a fulcrum really close to the rock?

    "Give me a big enough lever, and I will move the world."
    — Archimedes

    More seriously, if you want to get a 1.5 ton rock into a landscaped yard without mussing the landscaping, this is a DIWF job (Do it With Friends).

    I would probably make a custom dolly, with a frame of I-beams and angle braces, and for "wheels" use as many thick hardwood dowels as I could possibly fit (to reduce the pressure on the lawn). Remember that the dowels need to be over twice as thick as any steps, bumps or dips you might have to deal with en route.

    Haul the rock onto the dolly with ropes and levers and lots of grunting. Roll the dolly to right next to where the rock should go. Haul the rock into position with the ropes and levers and grunting again.

    Alternate technique: If you want to go seriously Egyptian, get a ton of sand. Convince your neighbors that you are their god and they must labor for you one month out of the year. Have them lay the sand as a path a foot or two thick along the route from where the rock comes from to where the rock is going. Have them drag the rock along the sand. Have them position the rock in place with ropes and levers and grunting. Have them remove the sand and repair any damaged landscaping. Congratulate them on a job well done, they have done their god proud!
    • Re: Moving a big Rock

      Thu, September 28, 2006 - 8:39 AM
      I have moved 3600 pound rocks and have put over 40,000 lbs of large stones ~with no power tools~ into my own yard (with only 1 helper). I am not sure that these suggestions here come from folks who have actually moved large rocks before... sooooo my suggestion is to build a tripod out of 8-12' long 4x4's with a hole drilled thru one end of each to chain them together like a teepee. use a come-along or winch strung thru the chain hole to lift the rock off the palette or ground (tripod straight over the top of the rock) until you have just lifted it a bit off the ground. use METAL rollers not wood (looks like a metal ladder but not aluminum, that is placed on wood planks ~plywood sheeting or just 2x12's) to move the rock after you have lowered it back down onto the roller, resting on shims to keep it balanced on its own weight. once the rock is balanced, and the path is clear, a kid could move it. If you need to turn the path direction, or go thru the gate, you will have to set the tripod up again over the rock, lift it again, and re-orient it in the direction you want it to go.

      and btw, you can get dollys that move larger weights >> I have a 6-wheeler with solid wheels that holds and easily pivots/moves 1500lbs.
      • Re: Moving a big Rock

        Fri, September 29, 2006 - 12:31 AM
        Wow, soo many good ideas.

        Thank you everybody for the sugestions.

        If I could rent or build a six wheeled cart, I am laughing.

        Other wise the roller thing sounds good.

        Now could I find a pre-built metal roller thing that could take the weight? I have seen them before, but they looked light weight. If I could get something heavy duty, in two sections that I could put in front of each other, I would be set.

        2' x 12 's with a bunch of metal rollers might be the ticket. The truck there coming in on will have a crane, so I get it lifted on to the rollers to start with then push and grunt it the rest of the way.

        Standing it up could be interesting, maybe I will need your tripod suggestion.

        Now do I need to stand them in a bed of gravel, or just dig them into the dirt?

        I would like to see what you did in your yard with 40 000 lbs of large stones?

        • Re: Moving a big Rock

          Fri, September 29, 2006 - 11:44 AM
          > Now could I find a pre-built metal roller thing that could take the weight?

          I'm not entirely what they are called, but where I grew up (in Manhattan) there were many many delivery trucks trying to get large quantities of goods into store basements quickly. They would set up these paths of rollers from the truck to the basement, and drop (or sometimes throw) 100 pound (or more) boxes onto them, so they would roll cleanly into the basement where someone was unloading them.

          The rollers are only about 10cm in diameter, so it wouldn't handle big steps or bumps, but it strikes me if you can buy or borrow some of these, and use them roller side down, putting the rock on its back, that might very well be able to do the trick.
          • Re: Moving a big Rock

            Sat, September 30, 2006 - 12:46 AM
            thank you for explaining this so detailed chili, -I saved your entries in my personal knowledge library and will attempt to move some of them biggens in my garden!
      • Unsu...

        Re: Moving a big Rock

        Fri, September 29, 2006 - 6:25 AM
        Chili , if I understand you correctly you are saying
        1.) Make a mechanism to lift the stone. ( the TeePee)
        2.) Build a set of rails and rollers
        3.) Shove the rollers and rails under the stone after you lift it some.
        4.) then shove the stone along the rail roller assembly
        5.) lift & place the stone using the TeePee when it's in position.

        Is that about right???
        • Re: Moving a big Rock

          Fri, September 29, 2006 - 7:49 AM
          that sums it up pretty well cliff. but you can't just use rollers on the ground without a wooden path under them, as the weight of the stone will press them into the ground and there will be no more rock'n'rolling...and you would be surprised how much 3000 pounds Really is when you decide to try wooden rollers. ha don't do it >go for metal and yes they are light weight but are hard which is what you need. And yes you may want to re-set up the tripod to stand up your basalt (beautiful rock btw) on the spot you want it. I recommend the Japanese aesthetic of burying 2/3 of the rock to make it seem as if it is embedded in the earth, not just sitting on top of it. I have never intentionally erected stones with a gravel base, just earth, tho I bet a mix of both might offer some nice stability after setting, though it might woogie a bit when you try to set it in just gravel (this may be helpful to you or not). If I can get around to it, I'll post some pics of some of my rock work here in this tribe. There is a photo in my pics of a 56-step stone path I built for a client but I'm not sure exactly how much total weight (maybe about 3 tons?) as all rock was already on site in the natural landscape >> the whole install took 4 hours with 2 helpers and was a surprise b-day gift from my client to her sweet.

          good luck >> you CAN do it!! I recommend STEEL-TOED BOOTS for sure > they make a nice resting place for rocks when you need to get your fingers under an edge. Some gloves, a nice mattock, shovel, and a good long heavy-duty pry bar and you should be good to go.
  • Re: Moving a big Rock

    Thu, September 28, 2006 - 2:38 PM
    Buy about 10 Round Fence posts or other round logs about 4-6 ft wide. Use them as a roller base. have helpers take from rear on put in front. have a couple pushers pullers and prodders. build temporary dirt or board ramps where needed. OLD technique.
  • Re: Moving a big Rock

    Mon, October 2, 2006 - 12:43 PM
    A pillar is a half ton of rock in an unstable position. My guess is that a professional (with insurance) should be hired to set the pillars. A side benifit is that moving it from the curb to its final resting place would be included in the installer's bid.

    IMO, big rock pillars are not a DIY task.
    • Re: Moving a big Rock

      Mon, October 2, 2006 - 12:53 PM
      no offense meant, but a half ton piece of basalt is not nearly as tall/big as you might think it is. and if you use the Japanese method of burying 2/3 of it, liability is not really ever an issue.
      • Unsu...

        Re: Moving a big Rock

        Mon, October 2, 2006 - 2:19 PM
        a thousand pounds only seems like a lot.
        I recently took delivery of two pieces of machinery that each weighed in at just over a tousand pounds
        Armed with some rope, webbing, a couple of cable come-alongs some carabiners and a J bar; I un-crated 'em, raised 'em off their pallets, drilled the holes in the bottoms for the levining pads and then set 'em in place.

      • Re: Moving a big Rock

        Mon, October 2, 2006 - 6:48 PM
        when someone pays you to do something , liability is always an issue. And if you bury 2/3 of it, that does'nt leave much ! Isn't it 1/3 buried? otherwise you could use a 330 pounder and set it on a small pad.
        • Re: Moving a big Rock

          Mon, October 2, 2006 - 10:14 PM
          }}} true dan about liability when you are hired for the job, but as a DIY project, I thought you meant the personal liability when this *massive tower of rock* tips over onto your own head or something...heh my mistake

          as far as placement, each rock has its own nature and faces, intention and origin. you as rock artist must decide everything, many facets often in the moment. it is very zen > you have the power to bury as much or as little as you desire, in whatever place and orientation as pleases your aesthetic in the site-specific space in which you work.

Recent topics in "DIY - do it yourself"

Topic Author Replies Last Post
Car Signal Possessed? Azeeza 2 January 17, 2016
Jumping a Car Azeeza 8 January 17, 2016
Tempered Glass Douglas 5 December 11, 2015
Hot Water Heater Azeeza 10 October 13, 2015