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Old 07-13-2016, 03:58 AM   #1
colesfamily
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Default Wood dock leveling technique

Dear forum Members, I'm seeking advice on how to level a wooden dock as well as how to straighten up the 4" X 4" wood posts that support it.

I've seen in past forum threads instructions on how to do it with car jacks, farm jacks, come-a-longs, magic beans and prayer beads however without pictures I find it difficult to understand what goes where. Furthermore, it sounds like the process of leveling the dock does not relive the weight which is on the dock post so how would it be possible to straighten up the dock post? In my case some of the 4"X 4" posts are tilted in and others are tilted out, it looks like this dock has never been adjusted. It's a 45' dock and in a couple of places the decking has humps or whale backs (for lack of a better term) that need to be brought into level with the rest of the dock.

So here's my question...couldn't an inflatable air bag be put under the section of dock you wish to level? So that when the air bag is inflated you could loosen the bolts on the post collar (because there would not be any weight remaining on the dock post) whereby allowing you to straighten up the post and then either inflate or deflate the bag to bring the section of dock into level then re-tighten the post collar? I'd like to hear from someone who thinks this may or may not work because I have no idea what to do with a jack and I have no one to help me and the air bag sounds like the easiest and safest way to go.I know these bags are available because Sea Tow and others use large ones to raise sunken boats. Please help. Thank you.
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Old 07-13-2016, 09:16 AM   #2
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Default alternatives to airbags

If you have a sturdy canoe or small rowboat, you could partially fill it with water, float it under the dock and pump the water out.
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Old 07-13-2016, 09:43 AM   #3
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Default Questions

Couple questions...

Can I assume there is no breakwater associated with this dock? If not is it seasonal and either removed or raised during the winter months??

A farm jack is the tool for the job. They are relatively inexpensive and work great. Put farm jack in water, raise areas that need to be leveled. Remove existing 4"x4" post and reattach when level.

Stainless or galvanized (I use stainless) carriage bolt or hex bolt with large washer underneath head should be used and it should be through bolted through horizontal dock board with large fender washer and lock washer or lock nut on back side to keep from loosening. Bolt heads should be recessed on water side to avoid possible rub damage on boat.

If this is attached to a breakwater then the process is totally different and you may wish to hire a pro as rocks may need to be removed to raise horizontal support members. You can shim it but again I would leave that to someone more experienced to do.

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Old 07-13-2016, 04:14 PM   #4
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Default Leveling technique

Thank you for the information. The farm jack really does sound like the easiest way to go. It sounds much like the older car jacks we used to use to change a tire. It may be so simple it eluded me. So regarding the farm jack it sounds like the jack foot or base plate sits on the lake bottom and the jack attaches to an outboard deck stringer so that when jacking-up it raises the that section of dock whereby taking the weight off the 4X4 wood dock post. Then I can straighten up the 4X4, reattach it at the proper height and lower the jack to remove it and move on to the next one.
They sure get a lot of money to do that if you hire someone. I also thought the canoe trick was pretty clever but the jack sounds too easy. Thanks again.
Steve
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Old 07-13-2016, 05:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colesfamily View Post
Thank you for the information. The farm jack really does sound like the easiest way to go. It sounds much like the older car jacks we used to use to change a tire. It may be so simple it eluded me. So regarding the farm jack it sounds like the jack foot or base plate sits on the lake bottom and the jack attaches to an outboard deck stringer so that when jacking-up it raises the that section of dock whereby taking the weight off the 4X4 wood dock post. Then I can straighten up the 4X4, reattach it at the proper height and lower the jack to remove it and move on to the next one.
They sure get a lot of money to do that if you hire someone. I also thought the canoe trick was pretty clever but the jack sounds too easy. Thanks again.
Steve
I put my dock in every year and have 4' X 8' sections, they are very easy to manhandle and level without a jack, however it is far easier to do it with a little help in the water. What I do is if I need to raise it some I'll put a level on the dock, loosen the bolts, slide it up where it needs to go and bang a nail in temporarily to hold the bracket where it needs to be then tighten. When I am doing the assembly in the spring I float them out on one of those pancake tubes, works great. In fact I like the level it sets the dock sections at too.

Bear in mind after a while the wood on the 4X4s gets all beat up over years of use to where no matter how tight you make those brackets they will slip down, at that point replacement is required.

To keep the posts from kicking in or out from a vertical perspective put sufficient cross bracing on the bottom of the posts and attach the opposing posts in a X pattern. That will prevent that and really stiffen up the dock as a whole. Use at least 2X4's for this anything less is useless.

Whatever you do make sure if you put any nails in, use double headed ones so they are easy to get out in the fall when things are disassembled.
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Old 07-13-2016, 06:47 PM   #6
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I have crank lift that sits on the top of the post. A chain is attached to the crank and to a hook that goes under the side. Once you get it tight you loosen the bolts on the bracket that attach the post and then give the crank a few turns to bring the dock up. Then you tighten up the bolts. You'll need to be in your boat to get your weight off the dock. I may have gotten it at Heaths in Center Harbor. It was over $100 years ago when I bought it.
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Old 07-13-2016, 07:46 PM   #7
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Rand's Hardware in Plymouth probably has a farm jack for rental use, and Wednesday is half price rental day ...... store opens at 7-am.
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Old 07-14-2016, 06:10 AM   #8
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I bought a farm jack last year at Harbor Freight, think it cost about 65.00
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Old 07-14-2016, 08:29 AM   #9
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No kidding .....that seems like a decent price ......Harbor Freight! .......Perhaps, one of the forum posters will demonstrate 'How to correct an uneven, Lake Winnipesaukee dock by using a farm jack' ..... and post some photos here! .......
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Old 07-14-2016, 08:55 AM   #10
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Farm jacks work great but if the water is deeper than 5' starts to get a little tricky. Definitely a 2 man job
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Old 07-14-2016, 11:23 AM   #11
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Default Leveling a Dock

I have a seasonal dock and I use floating toys or car/truck inner tubes which you could put under the section to be lifted or supported and pump up. I have a small sears air compressor for this and to pump up the toys. Less than $100.oo when on sale and is always handy at the lake.jmoho . Hope this helps.kx
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Old 07-14-2016, 11:54 AM   #12
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Default Another option

Since MAXUM mentioned about the wood getting old you may want to replace the wood with galvanized posts. Attach ta base to the bottom of post and use a post bracket that attachés to the dock. I had 5 sections where each section was attached to half of the post bracket. Used bolts to secure. Here's the benefit. Bought a mini come-a-long and you can raise or lower the dock from the dock. Attach one end to the top of post the other under the dock. I did this for 40 years before getting a lift dock. Bought it from Raise-A-Dock, why, he uses galvanized posts. If you have cross pieces you will have to undo before lifting.

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Old 07-14-2016, 06:08 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fatlazyless View Post
No kidding .....that seems like a decent price ......Harbor Freight! .......Perhaps, one of the forum posters will demonstrate 'How to correct an uneven, Lake Winnipesaukee dock by using a farm jack' ..... and post some photos here! .......
FLL, I thought you would have been on top of the $30 Walmart farm jack deal: http://www.walmart.com/ip/14560049?w...&wl13=&veh=sem
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Old 07-14-2016, 07:24 PM   #14
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.....geez.....I must be loosing my grip or someting becuz I didn't even think of Walmart ....... for shame on me .....tsk tsk ......u know this jack in the Walmart link got four very crappy reviews by four different users so it's probably not worth buying.
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Old 07-15-2016, 02:36 AM   #15
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Default Wood dock leveling technique

That's a good point regarding if the water is deeper than 5 feet it can get dicey using the jack.

It's a little deeper than that at the end of the dock. My dock is heavy, its a wood dock about 6' wide and I'm guessing it's 8' or more between posts so when I get back to NH I'll look at it again and decide between using a farm jack vs a small commercial airbag and compressor.

After reading one of these recent posts I now understand why my 4"X 4" posts are tilted in different directions, its because the cross members under the dock are mostly missing.

This is all great information. I can't wait to get to it now that I don't have to pay someone who probably would charge $400+ and show up with a farm jack and an inner tube.

Thanks.
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Old 07-15-2016, 03:39 AM   #16
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Lightbulb Bring Some Short Chains as Well...

Quote:
Originally Posted by colesfamily View Post
That's a good point regarding if the water is deeper than 5 feet it can get dicey using the jack. It's a little deeper than that at the end of the dock. My dock is heavy, its a wood dock about 6' wide and I'm guessing it's 8' or more between posts so when I get back to NH I'll look at it again and decide between using a farm jack vs a small commercial airbag and compressor. After reading one of these recent posts I now understand why my 4"X 4" posts are tilted in different directions, its because the cross members under the dock are mostly missing. This is all great information. I can't wait to get to it now that I don't have to pay someone who probably would charge $400+ and show up with a farm jack and an inner tube. Thanks.
Thanks—I got a chuckle out of that!

While there are more costly alternatives, Harbor Freight's farm jack is so versatile, you can actually stand on the dock, and still raise it using this jack. The tiny operating lever is very stiff, and sometimes a hit from a screwdriver or wrench is needed to get it to move. Gloves would work.

Importantly, if it gets wet, spray the pin mechanism with white lithium grease to keep it working smoothly.

The price for the farm jack (I have three!) from Harbor Freight—at $39.99—had never been lower than a week ago. Perhaps from pressure from WalMart's jack? But, as Fatlazyless stated, the reviews regarding WalMart's farm jack are miserable—I wouldn't go near one!

Home Depot will ship one to your house—or HD store—for free! Not surprisingly, farm jacks made in the USA are 2- or 3- times the price—even those made several decades ago. (Check eBay).

Regarding alternatives, this forum had a long discussion in 2007—and again in 2010.

http://winnipesaukee.com/forums/show...ight=farm+jack



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Old 07-15-2016, 08:41 AM   #17
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Default Pipe Clamp

When I adjust the legs on my dock, I use a 5' pipe clamp. With a pipe clamp, you are able to rotate the jaws to any position that you need. I put the crank end of the pipe clamp on the top of the post, and then rotate the other end to go directly under the dock frame. This is done holding the pipe clamp tight against the post. You put a little pressure on it with the crank to hold it in place. Next loosen the bolts, and turn the crank until the frame is level. Re-tighten the bolts and release the clamp. The beauty of this method is the clamp actually pushes the post firmly down, as well as lifting the dock frame. Once the bolts are re-tightened nothing moves when the clamp is released.
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Old 07-16-2016, 04:51 AM   #18
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Exclamation This Summer, Rattlesnake Island...

A pipe clamp will work for "adjustments", but a farm jack will work even for difficult straightening jobs:



"Adjusting" the rock later is a different matter!



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Old 07-16-2016, 12:47 PM   #19
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This is what I used, a dock winch. This one seems to use cable. Mine used rope.

If you don't have pipe supports, you can use a short length of pipe sturdily bolted to a 4x4 with a base board (to keep it from sinking into the bottom).

I used to used to set one side of my dock section on the bracket of the previously attached section and then winch the other end level. Then I attached the legs.

If the legs settle, you attach the winch, snug up the rope, loosen the clamp holding the section, winch the section level, and retighten the clamp.

I used it for 20 years and it worked great.
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Old 07-17-2016, 02:57 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RUGMAN View Post
I bought a farm jack last year at Harbor Freight, think it cost about 65.00
I checked out the jack at HF yesterday but its only 42 inches long. That really isnt long enough for me.
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Old 07-19-2016, 02:23 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick35 View Post
I checked out the jack at HF yesterday but its only 42 inches long. That really isnt long enough for me.
You could "McGyver" something to extend it.Try a length of pipe and a little ingenuity.
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Old 07-19-2016, 05:37 PM   #22
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I have a couple of concrete blocks that I use to put the jack on when I need more height. They work great and I store them under the dock all year long so they are handy when I need them..

I have also used truck tubes and inflated them under the dock to lift it.

There are many ways to lift docks and it just depends on your individual situation and what you are trying to accomplish.
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Old 07-20-2016, 06:13 AM   #23
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Default True and tested

Have had a wood dock that needs leveling out since I Was a kid. Always use a row boat sized boat to catch underneath the dock, loosen the bolts and level off. If the water level is too high, I get in the water, loosen and lift with my shoulders with someone's help.

As the dock responsibilities pass onto my generation and the hired crew that has helped us put it in for the last 40 years gets older, I'm thinking of the next easier dock to get. Good luck.
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