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Homemade Transit Level
My husband Lynn came up with a nifty homemade transit level for digging an irrigation ditch on grade, helping us avoid the expense of having the project surveyed.
We had to run a new ditch to one of our hayfields but we had to go around a mountain and stay above a nearby swamp. The ditch had to run fairly level with very little fall. If we had any low spots, water would back up and wash out the ditch. My husband decided to "sight it in" with his carpenter's level, using flagged stakes to mark the line where he should put the ditch.
He attached his level to one of the stakes, which were all the same height. We put the stakes 50 ft. apart. Since the level was 2 in. thick, and he was sighting across the top of it, that made his "transit" 2 in. higher than the stake he was sighting in. So by working uphill, this meant that the stake he was sighting in would be about 2 in. higher than the one we were sighting from. He allowed a little bit extra so we had roughly 3 in. of fall in every 50 ft. of ditch.
Lynn would sight in where the next stake should be, with our son moving the stake around until it was in just the right place, while I read the level to tell my husband when it was perfectly level as he sighted along the top. My husband made the first cut with his TD-14 crawler and then finished the ditch with a tractor and blade. It was on perfect grade and water ran through it beautifully.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Heather Smith Thomas, Box 215, Salmon, Idaho 83467 (ph 208 756-2841).

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1991 - Volume #15, Issue #6