Using a “Screed” to Help Prepare a Roadbed

Using a "Screed" to Help Prepare a Roadbed

Written by Don Pearson

I would like to start out by saying that I am not a lazy person, but I am just lazy enough to want to do something as easy as possible, while doing it only once. I have been trying to figure out how to make roadbed without the pesky crawling around on my hands and knees (I am not a young man anymore).

I need to “profile” several hundred feet of roadbed before I can lay the track. I’m basically doing this alone so I’m not only the owner, I’m also the maintenance man and civil engineer on this project. I’m all for anything I can come up with to make the job easier.

One idea I had was a design for a “screed” that can be pulled behind pretty much any vehicle with enough traction and ‘umph’ to move dirt.

According to Wikipedia: The free floating “Screed” is a device pioneered by Barber Greene Company in the 1930s that revolutionized the asphalt paving process. The device is designed to flatten the material (e.g. concrete or asphalt) below it, which is also known as “screed”.
I built the Screed from scrap materials from a local recycler (mostly diamond plate steel and angle iron).
Using a “Drawbar” and chain allows the “Screed” to be pulled by any vehicle with enough power and traction like a 4×4 or backhoe.
Concrete blocks add enough weight to make it stay down on the skids.
I laid the dirt out with the excavator using the “T.L.A.R” (that looks about right) method and then dragged the screed over it.
The screed gave the proper profile for the roadbed. Although not 100% straight, the screed performed well.

I will likely add a 4 inch by 1/4 inch plate on the bottom of the skids from front to back so they float better, but other than that it did a pretty good job.  The top is 20 inches wide, with 7 inches of rise.

I drive right past a recycling place on my way to and from work, and have a smoking 20 bucks in steel and welding rods, so aside from the headaches of getting it laid out, this was money well spent.