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Remove Trash from 1880s Cistern

Posted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 4:19 pm
by oldhouse82
Hey Guys,
I'm new to the forum and am currently neck deep in the remodel of my grandparents 1882 farmhouse in south Texas. The property has a below ground cistern (original to the house) which was filled with trash in the 80s. I want to remove the trash and start reusing the cistern (watering grass). However, the cistern is about 25 feet deep and has at least 10 feet of trash. Any suggestions on how to get it out? The cistern appears to be fairly stable and is concrete lined. I'm not sure (being a structural engineer) how comfortable I would be lowering someone in there.
Open for thoughts/opinions, thanks guys.

Re: Remove Trash from 1880s Cistern

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2018 4:13 pm
by oldhouse82
Nobody ever replied, so I went ahead and started cleaning the trash from the cistern. Here's how I did it:
1. I removed as much trash as possible using a rope and hook from ground level.
2. I hired some help and I and a helper went into the cistern and started filling 5 gallon buckets with trash, while 2 helpers were at ground level hoisting up the buckets and dumping them into the tractor for easy removal.

Points of interest:
Still not done, originally thought there was only 2-3 feet of trash. So far we've removed over 8 feet deep. Which is about 15 cubic yards (cistern is 8' diameter at bottom). :shock:

Still haven't killed the large rat snake.. yes, there is a rat snake that has been living in the cistern. He kept going deeper as we removed trash.

We used a large fan to supply fresh air, this is invaluable.

Still not done, at least 3 feet of trash left... but on the plus side, this cistern holds about 6,000 gallons of water!

I've attached pictures. Enjoy. After this i'll try to clean up our old hand dug well.
1.jpg (296.36 KiB) Viewed 9391 times
2.jpg (317.56 KiB) Viewed 9391 times
3.jpg (376.73 KiB) Viewed 9391 times

Re: Remove Trash from 1880s Cistern

Posted: Sat Sep 29, 2018 12:47 pm
by Citadel59
This isn't trash removal, this is an epic adventure into a post-collapse world :lol: it does remind me of the scene in Star Wars: A New Hope when the main characters are stuck in the trash compactor... Just don't shoot lasers at the rat snake!