Building The New PDQC Pits -

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This page documents, from start to finish, the construction of two sets of quoit pits with lighting, in the back yard of a newly built home with some very unforgiving, back-filled ground.   These photos are a great reference for anyone planning to install quoit pits in their own backyard.  Hopefully your experience will not be quite as trying as the work needed to get the Pitching Dutchmen's pits installed in rock-hard ground during a long, hot summer drought! 


During the Spring and Summer of 2002, the quoiting activities of The Pitching Dutchmen Quoit Club were severely hampered by a lack of available quoit pits to play on. In the Fall of 2001, Troy "Clay Stolzfus" Frey, aka The Quoit Master,  moved from his old house where all the Quoit Night Out parties had previously been held.  He and his family built a new house in a development only four blocks away, but the new yard had no quoit pits, or even grass for that matter.  After the grass became somewhat established in late spring, It was time to begin work on the new pits.  Two sets of lighted pits were planned, and with help from some of the other club members, the task was begun in earnest!


A pit box made from 2x10 CCA-treated lumber is seen in Troy's garage in the late evening sun.  The interior dimensions of the box are the required 36 inches on a side. Three 16-penny galvanized twist nails were used to attach each corner of the boards.

Time to dig!  Rick Gantz, his son Josh, and Fred Rowe remove sod to dig a hole for one of the pit boxes to be sunk into.  The ground turned out to have large chunks of concrete and stones that had to be pried out with the digging iron!  Troy's other major project, a new deck on the back of the house, can be seen in the background.


Josh, Fred, and Rick bask under the glow of the work lights.  The pits will be illuminated by spotlights on a post when finished, similar to the ones at Troy's old pits.

The first pit box is set into the ground and leveled.  When it is positioned correctly, it will be back-filled around the perimeter and narrow strips of the sod will be replaced around the outside edge.


This is some of the clay I collected from lots in my development that had foundations dug for new houses.  The brown clay in the foreground I will use on the bottom of the pits as filler, and the orange clay will be used as the top 3 inches or so, since it is the more desirable of the two.

About a half mile from my house there is a large construction site where a new school is being built.  There are big piles of clay there, so I made a trip in my truck to collect some.  This fairly large pile is actually enough clay for ONLY ONE pit!


Here is a view overlooking my pits as they were on June 20.  One set of pits is dug out and have the wooden boxes and lids in place, and the other set has the sod removed and is ready for digging.  Bring your pickax and digging iron, the ground is hard as a rock, and filled with them, too!

It was over a month until we had time to work further on the pits.  July 25 was scheduled as a work party, and ten club members arrived to help out with the work.  Here, Gene Shaiebly supervises Ken Wiggins as he drills holes to mount electric boxes on the metal light pole that will be installed on the new quoit grounds. Note the condition of the grass now compared to photo at left!


Due to the drought this year, the ground was so hard that digging with a manual post hole digger would not be possible, so a rented one-man digger was brought in for the task.  Contrary to the name, we felt 3 people could do better - here Troy Frey tries to start the engine, Dick Parsons steadies the auger and Greg Sollenberger mans the throttle.

Now why won't this dang thing start? Are you sure the power switch is on?  How many Pitching Dutchmen DOES it take to start a one-man digger?  Lets try 5 this time!  Gene and Ken mosey on over to see what the problem is.  Turns out the switch was on but the ignition wire had fallen off the bottom of the switch.  Hey!  Now it starts on one pull!  Seems 5 heads are better than none!


Dog-gone rocks!  The gas-powered post hole digger works great until you hit something solid with it.  The ground is full of rocks and debris, which makes it even tougher to dig the hard clay ground. Dick Parsons uses a trusty digging iron to loosen another rock, as Brad Kramer puffs on a cigar and wields the manual post hole digger.

So THERE'S where all my topsoil went!  After digging down through two feet of rock-infested clay fill, Brad hits pay dirt - nice dark, soft topsoil.  Dave Callis, Dick Parsons, Chuck Schneider, and Greg Sollenberger admire Brad's achievement as he bottoms out the auger 3 feet down.


Brad switches his efforts to the pits themselves.  It looks like he's uncovered a big rock during his excavations!  The auger worked well at loosening the hard soil in the pits, making the effort to dig them out much easier.  May as well put the auger to some good use while we have it!  The ladies look on from the deck in amazement as the work progresses...probably amazed at how many men are wasting their time playing in the dirt!  Hey, it's a guy thing, I suppose!

Gene "Paul Bunyon" Shaiebly hams it up for the camera.  What are you planning to do with that maul, Gene?  I don't have any trees in my yard ready for harvesting - yet... Meanwhile, Dave and Greg attack the north-east pit to get it ready for setting the pit box into place.


Dick parsons uses the top of a digging iron to help tamp down the backfill around the pit box after it is installed. looks like it is ready for a pin and the clay!

Who the heck put THAT there?  Dave Callis was digging the trench for the buried electric service to the light pole, when he dug up a big, twisted piece of rebar.  Who knows what was attached to the other end!  Troy got out his reciprocating saw and cut it off below ground rather than try digging it all up.  Gotta love my builder for all this "clean fill"...


Break time!  Dick, Dave, and Ken get a rest and some refreshment after all that hard labor.  Don't dally too long there, fellas, it's getting dark... get back to work!

When the sun goes down, I keep them working!  Out come the work lights as Jay Martin mixes a wheelbarrow load of cement to set the light pole in place.  Water boy Gene adds a dribble at a time with the garden hose to make the consistency just right.  Fred Rowe is ready with another shovel as Dick checks out the action.


Dick and Fred guide the cement into the hole around the light pole, which was held into place with guy wires.  A post leveler works great to make sure the everything is plumb.   The buried electric wire is coiled up under Dick's foot - little does he know the other end is tied to a bent-over tree sapling, ready to snare him by the leg and fling him over the house roof...

The light post is seen here just after pouring, with the guy wires barely visible in the dark.  Gene and Ken did a great job of pre-wiring the post with two light boxes and a receptacle box before we set it into the ground, making the final wiring much easier.


The following morning shows the new PDQC quoit grounds as they look from up on the deck.  This will be a nice spot to watch the proceedings during our future Quoit Night Out parties!  Unfortunately, my new lawn is almost completely browned out from the drought and the high temperatures we've had all summer. 


Troy Frey spent much of the day Saturday working on painting the post and wiring the lights.  All the dirt and stones were cleaned up, some mulch was placed around the light pole, and the areas around the pits and the trench were filled in and raked, ready for some grass seed.  All that's left is two pins, the clay, and some new wooden lids, and the pits will be ready! 


A view of the quoit grounds and the new deck, my two major projects for the summer.  Looks like we're just about ready for some great parties, no?  The Bilco doors lead down into the basement where a ping pong table and English darts will be available for further entertainment.  I have already invited the new neighbor building the house next door to our next party, and he said he's anxious to play! 

And the Quoit Master said: "Let There Be Light!"

 - and there WAS light, and it was good...


Tuesday, August 6, 2002 -  I found a great construction site less than a mile from my house that had beautiful red clay soil strewn about in big chunks, so I used my truck to load up enough clay for the remaining two pits.  Here is a photo of one of two loads it required.

Getting the clay into the second set of pits was a fun chore.  About 4 wheel barrow loads of clay was required for each pit. 


One of my new stainless steel pins for the second set of pits.  The metal shop did not make the pins quite the way I described to them over the phone - the wedge was supposed to be on both sides of the pin rather than just one.  The extra plate is to help keep the pin from moving backwards or down in the clay.

After the pin is driven into place, Dick Parsons uses a heavy hammer to break the hard, dry chunks of clay into smaller pieces.  This will allow them to soften quicker when water is applied to the pits. 


Troy Frey waters down the clay to soften it. The clay must be the consistency of soft taffy for proper play. 

The infamous Quoit Master Pose from the home page is recreated here, as Troy prepares to throw the first quoit into the new pits.  This set of pits had the clay installed a few days ago, so they are ready and waiting! 


Troy ceremoniously pitches the first quoit...

...and the effort is a little weak, but the quoit sticks nicely into the clay, which is just a tad wet right now.   Let the first game begin!  Troy and Dick decide to pitch a short game to 11 points.


Dick takes his turn at pitching his first quoit of the year.

Dick Parsons gets the first ringer on the new pits, albeit a She-ringer.  Being a gracious host, I allowed dick to score the 3 points anyway, but later regretted it, as Dick won the game in overtime 12 - 10.  The pits have been christened, and the first Quoit Night out of 2002 will take place only two night later, on August 8. 




The PDQC quoit grounds are finally finished, with the exception of the new lids. 

Hopefully they will see many years of fun and great competition! HOME      BACK
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