Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Why Expanded Shale is an Excellent Choice for Engineered Soils


There are 2 major types of conditioner/topdressing for baseball and softball infields.
  1. Calcined Clay (Turface, Pro’s Choice Soilmaster, Diamond Pro Professional Calcined Clay, etc) 
  2. Expanded Shale (Diamond Pro Red Infield Conditioner)


What is Calcined Clay?

First, let’s look at calcined clay.  Calcined clay in a montmorillonite clay fired at 1500 degrees in a rotary kiln.  So, in the most basic terms, the clay is turned into a ceramic (think pottery in art class)  Once the clay is a porous ceramic it becomes very absorbent. That is why this material is great for drying a wet infield.  

What is a Drying Agent?

Many drying agents also exist. (Rapid Dry, Quick Dry, Calcined Clay Drying Agent)  Simply, they are the finest particles of calcined clay.  Why do they absorb moisture better than a coarser grade particle?  The smaller particles cover a greater surface area, thus a quicker “drying” material.

A couple common misconceptions with calcined clay:

  1. I can till calcined clay into my infield to raise clay content - FALSE.  As explained above, once fired, montmorillonite clay is no longer a clay.  When calcined clay is tilled into an infield profile, the infield mix will become looser and can assist in holding more moisture in the column. Keep in mind, tilling in too much calcined clay is similar to adding too much sand - the column will become too loose for play.
  2. I have to add a drying agent to dry a puddle - FALSE.  Any calcined clay will absorb water.  Keep in mind, the finer the particle the quicker the absorption of water.  RECOMMENDATION - Stock only professional grade calcined clay.  This product will work day in an day out as a topdressing.  If additional material is needed to dry a wet infield, the additional product will not only absorb water but also remain as a long term topdressing. 

What is a Vitrified Clay/ Expanded Shale?

Simply stated, a vitrified clay/expanded shale is fired at over 2000 degrees.  The product produced is lightweight and extremely durable.  This product WILL NOT absorb as much moisture are calcined clay.  During rain events this material will shed water to the base material to rehydrate the column while also ensuring the water runs off the infield.

Why is Vitrified Clay/Expanded Shale a Good Choice for Engineered Soils?

Engineered soils are materials that are blended via computer to ensure that the infield mix is consistent time after time.  Due to this fact, engineered soils are the best product for value for infield mixes.  Engineered soils can take large rain events and stay firm under foot.  Furthermore, engineered soils will not become dusty when dry.  Due to the above facts, vitrified clay/expanded shale is a great choice for a couple reasons:

  1. The expanded shale allows for moisture to be shed to the engineered soil to more quickly drain the rain event while also allowing moisture to re-hydrate the base material.  This is a great benefit for recreational surfaces that only see moisture during rain events.
  2. The weight of expanded shale (heavier than calcined clay) will allow the material to stay in place and lessen the chances of the topdressing “blowing around” the infield.
  3. Bulk Materials - expanded shale is produced and available in bulk at a reduced cost.  Oftentimes the cost of bulk material is 1/2 the cost of bagged products.

In conclusion, calcined clay is a necessary product to have in stock to address wet areas of an infield after a rain event.  Expanded shale is a extremely durable product that should be considered as the base topdressing/sliding surface on an infield.  



Click HERE to learn how to dry an infield after a rain event.

Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
--Jamie

Friday, February 27, 2015

Case Study - A Tale of Two Backstop Nets


New backstop nets can be constructed in many different ways.  In this blog post we are looking at two different installations:

  1. Greensburg High School (Indiana)
  2. Crawfordsville High School (Indiana)

This installation was a rather basic installation using poles that were installed into the ground and then the block backstop was constructed around the poles.  Here are a few photos of the project.

 Before

 During

After


This installation was more detailed.  The system was cable stayed. (tied back)  Also a single tie back pole was used for both baseball and softball since the playing surfaces were near to each other.  As you can see, this creates excellent viewing since there are no poles in the viewing angle of the spectators.  Here are a few photos of the project.

 Before

 Before

 After

 After

 Support Pole Detail

Center Tie Back Pole for Both Backstops

Note - In both projects the installation of the cabe on top of the wall was similar, eyelets for the cable and the net laced to the cable.  As you can see, the installations were very transformative.   Both installations are excellent, but the cable stayed system will typically cost more due to the need for larger poles, additional cable, and more seasoned installers.  

Are you looking for a new backstop net?  Let us know as we can assist on any project big or small.

Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tricks of the Trade - Fence Rail and Post Padding

Do you want to take a basic chain link fence and give it a professional look while increasing player safety?  Consider padding that covers the fence posts.  Not only is this safer for the athletes, the padding also provides the fence with a crisp, professional look.


Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tricks of the Trade - Lace Those Backstop Nets

I stopped by a high school baseball field late last week.  As you can see, there was a lot of slack in the bottom of the net.  The bottom of the net was connected to the cable by zip/cable ties.


It is common to purchase the net that is a little larger than the opening.  The best way to adjust tightness of the net is to lace the cable using #30 tarred treated twine.  In this application, the J&D Turf team gathered the net along the cable and laced the net to the cable.   This will eliminate cable tie breakage.  Note how the net is consistent across the bottom cable and every piece of the net is square.


If gathering the net is not an option, you can always trim the net to "fit to size."


Look for future posts on backstop nets and a case study from a high school project.

Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Tricks of the Trade - Building a Base Rack

How many of you are dealing with bases lining the floor of dugout storage rooms?


This past week the J&D Turf team was at the P&G Cincinnati MLB Urban Youth Academy.  While at the academy base racks were installed in the dugout storage rooms.  Complicated design?  Expensive?  No, just a few 2x4's.  Let's look into the process.

First a 2x4 was cut and installed on the cement block wall using Tapcon Anchors.  Next, shorter 2x4's were screwed into the wall installed next to the concrete block.  Note the 2x4's are spaced at the width of the anchor.  Finally, a final 2x4 was installed across the smaller 2x4 running parallel to the 2x4's installed into the cement block.  Here is the process in photos:





As you can see, this was a quick and simple project.  Material costs were less than $50

Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Job Posting - Manager of Grounds - P&G Cincinnati MLB Urban Youth Academy

J&D Turf and the Reds Community Fund are looking for a new Manager of Grounds at the P&G Cincinnati MLB Urban Youth Academy.

Below is an overhead shot of the playing surfaces.


Interested?  Follow the LINK to the job posting.

Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Ball State University Synthetic Turf - REPLACED After 8 Years - Let's Do the Math

The IndyStar posted an article today on the replacement of synthetic turf football playing surface at Ball State University.



Let's do a little simple math:

Cost to install - $750,000

Cost of ownership per year for 8 years - $93,750.00
Maintenance of surface per year - $10,000.00

Total cost per year for the past 8 years - $103,750.00

Cost for replacement - $386,141.00


Cost of ownership per year for 8 years - $48,267.63
Maintenance of surface per year - $10,000.00

Cost per year for next 8 years - 58,267.63

Average Cost PER YEAR for the first 16 years of the plastic surface - $81,008.81

A question - HOW IS THAT CHEAPER THAN A NATURAL GRASS SURFACE?

Answer - IT IS NOT CHEAPER - Most High Schools spend $10,000 - $20,000 per year to maintain a football field.

Go to j-dturf.com to learn more about J&D Turf.

Play on!
--Jamie
@JamieMehringer