I have a client who had a contractor install a timber retaining wall for an area that will end up having a very large surcharge load, and to his credit, he had second thoughts and called me. Right off the bat I could see it was wonky. The wall was placed on a 45 degree slope, zero coverage at the toe, and you can stick your hand under the bottom timber in several areas. And there were only two deadmen along the entire wall. I advised the owner that timber was going to rot away eventually, and to do it over properly with either SRW or gabion cages (or place a new wall out in front of the timber if he didn't want to dig up what was already installed). Owner subsequently called his contractor, who in turn requested to see my calculations. I got paid for it, so I did it. I gave him my sliding stability check, using a calculated tie-back resistance force from the face of the deadmen, based on what the contractor said he installed. Of course it failed miserably, mostly because there is no resistance at the toe. What was interesting is that as long as you avoid a surcharge load, keep the toe buried, and install enough deadmen out beyond the slip plane, a timber wall with enough deadmen actually calculates out properly. But doing all of that with a material that will rot away in 10 to 20 years is ill-advised.
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