Where was this guy when we needed him???

A link at SNAFU’s place showed me a fast, ingenious way to fill sandbags.

When I think of the literally thousands of never-to-be-sufficiently-damned sandbags that I filled the hard way, bending over with an entrenching tool and scooping sand, earth, mud and rock into a bag that always flopped closed at the critical moment . . . I’m speechless with a combination of rage, envy and bitterness.  Why didn’t we think of such an ingenious device when we needed it?  (On the other hand, if we had, I’m not sure our NCO’s would have let us use it.  The old-fashioned way would probably have been considered “character-building”, or something like that – and besides, there are no PVC drainage pipes on the average battlefield.)

Be that as it may, this method can be really handy for flood preparation.  I’m sure many of my readers have seen news reports, like the one below, showing armies of volunteers filling sandbags to protect buildings and vulnerable areas from flooding.

I hope civil defense authorities take note of this improvement in filling technique, and have a number of those devices standing by in case of future need.  They’re so quick and easy to make, it would be stupid not to do so.

Nevertheless, my back is still aching with the memories of the old-fashioned way of doing things . . .



  1. There are also a wide variety of automated sandbag filling machines/devices out there. http://www.earthbagbuilding.com/articles/machines.htm

    The US Army had a simple, hand powered one twenty years ago. It was basically a funnel with a lever on the bottom. Shovel sand in the top, hold a bag under it, turn the lever, remove full bag, repeat. With a fire team working it, it produced a continuous series of filled sandbags until you either ran out of sand or bags.

    As a field expedient method, the one you showed is great. It has all the best things – simple, cheap, and available from Home Depot/Lowes.

  2. I don't see how this method is easier. When you're filling bags with a spade, all you're moving is the spade and the dirt/sand. With this you have to move the "spade" (pipe) AND ALL THE FILL IN THE BAG every time you take a scoop.

    I guess if you're strong enough to do that, it would speed things up, but I'd like to see a test over time (half an hour at least) to see who wears out first — the guy with the pipe or the guy with a spade.

  3. an ordinary traffic cone is useful. Invert, cut off point, drop in a wood frame, point down. Slide bag over cone, dumps sand into cone with shovel. Good for sticky sand, as the person with shovel can tap shovel on cone, not on hands of person holding bag.

    This was often seen on Texas gulf coast at storm time.

  4. Necessity is the mother of invention.

    Speaking of organized efforts which is implied by 'CD authorities', a hopper with pliable filler tube or multiple tubes out the bottom would suffice. The hopper is elevated and filled by backhoe, or dump truck. The whole rig doesn't have to be large, think of a 'DYI' model. A high school level metal shop could build it in less than a day.

    Yes, the shovel detail is character building. So is painting rocks to line a path or washing spic and span the inside of trash cans.


  5. I've seen a hitch-mounted funnel for the same use. Bag hooks on bottom, back up to pile of sand, stand on top and toss sand in. One scoops, one bags and ties.

    There are many nifty solutions out there. Hope no one has to use them.

  6. After the FAST Marines redeployed out of Diego Garcia to Bahrain after the Khobar Towers I was able to hear and see what the staff NCOs did to defaulters and it involved filling sandbags as rapidly as possible (1 to shovel sand from the pile into filler, one to hold the bag, one to take the filled bag and dump it on the sand pile and any spares sprinted around the block the Mannai Plaza was on at full speed before dropping to pump out pushups until it was his turn to grab the shovel and cycle through each position. As efficient a form of meaningless physical torture as any I'd ever seen up to that point. They did it right below my apartment and it started at sunrise and ran for at least an hour.

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