Gabions and mattresses are a useful form of batter protection where the only rock available is too small for dumped rip rap.
The gabion is basically a rectangular box made of galvanised (or sometimes PVC coated) steel wire mesh, which after assembly on site is filled with stone. The boxes are normally supplied in sizes from 2 to 4 m in length, 1 m in width and from 0.3 to 1 m in height.
Mattresses are similar to gabions except that they are wider and flatter and are usually more suitable for floodway batter and apron protection than are gabions, Sizes of proprietary mattresses available in Australia are 6 m long x 2 m wide x 170 mm, 230 mm or 300 mm deep.
Gabion Mattresses have been successfully made on site using 1.8 m wide chain wire mesh. The chain wire mesh is rolled out on the prepared batter or apron and a layer of stone 150 mm – 200 mm deep is placed on it. The layer of stone is then covered with a top layer of mesh and the edges of the sheets wired together. Intermediate wire ties between the sheets are provided at 1 m centres.
Factory made gabions and mattresses arrive flat in bundles, and are assembled by raising the sides, ends and diaphragms which come laced with wire to the bottom section. Any kinks in the mesh must be removed before assembly.
After assembly, the boxes or mattresses are placed in position. On a slope, the longer dimension of the mattress should be up and down the slope. Empty gabions must be attached to stakes (or completed gabions) and stretched with a wire strainer or which of at least 1 tonne capacity before lacing to adjoining gabions and filling.
Internal wire braces are required in the 1 m deep gabions. These are inserted during filing. Filling is accomplished with the aid of a small loader or excavator. The stone size
should be not less than the greater mesh dimension, and not greater than 2/3 of the thickness of the basket or mattress.
The usual stone sizes for gabions range from 125 mm to 200 mm and those for mattresses range from 90 mm to 150 mm.
After filing, the lids are stretched tight using bars and wired down to the sides, ends and diaphragms.
Typical figures for working times per m3 are as follows:-
• For 4m x 1m x 1m gabions – 0.7 man hours and 0.2 plant hours
• For 2 m x 1m x 0.5m gabions – 2.2 man hours and 0.2 plant hours
Tools required include fencing pliers, bars for closing down lids, steel bars for use in anchoring and tensioning and a wire strainer or winch.
The mattresses need to be anchored at the top of the batter (if used as batter protection, or to the toe of the batter 9 if used as an apron. One means of doing this is to
attach the mattresses to driven steel star pickets. The pickets may be driven by means of a loader bucket or grader blade, using the machines’ hydraulic system to apply a downwards force.