The Megalith Movers Prehistoric Engineering
Blog 7th November 2014    Sourcing suitable timber at a price I could afford has taken longer than I expected but we now have the crib rebuilt and the new timber proved excellent for the crib, however when we tested it's suitability for levering it proved to be useless and snapped like a carrot as soon as it came under stress.    A New Zealand ex-pat I was talking to later that day provided what might be a solution as he had a quantity of flooring joists 6 in by 2 in by about 10 ft which he offered to lend me. After he had dropped them off at Steve's place we tried them out and promptly broke one of them also. I began to wonder if I had miscalculated the weight we had to lift.  However although we were short handed (Sean was back at sea) once we got the set-up right we were able to raise the top end by 4 ins that first day. (2 hours)  Although the levering had been hard work I reasoned it would get easier with every inch we raised the top end as the centre of gravity shifted slowly towards the bottom end.  Next day I arrived at Steve's place confident that we would easily raise it another 8 inch or so now we had actually got it moving, instead we managed a miserable one and a half inch and broke another floor joist in the process. It was getting harder instead of easier.  We were becoming a little dispirited, all of us were soaked in sweat and we seemed to have come up against a brick wall. Theoretically even with one man short we should have been able to match the previous days total of 4 ins, one and a half inches was a pathetic effort and worse still the last half inch had been the most difficult of all. Later that evening I recalled something Brian had said “the Barn doors are now tight against the plinth”. At the time I could see no connection with the difficulty we were experiencing but as I thought about it I began to realise what was happening. As we tried to lever the obelisk higher the top corner of the top Barn door was being forced against the face of the plinth.  The solution was simply to cut away some of the barn doors but this was easier said than done. Using a handsaw upside down is never easy at the best of times but we had the added difficulty of working in a confined space under the obelisk. However working in shifts we did eventually succeed and when we tried lifting again we could see the obelisk beginning to move. Again we were short of manpower, apart from Sean being at sea we were another man down and we had to leave the next lift till Monday.  Over the weekend we decided we had to persuade more volunteers to join us in order to give a enough lifting power to continue the experiment even when some of the present team are unavailable. For instance Brian is due to get married on Monday so we will be down to 4 men again and Joe has to report to immigration on Tuesday.  One other way of overcoming the shortage of manpower would be to increase the mechanical advantage of the levers and although the floor joists are not ideal for levers if should be possible to extend them fairly easily. So this is what I have decided to do and even when we have a full team the extra lifting power will make the job easier. <<previous blog page next blog page >> To read & post comments click here return to top of this page

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