The Megalith Movers Prehistoric Engineering
Blog 15th November 2014    After a couple of days off over the weekend we were refreshed and ready to continue by Monday morning. Brian was busy getting married and Joe was unavailable so the three remaining members of the workforce set about extending the floor joists we were using for levers, we did this by lashing a 7ft length of 3 in by 3 in on top off the first joist so that it extended another 3 ft out over the handle end.    We tested this by setting it in position for the next lift and once set I was able to hang off the end of the extension so that it was supporting my full body-weight. This test was 100% successful and the lashings showed no sign of strain.    Next day we extended the other three remaining levers in the same manner and set them in position also.  Although we were down to three men and knew we could not lift the Obelisk we tried the levers in unison and could see that with four men lifting and one packing we would be able to continue.    The workmen who had cast the Obelisk and plinth had been on site during the last few days underpinning the plinth. I had been told by the owner of the company that the ground on which we were working was too unstable to support an Obelisk of this size and weight so I had agreed that he would underpin the plinth with reinforced concrete. He had agreed to complete this job some weeks ago but had been delayed by other work. I wasn't particularly worried about the delay as the obelisk in it's prone position with the weight spread over a large area wasn't causing any problems.    Next day we continued with the experiment while the workmen were pouring the concrete for the underpinning and even with only four men on the levers we were able to lift and wedge the top end of the Obelisk so that it was now eight inches above it's starting point. I had made a serious blunder at this point but didn't realise it till the next morning, my only excuse is that I was occupied with the next stage of the operation which was to insert the next layer of longitudinal timber into the crib.    I'll explain what was occupying me so, what I was trying to do is the equivalent of trying to lift oneself by pulling on your boot laces!    As you can see in the pic above the crib is made of timber laid alternately sideways and lengthways one layer on top of the other. As you can also see in the pic above the sideways timbers are easy to put in place as they are laid parallel to the fulcrum each directly above the sideways timber below. However the lengthways timbers are impossible to place as the fulcrum is in the way.    Over the months and years I have been thinking about Obelisk erection I have toyed with various ways of overcoming this problem and the method I am proposing to use is so simple I can't understand why it took me so long to work it out.    As you can see we are levering with the fulcrum resting on one of the sideways timbers and packing and wedging on the sideways timber just under the end of the Obelisk. All we need to do is raise the Obelisk higher than necessary and pack it at that height while at the same time leaving a gaps in the packing to enable us to slide the lengthways timbers all the way through after we have removed the levers and fulcrum.    Next day (Friday) I was busy arranging the packing when Joe and Brian called me down to look at the plinth. As I approached I could see what had happened even without a spirit level, the front edge of the plinth had sunk! At first I thought this was a complete disaster, no way could we erect an Obelisk on a sloping plinth.    However provided it moved no further over the weekend we began to see various ways to save the experiment. The most obvious way being to grind away the high side of the plinth until it was once again level. A less obvious method was to continue as if nothing had happened and continue levering the Obelisk until it was vertical, at which time the base of the Obelisk nearest the turning grove would be clear of the plinth by about three eights of an inch and we could hammer metal shims under the Obelisk to take the weight and then fill the remaining gap with cement.    We decided to make a final decision on Monday morning. <<previous blog page next blog page >> To read & post comments click here return to top of this page

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