The Megalith Movers Prehistoric Engineering
Blog 20th December 2014    Monday started really well, we had completed all the alterations to the levers, made them lighter and easier to handle and now as we were lifting the pressure from the levers was being transferred directly to the obelisk. When we arrived Monday morning we were able to start loading on the dead men immediately.    Everything was working well and we achieved a clean lift of about three inches. I adjusted the packing and we unloaded the dead men and raised the fulcrum by the same amount. We repeated this procedure and gained another three inches. Six inches in a couple of hours with a team of four old men! We were jubilant.    At the inquest afterward we started “counting our chickens”. Things were looking promising.    On Tuesday we were again able to start loading on the dead men immediately as we had prepared for the next lift the previous day. Again things were going well and as we were lifting I was able to insert the first length of packing timber, I was watching and waiting for the opportunity to insert a second length when it happened, there was a loud crack quickly followed by another and another! We had broken three of our levers! Three lengths of 6 ins by 2 ins broken in a split second, unbelievable! The obelisk came crashing down and broke two of the crib timbers as well. Further damage was prevented only by the first length of packing I had already put in place which stopped the Obelisk gaining much momentum.    The rest of Tuesday morning was spent assessing the damage and wondering how to overcome this latest setback. The levers were broken beyond repair and the crib would also need some attention before long although the crib and the new packing piece was solid enough for now. At this stage I had a major disagreement with Brian as to how we should continue which became a little overheated, things were said that cannot be unsaid and Brian resigned from the group. We were now down to a team of five and when Sean is at sea a team of four.    We decided to try binding three of our original eucalyptus timbers together to form a new lever and if this was successful make a set of new levers. This however was not really very satisfactory although it bore my weight easily enough, but for various reasons we didn't pursue the idea further. However it made us think once again about using eucalyptus timbers for the levers.    At the inquest it was decided that we would extend the length of the lifting timber from four foot to six foot and arrange new eucalyptus levers in close formation all the way along underneath the lifting bar. And to discourage these individual timbers from bending we would stack the dead men on top of these starting from just beyond the lifting bar. I contacted the supplier and the order was delivered that afternoon. Next day, Wednesday we set about extending the lifting bar which we made from one of the floor joists we had broken the previous day and started testing the new levers.    The new eucalyptus levers I knew would be unlikely to break, as fresh cut they where extremely flexible. The only question was, were they stiff enough to lift the obelisk before bending all the way down to the crib?    At first things were not looking very promising, after stacking on a few of the dead men we were already running out of travel.    But we were not expecting to gain a lift during this test anyway so we continued to pile on the dead men just to see what would happen. As the stack of dead men continued to grow I was surprised to feel the packing timbers becoming looser, although I could not see the Obelisk actually moving I knew the new levers were coping with the weight so I began hammering the packing timbers further under. Whatever we gained during this test would make things easier when we tried to repair the crib.    The team continued to pile on the dead men, I continued to make adjustments to the packing timbers. As they piled on the dead men, they were taking the bend out of the levers and fraction by fraction and the Obelisk continued to rise until we had gained perhaps one inch. I was both astounded and delighted as with a little refinement this new way of lifting could perhaps be further improved.        On Friday we unloaded the dead men and removed the levers, we then raised the fulcrum by one inch and repeated the operation. We gained perhaps another inch before we ran out of time. Over the weekend I would review what we had learned during this last week and think how we might make improvements in the future. <<previous blog page next blog page >> To read & post comments click here return to top of this page

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