The Megalith Movers Prehistoric Engineering
Blog 27th December 2014    Over the weekend I decided that before we began trying to repair the crib we would need to include some kind of fail-safe system. It was going to be a delicate operation and we needed to be safe while we made the repairs.    On Monday the total workforce numbered Steve, Ewan and myself but within half an hour Steve declared himself unwell and retired to bed for the rest of the morning, leaving just Ewan and myself. However we had finished building the fail-safe, which consisted of two stacks of concrete blocks with a timber on top which stretched underneath the barn doors and Obelisk. The idea being that as the Obelisk rose we could pack on top of this structure as well as packing on the crib.    We set the levers in place and started loading on the dead men (counter-weights), which slowly began to depress the levers. I then left Ewan to continue the loading and I began to watch the packing material, both on the crib and on the fail-safe. The idea of using dead men was beginning to show great advantages, by spreading the load slowly along the length of the levers we were preventing the levers from bending, and we could stop the operation at any time as the dead men never got tired. This gave me all the time I needed to re-adjust the packing while the levers were taking all the weight.    In this way Ewan and myself continued the lift in complete safety, and by the time the levers were fully depressed we had gained at least another two inches, maybe more. I finished adjusting the packing and left everything in place overnight.    On Tuesday Ewan was unavailable as he was expected to attend a Christmas party at his son's school, so Steve and myself continued with the project alone.    I checked the packing on the fail-safe and while the levers were still taking the weight I re-arranged the packing on the crib, which allowed us to cut off the broken sections of the crib, we were then able to hammer the remaining timber further in, so making the crib once again safe.    We unloaded the dead men and removed the levers and then raised the fulcrum another three inches, by which time it was time to finish for the day.    On Wednesday we commenced the next lift, with what seemed the luxury of a three man team, Joe had left last week to spend Christmas in England and Sean would be going back to sea on Boxing day after escorting his family back to Australia. However the remaining members of the team were now getting the hang of things and the dead men were proving to be an asset. It has taken me some time also, to fully appreciate the importance of changing the angle of the lifting bar as the Obelisk rises. This was not part of the original plan but without this change we may well have failed to fully erect the Obelisk.    The next lift was completed by just the three of us without any real effort, Steve and Ewan loading on the dead men with myself watching very closely what was happening and adjusting the packing as required. It was probably the easiest lift we have had so far and completed by three old or middle aged men. Total gain as far as I could tell at the time was between three and four inches, maybe more. I can only guess at this figure as during the time the crib has been broken if was unsafe to take a measurement. However I can now confirm that the underside of the Obelisk at the top is now 5ft 8 inches above ground level, 2ft 8 inches above our starting point.    Note how the underside of the lifting beam is now fairly level, while at the same the time underside of the Obelisk itself is now substantially out of level. This is probably the most important lesson we have learned during this experiment, and means that the levers can be used throughout this experiment at their most efficient.    This change of plan has resulted in my thinking that perhaps we could erect an Obelisk without using a rising crib, but instead using a single barn door that arcs down towards the ground as the Obelisk rises, and lifts the obelisk all the way from horizontal to vertical, while the team remains in close contact with the ground throughout. I will give this some thought over the next few months. <<previous blog page next blog page >> To read & post comments click here return to top of this page

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