The Megalith Movers Prehistoric Engineering
Blog 10th January 2015    We are still working with a skeleton team, which on Monday consisted of Ewan, Steve and myself. On Tuesday this was further reduced when Ewan reported in with a bad back. And again on Wednesday it was just Steve and myself, however as we have to proceed slowly and carefully at this stage more than four or more men would have been superfluous anyway.    The first thing to do was to make up the first of the buttress frames. As I mentioned last week we propose to do this using nothing but individual lengths of 3 inch by 3 inch timbers held together as a frame by nothing but rope windlasses. There will be no carpentry joints, no nails and no nuts and bolts. The only thing holding these frames together will be the pressure exerted by the Spanish windlasses and when they are in place, the weight of the obelisk itself.    It was going to be a tricky operation, holding all the constituent parts of the frames together until the windlasses could be tightened sufficiently enough to hold everything in place. We had completed the first frame by close of play Monday and by the time we finished on Wednesday, we had three frames in place and decided to try subjecting them to some of the weight of the obelisk.    We still had the fail-safe towers in place so we loosened the packing on these towers, enough to allow the weight of the obelisk to be taken up by the three buttress frames. Slowly Steve removed first one of the dead- men and then another, while I carefully watched the frames and the fail-safe packing. As Steve continued to remove more of the dead-men, I could discern no movement in the buttress frames and the fail-safe packing remained loose, although I could hear the buttress frames beginning to take the weight.    We called a halt to take stock of the situation, below is a pic of the buttress frames at this time.    At this stage the weight of the Obelisk is being carried partially by the counterweight of the remaining dead- men on the levers, and partly by the buttress frames. The fail-safe towers of concrete blocks are carrying none of the weight as the packing timbers are still loose. We tightened the packing on the fail-safe towers and adjourned until Thursday.    Thursday it was again just Steve and myself but we were both pleased with how things were looking. The buttress frames looked rock solid, so we removed one of the fail-safe towers to make room for a fourth buttress frame. By early Friday morning we had this frame assembled and also in place. Soon we would be able to put this buttress system to the ultimate test, but first we decided “better safe than sorry” and added an extra windlass across the middle of each frame. We also locked the feet of each frame together by lashing a eucalyptus pole alongside the frames tying them together. See pic below:    We now felt confident enough to remove the rest of the dead-men and subject the buttress system to the full weight of the Obelisk. This passed the final test with flying colours. Note to anyone not educated in Great Britain: Yes, the spelling of the word colours is correct.    Having got that bee out of my bonnet I will continue. I will now clarify a statement I made earlier about the buttress frames being held together by nothing but rope, this is factually correct but as can clearly be seen on the above pic I have actually used a 4 inch nail at the top of each leg to fix it in place while we assembled all the loose parts, on Monday before we start the next lift these nails will be removed.    The plan for next week is to start lifting the Obelisk by three inch increments and moving the buttress frames forward one frame at a time in order to support the Obelisk at this new height until all the frames have been moved into place. We will then either raise the fulcrum by a further three inches, or lower the contact point of the levers by the same amount - whichever is more convenient.    In this manner we hope to raise the Obelisk to our target of 35 degrees, when phase one will have been competed. In all I expect to use maybe seven or eight buttress frames in total before we reach our target. If the first lift and resetting of the buttress frames can successfully be completed next week, I am confident that we will reach that target. Although how long this will take with such a small team is anyone’s guess.    For the technically minded I have posted some close-up pics of the buttress frames. See below:    I now look forward to continuing with this experiment next week and will hopefully have something positive to report next weekend. <<previous blog page next blog page >> To read & post comments click here return to top of this page

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