The Megalith Movers Prehistoric Engineering
Blog 17th January 2015    Ever since learning about the importance of keeping the contact point between the barn doors and the levers level, and the fact that this contact point can be lowered as opposed to raising the height of the crib and thus the fulcrum, I have been considering the possibility of raising an Obelisk to vertical without the erecting team ever leaving contact with the ground.    The basic idea was to abandon the idea of raising it in three separate phases, but instead to raise the Obelisk in one continuous 90 degree arc, degree by degree, while supporting it with a support structure that was able to resist the changing forces of gravity, degree by degree.    When I say I have been considering the possibility, I mean I have been wrestling with the practicalities of achieving this.    On Sunday when I awoke the plan was half complete in my mind, there were still a few details to iron out, but I felt excited by the possibilities, so much so that I resolved to try this new method as soon as we reach our target of 35 degrees. If it proves impractical, then we can easily revert to our original plan.    As sure as night follows day, bad news was to follow, Sunday afternoon I received an email from Steve informing me that he would be out of action for the next few days, he had had a fall at home which had left him with a badly bruised hip, which meant he couldn't walk without crutches.    The Megalith Movers team was now down to one old man, Steve was immobile, Ewan could not bend his back, Joe was still in England and Sean was still at sea.    Nonetheless I arrived at Steve's on Monday full of enthusiasm, if I could set the levers single handedly and load the dead men, then I would have little trouble completing the next lift. All that would be required to complete the lift would be to move the buttress frames forward.    I set about the task with enthusiasm although Steve was stuck in his chair, Ewan who could walk but not bend helped as best he could. And by about 10.30am I had set the levers and loaded most of the dead men on top.  I was however fast running out of energy and had stopped to rest my legs for a while, when Mick (another Australian and potential volunteer) arrived. I had spoken to Mick on Saturday and he said he may come to see what we were doing but I was still a little surprised to actually see him. I have tried to recruit many others in the past but few have turned up to help. I explained to Mick what we were trying to achieve that morning and he immediately took off his coat and took over the job of lifting the heavy dead men into place. I was then able to watch what was happening as I recovered my strength.    Very soon the counterweight of the dead men tipped the balance and we achieved our best ever lift - a full six inches, equal to two degrees. With the levers now supporting the full weight of the Obelisk, Mick and myself were able to move the first of the buttress frames forward and fix it into its new position. See pic below:    On Tuesday Steve was still stuck in his chair but was hopeful of being able to help tomorrow. (Mick would be unavailable for the next few days but had indicated that he would come again next time he was free.)  So Ewan and myself set about the task of moving the remaining buttress frames forward, it was to prove an almost impossible task for one man and another who could not bend. As soon as we moved the next frame, some of the windlasses came undone and the frame which relied totally on the windlasses to hold it together started to fall apart. As we attempted to replace the errant parts we lost others, we simply did not have enough hands between us to hold everything together while we re-tightened the windlasses. Eventually we succeeded in getting everything together and in the right place, but we had wasted the whole of the session on moving one frame.    On Wednesday Steve had improved enough to get about with the aid of a single crutch, and the three of us were able to move the next two frames forward and tie all four together again. We then removed some of the weight from the levers and allowed the buttress frames to partially support the Obelisk.    On Thursday we dismantled the remaining fail-safe tower, and replaced this with a fifth buttress frame and afterwards I outlined my new modus operandi for raising an Obelisk. Furthermore I suggested we might as well test this idea at the present angle of 24 degrees, as if the test was successful it would make no difference whatever the angle. If it proved to be better than the method we were using, then changing methods now would save us the trouble of moving the buttress frames forward with every lift. I had been wrestling with the details all week and was now sure this would be a simpler and much faster method. The team agreed the idea was worth a try.    On Friday Mick turned up to give us a hand and Steve's mobility was much improved so we set about the next lift which would allow us to split the barn doors and test the first part of the plan. We completed this lift with ease and raised the Obelisk another four inches. We then inserted crosswise packing timbers between the barn doors which allowed us to consolidate the lift without disturbing the buttress frames. Part one of the new plan was a success. See pic below:  The next part of the plan will entail opening the barn doors further, by lifting with the fulcrum still on the crib perhaps once or twice more, which will then give us enough room to transfer the fulcrum to a new position on the bottom barn door. Before we can do this however, we will need another buttress frame inserting in the gap between the fourth and fifth frames. Also before we can use the fulcrum in its new position on the bottom barn door, we will have to insert another buttress frame directly beneath the fulcrum to relieve stress on the barn door.  Next week looks like being another interesting week, if the new plan works well in its entirety I can now see us completing this erection sooner rather than later. I will report again next weekend. <<previous blog page next blog page >> To read & post comments click here return to top of this page

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