The Megalith Movers Prehistoric Engineering
Blog 20th April 2015    As it turned out we were not able to continue with the experiment until today. Having had time over the enforced break to think about what we were doing, I decided that lifting the heavy end and then the light end by the same amount was perhaps not the easiest way to accomplish our goal. Perhaps it might be easier to lift the light end and employ a tilting beam across the balance point to lift the heavy end, as we had done when we began to rescue the Obelisk from where it had fallen.    Having discussed this with the rest of the team, although this would entail lifting the light end 12 inches for every 4 inches of gain at the heavy end (because the balance point was  two thirds of the way down the Obelisk), we decided to give it a try.    While Steve continued with the task of rebuilding the plinth, Ewan and I set about the task of raising the bow as high as was practical, for the attempt at lifting the stern using a cross-beam under the balance point. By close of play Monday we had completed four lifts and gained 12 inches. The next day gained another nine inches, which we decided was as high as was practical and safe. We now set about consolidating the rough ground under the tipping point and arranging the cross-beam. For the last couple of days we have been working in temperatures close to 40 degrees C in the shade, and we were exposed to the full heat of the sun, with zero shade. As you can imagine this was extremely tiring and by the time we had the cross-beam in place we were pretty near exhausted.    Heavy overnight rain bought the temperature down dramatically, and on awakening I began to look forward to tilting the Obelisk thus raising the stern. The rain had stopped by about 6am in my neck of the woods, but on my journey Eastwards to Steve's place, I soon realised that I was following the storm. I arrived about about 8:45am, having just failed to catch up with the rain. Ewan who also lived in the East, had assumed that it would be “rain stops play” today, so had taken the day off.    As Steve had almost completed work on the plinth, we decided that together we would try tilting the Obelisk. We set up the levers at the bow, and loaded on the counterweights. As the weight came off the support crib, Steve pressed down on the levers while I removed some of the packing. As Steve released the levers, the crossbeam should then start to support the Obelisk. It didn't, the bow came down about one and a half inches until it rested once again on the crib. We had lost height at the bow without gaining a fraction at the stern. We decided that the crossbeam was too near the stern, although I had clearly marked the spot on the Obelisk when we had used this method earlier. Steve applied his weight once again to the levers and with the weight off the crossbeam I was able to move it a couple of inches towards the bow. We tried again, but unfortunately with the same result. I was mystified, we had now lost more than four inches at the bow with zero gain at the stern. By the time we had lost another three inches the reason had become apparent to us both. The heavy overnight rain had softened the ground, and the cross-beam was sinking under the weight of the Obelisk.      We abandoned the idea of using the crossbeam. It was a pity, as the operation of this method would have made good video footage. Next day we went back to using levers at the stern, and to make things easier we decided to use a lifting bar for the ends of the levers under the stern, as well as under the bow. This worked well and we began to lift the stern. We still had the bow well elevated, as we had not lost all of the height we had gained previously.    Steve was due to place the order for the concrete that afternoon and we expected to have the plinth fully repaired by close of play Friday. An email from Steve that evening told me that the concrete would not arrive until Monday, so we all had an extra day's rest on Friday. It would be a welcome rest after working in the kind of heat we had been subjected to on Monday and Tuesday.    On Friday afternoon I was having a drink at Ken's bar when I was joined by Steve, and a little later by Sean, back from his seafaring. Sean had spent some time when off-duty at sea thinking about the experiment and the raising of the Obelisk. It wasn't long before he outlined his thinking, “We should continue with the barn door method but use more barn doors, like the pages of a book. We can keep the fulcrum at ground level and pack between the pages of the book as required as the book opens until the Obelisk is upright”. “An excellent analogy” I replied,. “and I think you are 100% correct. But we don't need the barn doors. The Obelisk itself can act as one outer cover of the book, and the ground can act as the other. The pages of the book will be the crib, which will take the form of a pyramid that grows with a parabolic curve as the book opens. We arrange three fulcrums, one at the end and one each side and lever from the end as well as each side, with our levers under the pages of the book”. “You've never mentioned levering from the sides before but I think this will work” Steve interjected. “Only just thought of it as Sean was speaking” I replied.    To be continued next week or as and when we make further progress. Gordon. <<previous blog page next blog page >> To read & post comments click here return to top of this page

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