The Megalith Movers Prehistoric Engineering
Blog 12th September 2015    This last week has been, as I imagined, very interesting (at least it has to me). We started the week by piling extra bags of sand on the cantilever, to supplement the pulling power of the A-frame (weighted with bags of sand) which we realised was as good as useless at the present angle of the obelisk, but would grow in efficiency as the obelisk rose. However, the A-frame situated behind the plinth was both a motive force and a brake. Just by hanging the bags of sand at a certain distance from ground level, whatever motive force the weight of the sandbags were applying would be cancelled the moment the bags hit the ground. This meant we had full control of the rate and speed at which the obelisk could rise, and when the bags hit ground level we had as much time as needed to consolidate that particular lift.    As the obelisk rose, and we learned how to control the lift by balancing the force of the cantilever with the additional force supplied by the weighted A-frame, coupled with the stopping power of the bags (hanging from the A-frame) hitting the ground, I realised that “balance” was the operative word.    On Tuesday Steve, Sean, Joe and myself set the levers at the foot of the lifting tower, and tried the first tentative lift. If we could gain just an inch, we knew the next lift and each subsequent lift would be easier still, as the cantilever and the weighted A-frame came more into play. We pressed down on the levers and the base of the tower started to rise. We packed the space under the tower with wedges driven in tight, and went forward to check the situation at the fail-safe tower. We were in for a disappointment, the obelisk was still pressing hard down on the fail- safe. We had gained nothing, but something was happening as we had lifted the main lifting tower by perhaps two inches?    We had bent the lifting tower, or more accurately, the levers were pulling it apart.    It was time for a rethink. The problem was a class-one lever, though incredibly powerful does have a drawback, as the power is delivered by the circular motion of the lever, it can create a pulling force, as well as a lifting force. It seemed that we had reached the end of the road with our class-one levers. The obelisk was now at an angle of perhaps twenty-four degrees, and at this angle the levers were becoming ineffective.    We discussed our options: One: add more weight to the cantilever. Objection: we had already added as much weight as we think the present structure will bear. Two: string more ropes to the top of the obelisk, over the cantilever and add more bags of sand to the A-frame. Objection: we don't know if the A-frame is having any effect at all at this present angle. Three:?    We finally decided to replace the class-one levers with class-two levers. These would be much less powerful than the levers we had been using (For people who have no engineering background I will explain the difference between the two classes of levers. We have already shown how class-one levers work so I will concentrate on class-two levers. A wheel barrow is a good example of a class-two lever: the load is whatever is in the barrow, and the force is applied by lifting the handles of the barrow. This is a straight one-directional force.) We set up the class-two levers and gave them a try, even though we used all the levers we had, it was soon obvious that we needed more man- power.    As we discussed the problems over a beer afterwards, I realised that we could use class-one levers to drive the class-two levers we now had set up. The class-one levers would deliver the power needed, and the class-two levers would convert the force generated into a straight line force pushing the tower up. We also decided to move the lifting tower back to its original position under the tip of the obelisk, where we would have less weight to lift, and promptly changed this idea to a new one. We would dispense with the present lifting tower, and build a new one using the levers that had dried too much to be used as levers, but would be good for the new lifting tower.    The new lifting tower would be built following the pattern of the A-frame behind the plinth, but instead of being two-dimensional, would be three-dimensional, a bit like a tripod with lots of legs. By Thursday we had almost completed the work. Below is a photo of this many-legged tripod in place under the tip of the obelisk, and resting on our class-two levers. In the next picture below you can see the cantilever and the weighted A-frame.    This will be the last blog for about a month, as Steve is flying back to England for a visit. We will resume the obelisk experiment when he returns. The team are now convinced that if we can overcome this last hurdle and raise the obelisk perhaps just a few more degrees, using the class-two and the class-one levers combined, the cantilever and the A-frame can complete the job in just a few days.    Personally, I have been convinced for many years that levers are the solution to most of the mysteries left by our stone-age ancestors: the many stone circles in Britain, including Stonehenge, as well as the mysteries left by the ancient Egyptians, and other such mysteries from around the world.    Even if we fail in our task of completing this experiment, and erecting this ten ton obelisk we have already proved something, that even I with my faith in the power of simple levers, thought was impossible. We have picked up and moved into place on top of the plinth a ten ton obelisk using just two old men and simple wooden levers. That alone is a major triumph. << previous blog page next blog page >> To read & post comments click here return to top of this page

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