The Megalith Movers Prehistoric Engineering
Blog 31st October 2015    On Monday Steve, Sean and myself set about the job of simulating the stone staircase underneath the top end of the obelisk, as mentioned in last weeks blog. We decided to try steel scaffolding towers which we intend to reinforce with vertical timbers set in the manner of pit-props, these will be lashed to the towers at strategic places especially directly under the fulcrum where the weight of the lift will be transferred directly to the ground through the pit-props.    By the end of the session we had two towers lashed together directly under the top of the obelisk, and a third tower set further back as a working platform for the lever men. On top of the twin towers we had built a crib, to raise the fulcrum almost as high as the obelisk.    Tuesday was a Buddhist holy day so we didn't do anything.    On Wednesday we quickly finished the crib on top of the towers which were directly under the top of the obelisk and placed our fulcrum on top, leaving enough space so that the ends of our levers could be slid over the fulcrum and come into contact with the obelisk. After slowly loading some sandbags on the ends of the levers, we were able to reinforce the scaffold with our pit-props which transferred the load on the fulcrum directly to the ground. We also lashed the pit- props to the scaffold for greater stability. We continued to add more levers between the levers we had previously set and loaded them with sandbags. All the while checking the scaffold for signs of buckling or bending. The scaffold remained totally solid just like a piece of solid stone, the first part of our plan was working beautifully. However, the object of our plan which was to raise the obelisk further, remained unrealised. The obelisk stubbornly refused to move. Eventually we had as many levers in place under the top end of the obelisk as the width of the obelisk allowed, and as many bags of sand hanging from these levers that they could bear. It seemed like we had been beaten again, yet we had not been totally beaten, the first part of our plan was still working beautifully.    Next day, Thursday, with the loaded levers compressing the crib we were able to retain this compression by using a series of Spanish windlasses between the top and bottom layer. We were then able to remove the sandbags and levers without losing the compression in the space under the obelisk we had created. There was now enough room for a forty- two inch length of six by three timber which we would use as a lifting bar. This will enable us to increase the number of levers needed to lift the obelisk. By the end of the session we had the new lifting bar in place, and the first of our levers set and loaded.    Friday, again with just the three of us, we set up another section of scaffold to use as a platform for the man loading the levers and set more levers under the lifting bar. With the extra bearing surface we were able to increase the total number of levers in use to twelve. Slowly and carefully we continued to load more bags, while at the same watching for any movement or backsliding of the scaffolding. Eventually Steve shouted that the packing on the fail-safe tower was coming loose. “gOK, drive them further in, let's not lose whatever we have gained.”h I shouted back from the scaffold. I waited until Steve and Sean had hammered the wedges home and when they were done and standing clear, I reached for the highest lever with one hand while holding on to the scaffold with the other. As I pulled I could see the end of the obelisk moving, it was only moving fractionally, but it was moving. I continued to pull the lever down until one of the bags of sand bottomed out on the scaffold. We had completed a very small lift. Sean and Steve consolidated the lift and I climbed down to take a look. This was the first successful lift we have had for months and we were jubilant. I climbed back up the scaffold and removed the sandbags and levers. I then climbed onto the crib and forward to the lifting bar. With the amount of lift we had gained I could now change the angle of the underside of the bar from sloping to level, by inserting wedges between the obelisk and the top face of the bar.    Although we were nearing the end of the session, we decided to try another lift to test the effectiveness of the bar at this new angle. Sean joined me on the scaffold and we reset the levers, then Sean went back to ground level and with Steve's help kept a close eye for any movement of the scaffold as I was reloading the sandbags. We gained another lift of about the same amount as the earlier one. The new angle of the lifting bar was perhaps no more effective than before, but I could see it was a lot safer as the ends of the levers were less likely slip out during a lift.    Although we gained perhaps no more than a couple of inches during that session, this had been done during the last half hour of the session. And we have proved the integrity of the scaffold and the pit-props, if we had blocks of stone available they would have been more secure, and in some ways easier to use. Below is a photo of the scene at the end of the session.   << previous blog page next blog page >> To read & post comments click here return to top of this page

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