Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Weighing in on different ways to lift heavy stones.

In keeping with the 'Thinking With My Hands' theme, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of methods we have used to lift heavy stones up onto a tall wall or dry stone structure .

1. The first and most primitive way of lifting involves wooden boards or poles system. You simply slide or flip large rocks up along strong boards onto the top of the wall. In the video above you will see how DSWAC members managed to lift a huge lintel stone into place, as we completed the last stages of the traditional Scottish Blackhouse, which was built during last year's 2009 'Rocktoberfest'.

We had a fork lift there which could have easily done the job, but we felt it was important to do it manually, partly because we had all the manpower there that we needed and partly because none of us wanted to use machinery unnecessarily when we were building an authentic dry stone structure trying to duplicate how they would have authentically built it in the past

2. The three pictures above demonstrate a second method, that of using pulleys. We used a simple pulley from a rent-all store for all the vault stone we lifted onto the Cabane roof at the three day 2008 'Rocktoberfest' held near Cobourg Ontario. It was quiet, efficient, good exercise and extremely satisfying to build the entire structure without relying on heavy machinery.

3. The third method of using hoists is useful if the stones you are lifting are very heavy. We set up a hoist to lift the large rung stones that connected dry stone towers of this unusual 'rubble helix' which we built during the Canadian 'Rocktoberfest' in Garden Hill Ontario in 2007. This structure was a very unusual shape and required scaffolding to suspend a beam with a hoist attached to it to pull the long flat heavy stones up near the middle of the paired ascending spiraling dry stone walls.

4. And of course there is the technique of going up along with the stones you are using. We have often had projects requiring that will we stand in the bucket of a front end loader tractor for example (filled with choice stones) in order to complete the top section of a tall structure. Here you see me finishing the Alban Beacon we built for Farley and Claire Mowat at their summer residence near St Peter's Nova Scotia in 2006.

5 Finally there is the method of having the stones moved up to your working area with a Caterpillar, Gradall or some other type of large excavator/boom tuck/rock-picker-upper type machine, as we did in Stone Symposium in Ventura, and at the Marenakos StoneFest held near Seattle recently.

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