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Ideas on how to set up a 25' wood column without using a modern crane  RSS feed

 
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Hi everyone! My husband and I will be building an earth sheltered umbrella house here in western NY. We will be building it ourselves and are looking for ideas on how to lift and set into place our center column that will be approx 25' tall heavy timber with out having to hire someone with a crane. We've looked into block and tackle with a tripod of poles (as was used in the Coral Castle) and also the polyspaston with treadwheel as was used in midieval times. Do you have any suggestions?
 
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A block and tackle and a tripod should get you what you need.  I suggest getting another block and tackle so that you can maximize your pull from a different angle and be able to use a truck to pull the rope!  Be sure to brace the base of your pole so that it does not slide past where you want it to stand.  Be sure to get your signals down so that the truck driver knows when to go and when to stop.  It better to pull the pole up exactly right, having set it down a couple times, then to pull it up and have to adjust it when it's up.  Sometimes an additional tripod is useful to have a gin pole (an angled pole) attached to it that your pole can slide up.  It is a good idea to oil this pole, or at least make it as frictionless as possible.  This takes a lot of weight of the main pole for you, and if done right can relieve a lot of work.   

The local Indigenous Nations where I grew up had totem poles.  These were raised with a lot of people lifting the pole with short handle poles spanning crossways underneath it.  Each of these little poles had a person grabbing and lifting on opposite sides of the tall pole.  Shorter people towards the base of the pole to be raised, and taller people back further, and then as things progressed to the pole being raised, the short people were done and the tall people did all the work.  There was also a rope on the top of the pole and people were pulling on the pole after the pole got up to a certain height but they couldn't pull on the rope right away as the people who were lifting the little handle poles would be in the way.  The was a point in the angle where no more lifting with the short poles could happen, and then the tall people would stabilize the base while the others would help to pull the rope to do the final part of the raising.  Sometimes a tripod was used, and the part of the rope that would go over the tripod would be greased.   Nowadays the tripod, if used, would have a block and tackle.       
 
pollinator
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Do you have access to water? This can be from a typical well, city system, or even a natural body of water nearby?

The reason I ask is, setting up a gin pole can be dangerous, and can take some serious time. A thought I had was to use the stand and sand method which is believed to have been used to upright Stonehenge. You can use a shovel granted, but suffering snootballs that would be a lot of work versus spraying the soil with a stream of water to erode it behind the pole so that it slowly stands upright.

A picture is worth a thousand words, but a video is worth a million. The method I am suggesting is at the very end of this youtube video, at about the 3:45 mark. ???


 
Julia Carl
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Thank you Roberto! We looked into the gin poles you suggested and think the tri pod with the gin pole may be the way to go. Since we have many more columns to install, maybe we will try to construct something easier to move around.
 
Julia Carl
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Wow Travis great find! Now I may have to rethink the gin pole. Or perhaps a combination....
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Now that, Travis, is a fantastic idea.  Have you ever used this technique?  I'd love to see more done with it. My grandparent's house and barn in Saskatchewan were both moved with short rounds of firewood (that were shuffled forward repeatedly by men) and a large team of workhorses pulling.

As far as the tripod and gin pole is concerned, the key is overbuilding it.  It can be easily made and relatively easy to disassemble and move.  The only real ingredient to make it work is a good stout chain or two (the second to lash the gin pole to it) Lash the chain around two poles of the tripod at the given angle near to but not at the top of the poles.  Lay the third between them and loosely wrap the chain around it so that it can move but still tight enough that it holds its approximate position so the heights are equal.  Use the third pole to push upright the two that are lashed tightly in fixed position.  Wind the chain around all three until it is solidly in place and then do it more.  Lay your gin pole on the tripod so that the pole you are wanting to raise is going to be sliding up the gin pole into the final resting spot.  Before you raise your pole tie at least two ropes to it's top so that you can guide it from by pulling gently on the ropes.  It's good to have a number of people on site for this. 

Bracing:  Also, if you have 4 stakes pounded into the ground around, nearby, but at a distance from your pole, and also a few boards screwed onto the pole (but splayed outwards---this will look awkward and be a bit in the way) with a single screw attaching it, then these boards can be swung out and screwed to the stakes, bracing the pole in the vertical position.  Have a plumb level to check the pole.

Do an experiment with something less massive to get the technique down.   
 
pollinator
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Are you just trying to avoid the cost of renting a crane?  If so you might try checking around and see how much it actually costs.

A lot of these ideas are pretty cool, but some seem like they would cost a lot of time and money.

I hired a crane a few years back to take down a 100 foot tower.  It only cost $100 for an hour.  It would take a lot less than 1 hour to just to raise one 25' pole.
 
Julia Carl
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Roberto, thank you for the detailed explanation on how to build it. Very much appreciated.
 
Julia Carl
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Peter, the main reason why we aren't renting a crane is because here they require us to be bonded. We do have several columns to put up but  are a bit shorter. I figured if I asked about the largest one, the rest would just follow suit. Being that we both work plus farm our time is limited so it would be good if we could have something onsite so we can work on it when we have some spare time. Hiring a crew is definitely out of our budget.
 
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I would encourage you to think about the hours saved with a crane.
If you are only at the farm for short periods of time, you may find working some extra hours will be really worth it and make the hire of a crane possible.
When you speak go 'being bonded', what does that mean please?
 
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look up truck crane on craigslist call the sellers and see if they want to come out and put the pole up for you for a reasonable fee.... just an alternative way to get it done?
 
Travis Johnson
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:Now that, Travis, is a fantastic idea.  Have you ever used this technique?  I'd love to see more done with it. My grandparent's house and barn in Saskatchewan were both moved with short rounds of firewood (that were shuffled forward repeatedly by men) and a large team of workhorses pulling.



No, I never have. Honestly, I have never had really anything massive to tip into an upright position.

My interest in this began when I had a serious issue, with my bulldozer I was dry-dragging trees across the forest floor in logging operations, but when I hit a root, stump or rock, my bulldozer and its power and traction would snap 1/2 cables like strings. This was getting costly, so I needed a way to reduce friction, to get the trees off the ground. I found a book from the 1940's on how to log where they used parbuckles and gin poles to load farm trailers. YouTube videos led me to the video of the guy moving massive things by hand. In the end I bought a log loader to move wood by picking the log up off the ground, and having wheels under it so I could go with more logs, more often, and make more money. I never regretted the purchase, but I have logged for 30 years so investing in logging equipment is a little bit different for me.

I have moved a lot of buildings here, and in my farming book discuss just that in a chapter: how to avoid high costs of farming by taking a building that is free, or in the wrong spot and moving it. Cutting a check to someone else just is NOT going to make ends meet in farming as there is so little money in the venture; best to do as much as you can for yourself in my opinion.

Before I would pay $100 an hour for a crane, and get bonded, I would rent an excavator. A 34,000 pound class excavator can reach up some 30 feet into the air and easily lift a 25 foot log. The rental on one is $700 a day with a thumb, which would be required to let go of the pole once it was upright and seated in. If all the prep work was done, all the poles could be set in a day, but what fun is that? :-)

The probablem with rentals is, trying to get everything done while it is on site. I really prefer the idea of people thinking for themselves, devising ways of doing things, because inevitably they are going to use the techniques for other building projects down the road. I mean what if I had just paid a building mover to move my first building, would I have moved the other 5 buildings after that one? Probably not because at some point, a person is not going to have the means to cut a check to have something done. And this is the orginal posters home...how fun would it be to have pictures of the rising of the center column being done by hand instead of having it swing by a crane? Often times the hardest way to do something is the best way in the end.



 
Travis Johnson
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Julia Carl wrote:Wow Travis great find! Now I may have to rethink the gin pole. Or perhaps a combination....



I think perhaps you are onto something here, and I have thought about building a wooden tower crane to help load logs onto my sawmill. I have a log loader, but it is not always available, and its reach is limited, but a purpose-built tower crane that could swing over the pile of logs, grab one, then place it on the sawmill would be really handy. Today winches can be bought for very little money compared to years ago.

Yours would need to be fairly substantial in construction, but if done, you would never regret it as you built your home.
 
John C Daley
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look at this
trailer mounted crane
 
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