Monday, 16 May 2011

Week 8 - The official frame-raising day!

Sunday pm - The finished article

Well, I'm not entirely sure if it should have been the frame raising or hair raising day. With the weather forecast promising high winds, including 40mph gusts, we were all a bit worried that the fames be blown over in an instant. Not only a dangerous prospect, but it could have also meant that 8 weeks of flat out hard work could have been devastated in just a few seconds. However, the picture above clearly shows otherwise and, remarkably, it all went smoothly and professionally! All the thought-out preparation that went into it, possibly spanning the previous week, definitely paid off. We had put guy and tourniquet posts in the ground, prepared and cut to size guy and tourniquet ropes, painted the feet of the fames with a natural asphalt paint to protect against damp, made 1m long round wood rests to sit the posts on, made lifting poles, put the vehicles in places ready for winching and tested the tripod's lifting capabilities.

Some pre-lift preperations:

Asphalt paint on the frame feet
Practice lift of frame 4
cuts in frame 5 to accommodate frame 1 to create the L-shape  part of the house

Both days had a great turnout of people (nearly 40 in total) who provided brute force, shear will and a good sense of humour. We couldn't have wished for a better team. Tonnes of food was on hand and tea constantly circulating to keep people on task because, lets face it, we're all driven by a belly full of fuel and although our minds were completely on task it was still no exception. Saturday was all about moving frames into position and also reconstructing two of the frames, which had been flat-packed. But this was no traditional ikea assembly and definitely didn't come with an Allen key for assistance! In fact, our round-wood frames were far easier to fit back together by my estimation.

Most of the lifting team on day 1 celebrating finishing for the day

We were glad to see so many people ready to get stuck into lifting as we had only really guestimated at the the numbers of people required to lift an entire frame and, at one point, we weren't sure we had enough. It all happened pretty quickly.

Frame 3 being lifted with the tripod

Frame 1, 2 & 3 partially raised and on rests

Side view of the partially raised frames

The rest of the day involved lifting three of the frames up a few degrees with a tripod and snatch block. The frames were sat on wood rests., where they wouldn't interfere with the raising of any of the other frames.  This was  all designed to make the whole process of raising that little bit easier on Sunday by helping the frames to lift rather than drag along the ground.

Becky and Tino lashing the ridge pole to frame 1

Ridge pole in position ready to lift
Sunday's biggest challenge was getting the ridge pole in place, which meant frames one and two were the real clinches. To begin the day we had to add a piece onto the ridge pole so it would span all the frames as it was being raised.

The same number of people turned up as well so the 8 raising team (those who had been working on the carpentry of the frame and a few other knowledgeable people, all identifiable by their hard hats!), so there were plenty of people watching patiently on the side lines and assisting with the winching. This generally required a team of three people who would rigorously pull and push on the winch mechanism. We hadn't quite anticipated how much of a job it would be. 

The first frame ended up going up after lunch. We had to keep playing around with the positioning of the vehicles which were weighting down the winching mechanism. On a couple of occasions the vehicles were lifting of the ground! We also put in a gin pole- a high post  with a 'v 'cut  at the top, between the winch and the frame to assist the cable to lift. It was an extremely nerve racking process. Such a large structure, heavy as it is, seems extremely temperamental even when guyed down and sitting sturdy on granite pads. In discussion after the raise there was a few of us that admitted we were pretty scared that the whole thing was going straight over once at 90 degrees, especially when you have a large pole hanging from it's centre and sitting across the other frames precariously positioned below. 

Frame 1 up

Frame 2 was pretty tough two and at one point, Becky, Beth and Daniel had to lift the ridge pole with an extended ladder so that the  bolted join between the original ridge pole and the extension stopped from catching on the frame 2 cruck. Visions of the pole just slipping off was racing through our minds and we were very relieved once it was in place. Frame 3 and 4 were a breeze and the day ended with a glass of nettle beer, home brewed of course.

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Take a look at timelapse video that Tony Hill made during the two days. It makes it look easy, a few minutes of light work with Oz and Becky pretty much erecting each frame with their feet. 

Beth Morgan

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