The Aresan Clan is published four times a week (Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun). You can see what's been written so far collected here. All posts will be posted under the Aresan Clan label. For summaries of the events so far, visit here. See my previous serial Vampire Wares collected here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Moving heavy objects

Beginning when we were about six or seven my parents began sending my sister and I out to California to spend several weeks with relatives. Generally it was two weeks with my mother's sister Mary and her family and two weeks with my father's brother Bruce and his family. We always had fun with Bruce and his family, but our experience at Mary and her husband Nick's place was a bit different.

Informally this time with Nick and Mary was known as "Nick's work camp," because there was invariably a significant amount of physical labor involved on this vacation. Nick and Mary lived on a plot of land in the Trinity Alps region of northern California, a sprawling are in the woods with ponds and streams and wild blackberries filled with several homemade buildings and piles of junk. I use the term "junk" very broadly here, since it included everything from non-functioning cars and tractors to drawer-fulls of nuts and bolts. Nick would buy this stuff off of people and then hopefully resell it to others, possibly fixed up or not. There tended to more stuff flowing in than out, so the collection of stuff only grew.

The work that we were put to varied a lot, from one summer helping them build one of their homemade buildings (a simple three wall building used for storing bike parts and fixing up bikes), to helping them dredge for gold at the bottom of a pond. But one of the most memorable jobs we were put to was the moving of a huge pipe. The pipe in question was a section of steel pipe, some 3 foot in circumference and 15 feet long that probably weighed in at a half to three quarters of a ton. The challenge was to move this pipe from the place where it'd been left in the woods somewhere to Nick and Mary's property. Fortunately, Nick had a truck which could carry this amount of weight, a huge flat bed truck. But the process of getting this pipe from the ground to the raised bed of the truck was the really difficult part. We had to first roll the pipe out of the ditch where it'd been dumped, then using a number of ropes, it was pulled up onto the bed with a couple of ratchet hoists. It was a lot of grunt work and struggling that achieved its goal, but left us beat afterwards.

I'm reminded of it as I read about a man, Wally Wallington, almost single-handedly constructing a cement replica of stonehenge. He explains it on his homepage, and you can see how he's able to very efficiently both move and raise up stones vastly heavier than the pipe we were moving. Such techniques can help explain how many ancient structures using massive multi-ton stones could be built, namely through techniques similar to Wally Wallington's. It also helps explain the mysterious construction of Edward Leedskalnin's Coral Castle in Florida. It makes a person tempted to try and build a stonehenge in their own back yard.

I think about how such techniques might have been applied to our relatively simpler problem to make it easier and doable with a smaller crew. But I guess when you got enough people that you can do it with brute force, why bother with more delicate techniques.

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