Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bridge over troublesome waters.... Part 3

Bridge... Part 1
Bridge... Part 2

So to bring everyone up to date, the beams are across the creek, and it's getting late in the year. Things are going to get a mite colder, wetter and generally harder to do. I've made a few compromises to the original design due to lack of time and money. I was originally going to weld the beams to 5 foot posts and sink them into the ground. This would have raised the bridge about 2 feet above ground level. This would have raised the bridge over any normal floods and kept the impact of the water minimal as the water would begin to spread over the rest of the land and not just channeled directly into the bridge by the creek banks. The drawback to this design, besides that I don't have the money to buy 6, 5-inch diameter, 5 foot long pieces of pipe, is that the ramp onto and off of the bridge would have to be very long in order for anything but a pickup be able to cross it because of the angle involved. So, plan "B" is to sink them into the ground about halfway, on a base with good drainage to minimize frost heave, packed in and around the beams with concrete waste. I'll then put oak 4x6's on top, lagged to another wooden beam running under the flange, effectively clamping the wood onto the beams, tying everything together.

This shows the bank that was filled in with about 8 ton of concrete waste. As you can see, it packed very nicely. Once the beams were laid in at the correct height and distance apart, and leveled to the other beams as well as straight, then they were backfilled.
This shows the setup used to lift one end of the beam. First, the trench was dug under the wooden support and the beam lifted off. The support was cut and removed, then lowered into position, leveled and checked for correct distance from the other beams.
Did I mention these things were heavy? And notice the absence of "what's his name"....
And here's a bad shot of the beams, placed and backfilled on this end. Only had the phone camera on me that day.

And the oak 4x6's that are going to be mounted on top. My generator took a dump while I was mounting the clamping structures on both side of the bridge, so I need to get another one. The idea is to run 2x6's under the flange of the beams and lag the 4x6's to the 2x6 to clamp them into place. Let me know if you have any other ideas on how to anchor the top beams to the bridge. This is the only thing I can come up with using limited resources.

 I have to get a couple more pictures of the clamp setup for each end. It's pretty stable right now and I'm not too afraid of any floods. Of course the big ones come in the spring and depending on how much snow pack there is, they can be mighty. Next steps are to finish the beams for the top so that I can back the truck in close enough so I can add ballast to the far side and start working on the ramp. The far side has a much bigger dropoff than the near side, and the driveway on that side needs to be moved closer to the mountain to get it out of the flood zone. It can get about 3 foot deep there after about 3 days rain.
As you saw in earlier pictures the footbridge was pretty much destroyed in pulling over the beams, and it was in the way of placing the last beam, so it had to be removed. It makes it fun walking across the creek on those beams.
O-Dark-Thirty. Hunting. Dressed like Sasquatch. Rifle in your arms and a tiny flashlight. Yea. Fun.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bridge over troublesome waters.... Part 2

Click here to read part 1...

When last we encountered our intrepid homesteader he was yankin' massive steel beams across a fathomless gulf with his bare hands....

Not really. I had help. And tools.
My #5 son was pretty awesome about being there to help until he took off to get an actual job. Can you believe it? Me neither! Who would have thought he would have went and got himself a life while I wasn't lookin'? Anyway, my #4 son stepped up to the plate and has been helping me out since "what's his name" abandoned me.
These farm jacks are awesome tools. They push and pull, and have an incredible reach. Most of the time I used two of them on each beam to move them. Early in the game, I tried using metal pry bars and a 2-ton hydraulic floor jack. A slight miscalculation on my part sent me actually flying into the bushes as the beam reminded me of how heavy it really is. It's amazing how getting put on one's ass makes you re-evaluate what you are doing.
Ahhh... the good ol' days. Back when "He Who Has A Job Now" was around to help his dad...

Ok. So all the beams are across the creek. For about a half a minute I considered leaving them like this, but I'd be wasting the strength of those beams by leaving them this way. Sure, I think they would have handled a car or truck crossing them, but If I had a ton or so of weight on the truck it would have been iffy. No sense in going thru all this work to have "iffy" so I'm sitting them up so they'll handle anything that I'll be running across them. In the next exciting episode, I'll be bringing you up to the current condition of the bridge and the next steps.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bridge over troublesome waters....

I've been promisin' a post about the bridge for quite some time. I have to admit I've been procrastinatin' about it. I'm not sure why. I think it's because it's such a long story with no real way to make it short. The bridge has been an ongoing problem for years. Thought I had it purty well done at one point, then a massive flood came along and wiped her out. That one was all wood 4x6 beams, the supports doubled, everything lagged together and sittin' about 2 foot above the banks. Just to keep it above the spring floods. Right. If we would have had a "normal" flood that year, I think it would have been fine. But, we didn't. The water came up over 2 feet above the roof of the truck that was parked on the bank in front of the bridge. And guess what? Wood floats. And a big platform structure made of completely of wood floats really well. Kinda like a big raft. Whoda thunk it?
It's still there, just in a big tumbled heap about 40 yards downstream from where it's supposed to be and up over the bank.
So reboot, punt, and come up with a new plan.
My #5 son found some steel I-Beams. Big ones. Part of the problem was the span of 24 feet that is the width of the creek. The old original bridge was made of old locust logs, and was probably there 50 years. Once we moved over there and started using it on a daily basis, it started falling apart purty quickly. Hence the new wooden bridge fiasco. Anyway, back to the steel beams. 3 of them, 32 feet long. 20 inches wide at the web, 9 inches on the flange. 2600 pounds apiece! I won't go into here all the fun that was had during the delivery and trying to get them back to the creek. Maybe some other time. Once we had them to the creek, we had to figure out how to get them across. All we had was a footbridge that was put in with some of the remnants from the wrecked bridge. So we hooked a come-along to a tree and winched that beam across the footbridge while keeping our fingers and toes crossed that it wouldn't collapse before we had it across. We did end up shifting the bridge about 2 feet, but we got 'er done.
After that little bit of fun, it was just a matter of cleaning the beam (which I wasn't smart enough to do before I pulled it across) and flipping the other beams onto this one and running them across.
Ok, that's enough for now. Just going back thru all this is making me tired. More later...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Little bit o' weight on the truck today. Sure does handle funny with that much on it. Found a place that sells concrete washout (that's the stuff they clean out of the big conical cement mixer trucks at the end of the day) for 3 bucks a ton, and I can get about 5 bucks worth on the truck. Cheap enough, but it cost double that in gas to haul it home. There's a shortcut, but the road is too rough to drive with this kind of a load on. This is the ballast for the bridge I'm putting in over Sugar Creek. It packs really nice and firm. More pix on the bridge soon.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Venison vs Beef

(Shamelessly stolen from Rec.Hunting)

From the U.S. Venison Council:

Controversy has long raged about the relative quality and taste of 
venison and beef as gourmet foods. Some people say venison is tough, 
with a strong "wild" taste. Others insist venison's flavor is delicate. 
An independent food research group was retained by the Venison Council 
to conduct a taste test to determine the truth of these conflicting 
assertions once and for all.
First, a Grade A Choice Holstein steer was chased into a forest a mile 
and a half from a road and shot several times. After some of the 
entrails were removed, the carcass was dragged back over rocks and logs, 
and through mud and dust to the road. It was then thrown into the back 
of a pickup truck and driven through rain and snow for 100 miles before 
being hung out in the sun for a day.
It was then lugged into a garage where it was skinned and rolled around 
on the floor for a while. Strict sanitary precautions were observed 
throughout the test, within the limitations of the butchering 
environment. For instance, dogs and cats were allowed to sniff and lick 
the steer carcass, but most of the time were chased away when they 
attempted to bite chunks out of it.
Next, a sheet of plywood left from last year's butchering was set up in 
the basement on two saw horses. The pieces of dried blood, hair and fat 
left from last year were scraped off with a wire brush last used to 
clean out the grass stuck under the lawn mower.
The skinned carcass was then dragged down the steps into the basement 
where a half dozen inexperienced but enthusiastic and intoxicated men 
worked on it with meat saws, cleavers, hammers and dull knives. The 
result was 375 pounds of soup bones, four bushel baskets of meat scraps, 
and a couple of steaks that were an eighth of an inch thick on one edge 
and an inch and a half thick on the other edge.
The steaks were seared on a glowing red hot cast iron skillet to lock in 
the flavor. When the smoke cleared, rancid bacon grease was added, along 
with three pounds of onions, and the whole conglomeration was fried for 
two hours.
The meat was gently teased from the frying pan and served to three 
intoxicated and blindfolded taste panel volunteers. Every member of the 
panel thought it was venison. One volunteer even said it tasted exactly 
like the venison he has eaten in hunting camps for the past 27 years.
The results of this scientific test conclusively show that there is no 
difference between the taste of beef and venison... 

Saturday, November 6, 2010


We got just a little reminder that winter's comin'.

The Wooly Bears are all black so far:

Now I've been readin' a little about 'em, and it says that they start out that way and change before winter. Problem is... I ain't seen any that changed! So if the narrower the brown band, the rougher the winter, does no band mean we are really in for it???

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Food for Thought

Not too shabby. The Little One likes to call it "Soft Pretzel Bread". It's a little heavy and chewy, but he seems to like it. I'm trying to make it lighter, but at least we end up being able to eat all the trial loaves so far. Nuthin' like warm home made bread with butter and apple butter! Nom, nom, nom...

I've been working on the bridge on the "lower 40". It's been slow due to the purchase of this side of the mountain, and moving in and all that. I've had to make some compromises due to lack of money and help. Both seem to be in short supply, just when you need it most. The next couple days are supposed to be rainy, so I'll have time to post more about it, and hopefully bring the website up to speed.