Thursday, October 24, 2013

Bridge Work

On our land, a creek runs through part of it and to reach the hay meadow at the back requires a bridge to cross the creek.  A pickup has been driven over it many times since we purchased the land, and then we had hay cutting/baling equipment drive across to get to the hay meadow.  All made it without incident but the bridge was showing signs of wear and needed to be repaired.  Thus the undertaking of repairs took place earlier in the summer.  Our son came in and worked alongside my spouse and me to rebuild the bridge.  (Reminds me of a couple of songs - "Love Can Build a Bridge" and "Like a Bridge Over Troubled Waters").

First - the old boards had to come out.  Our son and my spouse worked on that for several days.

Next order of business - prepare beams for new boards.  Using the cutting torch to cut holes (son was the master using the cutting torch!) and leveling out the edge.

Once holes were cut, the slag had to be scraped so the boards would lie flat against the ibeams.

Next - place boards (2" x 6" x 12' rough cut oak boards - they were HEAVY!), drills holes, then set bolts, all while perched about 15 feet above a creek which was home to several water moccasins, turtles, and other critters.

Here - all the boards are in place.  Nice, new, sturdy bridge.

To keep the wood from deteriorating so quickly, it needs a sealant applied.  The bucket at the other end of the bridge is the paint to be applied.  Before I could begin to paint - I had to be sure it was mixed well.  So I stirred - and I stirred - and I stirred!  The paint was 5 gallons in a large bucket.  Stirring a gallon of paint was never too bad.  Stirring a 5 gallon bucket of paint was a different story.  The first day, it took over an hour of stirring by hand; the next few times it was about 30 - 45 minutes each time!  The sealant was brown and had to be applied by hand with a brush.  In order to reach the undersides outside the beams, I had to lay down and lean out over the ends of the board with paint brush in hand.  To help me keep track, I would work to get at least a dozen boards painted each day that I could go out.  Some afternoons it was way too hot for the paint so I had to wait for days that I could get out early in the morning - when it was at least below 90!  Below are the different stages of painting (what looks like shadow is actually the paint).

Below is the completed bridge - sealant complete.  The people who cut our hay were glad we had replaced the old bridge.  I think they were not sure it was safe to drive tractors across before!

Although my part was minimal - sure is nice to see this completed!