Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Race Brook Bridge Finishing Touches

Feeling the need to work off some Thanksgiving turkey dinner, Richard, Gary (his friend from Oregon) and I climbed up the hill to the Race Brook Bridge last Friday to do the finishing touches.  We counterbored 1" diameter holes in the stringers for the timber loks to sit in and then used the brace to drive them in.

We used some of the hemlock branches to whittle wood plugs for the holes to cover the heads of the timber loks.

With the plug smothered with linseed oil to slow the inevitable rot and hammered home the protruding end was cut off near flush with the top of the stringer, hiding the timber loks below.

The last finishing touch was to finish removing the stringer tops down to the saw cuts and put a small flat top on one of the base logs to serve as a step up to the bridge.

It was a fine day for finishing touches and there was plenty of trail traffic and folks trying out our new bridge!  A pair of hikers told us the old bridge was installed 15 years ago.  Anyone want to make a guess as to how long this one will last?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

One More Time-Race Brook Bridge

Our party of 7, hiked up the hill on a beautiful Saturday to find our bridge project as we had left it and with a bit of leftover snow on the ground here and there.  We set right to work rolling the upstream stringer over on it's back and finishing up the notches we had started on our last visit.  With that work in progress, Don and Richard headed on up the hill to the Race Brook Campsite and to the AT to check on conditions, blowdowns, etc.  We were soon satisfied with the notches on the upstream stringer, rolled it over for a check and finding it just right marked it's location on the sills for future use.  Then came positioning the downstream stringer and scribing the shape of the sills below up onto the stringer.  Finding our simple compass unsatisfactory for the purpose, Bob suggested using a stick cut to length for the depth of the notch we wanted.  This worked like a champ and we soon had a set of well marked stringer notchs.  The picture below shows a finished notch and the marking and starter cuts in the upstream stringer.

Finished Notch on the Left, Notch Ready for waste removal on the right

With lunch time at hand, Don and Richard returned from the campsite and AT with a couple large bags of trash and abondanded gear and reports of several smaller blowdowns removed and 1 large blowdown just upstream needing a chainsaw. 
After cutting down to our marks
Jim chainsaws down to our notch marks

...... it was chip away at the waste wood in the notches, taking turns with 2 gougues and 1 flat chisel with an occasional chipping away with a hatchet.  Meanwhile, Jim, Christine and Richard hiked to the upstream blowdown and made quick work of its removal.

 During breaks in the notching work, some of the crew followed an ancient custom and carved their initials in the underside of the log for posterity

The notches were soon done, test fit found them nicely resting over the sills and so it was time to mark the tops for flattening (oh and another cookie from Mary's cache)!

Marking the flat top with pencil and chalk line

Then the sawing to the marks and chipping with the hatchets began in earnest

And last the most important full load test of the completed Bridge!

Don, Christine, Loren, Bob, Mary, Jim, Richard

With eastern standard time back in effect, we packed up at 3PM and headed back down hill to reach Rt 41 before darkness arrived.  We had one blowdown to remove just beyond the stream crossing between the upper and lower falls.  Fortunately the other blowdowns all went downhill away from the trail.  We had a great day in the woods and were quite satisifed with completion of our bridge and the work we accomplished! 

My thanks to all who participated on this project.  We had a great time, our bridge will have a good long life and carry many a hiker safely over Race Brook.

Note: most of the pictures on this and the other posts on this project were taken by our ace photographer, Richard (thanks much Richard!).

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Race Brook Bridge Catchup

During our absence, Richard and some friends spent time chipping away at the bark on the 2nd stringer, tough work this time of year but it sure made our next days work proceed more quickly!
On Sat, Oct 27 we returned to the site to find all as we had left it and ready for our bigger crew of Jim, Richard, Loren, Bob, Mary and Steve.  Richard and Loren setup the rigging to move the 2nd stringer across the stream while the rest of us finished up the debarking. 
With all in readieness we started tugging on the come-a-long and soon had the 2nd stringer up on the new sills crossing the stream.  Time for lunch and think about our next steps. 
First order of business was to rotate each stringer to determine which side of each log should be face up.  Quite a bit of discussion on this subject and looking and measuring before we had a decision.  Thank goodness for our new cant hook for making this evolution alot easier!  Next was some noisey work, flattening the facing sides of the stringers with the chainsaw. 
With that done it was time to scribe the bottoms of the first stringer to fit the notches.  This process involves carefully transferring the shape of the sill log beneath each stringer on to the stringer using dividers and marker.  This was challenging as it was the first time we'd done this and because the stringers and sills were not at right angles to each other, calling for careful work to get the sill shape properly transferred. 
Steve scribes the first stringer
With all 4 sides marked (upstream side and downstream side of each stringer on both sills) we rolled the stringer over 180 degrees to bottom side up to examine our handywork.  Jim then put the chainsaw to work cutting down to our lines.  Chips then flew as we took turns with the mallets and gouges hollowing out the notches at each end.


Although not quite done, we were running low on time and were anxious to see the results of our marking and notching, so we put the cant hook to work once again and rolled the first sill bottom side back down and with a little jockeying had the stringer notches sitting nicely over the sills,  :) ! Still some work to do on these notches, but it was time to pack up and head back down the hill well satisfied with our progress.  Here's our great crew!

The day was not a particularly nice one, cloudy, but no rain.  We were surprised with the trail traffic during the day.  At least 30 people accompanied by quite a few dogs came up the hill over the course of the day most headed for Race Mtn.  Clearly the Race Brook Trail remains a popular hiking spot.

Another Day at Race Brook

On Wednesday Oct 3rd we returned to Race Brook to continue work on the bridge repair.  It was a damp misty but warm day and the ususal suspects (Richard and me) were joined by Dave and Adam for the day.

On arrival we set to work getting the sills down to the stream side and set firmly on their rock beds. A bit more rock work was needed before we were happy with the result, but we soon had them planted as you can see in the photo.

Next was to maneuver the first sill down the slope and get it across the stream. This called for some tricky rigging.   

 Lunchtime found us looking with satisfaction at the result with the stringer sitting on the sills.  We noted that a key tool was missing making our manuvers much more difficult than need be.  A good cant hook would make this work much easier!


After lunch we set to work getting the 2nd stringer down to stream side.  This time it went quicker as we all knew how to operate the come-a-long, set the rigging and change it as the move progressed. We did have to make sure the small end of the 2nd stringer was in position to go across the stream to match up with the first one which had the big end on the far side. 

 After some work on debarking and securing both stringers in place, we departed pleased with our progress and already thinking about our next work day on the soon to be new bridge.