Steadfast Against the Storm

I had it in mind to finally post a followup to The Central Bridge entry Friday, I’d been waiting on image accreditation permissions and access to an artifact, a literal lone surviving piece of that long lost bridge…

Then the distraction of this thirty hour April Fool’s Day storm and a bit of news which also crossed my horizon created a need to update the blog’s readership regarding an entry of a few months back, a lamentation entitled A Trace of Tears. The news and need to update is in how the low bidders chosen pre-qualified “timber specialist” has now formally engaged a subcontractor, one that redetermines how the framing of the new Blenheim is now to be executed, being that it is not the same automated manufactory they had enlisted to execute their last new-build.

A_Wall

A Stonewall in the woods standing steadfast against snowfall and time, much like little-seen truths, somehow also obscured and almost lost, as if such were likewise buried behind layers of ice and a forest like tangle of trees

The timber framing community is a small one, so I have some sense of the firm enlisted. I do take solace in the fact that the three Trusses and the Tie, Floor Beam and Lateral Bracing systems which will unify them will be laid out and cut by genuine human beings.

I am at the same time bewildered that a pre-qualification process intended to limit bidders to those with deep wooden bridge resumés would then allow any of those deemed qualified, to sub off the whole of the fabrication effort to a firm which had not navigated that same process. It is an absurdity that flies in the face of reason and fairness and makes a mockery of that process.

Bottom Chord Scarf

The multiple abutment Trait de Jupiter / Bolt ‘O Lightning tension splices specified in the man’s patent and common to Long Truss bridges through to the end of their common era – One of the flawless fifty plus Bottom Chord Scarfs of Powers’ lost Masterwork

That said this Timber Frame subcontracting firm does have a short bridge truss resumé, one limited to single numbers, recent developments which have only come to pass in the last several years since the very storm which took The Blenheim from us. Nor is this outfit a scribe-centric shop. historic practice suggests, and I adamantly hold to the notion that joined timber bridge framing is for the need of both practicality and accuracy best laid out with “Scribe Rule” methods, this for all the reasons I articulated in Trace of Tears. I do unhappily understand that that notion is little shared and reasonably not understood by lay-people, nor for reason explored in an archival entry I penned a few years back titled Commonly Uncommon, is this even commonly understood by Timber astute Carpenters should they not be fully versed in both traditional bridge truss practice, and full blown layout to assembly scribe methodologies.

Blenheim's Bottom Chords

In the foreground a now lost glimpse of the beyond amazing Bottom Chords of the Double Barreled Blenheim – In the distance my truck and tool trailer in a stop to pay homage on a pilgrimage driven side-trip on a return home ride from a hired gun timber gig

That solace I find in this development is not only in the removal of the incapable robot, it is also found in the human connection which will undoubtedly unfold. Among those to cut this grand of grandest wooden bridges so recently lost to us, will be individuals who will in the doing likely experience a spark of imagination, and perhaps find the focus to make the allied trade of Bridgewrighting their live’s calling.

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About Will Truax

I'm a timberframer and preservation carpenter, and regularly work on Covered Bridge restoration projects. Bridgewrighting can be a tough row to hoe, for a myriad of reasons. From scheduling issues to differing opinions and philosophies on what is appropriate in methods and materials, to multiple jurisdictions still not sufficiently vetting bidders resumes - Which is to say, just because a company is on that state approved list and capable of building that seven figure overpass, this does not mean they are capable of restoring a wooden bridge... So, I have much to say about all this and more - And despite my tough row observation, I promise not to whine. View all posts by Will Truax

3 responses to “Steadfast Against the Storm

  • Dick Anderson

    Your picture of the bottom of the bridge is the best. Just as with the Sistine chapel little or no credit goes to the Baneenee brothers that did the tile floor for it. Except from other guys in the tile trade. Also Will did you see the Latrobe-Bateman Walking bridge that is going to be constructed at this years TFG conference in Madison, WI on May 20th?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Will Truax

      I saw some conceptuals, pretty funky!

      Are you planning on attending?

      Like

      • Dick Anderson

        Yes, since the conference will be right in my backyard I thought I would try to get in on the assembly of the bridge. Darren Watson from New Energy Works in Portland, OR is my contact. I have built a model from soda straws from looking at the picture and am now working the connectors. Crazy thing is that in the design drawings it shows that each of the timbers has been rotated 45 degrees and then chamfers have been cut into the edges where the connecting straps attach. This is indeed funky! Will have to see what Arnold Graton thinks?

        Like

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