Monday, October 08, 2007

Big logs are difficult to move.

NOTE: This blog entry is an anecdote of me moving a large log from one end of a private park to another.

For those of you wanting to find plans on how to make a sawhorse, check:
AND, for those of you wanting to find information about log-trailers, check:

And now on to my (rather banal) story:

Yesterday, I helped move the large log that will be used for the cross-cut sawing competition in this Friday's SNRE Campfire [Homecoming] Event. The log was from a recently-downed pine, and therefore still pretty "wet". It was located on the far side of Third Sister Lake (with reference to the campfire site) and off the trail a little ways. The process of events went thusly:
  1. Arrived at Saginaw Woods (just west of A2) at 2:00PM(-ish);drove to far side of Third Sister Lake.
  2. Helped caretakers pull rowboat onto shore; discussed plans of dragging assessed log to water and floating it across the lake.
  3. Cleared brush, moved small dead pines to make a "trail".
  4. Started cutting the log with a chainsaw; I drove back to caretakers' house; one caretaker rowed back to other side of lake to get rope for tree moving.
  5. Collected three ratcheting straps and re-crossed the lake.
  6. Arrived at the other side of the lake; gasoline for the chainsaw ran out.
  7. Caretakers returned to cabin to get more gasoline; I continued to clear a path.
  8. Caretakers returned with gasoline, and proceeded to continue cutting the tree; I continued to clear a path.
  9. Chainsaw oil starts to run low; one caretaker and I return to cabin and fetch more chainsaw oil as well as a two-man crosscut saw; chainsaw stops going as we re-cross the lake.
  10. We use the crosscut saw to cut the log section (work proceeds MUCH faster than with the chainsaw).
  11. We realize that the tree length is VERY heavy (not easily moved).
  12. After much cajoling, we (three) move the tree segment onto an upturned dolly, but (even with some wheels on one end) the tree proves unwilling to easily move.
  13. We realize this method will be a non-starter if we try and move the tree over mucky ground on wheels, and realize we will have to move it up the short slope to the path (and eventually around the lake).
  14. I recall the presence of a light-weight boat trailer near the cottage, however, we would still need another set of wheels for the other (non-wheeled) section of tree; we cross the lake in the boat (for the last time in the evening).
  15. One caretaker leaves to get another set of wheels to move the tree; I collect a crowbar, axe, and metal plate from the garage, put them on the boat trailer, and wheel the boat trailer to the other side of the lake. (This last bit isn't too difficult, since I attached another strap to the boat trailer to act as a sling, thus taking much of the weight off my arms, and onto my shoulders.)
  16. Arriving at the other side of the lake, we set up the trailer on the path to take the log, and proceed to clear a trail from the log to the path.
  17. The caretaker returns with extra wheels; they get strapped onto the log after much levering and swearing.
  18. The log is dragged over the cleared trail to the path with the trailer. This required a lot of re-levering to keep the log on the cleared trail, with the help of the crowbar and lots of tugging.
  19. Once on the path with the trailer, the log needed to be turned to face the trailer (again with the help of the crowbar and tugging, but this time with a little swearing, since we had moved from packed dirt to sand and gravel).
  20. With the tree and trailer lined up, it was now time to put to log onto the trailer. The trailer was tipped up to bring the back-end to bear, and used as a lever to hoist the log onto the rollers (usually used to keep a boat in line whilst winching it onto the trailer). Due to a lack of a winch on the trailer, one of the ratcheting tie-downs was used instead. The process required further tugging and the occasional use of the crowbar. Each time the log was moved up the trailer, the ratcheting tie-down (which was standing in for a winch) had to be reset. However, once the log was in place, it acted as a nice counterweight, thus making the weight of the trailer (at the hitch end) effectively neutral.
  21. We all proceeded to move the trailer back around the lake to the location of the festivities.
  22. Arriving back at the cottage, we realised that the height of the log on the trailer (roughly 2.5 feet) would not be adequately high enough to get it onto the high saw horses (roughly 4 feet) used in the cross-cut sawing competitions. A solution was reached that would require pulling the log further up the trailer, thus allowing the log to be strapped to a sawhorse once the trailer was tilted up. (I'm sorry, I cannot really describe this process better.) This was done after much grunting and pulling.
  23. With one end of the log placed onto a sawhorse, the original plan of dragging it fully onto that sawhorse came up against another proverbial brick wall as we realised that the friction force of bark on wood was going to be far more than we could handle between the three of us. This meant some more re-thinking of our stratagem. We decided to use two of us to bodily lift the end of the log still on the trailer high enough to wedge a second sawhorse underneath. This was done with a lot of swearing and grunting, but the second sawhorse was now present holding the whole thing up at 4 feet.
  24. Now we just needed to move the saw horses together so that there would be enough of the log sticking out one end to actually have overhang for the competitors to cut. Using the same method as in the previous step proved to be too difficult due to a lack of leverage, and for a second we thought we were going to be in a bind. However, I tried lifting one end of the section of the log by bracing myself between the ground and the log. I was able to lift it enough that - by sections - we could slowly move the sawhorses together.
  25. However, as the sawhorses came together, I was moving closer to the center, requiring that I lift more of the weight of the log each time. (Did I mention that the log was heavy?) The only reason I could do it was because I just happened to be the right physical dimensions so that I could wedge myself under the log and lift with my legs and still not have my back bent. Luckily, I was able to continue doing this until the sawhorse was slightly past flush with one end of the log. This meant that I could start lifting at the very end of the log - leverage works.
  26. With two final lifts at the log-end, the sawhorses were flush with each other, and we could bind them to the log (thus preventing the possibility that it might fall off (or be pushed off by people walking through the forest and looking for a laugh). We ended at about 8:30PM.
  27. After showering off, I realized that my back along my shoulders was bruised from the lifting of the log, but at least it is now done. And when people comment that it must have taken a lot of people and possibly some machinery to move the log into place, I can say that it took only three people. (Pride is sometimes good, I feel.)
So, in short, it took three people (and some ingenuity) almost six hours to move a log from one side of a small lake to the other. However, we learned a few things:
  • Using a boat trailer to move a log along a road makes log-moving really easy (especially when you have the trailer balances so that the weight of the logs counter-balances the weight of the trailer).
  • A two-man crosscut saw is much faster than a chainsaw when cutting through a newly-fallen tree (and uses much less gasoline and oil).
  • Applying wheels to a log is a great way of moving a log through the forest along a cleared trail.
  • Three people can move a fecking huge log, but not without a lot of effort.
  • Mosquitoes don't care that it's the beginning of October - if it's hot enough for mosquitoes, they will persist.

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