Friday 2 April 2010

Engineers Without Borders build us a bridge!

Last weekend a group of students and graduates from Engineers Without Borders (who I know through my work at the Ashden Awards) came and camped in our wood, the aim being to have a bit of fun, do some team-building and build a bridge. Being engineers, they didn't just bring a normal tent - they had a geodesic dome they'd built themselves!
Here it is with the cover off:
They did have a couple of more conventional tents as well:
Anyway, like any camping trip a lot of time was just doing stuff like cooking:
and trying out new tools:
So, the bridge.... Well, here's the original bridge (over in Sweep Wood), which could only take one person at a time, and you had to be pretty steady on your feet!
We built this bridge about 18 months ago, but never really did enough to make it very good.

The engineers got to work testing scale models for a new one, some of which did not exactly inspire confidence!
But not to worry, designs were adapted for the types of wood and tools available, and we all set off back to the stream. A couple of chestnut stems were selected to provide 5m straight logs, and I felled them with the chainsaw. The nice bit was I didn't have to carry them anywhere, as I had a whole team of willing engineers! :-) They were soon installed across the stream:
Then posts were driven into the ground to secure them:
Someone came up with the idea of using split pieces of chestnut to make rungs:
and by the end of the first day the bridge was in a state to walk on, although not finished. Also, unlike the old bridge, it could take more than one person at a time:
The next day saw a lot of drilling and nailing of the rungs:
and by that afternoon the bridge was done, with the added feature of hand rails at two different heights!
I ran over some of the rungs with the chainsaw to roughen the surface so it doesn't get slippery in the rain:
and then everything was done.

I'm told everyone had a great weekend, and I'd like to thank everyone who came, and EWB-UK, for all their hard work! Some people worked so hard they fell asleep at lunchtime. Or perhaps that was to do with beer round the campfire the night before?

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