Thursday, May 17, 2012

Big Bessie

   So this is a big day on the jobsite. We've just started a new river rock fireplace. Not your average cultured stone production, but a made by Mother Nature big rock beauty. And not just a big rock but the biggest rock I've ever seen in a "cabin" fireplace. We talk about stone size by the man, with a one man stone being the norm and a two man stone being the normal limit, used sparingly and generally to make a kind of statement. On this job the owners said "we want some big boys". Our mason, Dave, offered that he had been saving one for his own use but that he would be willing to give it up for this job. Having known Dave for twenty years I was sure it would be something special.

"How are we gonna move this beast"

   Now a stone with this much presence deserves it's own name. We've been using 'Big Bessie' for now but something better may come along. Ideas? It took a forklift to get this bad boy inside the building and four men to roll it across the floor to the point nearest its final location. Here comes the 'Smarter Than' part. Have you ever heard about how the Easter Islanders got their stone monoliths stood up? It's all about leverage and fulcrum.There was no way we were going to be able to stand this baby up from the floor. We needed leverage.

"Everybody got their steel toe'd boots on?"

   We brought in an assortment of framing and beam scraps and with a 2x4 as a pry bar, started to lever it up. First a 2x4 scrap, then another, then a short beam end replacing the first pieces and to provide greater stability. Pry a little, add a block of wood, then pry a litttle more. We kept at this until we reached a kind of tipping point. When the weight of the stone on the floor starts to be greater than the raised end, it should be possible to man handle the stone into place. With five of us, two on each side and with me manning the pry board, then one last lift and push and we made it.


   Standing back now to admire our work, I am even more impressed with our 'Bessie' knowing what it took to give her such a good home.   More to follow....

Bessie's little brother Billy Bob on the left.

1 comment:

  1. Wow,
    That is one big Bessie and it is exactly what we were looking for in a fireplace. We love our “old coyboy” artisan too. He is simply amazing to put such artwork in our “cabin”.
    Thank you
    Property owner: Marc Tareski