Bradfield bridge progress

I have had little time for blogging recently but have been making good progress on my green oak bridge at Bradfield. This post showed the start of the work on the stone abutments. The next step was finding a suitable tree for the main timbers. I have been looking for this tree for many months. It needed to be and oak tree 29 feet long by 2 feet diameter and with a nice even curve in one plane only. The perfect tree blew down in a storm in Hayfield 2 years ago and landed perched on top of a dry stone wall on a steep bank.

 It would have been cut up long ago if it was not such a difficult and potentially dangerous position, our first job was to get it off the wall and down to the flat ground without damaging the rest of the wall below. My mate Andy came to help and with a winch and some heavy strops we gradually helped it off the wall and down the bank.

It was a very slow controlled decent that took an afternoon but left the wall unscathed and everybody safe. Big timber like this can be very dangerous and the trick is not to rush and to spend a lot of time thinking and planning.
 
The next stage was a bit of hewing to clean the bark off, this is the first stage in letting me see the timber really, it also cleans off any grit trapped in the bark that would blunt the saw and gives a nice surface for marking out on.

Having marked the best line down the tree with a chalk line I saw it free hand with a huge chainsaw. This is pretty much the same method as used by traditional pit sawyers but faster.

First slab nearly off.

Cutting the tree main beams.

All sawn through and now I decide the exact profile of the bridge and see if I can cut the handrails from the same slabs.

Three main timbers and a spare 6″ x 4″ which will make two handrails. Just need to get them over the wall and on to a trailer now. I’ll maybe put that in a seperate post with installing them at the bridge site.

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