Almost the first thing I built up here was a ladder. Well, it was the lower deck that the ladder accessed which was actually the first thing I built. Unfortunately it was not a very good ladder. It was intended to be a set of stairs but they were so steep and dangerous, I pretended it was a ladder. It was and still is an embarrassment, not to mention a hazard to anyone with size five feet or larger.
The trouble with that sort of early-on mistake-thing is that so much more building still had to get done that – because it worked, albeit dangerously – it remained in use. We have used that ladder practically every day since we moved here. And every time I make a silent promise to replace it.
Today we began that chore.
The deck is about 10 or so vertical feet from the irregular, rocky surface of the beach. And accessing the beach is part of life out here. My original intention was to build stairs again – this time, properly.
But procrastination has it’s good points.
Now I am going to ramp up. To hell with stairs! They are kinda hard to build anyway and I have an almost-free ramp available!
As you know, my neighbour and I got a few old fish farm pens. He has cut and trimmed them into a variety of lengths. One of the pieces is for me. And I am going to employ it as a ramp. It will travel from the top of the sea stairs (situated on the beach starting from low tide and rising to the high tide mark – see picture) up the seaward (north) side of the deck. The ramp will cover about 30 feet of span and 10 feet of rise and be somewhere in the vicinity of 25 or so degrees in angle. (Imagine a ramp from the top of the metal stairs in the photo up to the distinctly brown board at the edge of the deck also pictured). The ramp weighs about two thousand pounds, give or take.
So, the challenge facing us is…..how to ‘hang it’?
The theory is to extend one of the steel perimeter beams that forms the underframe of the deck (as shown in the pic below). These are made of 5 x 5 galvanized, heavy steel angle beams that I salvaged years ago. Each one is 22 feet in length. I have a few extra and they are beams-in-waiting (for future projects), as it were.
‘Course, the weighty and waiting beams were in the way of the current project. We have acres of land and I had previously chosen to ‘stack’ my 225 pound beams down by the deck. Exactly where, it turns out, logic requires the ramp to go. So first we had to move the six steel beams that were resting on the severely steep and rocky slope. Everything was going along swimmingly until one of the beams went swimming. Literally.
We had it up on the deck and near the edge. We were ‘shivelling‘ it into place and we shivelled a smidge too far. It is amazing how a dead weight can become alive. It slipped a bit over the edge. We both stepped back as one end kicked up a bit and then we dove out of the way as it reared high in the air and slipped over the edge like an anorexic Titanic. It slipped backwards off the deck, caromed off the ramp and headed for the beach. There it found a slippery slope and headed for Davy Jones’ locker. It had gone from ‘right at our feet’ to ten feet under in a second!
Fortunately it stopped its descent with one end just a foot from the surface.
“Wow! That was impressive. I’ve seen scalded cats move slower. Sheesh!”
“Right”, said Sal, “No point in crying over slipped steel. I’ll wade in, get a line on it and we’ll pull it out. Let’s go!”
A half hour later we had managed to wrestle the beast back to its former resting place on the deck. We rested ourselves a minute and then moved the balance of the steel out of the way so that we could actually do something constructive.
Then I cut a piece off (6’6″) one of the lengths and bolted it to the end of one of the frames. Elapsed time: four to five hours.
As we headed up the stairs to put dinner on and feed the dogs, Sal said, “So, let me get this right……….a long hot and hard afternoon. And we only bolted one piece of steel onto another. One bolt. One nut. Zat right?”
“Yup. But I am the bolt. You are the nut!”