Big wood, little space

Last Monday and Tuesday we were working on a really interesting job.

The task was to remove a really big black pine in a super-confined space – and by super-confined I mean just that! The work space was a footpath which was two meters wide with a building on one side and a fence with hostile neighbours on the other, so not much leeway there!

I considered all kinds of options, but the site was too tight and too far from the (steep and narrow) road to be able to use a crane, helicopter was not an option as there was not place within easy access to drop off the wood… so in the end I decided it was a case for manual handling, and then some!

The first day we removed all the limbs in the morning, tip-rigged the larger stem onto the smaller stem and removed the tip. Next we snatched sections off the remaining stem. This was interesting as we recorded the forces using a Straightpoint load-sensing Impact Block… four hundred kilogram pieces were generating peak forces of up to almost four tonnes! This makes you realise how in instances like this you really need to consider your safety factors and dimension the gear you are using correctly. Being able to quantify theses forces in such a precise fashion is truly fascinating, as it allows you to put numbers to a gut feeling.

On the morning of the second day we had the massive fork where the two stems were attached to deal with. As there was insufficient height to rig a piece, I decided rip the stem lengthwise into about one and a half meter lengths, to then dump the pieces onto a stack of tires we placed below, after that, I used the half-round platform to stand on, quartered the remaining half, sectioned this down and used the remaining quarter as an anchor point to rip the next piece. Sometimes there are technical fixes to problems, but this was not one of them, this was simply a case of reducing the wood to manageable size to drop it in a controlled fashion. The tires did a great job, cushioned the fall, yet not causing the pieces to rebound. The damage to the paving below was pretty negligible.

This was one of those jobs where I was very relieved that all worked out spot on in regards to the bid I put in, you do wonder sometimes on big wood like this whether you have allowed for enough time, but all turned out well. One thing I did, was to add in an amount to cover for the fact that we might well toast a rigging line (we were using up to 20mm lines), adding this amount onto the offer, as I felt the likelihood of equipment getting damaged was quite high. It did, so just as well… but apart from some fairly minor damage to some kit there was not damage to any of the surrounding targets, which is alway good.

This job was a further exercise of problem solving, being methodical, working through challenges step by step. If it is bigger, the techniques you usually employ are not thrown over board, on the contrary, essentially you are still applying exactly the methodology you would to a smaller tree, things merely get scaled up.

Tired now.

Thanks – once again – to Vito for the photos