Unbuilding the Grace and Pearman Bridges

For Sparky and myself, curiosity drives passion which in turn fuels our life's engine. Our passion was capturing the story of both unbuilding the Grace (1929 - 2007) and Pearman (1966 - 2007) Bridges and discovering the unbuilders. It takes a lot of passion to track a project from July 2005 until April 2007 - rain, shine, hurricanes or moving to Singapore. We discovered the joy of discovery learning. Ken Canty opened the front door for us - then Steve Testa, Ponch Billingsley and Mickey Rogers opened many side doors. Below are the highlights of what we discovered, who we met and what we learned.

And a reminder from T.S. Eliot (East Coker from the Four Quartets)

Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.

November 14, 2005:
Picking concrete and steel girders

Testa and Cashman dual processing today. They alway are multiprocessing but rarely can I catch two processes at the same time. Today - picking concrete girders to the left (toward Mt. Pleasant) and steel girders to the right. on the Mt Pleasant side is Bob McCabe - with Jack Foley operating the shear, Scott Billingsley operating the lift and Bob Ange's team - Nathan Brooks and Stan Dawson are the iron workers.

Following the concrete girder action - lifting

and lifting

and rotating to place the girder on the Pearman roadway

and lowering - up close

Here the left concrete girder continues its downward trajectory while the steel team is making a final diagonal cut on the right girder

cutting continues with Cousin Arthur Ravenel watching over the process.

extending the diagonal cut downward

With Cousin Arthur watching, our team starts lifting steel girder in the distance while in the foreground Cousin Arthur watches Bob's team prepare to harvest the concrete girder

a closer view of the harvesting the steel girder

The left concrete girder is now in its resting position

is uncoupled

and so the next iteration starts

And at the same time Bob Ange is directing Nathan, Stan and the crane operator below to position the lift bar for wrapping the next girder

Here is Stan (left) and Nathan (right) at work

There is a small problem, though, - to catch the tag line attached to the wrapping cable. Speedy (Nathan) demonstrates a little acrobatics. With a trusty gaff Speedy grabs the tag line and passes the tag line to Stan.

With the tag line (barely visible to the left of the bottom of the wrapper), Stan pulls the wrapper up (a nylon tri-strand super-strength piece of dental floss)

and wraps the girder

and then couples the wrapper to the lift bar shackles

and place the pin back in the shackle

and finished. With gaff in hand, they march off the girder - just in time for lunch.

Our acrobatic iron workers - Nathan and Stan and their safety harnesses - adapted for all sorts of challenges.

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C. Frank Starmer