Changing the face of Charleston : The unbuilding of the Grace and Pearman Bridges
Frank's Internet Home Page
Blog: 2005
Archives of unbuilding sections
Blog: 2006
The story of building the Ravenel Bridge
Visit our
Adventures in Singapore
Click to view all web page segments
I enjoy hearing from you. If you have comments and suggestions, write me.

Unbuilding Highlights
(Apr 10)
Meeting St. Stories
(Jul 10 2006)
East Bay Stories
(Oct 10 2006)
Drum Island Stories
(Feb 17)
Pearman Bridge Stories
(Apr 3)
Grace Bridge Stories
(Apr 3)
Imposions: Prep and boom
(Mar 27)
Unbuilding Bridge Blog
(July 23 2006)
Unbuilding Challenges
(Mar 13)
Learning Links
(Feb 20)
Unbuilding Stories
(Mar 13)
Video and Sounds
(Feb 28)

March 22, 2005 Gone is T-3 and a farewell to Frank
Mickey Rogers and his ABS team and their farewell to me with their largest implosion to date.

This is my last day before leaving for Singapore and my new job as Associate Dean for learning technologies. That is a facy way to describe building a new medical school in Singapore. So it is a day filled with emotions, expectations and excitement.

I did not find Mickey Rogers and Ken Tully and their ABS team. They found me and wanted to know why I had not included them in my photo essays. So last fall, Mickey in desparation, sent a polite email wondering why I focused on the bridges and not on what some of the subcontractors were doing. I had no answer so I found Mickey and my life has not been the same since. Today was special. Professor Rogers (aka Mickey) taught me a bit of how to load dynamite, sequence the shock tubes and enjoy the results. Sparky and Gary joined in and together today was a very special day. First the highlights and then the story.

Professor Mickey Rogers - and his Wednesday seminar.

I got to the worksite about 8 am. There were clouds and a really strong wind from the north. We made our way from the Sea Breeze Marina and passed P-3 where you can see the silhouette of Michael's 1250 and to the left, a silhouette of the Ravenel Bridge.

Here is the D-3 worksite with Michael in the background getting ready to take down P-3, the Drum Island concrete Grace pier.

Today's goal: to remove the D-3 substructure. D-3, itself, took forever and a day to unbuild - so I named it Tenacity of Purpose . Here is a view of T-3 on November 15, 2005 - just before we encountered the meaning of tenacity of purpose.

Here the substructure after the cap and supporting columns were unbuilt. This photo was after the dynamite was loaded and sequenced.

What a pleasant start to find Michael (a quiet reminder of all the people that made these photo essays possible: ichie, Jackie, Leon, Roy, Lewis, Steve, Pio, Neal, Jim, Bob, Ken C., Joe, Nugget, Stan, Sonny, Speedy, Chucky, Scotty, Chris D., Junior, Manny, Chris V. Ponch, Ken T., Pat, Art, Farmer, Rip, Gary, Paul, and perhaps the rest of you will forgive me for a lapse in memory).

Here is Michael's 1250 in the sleeping position - and then in the operating position

I learned a new term: high reach work - and this is a high reach indeed

And our primary worksite, the T-3 substructure. The top surface had been drilled with 36 (I think) vertical holes for the dynamite. Each hole was 45' deep and Mickey sequenced the detonation such that the middle charges were detonated with propagation to the outside. The result was a collapse, first in the center and then the outer walls collapsed inward. The specific strategy, Mickey called a V pattern. As seen in the high res photos of the initial moments after detonation, his sequencing strategy produced the desired result.

Loading - Mickey and then a lesson for me

Mickey loading

But Mickey had better ideas - put on my had and Professor Roger's holds a dynamite loading seminar - one junior learner (student): Watch Mickey teach Frank how to load a 45' column with 120 lbs of dynamite (4 Mb mpg) (and break a 50' tape measure). In reality I had two professors - Junior, sitting in front of me was our QC guy - making sure I measured carefully - dropped the dynamite in with the detonator down - all those practical issues that escaped me.

Retrieving the tape (before I broke it)

Loading one of the 24 sticks of dynamite - this one with a detonator

Carefully dropping it into the 45' hole

Then adding some stemming (crushed rock that compacts after the detonation and minimizes the upward shock wave). You can see Felix on the left with a big grin, watching me struggle to do everything correctly. Both Felix and Junior are the experts here and simply assisting Mickey has he humors an old man and provides a moment of excitment.

Some more dynamite from Junior.

Mickey is not quite sure at my skill - so always inspecting.

Me - seeking approval

20 more or less sticks of dynamite later - the final stimming and on to the next hole

Now watch Mickey - a professional - Mickey loading (real time) (8 Mb mpg). Loading for Mickey is ok - but teaching me - hmmm - time for a break

Now totally rested and full of beans - Mickey ties the shock tubes together. Watch Mickey tie in the shock tubes - which sequence the detonation (2.5 Mb mpg)

With the yellow shock tubes - he sets the detonation sequence - Mick calls this the zigzag sequence - a strategy for generating inward motion of the structure as it collapses

The sequenced array of loaded holes

The shock tube array from the side.

Mickey ties in the master shock tube

and his team rolls it out toward the barge

Its time to depart from T-3. Lewis and Richard raise the spuds that anchor our barge

Bye bye T-3

Off to a safe distance

and lowering the spud

The Surprise

From the staging barge (in the distance with the crane) - Richard, Lewis and Brutus took us to the other barge where Mickey set up the detonation receiver. Here, looking from the Drum Island barge along the yellow shock tube

and Mickey set up the receiver

However, on our way to the Port - Mickey made a small detour - to add something special to the face of T-3

and Mickey's heart

From Gary's position on the dock - he got another perspective

as we fade away

A small small smile and a bit weepy-eyed

Now the implosion Click for the video

Note the wave formation in front of T-3 - indicating that the sequencing started from the center

As the rest of the explosives detonate, a wall of water forms around T-3

which slows the lateral spread of Frank

The wave structure continues to grow

and begins to form an ourward progaging surface wave

Look to the right and you can see a wave that some surfers might enjoy (with a hard hat of course)

which rapidly propagates toward us - a micro tsunami

which rapidly dissipates

and its mostly over

the smoke begins to drift to the south

and perhaps 30 sec later - a small wave and a bit of smoke is the only reminder of T-3

after it was all over with a small bubbling area in the center that dissipated after a few minutes.

The blast sequence from video frames

Here is the first 300 msec of development of the implosion. Click for the video

T = 0 - 0.033 sec

T = 0.067 - 0.100 sec

T = 0.133 - 0.167 sec

T = 0.200 - 0.233 sec

T = 0.267 - 0.300 sec

Some of today's players

Lewis and Richard



Rick, Karen (from SCDOT who pushed the button) and Mickey

Ken Canty and myself. Ken became a good friend and managed to open many doors for me so that I could get an inside look at the unbuilding process and relate the story as short photo essays. A real friend!

and Joe Duffy - the inside man at the skunk works - more encouragement and insights from Joe than I could have asked for

and Sparky - no words to describe Sparky

and our team

Us! - Tres amigos - Sparky, Frank and Gary. With their help and help from others, the unbuilding story will continue! Gary has pulled together some photos from our times together. I have included a few above - what a wonderrful friend. Click and enjoy. I shall miss Gary and Sparky.

Click to view all unbuilding web page segments

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Attribution: C. Frank Starmer and Sparky Witte from