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.

January 11, 2005:
Unbuilding the Pearman Cantilever Truss

Diving back across the Ravenel Bridge, I noticed work on unbuilding the Pearman truss at the Port. With curious eyes activated, I drove over to see what was happening. Here is a view of the truss section coupled to a crane

and one of our ironworker acrobats walking out to make a cut

Cutting the top beam

and more cutting

About this time, Ken Canty walked over and helped me understand what was going on. Ken has been one of my unbuilding professors and has found ways to simplify things so that I can understand. In this case, Ken takes the original engineering drawings and breaks them down into segments that indicate, in this case, the steps in cutting (i.e. where to cut) and the sequencing of the cuts (which cut is 1st, 2nd etc). Here is his drawing for today's work (and maybe tomorrow's).

Armed with the plan, I watched and sure enough - there was synchrony between the plan and its execution - here cutting the diagonal beam

and as the beam acquires a little freedom, some more cutting

and a final cut which frees the beam.

Meanwhile, the guy on the top beam finishes his cut

with a flare

Now the truss is free

and the crane operator slowly lowers and rotates it


and down to the barge - and in the background, the jackup barge with Michael in his 1250 hammering away

(about 6 hours later) - I went to the Sea Breeze to catch a ride with Sharon back to D-27. Looking up at the Pearman truss was the truss elevator service picking up our iron worker acrobats:

and a wave on their way down.

Soon Sharon and Phillip arrived and we were off to finish loading D-27 and then the blast.

Later after the D-27 blast, we passed the jackup barge

and another truss section was coming down

a closer look at the jackup barge

and a last look at lowering another truss section and the jackup barge

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer