Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Part 6: Hoisting the First Treehouse Beam

Life with Pulleys: Getting A Treehouse Beam Into the Tree

My plan was to get the two big treehouse support beams up into the tree (somehow), then lash them in place (somehow), then drill holes for the lag screws (somehow) and screw those in. All without the help of useful things like cherry pickers, scaffolding, or other people.

I picked up a few of these wonderful rope pulleys from; in addition to being tough, smooth operating, and simple to use, these pulleys slide apart so you can add them to your rigs on the fly — and I knew I’d be making a lot of this up as I went along.

The first time getting a 16-foot 2x12 into the tree, I wanted it to be as easy as possible. So I rigged up a little ballast weight, several pulleys, and some cord I thought was a good idea to use (it wasn’t, back to climbing rope for everything after this). 

Yes, those are buckets of water. They’re heavy.

Seemingly simple idea gets pretty complicated.

The black straps are looped into a lasso, which tightens under weight and held onto the board pretty well.

Once I got the 2x12 close enough, I hauled myself up there and muscled it the rest of the way around the trunk on the north (left in picture) side and wedged into the "Y" branch on the south — a tricky feat working in the tree, but ultimately doable. 

Doable but very, very hard work.

Lashing turned out to be out of the question, since I couldn’t get my arms around the enormous branches to where lashing knots would be worth the effort. Instead, I used a lot of straps, which I could sort of whip around the tree with one hand and catch with the other — and which had the added advantage of being pretty adjustable, so I could level the thing off (more or less) after getting it in place. 

Which gives one a good idea of how high the floor of the treehouse will be.

It should be pointed out that this first beam took all day to get into place. Between rigging for lifting the beam, rigging for lifting myself, getting it up there, muscling it the last few feet and going up and down (and across to the other side of things) a bunch of times, and cleaning up (re-coiling) my gear, it was almost dark when I was done. 

One beam. All day. I was exhausted, and it wasn’t even properly attached. I put a bunch of extra straps on everything and went to bed.

On to Part 7: Installing Treehouse Bolts

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