I think it was in 1997 that Pat Wisniewski came to visit and helped me build this huge climbing structure in the back yard. I wanted something so high that it
would be worth the effort to climb up to the top and view the world around.. It was never really finished as some of the railings needed tops. Ironically, the
railings were the only parts damaged when I recently took the climbing structure down with the idea of reinstalling it in the back yard of a friend of our neighbors
Sue and Sheila. I had a plan how to take it down and it was mostly a workable plan. The structure came down in a very controlled fashion and there is a movie
you can watch to get an idea of how fast that happened.

Right face of climbing structure     Clubhouse 

The climbing rope got a lot of use. It was an "industrial grade" climbing rope. It was satisfying to see my boys climbing up that rope.

Splice on climbing rope   Climbing rope    Left side view showing legs

There was a plan and a concept for taking down the climbing structure.  Here's a movie of the toppling. movie 4,378 kB

Toppling the play structure  Toppling structure with arros

Tipping it over   Almost over 
The block in tackle came in handy for a couple of operations. One end is an older wooden block and the other is a newer galvanized block. They worked together
fine. I used lots of cable and Crosby clamps in this operation as well as a railroad jack that can lift as much as 20 tones. The block and tackle, the railroad jack
and most of the steel cable ( 5/16" 7 x 19 plow iron cable) came from David Doehlert. I also used a lot of 4" x 4" wood cribbing to help lift and lower the structure.

Close up of block    A block and tackle helped pull it over   Wooden block of block and tackle
After trailer is removed     On the ground finally

This one horsepower 12 volt electric winch made life much easier. I recharged the battery after every operation. However, I never had to stop at any point
due to the battery having run out of capacity. My battery worked well.  It is pictured a few lines below.

Railroad jack can lift 20 tonnes    The winch is a one horsepower motor    There were two buttons to push

The battery was small but never ran out.       Two halves were separated         The structure was backed up 

Approaching the stream

Going through the woods    The trailer is recovered in good condition

Reaching high ground
Now I needed an anchor in the right position to pull against. To get the club-house portion up the hill I used the Le Sabre as an anchor.
When I tried that for the large base of the structure, I just pulled the Le Sabre sideways about five feet before I gave up. I may also
place some section of water pipe between the base and the planks being used as skids, if there is too much drag to move it easily.

Base structure on the move

Pulling the structure up the hill (see below) required two new techniques. One, was placing lengths of steel pipe in between the base of
the structure and the wood planks acting as a skid. Even with the pipes reducing drag, neither the truck or the big Le Sabre were massive
enough remain stationary as an anchor to pull against. The problem was solved by running a 5/16"  7x19 steel cable from a tree in the
back yard to the Oak tree that was halfway up the driveway. Then I fixed a chain to various points along that cable depending on where
I needed the winch to be.

The big section tops the hill      Largest part of climbing structure even with garage

Winch anchored at a point on very long cable       Winch at oak tree in driveway        Steel pipes to roll

Above are pictures showing (left to right) how winch is secured in middle of cable, winch on Oak in driveway, and pipes used as rollers.

Backyard is empty of climbing structures    View from driveway of both pieces of he climbing structure

This first picture on the left shows that the structure is really on the other side of the fence and out of the back yard and now in the driveway.
The picture on the right shows the two halves of the structure in the driveway. There is a big pile of our neighbor's mulch still to be moved.

Winching up the ramp          Loading the structure onto the truck

Dawn rented a tilt bed truck and driver. It was perfect. Their winch was a lot stronger than my winch. We got both halves on the truck.

Prying the big part into place.   The load is in place.

After prying it into place and attaching flags, we were ready to go the five miles to it's new home.

Load leaving the house.          On the road to it's new home
I didn't have my camera for the unloading because I left it with Julie after our truck was rear ended by a jeep.

Starting to raise the structure
We started jacking up the club house to get it lined up to be bolted back through the desk.
highlighted cable
The winch allowed me to pull the two halves of the structure tightly together. I highlighted the cables in red to make the path visible.

On the level with cribbing    The club house is supported with cribbing
Now the climbing structure looked pretty good.  It is level and the clubhouse and the main platform are pulled together tightly.

The old legs were removed.  New larger supports were sliced to make notches.  Then the slices were knocked out.  Notches were made at both ends.
The old legs had split during moving and needed to be replaced. The 4"x 4" legs were replaced with 4" x 6" legs. The notches were
cut to allow the new legs to fit into place and support the deck under structure. Notches also support the railing horizontal members.

Completed replacement legs.   The new legs were fitted into place.   All the legs fit into place.  
When the legs were notched, they fit into place replacing the old splintered legs. The new structure will be more stable.

Finally all the new legs are in place.    A single leg supports the club house.     And it is supported with a single leg.
Finally all three legs have been replaced and the diagonal supports installed. The stack of cribbing supporting the club house is
replaced with a single support with a "shoe" at the bottom to allow it to slide as the structure is winched into position to be raised.
Winch is broken  The main drive gear, pinion.  Gear teeth worn away
The cable got wrapped around the outside of the winch drum in the dark and jammed it up. It keep working for a while but then
stopped. When I took it apart the second time, the problem was clear. The internal teeth were worn away.

With the winch now completely broken further work on re-erecting the climbing structure must wait until a new winch can be bought or

On October 4th was in Chesterfield, VA again and bought another winch which was the same model but seemed to be slightly improved.
Unfortunately for others, the improved version was the older discontinued model. It came without the nice hand held switch but I still
had that from the old winch.

My new super winch    Block and Tackel

Block and tackle

The new winch has much harder sides to the spool even though it is obviously the same design as the old winch. My theory which is only
wild speculation is that this better winch was being obsoleted because the new version was cheaper to make. I am happy to have a winch
as a result of doing this project.

The winch by itself  was not able to lift the weight of the climbing structure. However by using a block and tackle we could multiple the
power of the winch nearly threefold. The drawback was that we didn't have room or enough cable to set the block and tackle up to
do it all in one effort.  It is really satisfying to be able to put the block and tackle to good use after all these years. Now with the winch
I have a new capability.

First we had to turn it to face correctly.

The first task was to turn the entire structure around. It was harder than we expected because it was so top heavy with the playhouse
already in place. This was where the winch had failed the month before. We jacked it level and then had to keep shifting the pile
of cribbing as we pulled it around by the climbing rope bar in the foreground.

Begining a long process   It is top heavy

The other thing that I brought was a very old block and tackle that David Doehlert had given me years ago. The two sets of pulleys
were from different generations, one mostly wooden with still shafts and wheels and reinforcing and the other all steel. They worked
well together and they allowed the winch to lift the structure from almost level pulling from what was the highest point at that moment.

I ran into some trouble with what were allegedly 3/8" Campbel cable clamps. I think these were inferior imitations and I will have pictures
to show the problems shortly. Anyway, I had to stop at 4:00 on Sunday with the structure pretty much at the point shown in the photos
above and get new clamps, this time from Wall-Mart. The first set were from a local hardware store chain.  With the ratio of about 3:1
I could only bull the cable about 8 feet before the blocks were together  and I had to secure the load and shorten the cable coming from
the structure.

After dark, it was finally in place.     It is really up.
At the very end when the structure was near the balance point, I took the block and tackle out and had Dawn on the winch and I
went through a fence to a huge tree on the other side from the winch and with a heavy cable that went around the tree three times,
I was able to start lowering the entire structure as soon as gravity was working in our favor. I remember it being at one foot, then at
six inches then at 2 inches and then it was finally on the ground.  The structure was officially re-erected at 8:02 pm on Sunday
evening October 5th.