Fifth Bridge Finished on PT109

October 11, 2014

Pictures by Eric Johnson and Larry Gomes
Story by Larry Gomes

Our thirtheenth trail work day was cool and cloudy, perfect fall weather for trail work.  The crew consisted of veterans: Eric Johnson, Dalton Binette, Dave Lemeire and Larry Gomes and a new volunteer named Jake Hallgren. The goals for the day was to rebuild a 35' bridge with 3 steel beams.

Dave Lemeire did another of his surprise during-the-week-work-days and spent a couple of days stripping most the old decking and railings off the bridge.  When we arrived, there were only a few deck boards remaining.  This gave us a great head start to the day.  Great job Dave!

Dave showed off his secret weapon that made stripping the old decking a breeze.  After cutting the decking  boards in half, he used a tool called a "pickaroon" to pry the decking up from the open side.  The tool was amazing and eliminated the need to kneel down and use crow bars. 

The crew split into two groups with Dalton and Jake running ATV's and trailers, bringing new wood down to the site and hauling old wood up to the log yard.   The rest of the crew focused on the bridge: removing the old deck boards and stringers, installing new stringers, installing new decking and finally installing new railings.

By 1:00pm, Dalton and Jake had delivered all of the new wood and hauled out most of the old wood.  They loaded up one of the utility trailers with old wood and headed over to the recycle center to drop it off.  By the time they returned, the rest of the crew had finished building the bridge.  So by 3:00pm, everyone was packing up the tools and heading out of the woods.  The entire bridge project only took about 6 hours to complete which is a smoking hot pace for installing new decking and railings on a 35' bridge.

Here are some pictures from Saturday:

Dave Lemeire stands by a pile of old bridge decking that he removed during the week, saving us valuable time on Saturday.


Dave uses his secret weapon to easily remove the old deck timbers.  The tool is called a "pickaroon" and it works by swinging its
pointed end into the back of the deck beam, and then pushing the handle away from you to pry it out.  Once the beam has been freed,
you can use the pickaroon to roll the beam up onto the deck where it can easily picked up, loaded onto a trailer and hauled away.

Dave's pickaroon is an antique, but this is a picture of a new pickaroon with a similar design that is
available from for about $50.  Well worth the money since it does the work
of two people plus saves your back and your knees.


Eric Johnson uses a battery powered saws-all to cut the old bolts holding the stringers to the beams.


Eric walks backward down the beam while hauling one of the old stringers.  It does not look that high, but this bridge
deck is about 12' off the water so watch your footing Eric!


Jake Hallgren and Dalton Binette spent their day hauling new lumber down from the log yard and bringing old lumber back up.
Here they unload 2" x 6" lumber which will used for stringers.  The old lumber is on the left ready to be loaded for the return trip.

Dave and Eric set some of the new 4" x 6" decking that was just brought down from the log yard.


The crew built the bridge in stages.  First they installed a set of stringers, then they laid down decking and used that as a work
platform for the next set of stringers.  Here Eric and Dave finished bolting down two 2" x 6" boards (one on top of the other)
to serve as 3" high stringers.  3/8" x 5" long galvanized carriage bolts were used to hold the stringers to the beams.

With all of the stringers in place, now it was all hands on deck to install the decking.  The standard decking is 14' long but every 3.5', the crew installed
a 16' long deck beam.  These longer beams provide a place to fasten support boards for the railing posts.


In this picture, you can see the two strings that were used to align the deck boards.  The string on the right was used to
line up the 16' long beams and the string on the left was used for the 14' long beams.  Larry uses a drill powered by
the club generator to pre-drill holes for the 5 1/2" long nails.   Dave sets the nails into the predrilled holes so they can be
quickly sledge hammered into place.  Nailing the entire deck took about 45 minutes using this procedure.


Eric and Dave use the power drill to screw in 10" long timber lags to hold the base of the post in place.


Here Larry screws in a jig that he made to hold the base of the post in steady while the timber lags are being installed.
Behind him are the braces that have been pre-cut to provide additional support for the post.

Final assembly of the bridge railings is done with Paslode nail gun.  The braces are nailed to the sides of the post and
then into the sides of the 16' beams.  the last step is to nail 2" x 6" x 12' long boards to the posts to complete the railings.

Many thanks to our volunteers for doing a terrific job on this bridge.  This is the last of five bridges to be redone on PT109.   But there are still more bridges that need to be built this year so please try to give us just one day of your time to help with the remaining projects. 


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