ENGINEERING WITH INGENUITY

Latin for "Engineer": "ingeniare - to devise". 

INTEGRITY, THOROUGHNESS, PROGRESS, AND ECONOMICS.

 

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CONCEPTUAL LINKS:

Creativity

Exposure

 

THE STORY:

Engineering with Ingenuity

The King of the Movable Bridge

The Great Pyramids

A New Theory of Construction

Bridgehunter

 

Engineering with Ingenuity

 

The Essence of Creativity

 

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THE PROBLEM

There is a huge river - hundreds of feet across.  Train traffic on both sides of the river is great, but must go hundreds of miles down-river to cross another bridge, and then come back to the city.  I want a bridge across the river.

Simple enough: Build a bridge:

 

 

"Wait," I'm told. "I forgot to tell you. This is a major commercial river. Barges. Big boats. Lots of traffic. You build this and nothing will get under!"

OK - a minor setback, if it is a setback at all. We'll merely elevate the bridge a bit:

 

 

"I'm sorry - you didn't understand the implications of the reality regarding trains. They literally are on the banks of the rivers. This same elevation that allows ships to get under prevents trains from going over!"

Fine - back to the drawing board.

I draw a pivot bridge. Centered on a mid-river pier, the whole bridge pivots parallel to the flow of the water, allowing ships to pass when there's ships, and trains to cross when there's trains. Perfect.

It's rejected.

"There's a lot of car and pedestrian traffic we want to keep moving, and a pivot bridge brings everything to a halt!"

Great. It would have been nice to be told these conditions up front. Maybe this is my issue as well. They want a bridge that's not too high but not too low. It can't pivot, lift, or draw.

Sounds impossible.

I put something on paper. Whenever I'm stuck, I put something on paper. Rail underneath. Car and pedestrian traffic on top.

 

 

I need to get the lower part of the bridge out of the way for oncoming river traffic, but in the process of getting it out of the way, I need to keep the top section undisturbed.

If I could just lift part of the bridge up, but keep a section of it stable ...

 

 

That's it! Lifting the bottom section INTO the top! The car-floor remains in tact, while the supports - OK - how do I interweave the supports of the lower section into the upper?

How do I lift the sections?

A counter-weight pulley system. Easy enough. But where do the lower supports go? Why not pull them THROUGH the upper supports? Make the upper supports hollow steel, with a cable going through them, and connected to the corresponding support on the lower level?

 

 

Car and passenger service undisturbed.

Clearance for ship traffic.

A bridge for rail traffic.

Problem solved!

What do you think of my "ingenious" solution? Reasonable? Anything extraordinary about it?

Here it is in practice:

 

 

 

The ASB Bridge in Kansas City, spanning the Missouri River. Completed in 1911.

It actually is extraordinary! In the history of bridge building, as I understand it, this and the Steel Bridge in Portland are the only two built like this - the latter more extraordinary as the upper lift can be lifted higher in the case of high tide or an unusually large ship.

The common link?

The King of the Movable Bridge: John Alexander Low Waddell. Central to his thinking:

INTEGRITY, THOROUGHNESS, PROGRESS AND ECONOMICS.

 

 

 

 

The King of the Movable Bridge

A Sampling of John Waddell Bridges

 

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The Vertical Lift Halstead Bridge in Chicago .

 

The Steel Bridge in Portland:


The initial design of the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge ...

 

 

 

The Great Pyramids

A Brief Time-Out

 

The Idea of Exposure

 

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The magnificence of the Great Pyramids is matched only by their intrigue.  How were they built?  I've never bought any of the theories on their construction.  Take the "ramp" idea:

 

 

Ridiculous.  I've never believed this was plausible.  Which isn't to say I ever had anything to offer by way of alternative theories.  I didn't.

 

 

 

 

Pyramid Construction

A New Theory

 

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Look again at the ASB Bridge:

 

 

 

The counter-weights descend, pulling the lower span up.  Think about that - several times.  And now think of how the Great Pyramids might have been constructed.

 

 

Bridgehunter

A Remarkable Site

 

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For incredible pictures and specific history on the ASB bridge, visit its page at:

Bridgehunter

 

This site has documentation on 20,000 historic / notable bridges in the United States, and an amazing interface to browse them ...