FPC Tower Takedown Day (Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015) began before 7:00 a.m. The crew from Keeley Crane Service in Portland, Maine, started by transferring counterweights from four waiting flatbed trailers to the bed of the crane.
Arron Sturgis and the large crew from Preservation Timber Framing (PTF) then made final plans with the crane team, and began “flying up” and securing the four long bearing timbers.
They finished through-bolting the thick bearing timbers to the even thicker vertical support timbers inside the tower about 11:30, and released the bearing timbers from the crane. The crane crew then changed to the long strap rigging needed for lifting the tower top.
The gathered viewers waited patiently as the team carefully positioned that rigging so as to support the top without damaging the trim work and weathervane. (The weathervane is secured to the tower by a 7’ metal rod buried inside the lantern structure, and PTF had determined it was safer to leave the weathervane in place than to try removing it while still up high on the tower.)
Finally all was ready and the lift began about 1:30.
They slowly raised the top a few inches to check it, then smoothly pulled it out and set it down.
The PTF crew then scrambled to secure the top to the waiting base of timber cribbing, with lumber side supports (and later tensioned steel cables) to support it.
Meanwhile the view out the top of the tower had become dramatically different, with blue sky exposed again for the first time since the tower was constructed 190 years ago.
The crew up top prepared the tower base for its new roof, while the crane crew changed the rigging once again. Then they flew down the first piece of steel to be removed out of the tower. (Repairs in the 1990’s employed steel beams, brackets, and lag bolts, which are failing now; going forward we are using historically-accurate timber frame construction methods that should provide a century or more of service.)
Raising and securing the new roof was then straightforward. The crane crew packed up and left, and the Tower Top Takedown Day that many people had worked hard to achieve was successfully completed.
By two days later, PTF had cleaned up the job site, and secured the tower top with scaffolding and debris netting. Next they will study and report on the actual state of the tower top and base — now easier to determine — and work with the FPC Building Advisory Committee to plan the best next steps.