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Trailer Beams Bridge Stream
Driving through a stream on his farm was causing it to wash out so John Slywczak decided it was time to build a bridge. He needed 50-ft. beams and decided he could get what he needed from trailers used to haul pre-built homes to building sites. They're basically beams with axles under them.
  "A dealer wanted $700 to $800 for a transport unit," says Slywczak. "The 52-ft. trailer had 6 axles under the four I-beams, which I stripped and sold to recover most of what I paid for the package."
  Once the beams were on site, Slywczak stripped off any extraneous brackets and supports. Each I-beam was double width for reinforcement at axle mounts. He flipped two I-beams end for end and then boxed alternating pairs so the reinforced sections offset each other rather than face each other. Box ends were made by cutting 27-in. sections from each I-beam and welding to the ends of each pair. The ends of the two pairs were then reinforced with 8-ft. lengths of 1 1/2 by 2-in. steel tubing welded in place. Spacing the two pairs of boxed I-beams 27 in. apart produced the desired overall width of 8 feet.
  Slywczak knew he needed to reinforce the beams and create a camber or arch to the structure for added strength under load. The first step was to weld two lengths of 1 1/2 by 2-in. steel tubing in an X every four feet between the beams.
  To create the camber, Slywczak attached a 1/4 by 2-in. belly band of cold rolled steel strap to the top of each beam running from points 9 ft. from either end. To secure the strap, he stitch welded it, welding for 6 in., leaving a gap and then welding for another 6 in. for the final 4 ft. of strap. Standoffs, made from 4-in. sections of 1 1/2 by 2-in. steel tubing welded to the top of the I-beams and between them and their belly straps, created the necessary tension. When the structure was flipped over, it had the desired curve. When placed under load, the belly straps help prevent sag.
  Footings at either end of the bridge consist of railroad ties laid log cabin-style from bedrock to above the creek bank. Ends of the ties were "pinned" with 1/2-in. rebar.
  Lengths of wooden 2 by 2's were attached under the outside lips of the I-beams. Bridge decking of treated 2 by 4's were then attached to them using galvanized twist nails.
  Railings were made by attaching 4 by 4 uprights to the beams using j-bolts. These were attached to the outside edge of the outside I-beams. Slywczak used 2 by 4's for the handrails.
  Approaches were graded to the ties and covered with flat stone from the creek.
  "It will swing sideways a little, but it has vertical stability," says Slywczak, who primarily crosses the bridge on his Cub Cadet. "When my son drove across it with a 2,000-lb. load, it only flexed 1/4 in. in the center."
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, John Slywczak, 9316 St. Rt. 5, Kinsman, Ohio 44428 (ph 330 876-5346; frd30@aol.com).

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2006 - Volume #30, Issue #1