........Comment by Bill Moore

...The forest around us

That A-frame was a dandy!

....“That A-frame was a dandy!”
....Well, we thought it was, anyway. The log float measured 135 feet in length by 125 feet in width. The two spruce A-sticks were 140 feet long by 30 inches at their top diameter. Ah, she was a handsome brute – maybe not the eighth wonder of the world, but to a small group of west coast loggers, she was the Aswan Dam and a couple of pyramids thrown in for good measure.
....Now, you might ask, what is an A-frame? Well you might ask if you weren’t around in the 1930s and 1940s on our B.C. coast. Because by the 1950s they were becoming extinct as the trees were logged off most of our coastal shorelines. By the 1960s the A-frame had become just about as rare as the dodo bird.
....In the earliest days of shoreline log-ging, quite often a log float would be lashed together with cable and placed on a beach in front of a hillside of trees. A steam donkey would be placed on the float and tied down to the logs so it couldn’t move when it pulled the logs from the forest. This was known as a “ground lead” system – and was soon improved on by standing up a good sturdy tree or spar tree on the float so that the pull on the logs had some “lift” to the system. Hence the “high lead” system.
....Because of the difficulty of guying too tall a tree on the log float, two tall trees were raised in the form of an “A” and were thus easier to guy to the float.
....As time went on many means were found to hold the A-frame float away


of the float. In narrow inlets or coves, the float could simply be tied by cable rom behind the float to the nearest shore on the other side. Or two sets of pilings could be driven in the water, be-hind the float to form two lashed dolphins. The float was then tied to the dolphins.
....Most used though, was the stiffleg. This method used a long log or lashed logs from the front of the float to a place at the high-tide part of the beach to keep the float out in the deeper water.
....Different loggers used ingenious me-thods for A-frame logging. It was a time that called for ingenuity as there were few experts to call on for advice. Each logging site along the shore front called for something different to be done. And our coast line was dotted with these strange floating monsters – and they pulled millions of board feet of logs to the saltchuck and lakes of our coast.
...In those days, of course there were no roads. All transport of people, food, supplies and logs was done by water. The floating camp – on logs – would be towed to near where the A-frame was

working, so the loggers would not have too far to go to work.
....Most steam donkeys on A-frames could reach back in the forest for distances up to 1500 feet. If there were trees beyond that point, then often a steam donkey would be moved into the woods and a spar tree would be set up at that point so its yarded logs from another 1500 feet into the forest could be transferred to the lines of the A-frame donkey. It was not unheard of to find four such transfers taking place on a logging claim. This meant that logs could be brought to the water by relay from up to a distance of three quarters of a mile from the beach. A formidable piece of timbered ground.
....We had been using an old broken down, sinking, washed out A-frame and float for many years when it was decided in ’42 that we would have to build a new one. We were in a five mile long narrow inlet at the time and the A-frame and relay system was the best and cheapest method we knew of.
....She was going to be a dandy, we de-
from the beach so that logs could be properly pulled into the water in front
ONCE A FAMILIAR sight along the B.C. coast, steam donkeys and A-frames such as the set-up shown, have long since been left to history.
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British Columbia Lumberman, February, 1978

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cided. Big, strong, and able to last for awhile. The first job was to find about 25 big, long spruce trees for the float. Such trees could be found in the inlet, but because of their size they were difficult to yard out onto the beaches with our old broken down A-frame. As the float was to be 135 feet long, we needed trees that long with a sawn off top diameter of at least two feet. This meant many of them had butt diameters of five or six feet! It took buckets of sweat and a month to get the trees we wanted out to tide-water
Those were the days of hand fallers and the limbs on the big spruce had to be all hand bucked off to make the logs smooth for lashing together in the water.
....We were a crew of four loggers to build the big float. We had an old steam donkey on a small float that provided the power to pull the lashing cables up tight so we could then spike them solid – one by one.
....Once we had the big spruce in position, we pulled four full length spruce cross pieces up and over the
20 odd float logs. This gave us a cross-piece at either end of the long float sticks – and two center cross-pieces to steady the float. The A-stick trees would later sit on the number two cross piece.
....The four cross piece trees that we pulled across the float logs were all five to six feet in diameter on the butts.
....Then the job started of lacing the inch and three quarter size cable around the float logs and up and over the big cross pieces. We would use Gilcrest jacks to spread the logs in order to get the cable through. When one cross piece was laced to each log, we began the business of tightening each wrap and spiking the tightened portion to the cross piece with railroad spikes.
....It was a bit of a tough job, lashing the big devil and it took a month. But she was a big beautiful piece of log float real estate when we drove the last spike.
....Then came the job of raising the two big A sticks. They would lean forward a bit and be held up by 10 guy-lines. Six guy lines were fastened to the top of the “A” and wrapped and spiked around the back cross pieces of the float. Four more were fastened to the top and lashed to the front cross piece. The guy lines were inch and a half cable and after splicing eyes in each end of the 10 guy lines we were happy if we never saw another one.
....The job of raising the “A” sticks was a slow and tedious one. First we had to raise a single spar tree on the float directly behind where the “A” would sit on the second cross piece. The top of the “A” rested on the shore. With the stream donkey sitting on a smaller log float directly behind the big new float, we wove it’s mainline in a series of big blocks that gave our pull a two-and-a—half block purchase.
....The day finally came when we had everything ready to lift the “A-frame” up into place. I shall always remember the thrill of watching that monster slowly rise like a sleeping giant, up into place. Three months of hard work had gone into its building by the time she stood proud and ready to go logging. And she proved her worth over the years, until there were no more trees close enough to the water for her to reach out and log.
....Roads and truck logging replaced our A-frame as all other A-frames were replaced. But I can still see her standing on that big float up the inlet, a real dandy of an A-frame.
.........................Keep out of the bight,
..........................................Bill Moore
British Columbia Lumberman, February, 1978  
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