Our treehouse is phase 4 of our backyard playground. This time we're buildng UP! The new platform is going to be about 15' high in our mature Silver Maple (thanks Randee for researching the tree!) at the back edge of our property. It will connect to our Jungle Fort out the back side of the upper tower, thru the door we left when we built it in phase 3 last summer.
Here's our starting point for this year. It's currently July of 2011, and not much has changed on our playground this year -- up till now. We still have the Jungle Fort, the Castle Tower, and the Fairytale Cottage on the far end (out of view).
This part was added last year. It's the Bridge to the Sky. It doesn't go anywhere but back to our tree. It's a pretty reasonable place to stand while working on the treefort, albeit it's a bit wobbly and only has one railing.
Here is my rendition of a Garnier Limb. These giant bolts are constructed of 3/4" galvanized rod, onto which is threaded a 3" diameter by 1-1/2" thick steel shoulder. Just getting the shoulders onto the rod was a project in itself (the galvanizing adds a bit of thickness over the standard 3/4-10 thread). Once the threads of the shoulder were fully engaged, it required two of us with giant pipe wrenches pressing in opposite directions while holding the shoulder in a vice for stability. The complete assemblies will hold an incredible amount of weight with minimal bending force on the rods making them very strong... A 3/4 steel rod can hold a tensile load of 55,000 psi. Converting to a shear load, we multiply by a factor of .6, then by .3 for the cross sectional area of the bolt - yielding approximately 10,000 lbs that can be supported by each bolt.
All our parts were cut to length, molded, water sealed, and test-assembled in our garage.
Here's our jig which would ensure we could drill two holes, at the same height, and precisely in line with each other on opposite sides of the tree. Our jig also confirmed our circumference measurements and radius calculations to ensure we would have just the right spacing between the beams and the tree once we install our Garnier Limbs.
One of our goals was to minimize any damage to our mature Silver Maple - so the treefort will be mounted on a total of four holes. Two main holes here to take the Garnier Limbs, and two small holes lower on the tree for some angle bracing.
Our Garnier Limb fully installed - driven 6" into the tree on both sides. Here it is touched up with a little extra rust proofing paint on top of the galvanizing since we took off a bit of the coating when we cranked on them with the pipe wrenches.
Here's the view from the Bridge to the Sky while the treefort is under construction.
Most places could be reached with our new 24' extension ladder - but here, we just couldn't fit it in past this tree.
These subfloor modules could be assembled on the ground, then dropped in and attached with four screws. Being mostly a one-man build, much attention was focused on minimizing trips up and down to trim out wood.
Another view of the subfloor, this time from below.
One more view of our Garnier Limb showing the 0 tolerance between it and the tree and treefort. The tree has a good 1-1/2" to grow on all sides before it will ever encounter a barrier. Go tree!
The view from below, looking approximately 15' up to the base of the treehouse.
The temporary bridge is torn down after two years of servicing the lookout tower. In its place we begin the rope bridge! This photo is of the first attempt at knotting... we got about 2/3 done and realized our ropes weren't going to make it to the other side, so we had to untie every single knot and start over with larger squares and tighter knots.
A total of 14 lengths of 1" manila rope run from the fort to the treehouse and weave together to form our bridge. I hand tied every one of the 60 sheet bends, 66 hitches and 12 arbor knots. It used approximately 250' of 1" rope and 150' of 1/4" rope.
Our "Indiana Jones" bridge!
The final view, from below.
What will be next? The kids want to build up the tree... always ambitious aren't they...
On Aug 2, 2011, Mike wrote...
In case you're wondering the background image is from Disney's Swiss Family Treehouse in the Magic Kingdom!
On Aug 5, 2011, Janalee MaCurdy wrote...
You are THE Dad of the year! I am awed with your brillant design talents and wonder if there is ANYTHING you can't do. Seeing the old fort brought back some great memories. And not an inch of Duct tape! Your future addition plans amaze me. If you ever want another kid (albiet at heart), I'd let you adopt me!
On Aug 11, 2011, Kathy Stone wrote...
WOW! Love it -- Such fun!! If I had kids I'd hire you to build one in my back yard...and it's going to add so much value to your current home!! As you know, my favorite pic is the one where the extension ladder does not reach! You need a new room there!
On Jul 22, 2012, Nikkibobs wrote...
awsome!!! The kiddies will treasure this for years to come.
On Aug 28, 2012, Christina Matamoros wrote...
See now I have to bring Lydia if for no other reason to visit the Sims Family Castle! You have an amusement park in the backyard!!! lol.
On Nov 4, 2012, Janalee MaCurdy wrote...
To Nevaeh, Bryan, Brayden and Kevin, LMNOPQRTSUVWXYZ Are you guys speaking Klingon Perhaps? Or maybe it's a captain coder ring.The only thing I can make out is in Braydens comment sip brut. Sounds good to me!
On Jan 11, 2013, Scott wrote...
Nice job with the treehouse! Very well done...and creative! Question for you....where did you get the 3" x 1 1/2" thick steel shoulder that you threaded onto the 3/4" galvanized rod? Did you machine that yourself..or purchase it already made? Thanks so much!!
On Feb 28, 2013, Mike wrote...
I machined those myself... two of them. Had them made at work. I looked around everywhere but ppl wanted $150 for a shouldered rod to buy them.
On Jul 31, 2015, Steve batory wrote...
Amazing!! May I ask how on earth did you make that Indian bridge? Is that like a Boy Scout knot trick? Awesome tree fort!
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