As the father of three little princesses, I’m always looking for ways to inject testosterone into my life. I thought a welding project would be just the ticket to satisfy the need. Other reasons why I wanted to do a welding project included:
I will have something to point to for years to come and say, "I did that"
My wife thinks welding is sexy
I figured I could get approval from the wife by explaining that the bridge was for the kids. It's also a good excuse for me to get out of feeding the fish every other day, but I didn't tell her that.
I looked for plans online, but nothing fit the bill. I started making sketches of my “dream” bridge during lunch times. Goals for the bridge design:
Must be long enough to span the creek for easy access to the fish pond
Lets kids safely feed the fish (a big hit with the Mrs.)
Requires a decent amount of welding
Will look great in the yard
Additional incentive to get the project moving came from a lunch bet with a buddy who is doing a Jeep restoration project - whoever is done first gets a free lunch.
After I was happy with the bridge design, I made my list of materials and went shopping. My buddy talked me into going lengthwise with the composite boards for the bridge deck because they bend to shape. Taking that advice was probably the best decision I made. I had the tubes rolled to 1 ft. rise at the 6 ft. length and the boards fit nicely.
The garage floor provided a level surface and was the perfect place to weld. I used a Lincoln Power MIG® 140C wire feeder welder and Lincoln SuperArc® L-56 MIG wire for welding. By clamping the pieces together first I was able to square it up. The vertical welds on the handrail posts were the most difficult welds. I ended up heating the stock and doing a weave weld. I reinforced the three 3 inch squares with gussets.
After the welding was completed, it was time for primer and paint. I used industrial coverage gloss black. It covered great. Drilling the board holes into the cross members wasn't difficult with a sharp drill bit. I used 3/8" zinc coated carriage bolts. I used the kid's pool noodles to cover the brackets sharp edges. I also used the tires off their bikes to roll the bridge out.
Getting the bridge out of the garage proved to be a challenge. Since the composite board is heavy, I planned to put the bridge on wheels to get it over the creek. Unfortunately, as you can see from the photo, that idea didn't work out too well. I enlisted help from three neighbors to lift and move the bridge to the creek.
Once we got the bridge in place, I poured the footers using a floor jack to lower the cross-member into the concrete. I used the third 3" square for the fish food dispenser. The wrought iron fence keeps the kids from falling in the water.
Overall designing and building the backyard bridge was a fun and valuable learning experience. The wife and kids love it and at least for awhile, Dad is enjoying the fruits of his labor.
*The above project images and descriptions have been published to show how individuals used their ingenuity for their own needs, convenience and enjoyment. Only limited details are available and the projects have NOT been engineered by the Lincoln Electric Company. Therefore, when you use the ideas for projects of your own, you must develop your own details and plans and the safety and performance of your work is your responsibility.