Coral CastleCoral Castle
Ancient History. Fact or Fiction?Coral Castle should be a straightforward story of an enterprising man using simple technology to build a collection of big stone structures out of coral block.
Instead it illustrates only too well that many people revert immediately to 'magical' thinking to explain anything they do not understand.
Because they do not understand the lifting technology available in the first half of the 2oth century, they assume that it could not have been done using known technology, and therefore must have been done using some secret knowledge that contradicts every physical observation of the world around them.
Simple block and tackle has been used for centuries to lift heavy weights, but above a mechanical advantage of 8:1 the friction in the pulley blocks prevents any increase in mechanical efficiency.
The chain hoist overcomes this limitation by using a larger pulley pulled by a hand chain to turn a small pulley that operates the block and tackle of the heavier lifting chain.
The hand chain can be dispensed with and the power provided by other mechanical means.
Three poles, fixed at the top, hold the chain gear and transmit the forces straight through the poles to the ground.
A chain hoist powered by an electric motor can be run from a generator. In the 20s and 30s generators were often directly driven by an old vehicle engine and could provide more than enough power.
There should be no doubt that this was how the structures were lifted into place because we have pictures from the Coral castle site of Ed at work lifting heavy stone.
Notice that he is also using a smaller block and tackle, right at the top of the shear legs, to lift the chain hoist into place.
Note well that the lifting chains are all tight as they lift the load, but also note that there is no hand chain!
Again right at the top we have a hoist for lifting the main gear into place - it is also substantial in size - compare again with Ed's head. This is not the same gear as in the previous photo, so Ed is using a variety of types of lifting gear.
This is what he is using in the second picture:
A motorized heavy duty hoist!Sensible man!
It is also easy to lift and move heavy blocks sideways by joining two groups of shearlegs with further thick pole to take the thrust between the two. Using the two lifting chain hoists it is easy to move a block and place it with precision.The animated gif that shows this:
At the Coral Castle today various block and tackle hang on the wall, but these are not the chain hoists that Ed used in the photographs. Merely decoration for the tourists.
This pulley is a simple block and tackle, but it is not set up correctly for use. One of the vertical chains should be attached to the hub of the lower pulley, assuming this is a single pulley, or taken back to the top if the lower is a double pulley. If the first this has a mechanical advantage of 3 to 1.
Pulley 2 could be part of a chain hoist, but again it is not set up correctly either as a block and tackle or a chain hoist- it just has chains draped over it. You can estimate the size from the coil of barbed wire behind it - barbs are usually about 1/2 inch long max.
It is a pity when the same 'magical' thinking is applied to explain ancient history, because it obscures the evidence that is pointing to a much more ancient and technological origin for civilisation. No magic is required, no antigravity machines. Just the simple application of the laws of physics.