View Full Version : Carrigain Fire Tower - Nit Picking

07-28-2014, 08:32 AM
Warning - borderline Rant

I had a chance to visit the Carrigain Fire Tower on Saturday, the first time I have been there since it was rebuilt. The rebuild apparently was completed by WMNF paid crews or contractors last year.
My nitpicking in no way impacts the great views still visible from the tower but I would like to comment on the poor decisions made for the rebuild.

Generally my expectation is that when paid crews rebuild a long term structure that they will do it correct in compliance with reasonable workmanship and building code. I have no objections on the replacement of deck boards on the top deck but do have issues with the selected stair treads. When the structure was redesigned long ago there was some care done in the redesign to incorporate a reasonable rise and run on the stair treads and metal cleats were installed on the stringers to support a reasonable tread width. Unfortunately despite the provisions for a reasonable tread width, there was a decision made at some point during the rebuild to use 2x6 single stair treads where they should have been 2x10 or possibly 2x12. For those unfamiliar with lumber dimensional sizing a "2x6" can be a narrow as 5-1/4". I expect the decision was made by the field crew working with what was delivered but someone dropped the ball allowing this compromise to be made. I personally am quite accustomed to far shakier access to fire towers but too many folks, despite climbing up the mountain with no issues they have issues with climbing towers. (it would be an interesting thread as I have encountered many with this phobia) To them the decision to go with a less than standard tread width is the difference between being able to climb the tower or not. There is also question of durability, a 2x6 tread is going to be less durable in the long term than a 2x10 given that the same number of feet will be impacting a smaller surface area.

The depressing thing about the repair is that many of the former deck boards (still piled on the summit and in reasonable condition) could have been reused as wider treads. I expect the stair treads were shipped pre cut as the alternative would have been to use the 2x6 boards on the deck and use the wider deck boards on the stair treads.

There is an additional flaw which I believe is left over from the original reconstruction on the upper level grated landing that should have been addressed during this recent rebuild related to a structural support missing an end clip. It causes the grating to drop down and rock when stepped on. With power tools it would have been easy to fix but expect this issue will remain until the next rebuild.

Overall at least the FS elected to rebuild rather than tear out the tower but for similar effort they could have done it right.

Despite the issues, still a nice day for hike to favorite destination.

07-28-2014, 11:34 AM
I noticed the same thing about the treads last fall. The metal cleats are obviously designed for a bigger board that a 2 x 6. What would it have cost to use a 2 x 10? Not that much in the grand scheme of things. Durability was the cause for my concern.

Mike Z
07-28-2014, 03:49 PM
I am a carpenter, and in the end, it usually takes just as long to to the job right as it does to do it wrong.

07-31-2014, 10:24 AM
Low bid?

I would be disappointed if this is what the NFS specified. As for the savings, marginal at best and I'd expect higher life cycle costs with 2 x 6 as compared with what the tower was designed for. Let's also consider the eventual danger to life and limb ... climb it now, it may well be closed. And it's not like they couldn't have harvested some mighty good boards themselves ... it is a national forest after all and I expect there's a convenient sawmill around.

07-31-2014, 08:36 PM
About 5 weeks ago, I also noticed that metal grate at the top of the tower. It swings down if you step on the end of it, it felt like a trap door and I thought I was going to plummet all the way down to the ground! That was one of my top 5 most terrifying mountain experiences. Have they still not fixed that yet?

08-01-2014, 05:53 AM
Not fixed. While they had a generator up there it wouldn't have been difficult to fix but I guess it was "not in scope".

08-07-2014, 09:36 AM
Per Iris Baird:
"This is connected to a radio improvement project which will involve Carr, Cabot and Wildcat. It's being carried out by Saco district and the contact person is Janet Johnson so your contact could question her. "

08-07-2014, 02:21 PM
Going up Beaver Brook a few weeks ago I noticed a white structure on the side of the mountain that was only visible from a couple of spots. We figured it was for weather stuff, but is this a repeater as well?

I think the cords are roughly: 44.027153, -71.829909