After Retirement

From Harding
Jump to: navigation, search

Back to Book Structure | Previous Chapter: Chief Engineer of Structures | Next Chapter: Ponderings

When I retired from my position of Chief Engineer Structures from the P.W.D.A.D. I became a registered builder and designed and patented a method of completely constructing large clear span roofs and installing all services (such as lighting, ducting, conveyor belts etc) at ground level, and stress erecting them into final position. I called these 'STRARCHES' i.e. Stress Erected Arches. They had a curved roof in lieu of the more ordodox angular ones currently in use at the time. [:StrarchImages:Click here] to see photos of STRARCHES. This system proved to be 30% cheaper than standard constructions, assembly at ground level eliminated lateral instability to large span trusses, this saved on material costs and time while eliminating the danger of height work. The various types of large clear span building constructions I designed was done by innovation NOT invention by using less labour costs rather then cheaper materials.

I also designed and built the hand held stressing equipment and the technology used. I built three of these buildings for Portland Cement, the Canine Association and the RAAF Museum to prove the viability and economics of the system. I then sold the patent for a large amount of money a lot of which swelled the Commonwealth coffers via Capital Gains Tax. Strarch International has since built these Strarches worldwide.


The patent sales agreement prevented me from being involved in any future development of the Strarch Principle. I therefore devised and patented a similar and slightly cheaper method of stress erecting, ground assembled large clear span trussed buildings I called 'Strusses', several of which were built in the south west of W.A. by Clough Engineering and myself.

STRUSSES (Stress Erected Trusses) were used as horizontal silos for wheat storage. Developed after the sale of the STRARCH patent, their construction costs were slightly less than the STRARCH due to their smaller continuous purlins, in lieu of the larger single spans used in STRARCHES. [:StrussImages:Click here] to view photos of STRUSSES.


I also designed and built HYPARS (Hyperbolic Paraboloids), also 30% more economical then their counterparts. They were my favorite with their 'Panache' shape and clear uncluttered underside (ceiling). All materials were restrained in either a pure tension or pure compression positions (no bending) to provide strength, therefore a paucity of materials, the sizes of which were governed by practicality, resulted in a low level of distortion. The roof sheeting was also structural rather then super numerary. An examples is the HYPAR Grand Stand roof in Mt Newman, [:HyparImages#newman:click here] to view.

To illustrate the economies I used for large clear span HYPAR roofing, when applying for progress payments during construction of the HYPAR Air force memorial Museum at Bull Creek, the sponsors demurred saying that it was impossible to build so quickly. My policy was when each subcontractor had driven in the last nail or tightened the last bolt etc. they got their cheque. In those days there was a Government impost on all cheques so I endorsed the cheques (or bearer) sent to my company to 'pay contractor', this halved the impost cost. At least the sponsors had the decency to apologise for the delayed payments on viewing the building at the official opening ceremony.

In regards to the Stirk Park Hypars, the bulk of the materials and the construction labour were gratuitous. I therefore donated an adequate sum of money to the Kalamunda Council for them to pay my friend, who was working and supervising the labourers, as he had built several of my various design systems in outlying districts such as Geraldton etc.

When presenting my designs to other, to avoid detailed complex verbal and visual illustrations which are sometimes not immediately comprehended, I made small working models. Steel wire was used for trusses (some with hinges) and thin sheet steel for roof sheeting. The model represented a structure completely assembled while horizontal at ground level with hinges, sometimes at junction of column tops at ends of trusses or sometimes in truss lengths. Because the hinges were below the steel roof cover it allowed unrestricted erection when rotated. The thin steel sheeting was discontinuous starting and finishing directly over the hinges. On erection there remained a small gap between the steel sheets over the hinges. A pertinent comment from a female observer was – "But it will leak", my unfortunate reply, causing embarrassment to the observer and great hilarity to the remainder was, "Don't we all". So, 'live and learn' all future models were made of plastic – thin rods for trusses and thin plastic sheets for covering. By slightly curving the top and shaping the abutting ends of the structure, the hinge was made in the thin plastic covering by allowing it to curve over the joint so eliminating any more pertinent comments about leaking at the joint. - this sentence needs to be rewritten

(Insert diagram as shown in hand written draft numbered E2)

As sketched in Lew's draft P29 2-7-4

The erection principles of the building system were demonstrated by pulling a string attached to the model. When promoting the construction to a prospective buyer I would illustrate the systems extreme simplicity by offering one of the female secretaries of the interested party the model saying, "Would you like an erection?". Invariably, instead of the expected reply of "Yes please" they would blush and go all coy and very reluctantly pull the string. To avoid further embarrassment, I refrained from asking "Did you enjoy the experience?". There was only ever one exception, she was Asian and surprisingly joined the hilarity, pulled the string and said "That was really painless!", which incited further hilarity.

At one stage years after my retirement from the P.W.D.A.D I employed my secondary Architect's son and his well traveled Iranian friend (who could not go back to Iran because he would be immediately arrested and possibly executed) as 'ground assembly' laborers to my second Strarch building. The Iranian's effort were proving more of a hindrance than a help; so I said to him "You've got a brain – use it and try to understand what we are doing to get these trusses properly assembled". He obviously took my advice because of the immediate improvement in his endeavours.

He left a few months later to continue his travels which included Japan and Germany, where he is now firmly established having married a Fraulein and raising a family. During his travels, my above advice to him paid considerable dividends. In one of the countries he visited, after his travels in Australia, he got a job in a government department, which used billions in foreign funding on infrastructure. While in that position he took my advice regarding 'Brain usage' and assiduously collected and collated irrefutable proof of the massive bribery and corruption of a lot of senior government heads of various departments. When he decided it was time to move on, for a fee of in excess of US$250,000, he would give all said documents to the people involved. A considerable amount of this money was invested in the Australian stock exchange via my son who was managing his and my family's trusts.

Back to Book Structure| Previous Chapter: Chief Engineer of Structures | Next Chapter: Ponderings