Many of the stones that you will find in neglected cemeteries that have been broken or knocked off their base can weigh in excess of 300 pounds. Far more than you will be able to lift on your own. To repair or reset larger, heavier stones such as this Saving Graves recommends the use of a tripod hoist. The tripod has been used since Egyptian times to raise heavy objects, and can simplify your job. However, even with the aid of a tripod, it is important that you have enough help to ensure safety. Extreme caution is required when using a tripod. You need to be knowledgeable on rigging. Rigging heavy stones with inexperienced people can and will result in injuries. Think about the pendulum effect when lifting a stone, especially when you are working on an tilted surface. One suggestion is to have a local pipe fitter or welder conduct a class with a select group of volunteers and city workers to instruct us in how to SAFELY erect the lifting device and how to SAFELY rig a tombstone. That includes the use of steel toed boots, good leather gloves, etc. All rigging in future would be done only with members of that trained group.
Tripods for cemetery restoration use vary from the two wooden "A" frame type capable of lifting up to two tons to the three pole steel I-beams frame that will support five tons.
Patricia Kneisler of Benicia, California is a civil engineer who works on restoring the 20 acre city-owned Benicia City Cemetery. Among the problems facing their efforts, "almost the entire cemetery is on a slope ... 18" in 10' is not uncommon. And erosion is a huge concern as years of indiscriminant Round-Up usage has left the slopes nearly bare of vegetation. That makes use of equipment such as rubber tired loaders, backhoes and cranes somewhat of a problem as driving them on that slope sure doesn't help matters ... and picking a load on a slope is something only an experienced operator should be doing. Then there is the sheer expense of using that kind of equipment. AND there is the "hurry up" factor. It's a fact that when you use something that costs several hundred dollars an hour, you tend to "hurry up" to save money! And I think we'd all agree that that's NO way to restore a cemetery."
"So, being a civil engineer, I put my head to the problem. To my mind, tripods, engine lifts, etc. were either too dangerous on a slope, or too restrictive in their picking area. So a friend and I developed our own "little" design for what looks like a portable kid's swing set. The rail along the top is actually a small crane beam that a trolley hoist can ride on. The four legs are made from steel pipe and adjust up to 2' to compensate for the slope (a smaller sized pipe slides up and down inside each leg and can be pinned in several spots depending on the height you need). It stands a little over 6' high and will be about 8' to 10' long (so we can rig base blocks out of our way completely when we dig out for new foundations). Yep ... it's a tad heavy! But it's meant to bolt together in pieces. And once it's up ... well, it just stays up until whatever we're working on is done ... if that's a month, so be it. We intend to use a "chain fall" with the trolley, and two cloth slings to pick the stones in sort of a "basket hitch". Now all we have to do is get the city to pay us for the material to put it together. It's probably overkill for a small cemetery ... but Benicia is so large, we'll use a device like this for years."
Some manufactures such as the Granite City Tool Company offer sturdy, lightweight tripods of steel or aluminum construction that set up quickly for heavy lifting (1 to 3 tons) in areas with no overhead support, with independently adjustable legs that permit use on uneven ground and adjust on 6" centers. A standard lashing kit prevents the legs from spreading on hard or soft surfaces and is included with every tripod.
Before getting started, there are three points that we need to look at:
1 Make sure that no metal is used in strapping the stone before attempting to move it with the tripod. This will cause additional damage to the stone and should be avoided. You should use canvas strapping for lifting the stone.
2 You will want to make sure before attempting to lift that the ground you have placed the tripod on is solid enough to hold the weight of the equipment without sinking into the ground.
3 You will want to make sure that the tripod is set up in such a way as to prevent the legs from spreading and causing the stone to drop while lifted.