Bricklayer and general builder Stephen Cheshire is, like many builders, often faced with the prospect of trying to hide a steel beam in the ceiling. The problem, as you will no doubt know, is not hiding the beam but how to safely prop the wall above the upstairs floor level so you leave the ceiling void clear to place the beam in. I have seen this done in many different ways over the years. The obvious way is to use Acrow props on both sides and needles through behind the skirtings but this means creating a trap in the floorboards and making a hole in the ceilings.
Stephen’s idea was to fabricate some thinner steel frames that could be fed through the wall from the inside, again at skirting level and propped with Acrows on the outside. On the inside he incorporated jacking screws that could be placed on plywood or scaffold planks laid across the floor joists so the frames could be adjusted to pick up the wall evenly and accurately. The floor still needs to be supported from the underside.
One advantage of the Prop Pal is that it is a purpose made system with proven strength and that helps when you are assessing risks and preparing method statements. Making up your own needles and packing them up has too many variables and unproven components to be deemed a safe method. The Prop Pal has been tested to a SWL of 1500kg.
Another thing I like is that the props are locked into the frame so they can’t come crashing down if they are knocked. The jacking screws also have fixing holes to secure them to the boards so the whole frame is locked in place. This to me is immensely valuable when you are trying to jack steel beams in. Many a time I have taken the load off the props by jacking the steel up and they have toppled.
There is no doubt that Prop Pals speed up the job of supporting walls above beam or lintel openings so they should find a good market in the same way that Strongboys have.
Some builders will want to purchase some Prop Pals outright while others will prefer to hire, in fact Stephen has been approached by local builders who want to hire them.
Stephen is currently looking for a manufacturer and distributor to take up his invention. He is also interested in hearing from hire outlets who may wish to list his product.