anyone have any suggestions for building a 16 ft tall, 8ft wide scaffolding strong enough to about 10 people at any given time plus lighting instruments?
*calling ship* :)

My stab in the dark would be to use real scaffolding, maybe reinforce it with something for the people, but mount the instruments with a seperate system.
Scaffold? What's it's live load? Time for a call to a scaffold company in advice and possible program placement for a discounted rental. Probably/possibly not much more than a 30PSF live load. Not something for 10 actors plus 250+ pounds of lighting dead weight on a 10x8 tower. Scaffold in general is strong if applied in the proper situation but as a general thought, I don't know - depends upon the situation and type of scaffold.

So far we have the height a dizzying 16' and depth of 8', what's the width and a bit more situation might be useful. Than also there are those escape stairs requirements and safety factor considerations without front rail for all 10 people. That's dizzying enough for a start. We did about a 12' tower and overhead bridge once in college. Don't remember what part I had in the show but it was not engineering. It did not even have that kind of live load.

So far I would assume a 24' wide x 8' deep 16' unit based upon personal space of talent in being seen. Could be scaffolding at least in theory, can be timber fraiming - 2x8 joists (not having checked span charts or knowing the design for supporting it) and stud walls or could be steel fraiming. Lots of live load to consider with 10 people but it's more depending upon the situation and third dimension of the tower.

As for Calling "Ship" thanks, but it's a forum. What did you all do? What experiences did you have putting 8 actors on a bridge or other situations? What and how did you do it? Wolf, Creative, Wemeck and hopefully a few others will help as a safety net in plucking our brain from what we have done or can verify, but your ideas such as mine above or personal experience given a safety net of your on site TD, will decide what's best. A lot of it depends upon the situation and width of the platform as for how dispersed the live load is, what supports it has, but for the moment assuming a 8' wide tower I would say no unless it's too complex to convey on a forum and can be bolted to the wall. Even than, no matter the design how it's supported can spell the difference between a lawsuit and a great show. Don't get me wrong, I and others would help but more details are necessary for the broad ideas. Than an actual engineer or TD acting in the role is very necessary.

Stab in the dark also. Mounting instruments, how many and where? Whats' the theater space that you need to have lights so close to the talent and what's your role in it. If designer or TD, I would say it's not safe for you to be anticipating without someone on site to verify it can be safely done and TD that's qualified to engineer it. Don't rely on some idiot on line or book to tell you how to do it site unseen, you need the person qualified as an engineer or with years of experience doing such than in seeing the situation. Sure, I and others can do it but we would need to see the space and design the system for doing it.

Hard question, I and others can offer advice but it must be verified by a qualified person on site. For ideas sure, but after that verification and liability for attempting it. 10 people is a lot to figure upon as a general thing. figure even 125# per person and that's a lot once they move. The lights in general are almost inconsiquential at this point considering. Some type of castle wall that can be supported by steel or timber fraiming or something that needs an invisible system of support? Both require different design problems.

Hope that helps but furnish more info than I hope to see Nephilim's opinion also as a designer or with experience in doing such things. Part of the job as a designer is not necesciarially to engineer the whole thing but to figure out that general artistic solution. Once the idea is there the solution is on the tip of the tongue of experience. Don't avoid or say no to the problem yet. Explain and study it first. The artistic statement can be worth the extra work but for starts in at least on line advice, further details are very necessary as with budget.
ahh the great play/movie with a very wierd way of proving a moral. i did this last year. why do u need a scaffolding. is this a high school production. Usualy its not very safe to keep you actors anywhere they cant be hurt or break something important like a lighting instrument.
I think there are some regulations that would go along with something like this look it up other than that if its suspended from the celling you might want to have it profeshionaly done.
Scaffolding of the necessary height and width, that will bear the live load of 10 people, is actually a pretty cheap rental. However, the 2X12 planking normally used in a construction application won't do for 10 people moving around, especially if there's going to be dancing up there. Safety railing is also an important consideration, as are the stairs Ship mentioned. Proper guying against lateral movement is also a major consideration. I second the motion of calling in a professional scaffolding contractor. Chances are you'll be able to find one who'll set you up right and do it cheap in exchange for credit in the program ("scaffolding was provided by Acme Scaffolding Company").

HMOcidalmaniac said:
anyone have any suggestions for building a 16 ft tall, 8ft wide scaffolding strong enough to about 10 people at any given time plus lighting instruments?

We have Footloose comin in in a month for a run...but no scaffolding type of thing like you are talking about. Your set sounds like one that was built for "Working" we did here, that was 3 stories tall in various levels--like windows in a sky scraper. I'm not the best stage carpenter nor did I have input on the build--but I would follow what Ship said about your load limits and checking such. The decking they used for Working was heavy 1inch ply solid 4x8 flats made of 2x4 built like flooring--2x4 braces every 6 inches under the decking, with heavy 1inch decking bolts to secure it in to the uprights which were 6"x6" beams made of 2"x4". Heavy set...but it had to be.

Good point Ship... I've never personally been involved with and kind of raised platform set but I know the school I'm at has done a small one in the past; I'll ask about it tomorrow.

Well... Metamorphoses has a small wooden bridge, but it's a one-at-a-time kind of deal.
lighting equipment- 300lbs of sound active lights and S4jrs
and it needs to be 40 feet long
the actors will have safety harnesses leading up to the grid that can support 1000lbs apiece and yes it is a high school production
ps- i am the TD for this show and the engineer and the set / fx designer and lighting designer-
we are way understaffed!!!
HMOcidalmaniac said:
ps- i am the TD for this show and the engineer and the set / fx designer and lighting designer-
we are way understaffed!!!

Wow, starting to sound like my school, im the SM, LD, lighting guy, enginear for hanging and stuff, SD, um, im going to end up helping with the set, im working on FX, designing, and, um, well, im basicly also the TD, counting that im in charge of the entire tech crew, the sets, and basicly anything technicly....

Your profile says you are a TD but not much more. Are you a student or a staff TD? If staff TD, than caution this is all upon your head. Again talk with the scaffolding companies but even after that unless your name can go upon the program in saying you checked all the math and it’s safe, I would scale it all back some or find a guest engineer to do this. A licenced general contractor should be able calculate what’s necessary to do this safely and it’s not going to be cheap. Perhaps there is a GC dad of a crew member. Even the highly toughted “Ship” would be challenged by this and I have the books to let me do this - steel or wood but not on the scaffold. A bit of review on them and a lot of math and drawing and I can be sure even if my degree does not qualify me. I know this and am trained in this. Just don’t use it much anymore.

This is important not patting myself on the back. Do not get in over your head because it’s not just a bad show as I’m sure you realize, it’s life and death. Safety gear says you have the idea of what’s going on, now get the extra pair of eyes on site. Yea, you can stud wall up and even balloon framing some stage platforms to it, just a question of your experience and training to assure what’s planned is right. We can help but you still need eyes to assist. Start with them and pool us for ideas and details after the consultation. “I’m a TD and I have had this kind of thing in school...” If you have not done this kind of thing, and even 10 actors on a 40' set is not much weight to calculate into the live load, perhaps it’s best to still get assistance on site. A platform when properly supported has a 50# live load, most floors have what a 30#. You have a 8' span that’s 40' long. As a deck, normal platforms could be fine given full support under them, now it’s a question of what type of support and how it’s braced. A stud wall 16" on center at 8' when braced properly should do this fine, so would a 2x8 joist frame much less steel. Just a question of what’s the way and design. I’m less worried about the 40' width now with ten actors than a 10' tower with the same amount. But still it’s a engineering problem to get consultation on.

That's all given a TD. If a student TD, than it's time to walk from the project. Yea, it's within your ability to design but you need supervision at this point in every way. Sorry but unless you did an apprentiship as a real carpenter or the equivolent of that with at least four years of college plus above all of that a consultant to verify your training, I at least know I was not qualified to be a student TD in high school without supervision on such a project. What's the chances of lowering the set to a more reasonable 4' or getting someone to assist in the TD work?

Sorry but that's a liability and experience thing.
The bridging of a floor are 1x3 by 27.1/2" long. How many feet are required for a 16" oc , 10' wide room with two bridges per span? Gotta buy your lumber now don't you much less determine how many to cut. That's not even getting into I=BD3/12 factors.
allow me to enlighten you some more than-
i am a student TD who's father is a GC and i have been apprenticed to him for about 4 years now-
the probelem is making look like a late 70' early 80's metal clashing odd lights and costumes set piece
Ok, you have the supervision and training that is needed. No offense, but having apprenticed I'm sure you can understand my hesitation in saying go for it.

Lights follow the structure. They are amomost inconsiquential given the span. For starters, let's pluck your brain on what you mean about late 70's early 80's metal clashing odd lights and costumes set piece.

I assume the structure is going to be upstage and spanning the width of the stage. Given that, what's the intent of the below the stage? Do we assume it's more of a open space/acting area and to be supported by posts? Proper bracing at this point I would assume covered. What's the floor thickness that's desired?

I assume the intent is not to build a house with proper joists and floors, much less a across the stage wall below the deck, or major framing members spanning sections and beams. Were this the case, I might build three stud walls upstage to down stage spanning the stage, brace it than lay platforms or 2x6 joists and plywood atop it. Simple done. Lots of lumber.

Over the past couple of years I have worked for a rock and roll lighting company and had some access to old rock sets from the last 20 years. On such things even than it was all steel and aluminum box tubing for the set's frame, and either steel grating or steel framed platforms for the deck. This would cost a lot of money and because the lower section was not meant to be seen, more legs or truss legs were allowed to be used with shorter spans of framing members which also made them lighter. Largest span - (Wolf) would be about 6 to 8' depending upon materials used than. Last time I touched such a set it was about a year and a half ago and I supervised it's construction in the shop for a band rehearsal. I assume that steel for more than a few things such as the below center span is not an option. This will be a lumber install?

Scaffold companies often rent stages also. They are similar to hotel portable dance floors in that they have a steel or aluminum 4'x4' "L" or "C" frame with the rental stage version having say a double layer of plywood in the thick frame instead of plywood and veneer in a lighter frame. In either case, it's a 4x4 section that hooks together in one of many ways. sTrong welded hooks or coffin locks. In the case of the stage, it's supported by two opposing legs from the other stage section and two of it's own normally. 4x4 double layered plywood - probably cross grained should span the gap sufficiently given "L" steel frames and laminating. That puts your legs every 48" on center about, but deck only slightly larger than 1.1/2". Touring decks are more normally 4x8 or in some cases 6x8. This requires say double the framing size and support but allows for larger spans. Such sections are frequently placed on a truss wall. It can be pipe legs but it gets elaborate with the bracing unless a simplified and engineered say 4 or 6' leg brace - but that would be later 80's.

The truss wall is either similar to a stud wall or truss roof depending upon engineering. In your height, I would think stud wall that's well sway braced, braced between walls than bolted to the building.

As a rock and roll solution, I might look to doing well supported and braced stud walls for legs that are 8' on center if steel and rated for the span. Otherwise, if lumber or rented stage decking it's about a 4' span you will have to cope with. Dad and you can probably do some walk ways larger with beams but for the most part, even if wood and lumber platforms, think upstage/downstage stud walls. Atop that just platforming that's bolted and screwed to the studwall. 24" on center will probably be fine as long as properly sway braced - again the GC thing to verify with the bracing to supplement 16" oc necessity. Normal stage platforms need a 50# live load, in your case you could plan on a 30# live load for the most part given a lack of furnature and refrigerators, as long as you weigh on the side of safety and do the math for bracing and support where needed. 10 people on a 40' span is not a lot. Note your platforms in spanning such things need to be glued well, in good condition and stronger than a hack platform with lots of bullet holes.

Now given the double platform deep say placed stage right to left instead of upstage to down stage, you might be able to just span the 8' between optimum stud walls given the stud walls are diagonally sway braced back to the truss well enough. With beams you might even be able to increase that span. Figure for the front and rear of the spans you bolt the platform to a 2x8 so it's a 2x4 platform doubled up to a 2x8. Check the load ratings but this - and I'm guessing should give you about a 30# or even a 45# live load. Platforms conform to post and timber baloon framing for your calculations. Otherwise you having checked the span charts might bring it up to a 2x10 on the front and rear - I'm guessing that moves it up to a #45 live load but that's again without engineering the set or checking the charts on double timber of differing sizes beams. I'm not specifically trained for that so the math would take a bit of time for me.

For the center, I would not trust a bolted double 2x4 platform edge to span a 8' gap. I would like to see it bolted thru some 1.1/2x3.1/2 or so box tubing but otherwise what about the double 2x4 bolted to a 2x6? Should be able to carry the weight yet still span the gap with minimum of materials. You will have to notch it around the stud wall which will probably require some kind of support at the stud wall for it's notched section. Easy enough to do with a 2x6 spanning say three studs.

You now have a platform made up of ten normal 4x8 platforms and 6 stud walls at 8' on center. Good base to start from. On the deck it's going to be say 7.1/4" thick at the center span giving you a 15'-4.3/4" high by 7'-5" playing space between stud walls. Should you wish to just make it more of a post and beam support instad of stud walls, it's a base to start from. At least you have head height for beams but swaybracing the walkway will be a bitch unless you bolt the platforms to the back wall of the theater. In that case, perhaps you won't need much. You will need some as with sway braces off the stud wall to the platform to some extent.

The most difficult part of the problem and I'm sure most people's hesitation including your's is the stud walls. 16' Tall is very high for a 2x4 post or stud. Much less the span above when added to the basically unsupported height is difficult to figure upon.

For now, let's consider a 2x6 stud wall 16" on center that's still well supported and has a tie bracing at 8' and various firewall/bridging between studs say 48" on center. We will also assume that bracing is on both sides of the stud wall and if not plywood sheed bracing is 1x4 countersunk into the studs on at least one side. Both sides might require a 2x8 stud. Normal GC type stuff. Given the length however, I would for bridging/sway braces between stud walls use L-Stiff's/Wailers which are "L" shaped laminated 1x4 giving much more strenght to it. I'm still thinking three per section. Those in 8 to 12' sections could run bracing between stud walls well enough. I would go 3/4" plywood in at least 30" triangles and flanges where bracing was not able to be used such as acting areas. Think stage jack in how to build it.

You might still be able to go 24" on center but I think I would at least double up the ends and center of the stud wall so they act more like posts. Also in bolting the platform to the backwall, it's going to releave most of the movement problems. For doorways or spans, normal header design should do say at 5' span as long as not more than 2/3 the deck area is being done like this. Than at that point I would go plywood sway bracing. This again is off the top of my head.

Any help? Didn't mean to just write you off but this is something that while designing and specifying it's gotta have it's math and engineering checked and supervised upon. The depth and span are not much of a problem, more the height and expected acting area below.

Similar to what you were thinking or how does your intent differ? I'm interested in what you and Dad think for my own corrections in this and future work.
thats about what i was thinking- thanks, for checkin the math and stuff
also dosnt the gauge of the tubing matter like if it was phase 3 or phase 4 tubing. Looks like you gonna make old kevin bacon jelous
thats what i was goin for- i'll post some pictures here after the show
Forty foot long and 16 feet in the air for a high school production? Why? How high is your proscenium? I realize this thread is long dead, but I don't get it.

You have to design arounfd what is feasible. not the other way around.
Ended up being about 12-14 ft high- proscenium is about 22 if I remember correctly. we used sheetrockers scaffold with bright yellow paint and metal plates to stand/ dance on. ended up being fairly sturdy and not half-bad too.

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