View Full Version : Plans on the internet for building a simple suspension bridge?

January 8, 2006, 10:46 PM
over a large creek or river?

I'm envisioning stringing 3 steel cables from tree(s) on one side to tree(s) on the other side. One cable to balance/walk on, and two up higher in a 'V' shape to hold onto, with some rope or some kind of stiff pieces placed at periodic intervals (vertically), for keeping cables at uniform distance from one another, and to catch you if you fall. See what I'm talking about?

Looking for specifics/plans. Thanks.

Dean C
January 8, 2006, 11:07 PM
Your idea is good if you're young and uh, uh, well young.

We have a similar situation. Fairly fast moving creek about 30+ yards wide and not one that you can ford without a bridge or cable. Ah, the cable. We have a cable and an additional pully system that we hook a "boatswains chair".

Works great to the middle of the cable but man you have to pull to make the other half. Better than trying to balance.


January 9, 2006, 06:00 AM
They've been making these in latin american jungles for a long , long time. You do need very secure anchorages . The natives never needed "plans" or a computer !!

January 10, 2006, 10:39 AM
Yeah, too bad I ain't a native, with all that knowledge passed down. Well, thanks. I can figure it out of course. But it would save me a little time to have someone who's BTDT that can tell me the materials, components, measurements/spacing, tips etc. I've also got to build two ladders on the supporting trees to climb up to the bridge - I can't have it too low or in flood years, it'd be underwater.

I would think that pulling yourself across on a boatswain's chair is also a young man's game (getting on, getting off, pulling yourself, esp. toward the more uphill side), so 6 of one, half dozen of the other?

January 10, 2006, 02:37 PM
You will want to make provisions to move and lengthen your cabels as the trees

January 10, 2006, 03:07 PM
Good point. AND, in the same vein, if possible I need to find trees *other than* cottonwoods to put it on, because cottonwoods, for all their size, are very short-lived trees, relative to most others.

January 10, 2006, 03:25 PM
The boyscouts may be able to give you the plans. My son recalls building these at camp with rope and they were strong enough for a very large scout master to walk across. Possibly under the pioneering merit badge, you should be able to modify it to cables. Hope this helps.

January 10, 2006, 03:27 PM
Or shorten or lengthen the cables if the trees lean.

January 10, 2006, 07:50 PM
i am just wondering why do u need a bridge?? water to deep? cant go around? i guess down here i've never seen anyone build a bridge,, just wear hip boots are get a small boat...

January 10, 2006, 08:44 PM
We had a similar problem, used a 1/2" diameter steel cable stretched between two trees, put a trolley (pulleys ride on top of the cable) with seat. Additional nylon rope allows rider to pull themselves either direction. Heavy enough for one person, gear, and a deer. Eliminated the problem of river rising and flooding out a bridge design. Not the best picture, but may give you some ideas.

This photo is an earlier design where a boat seat was suspendend with nylon straps....we later changed it to a single steel arm with the seat attached, similar to a ski lift chair.


January 10, 2006, 09:24 PM
Rembrandt, that's awesome! I'd love to see exactly how the newer design is made, with the ski-lift-like chair. I'm not the only one with this issue, I see. Still, it seems like it'd be easier to have a bridge. When/if I actually get a deer, I'll drag it through the creek getting wet even in the winter if I need to - If I'm going back to camp with a succesful hunt, I'll have a half day or more to dry out, change clothes, etc. So I don't need a system that will accomodate myself & a deer - just me and my gear.

No, waders aren't enough - too deep. Chest waders will work IF it's a dry year, and IF you know just where to cross and are willing to walk that far to that point - but I've had a problem with chest waders recently:


January 10, 2006, 10:01 PM
Haven't been able to find pics of the newer ski-lift design, but it's a single "C" shaped arm that goes to the left of the rider. Here's another shot of the chair lift. This has been up for about 12 years....had to replace the nylon pull ropes once because of weather rot. Works nice because of the steep river banks...almost too steep and slick trying to pull deer up the sides.


January 10, 2006, 11:09 PM
The difficulty of getting stuck in the middle and having to pull to get across was one of the problems I had explained to me during my military survival ropes course many years ago.

The answer is really simple. You need two cables for your bosun's chair rig. One cable is connected high on the left bank and low on the right bank. The other cable is connected high on the right bank and low on the left bank. You hook the chair onto whichever cable is higher on your side of the creek and then gravity pulls you across.

Only difficult part is making sure you have a sufficient 'landing zone' on the low side so you don't do a "Wiley Coyote" landing into the anchor point. :eek:

January 11, 2006, 02:11 AM
In that first pic, it looks like the deer's trying to jump up and bite the dude in the nads! Ouch! :eek:

Wolfe... (:D)