Back in the fall of 2015 we bought a "demo" pergola from a lumber company. They had built a pergola to show off a pretty awesome pergola. They were moving locations and didn't want to move it to the new facility. I believe that the owner said it was close to $5000 worth of lumber and he sold it to us for $500. It was a great deal and the only thing we had to do is take it apart.
So one Saturday, my brother and I went over and disassembled it. It was a monster. It had 2 large cedar beams that measured 6" thick by 14" wide by 252" long (21 feet). They must weigh about 500lbs each. The nice part about taking it down is that they had a forklift and used it to lift the large beams to the ground. It was a HUGE help. It was all screwed together and we made quick progress of taking it apart. I believe we had it all disassembled in 2 hours. They delivered it to our house for free and we moved it to the backyard and covered it up for the winter.
Once it warmed up, I started to layout the foundations and then dug them to code. I went deeper and wider than what code specified as I knew there would be a lot of weight on the four 6x6 post. Over the course of 2 weeks, I slowly dug out four concrete foundations and then installed the 6x6 posts by anchoring them with large bolts to the concrete pillars. I used a water level to cut each post to the same height.
Once the post where in place, I started drafting plans for how I was going to lift the large beams into place. I didn't have a forklift and needed to engineer a lifting mechanism. I decided to use three 2x4x16' and shape them into a tripod. I built two of these tripods. I purchased large lifting straps and a two come-a-longs to help winch the beams into place. We would move the tripod into place and then re-enforce the legs with cross supports.
On lifting day we moved the beams into position and placed the tripod around them. The cable was hooked to the lifting strap and it was wrapped around each side of the beam. We then lifted the beams about a foot off the ground to check how the tripod was holding up. They didn't budge. I expected some flex in the 2x4s but all the bracing we put on it kept it solid. So we began the lift...one crank at a time (keeping it level) from both ends of the beams. We lifted the beams above the 6x6 and then lowered it into position. It was easy.. all my planning paid off. It took us close to 3 hours to do both beams. They were much easier to lift than I was expecting and the best part is that it was done safely and no one got hurt.
All that was left was to temporarily support the beams. I decided to use the 2x4s from the tripod to support the beams. I didn't think the beams would really move much as they were all fastened at the tops of the post..but I didn't want it to move around until I added the internal infrastructure. Part 1 is complete.