More than 85 years ago, the largest aerial cable in the world was located in Manizales, where it hung for 72 km (44.7 miles) to the municipality of Mariquita (Province of Tolima). It was considered one of the most important engineering projects of the twentieth century, and its purpose was to transport coffee within the region which was difficult due to the mountainous topography of that area of the country.
The Cable has been inoperable for 51 years when infrastructure project centered on building roadways. In 1966 the Cable station was appointed one of the 1,105 Colombian assets of cultural interest. Since then it has been a kind of watchtower of the city of Manizales and home to the School of Architecture and Urbanism of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal), which is in charge of preserving its cultural heritage.
The fourth intervention of the station has just finished and with an investment of Col $3.500 million. Taking into account that the building has now changed its function, as it was originally conceived as an aerial cable station, it is now been changed for new use marked by educational criteria.
In 1996 the built the Germán Arciniegas Library, composed of seven rooms and lavatory services; then between 1997 and 2003 the old warehouse was turned into classrooms and between 2010 and 2013, the old machine house was turned into a cafeteria and lastly between August of 2017 and January of 2018 they carried out a structural reinforcement of the roof to comply with seismic-resistant regulations, an important aspect taking into account the high seismic threat of the coffee growing region of Colombia.
UNal-Manizales professors and leaders of the restoration team María del Pilar Sánchez and Juan Manuel Sarmiento Nova said that the project was carried out according to the project named, “Structural reinforcement of the roof of the Old Aerial Cable Station”, approved by the Colombian Ministry of Culture.
The roof structure was disassembled by a crew of 40 workers who took down the wooden trusses which were in bad shape. After they removed 64,000 Spanish roof tiles by hand and took down the (17m x 2 m) wooden trusses with the purpose of classifying and numbering the affected parts due to the damaged caused by the wood-boring insects (xylophages).
Termites, weevils and wood-boring insects had colonized part of the laurel, abarco, coffee walnut and cedar wood. 75% of the timber had to be replaced for chanul and abarco wood brought from the Province of Chocó, which are forest species which support a lot of weight. The trusses were submerged in a mixture of fortage (wood preserver) and water. Afterward, they were left to dry. Also, half of the 64,000 Spanish roof tiles were replaced by other tiles coming from demolitions of houses from municipalities such as Villamaría, Chinchiná, and Bajo Tablazo.
After the wood was treated with timber preservers and the Spanish roof tiles cleaned (lichens and moss removed with synthetic bristle brushes) workers reassembled the 75 wooden trusses that held the structure together, replacing corroded screws and bolts and adding tensors in form of an “X” to achieve greater resistance. Finally, the Spanish roof tiles were placed over the treated wooden purlins and tied with galvanized wire in compliance with seismic-resistant regulation NSR-10.
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