Operation: Undertaker

Were back, and as stated in the previous post, it’s Project March.  Similar to Project Gypsy Hauler, this post focuses on a physics problem.  Actually, I shorted that word a tad – make that a physic-al problem.  Do you recall a rant a few posts back regarding some issues trying to acquire a file cabinet (link here).  At that end of that (maybe in the comments) it was revealed that the problem had been solved thanks to a Mega store.  That was really a premature closure of the ordeal.  Sure, the new file cabinet had been ordered, but it had not arrived yet.  I was really in a holding pattern waiting for it to be shipped.  Normally this wait would be one filled with eager anticipation – truth is it was 6 weeks of concern, fretting, worry, hair pulling, aspirin popping and pencil sharpening.  This was all due to roughly 200 yards.  This represents the distance from the curb to my walk in basement (yes, that includes the same stretch the drywall had to travel in the hauler).  Why is this an issue you ask .. you did ask that right — sure you did.  What a great question!  With the new source of the file cabinet, came a new shipping policy.  They only provided curb service – no option to pay an extra $100 and at least get it to the driveway like that other customer hating company had.  Now, I don’t consider myself a slouch under the weight bar, but even before I shed a lot of muscle when retooling my body for the distance running circuit, ~450lbs was a tad out of reach.  Every scenario that was played out ended with spending the Spring mowing around a  450 pound crate sitting by the curb.

By the time the shipping notice hit my inbox the pencil was a tiny nub.  It was past due to make this happen and paper wasn’t going to solve this problem.  Build phase was at hand and that means a trip to the basement… but first a quick trip to Menards.  The final plan called for utilizing my truck to cover the distance from the curb to the basement along with a huge assumption the shipping truck driver would be willing to help me out with the transfer phase of the plan.  I figured the day it arrived it was going to be me, one (or maybe two) shippers and the crate.   It was also likely going to be me who has to get the crate out of the truck but would seek help getting it wrestled into the basement.  With those parameters in place it was pretty easy to see the heart of the issue was figuring out how to easily get the cabinet into the truck and out of the truck – simple eh?  you just build one of these:

If you haven’t figured it out yet, there are a lot of 2×4’s laying around my basement at the moment because of another project that is underway.  That other project requires a lot of table saw work ripping these boards by myself – just me and my trusty roller stands (cue light bulb).  Surely there was some way to incorporate that capability into the design.  All that is needed is a bunch of cased bearings which was the reason for the Menard’s run… and a wasted Home Depot stop.  Finally losing an internal argument whether to ask for help or not, I located an employee who translated my obscure explanation of what I needed and took me directly to the end of the table saw aisle.  He quickly pointed to a tiny bin containing the exact items I wanted.  Every one of them hit the cart but had a feeling there wasn’t enough to do the job.  To resolve this another stop was made at Home Depot.  Yes, the internal battle won again, but this time I was met with – uh, what is that?  No blaming me this time, the request came with a visual having brought one of them in with me.  Denied!  The Menard’s purchase would have to work.

Hit the jump to see how this all comes together and whether it was worth all the trouble!

As you can see from the picture above, the contraption needed another base.  I’m getting to the point where I can whip out a 2×4 base in a matter of minutes.  For this project, the base length was set by the length of the truck bed plus the length of the tailgate.  The width driven by another item purchased while at Menards for a whopping $1.47.  This was definitely my score for the year.  What was this find?  They had a wide particle shelf board in their scrap bin that was about 5 feet long and a PERFECT fit for the design.  You might have noticed those side boards on the back part of the base.  Those side rails stick up about a 1/2 inch beyond the height of the bearings.  and were set about an 3/4 of an inch wider than the board.  A similar rail was put at the back end.  Figure out how all this comes together yet?  Here’s some help:

The smooth surface of the board could now slide into a tailor made channel preventing it from sliding off the platform.  The unknown in all this was just how wide this file cabinet was.  There were some dimensions on the website, but that did not include the shipping crate.  To account for this, I needed to make sure the rails stayed below the top of the shelf.  By doing this, it didn’t matter how wide the cabinet was, it would still slide freely into the truck.  Linda calls it anal.. I call it thoroughness – something worth doing.. is something worth over engineering (you can thank my oldest brother for instilling this in me).  By the way, I purposely kept the rails shorter than the total length of the platform.  I wanted the ability to shift it around easily in case the cabinet didn’t transfer at the right angle.  Once the cabinet was aligned I could give it an easy shove and presto:

As Murphy would have it, the day the cabinet arrived it was pouring down rain.  The plastic allowed me to keep the cardboard under the platform dry that I was using to keep the brand new sprayed in bed liner from getting damaged.  So the shipping truck shows up and it’s essentially a semi which parks out in the street (not a problem, we live on a country road) but only one guy.  My cabinet looked kind of lonely being the ONLY item in the trailer.  He grabs a hydraulic cart and proceeds to strain to get it to his lift gate.  That is where I explained my plan to pull this off.  To say he looked skeptical is an understatement.  The fact he made me sign a disclaimer releasing him from responsibility if we crushed the tailgate gives you an indication of the concern.  There was a slight rewrite on the planned transfer procedure since the cabinet was shipped upright rather than laying down.  A minor issue compared with everything else involved with this project.  So this is how it went down.  We lowered his gate almost to the ground putting the top of the cabinet about 3 feet above my tailgate.  From there we both got behind the cabinet and pushed it (harder than it sounds) to the point it was leaning against the shelf board which was pull to the end of the tailgate.  Getting a vision of this yet?  We still had to get the bulk of the cabinet weight into the truck – before you jump to a wrong conclusion, the driver clearly spent less time under the bar than I did so heaving that up was not going to happen.. nor did we have to.  Now that the cabinet was leaning against the truck, all we had to do was raise up his lift gate until the cabinet was horizontal.  Once horizontal..we could get some leverage and push it off the lift gate into the bed of the truck.  To my surprise it move like butter on the rollers and slipped into the channel without a hitch.  The utter look of amazement the driver gave me made me laugh out loud.

One thing that did occur that I hadn’t planned for was the fact that it ended up on the board more in the middle that the back end.  This kept the crate from traversing all the way to the end of the platform, but it was flush with the tailgate so no biggie.

When it came time to unload it, I did manage to persuade my nephew Jeff and a friend (Pezboy) to help me get it out of the truck.  Thinking it was the safest place at the time I had Jeff get in the bed of the truck to push it towards us.  Pezboy (another gym rat) and I stayed on the ground to catch the cabinet when it made it to the tipping point and then guide it down the truck ramps we had positioned on the tailgate.  The extraction worked pretty flawless except one little point that Jeff managed to notice just in time.  When we hit the tipping point and made the catch – the board started to raise up out of the channel at the same angle as the cabinet.  That could have produced a dangerous situation but he safely maneuvered around it.  Note, this situation immediately resonates with me whenever I see it – I had a scary situation when a teenager that will ever be burned in the synapses.  My Dad, our neighbor and I were breaking out our driveway one Summer.  Whoever poured it the first time must have worked for a highway construction company because I swear that was poured to semi specs.  The only way we could effectively break it up is to have someone put a steel bar underneath a portion of the slap and push down on it across another chunk of cement.  That task usually fell to me (faster healer!).  At some point I was distracted and hadn’t locked my arms down over the bar yet when my neighbor smacked the concrete slab to crack it – that steel rod about gave me a shave – not sure who’s eyes were wider, mine or my Dads.  The fact that these post allow me to look back on my life never ceases to amaze me I made it adulthood.  My Guardian Angel has been working OVERTIME.  The account of how the three of us got the cabinet into the basement is beyond the project portion of this post so I’ll leave that for the most part.  What I will tell you is the weight of the cabinet is what really broke the threshold ramp in the previous post.  The minute we sat that cabinet on the edge of that ramp (with the intent to slide it into the basement) it let out a groan and snapped in half.  Moving the 4 feet across the threshold turned out to quite the endeavor, but its in there and now sitting on roller feet awaiting it’s final resting spot.

Another task successfully negotiated!  The good news is if the economy ever falls into the shitter again I can go into the coffin mover business.  That occupation never seems to have a dip in business.

4 thoughts on “Operation: Undertaker”

  1. You left out an important part. What did you do with the loaded truck for 24 hours of pouring rain since there was a delay in getting your unloading crew to the house? BTW, after the drywall incident of 2004, I stayed far away from this project. You won’t catch me on the downside of heavy loads when Brian is directing traffic 🙂


  2. I’m not sure important is the proper description, but she is right, there was a delay in getting the help lined up. Unfortunately, with the tailgate down the truck doesn’t fit in the garage. Lucky for me, my neighbor has a Toy Box to die for – he let me stash the truck there overnight so it wouldn’t stay out of the weather. Very appreciative of that and clearly more evidence I need to get working on my own Toy Box.

    I’m going to say it for the 3,035 time – you need to get over the damn drywall incident. You got a little bruise and I had an important bone broke in two – all because you failed to do your itty bitty task! That and I STILL get no credit for saving you that night with a Herculean demonstration of strength.


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