Sunday, May 27, 2012

Shoppin' Like a Redneck

Yep...that's me.  I borrowed a trailer in order to move my powder coating oven (which is an adventure in-and-of itself since it weighs 1100 lbs!) and convinced the people to let me keep the trailer for a couple of extra days.

The story goes like this: I was talking to my redneck co-worker about the problems with my water trailer.  The trailer itself works great.  I can haul 500 gallons at a time and it has no problem, however, the utility company's stand pipe only goes into the opening in the trailer by about one inch.  The problem is that there is so much pressure that it doesn't matter how hard I tie, strap, bungee, or hold that pipe into the opening, the first couple of times it will find a way to force itself up that extra inch and the next thing you know the car, trailer, water pump, and the dummy running the pump are all getting drenched!  On the hot summer days this may not be a big deal, but it could get pretty miserable in the winter.

Well...the brilliant idea that my buddy had was simply "raise the tanks so the hose goes in further".  Really genius?  I think I could have come up with that answer.  HOW do I do it?  Then I started rattling off my brilliant ideas, and he stopped me and said: "Why don't you just get one of those large pallets they deliver our CNC machines on"? we are getting somewhere.  He further explained that they are made of 4x4's, 4x6's, 2x8'x, etc, and that they are about 8' wide and up to 24 feet long.  How perfect!  Then he says they get rid of them here at work when we get the machines...make sure to keep my eyes open.

So I left the manager of the machine shop an email.  "Dude, if you have any more of those pallets, I want them!"  His response was that they probably won't get them in a while, but he will call the rigging company to see if they have any they want to get rid of.  10 minutes later I get a response: "They have him tomorrow to schedule a time".  DONE!  I call the dude, he says he has a few, and come get them before 3:00 because he wants to leave early.  DONE!

So I take that big-ol car haulin' trailer to work and park it in the parking lot all day.  Mind you this thing has horse hay all over it, scratches more than paint, and for tie-downs, horse-shoes welded to the side of the trailer.  Those horseshoes were both a blessing and a curse as you will soon see.  Anyway, I had to come up with a way to get those pallets up above the wheel wells because they were wider than the trailer at 8+ feet.  As luck would have it, my place of business did have a few extra small pallets laying out back they were getting rid of, so I stole all of the good ones and made an raised bed.

I get to the guy's rigging shop and see the stack of pallets, and holy cow!  These things were a lot like they said, but I didn't fully anticipate the scale of them until I got there...and they are just throwing them away!  I tried to lift one (just for fun...I knew I couldn't do it) and I anticipated they probably weighed about 600 lbs.  I have no idea if I am correct or not, but it sounded good.  The guy estimated about 800 to 1000lbs, so I told the guy that I wanted at least "these two" and probably "these two also", and "any more we think we could reasonably fit".  Well I got my wish, and I got the four I was hoping for, but it took him 2 different forklifts to do it.  The first one blew a seal while lifting the stack!

Well...he stacks the original four onto the trailer and the poor trailer and van start to sag quite a bit.  I tell him that is all I dare take, and he agrees.  It took me 30 minutes to get it all anchored down, supported appropriately, and all of the magnetic lights put on the trailer.  When standing from the back, you couldn't even tell what kind of vehicle was pulling it!

After dragging this thing to the entry of the freeway, and realizing the electric breaks on this trailer do not work, I decide that slow and steady is the way to go, and the freeway during rush hour is not a smart choice.  It took me 1.5 hours for my normally 30 minute trek home.

So I make it home.  Now for the fun part: How the heck do I get these monsters off the trailer!  I don't have a forklift, or even a tractor yet.  This could be seriously fun.  I realize really quickly that I am going to have to redneck this thing off the trailer.  So I go grab an old loggers chain that my dad used to pull out bush stumps with when I was a boy.  I tied the chain to the bottom-most 4x4 of the bottom pallet, and around the base of a light post that was on my property.  The plan was to simply drive off and leave the pallets where they stay.

So I start driving, and it starts to go...for about 2 inches before the tire digs a hole into the dirt.  Darn...why doesn't that work?  Well...I go back and look at it and those horseshoes that were so awesome when anchoring down the pallets, are now blocking them from sliding off.  Even though the pallets clear the wheel-well, they do not clear the horseshoes that are welded to the top of the well.  Time for more redneck thinkin'.

Now I go grab some 4x4's that I have laying around, and my 3.5 ton jack.  I use one small piece of 4x4, about 2 feet long, and stand it on end on the jack and underneath the edge of the pallet.  I use this to lift the entire stack about 5 to 6 inches up, and slide one of the long 4x4's onto the smaller pallets so as to provide a sliding surface for the stack.  I repeat for the other side. 

Firing up the van again, I back up to get out of my hole, and get a little bit of a "running start".  This time the stack moves quite a ways before the van buries itself up to the axle in dirt.  CRAP...must have hit a soft spot in the dirt.  Unfortunately, the stack is now half on the trailer half off the trailer!  It turns out that a couple of the smaller pallets broke and the bits and pieces got jammed into the stack of pallets above.

So...after digging the van out of the massive hole and using an old 2x4 and some plywood as a new foundation, I now focus my attention on this very awkward, 2000 lb stack of wood pallets.  I again use my small jack to attempt to lift the stack from all different angles.  The best way being on top of the smaller pallets resting in a hole where the smaller pallet broke.  Oh yea...did I mention that it is now dark and I had to bring out the halogen lights to do this?  Great....why do I feel another hospital trip coming on?  I sure hope the wife comes and checks on me if I don't show up for a while.

Anyway, I get all of the sliding 4x4's repositioned to get over the broken pallets, and try again.  This time as I reach the end of the chain...SNAP...CRASH.  Holy crap...what happened...the pallets are still half-on, half-off the trailer!  Apparently it is possible to splinter a 4x4 if you put enough direct pressure from a chain onto it.  That whole 4x4 support on the bottom pallet gave way right in the center.  Darn...that was one of the good ones too!

Oh the chain, dig the van out one last time, and try again...we have been doing this about 4 hours now.  Time to get it done.  This time, I hit the gas on the van and it just pulls away like no problem...I did it!  Well...almost.

Now that the stack is on the ground, I really need to have it elevated to keep the termites out, and to make sure the water drains.  Luckily the jack will fit under the main deck of the bottom pallet because it is standing off the ground by it's own 4x4 framing.  I jack it up and set it on cinder blocks.  Now I have a massive pile of very good, usable wood that I can disassemble and use for projects like raising the tanks on the water trailer and building a tree-house for the kids.  Not to mention building a gantry for a hoist that I can use to pick stuff off the trailers.

Anyway, I return the trailer to it's owner and tell him that he needs to get those electric breaks fixed.  His comment was: "Why?".  Well...because of people like me!.  His response: "Well...if you would pull it with something that isn't a toy you wouldn't have that problem!"  Then I tell him about my adventure getting the pallets off.  He said: "Why didn't you just cut the horseshoe off and re-weld it when you were done?".  I told him that I had seriously considered it, but didn't want to tear up his trailer if I didn't have to.  He was literally laughing at me after that one, with a response of: "Next time, just cut the damn horseshoe off!"  YES SIR!

Anyway, that turned out to be a bunch of redneck projects all wrapped up into one big project.  Yes, I still think I can handle this redneck thing and I will enjoy it!  BTW, I still have this mobile home carcase and a couple of axles (with breaks).  I think one of my later projects needs to be a big-a$$ trailer.  I have borrowed two different ones lately I am loving those things.  I think it is time for my own.'s not like I don't have enough wood to cover the deck of that trailer now too!

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