Tuesday, July 24, 2012


An open letter to Mother Nature...

Dear Mother Nature,
Go F$%* yourself!

Weeks have gone by with relatively little rain, a thunderstorm here or there. But on the one day I am scheduled to transport a 915 lb. precision piece of cast iron it pours, all day long.

The miserable day went as follows. Wake up early on Saturday morning, drive up to the U-Haul in Hyattsville MD to pick up the trailer, in the rain. Luckily there were no issues getting the trailer, I was in and out in less than 30 minutes. Drove up to my mom's house in PA to pick up misc. tools including the bulk of my mechanics tools, chain hoist, extra lifting strap, air compressor, etc. This stuff alone fills the entire bed of my truck. Oh, and water skis, you gotta have water skis.

The weather was pleasant and dry in PA. Drove to Chester to pick up the lathe. Paul and his brother are really great guys, they had the lathe ready to go. They lowered it onto my 4x4 skids with the forklift, and bolted down the lathe for me. Then showed me a thing or two about the proper way to use ratcheting tie downs. With the forklift the lathe went on the trailer so easily.

I start driving home and 5 minutes onto I-95 it starts to drizzle. I Pull over on the side of the road to put the tarp on. Yeah, I probably should have done this in Chester instead of on the shoulder of I-95. I'm pretty sure I will never tow more than what this lathe weighs. It took some getting used to the bouncing but despite the 55 MPH sticker on the trailer it felt comfortable at 65. Every now and then I could feel the trailer pushing the truck a bit which made me nervous. However my friend Grant who had agreed to help me unload was worried that the schedule kept getting pushed later and later so I was trying to make good time. Oh and shortly after I got the tarp on and for the remainder of the 3 hour drive, it was pouring rain.

I picked up Grant on the way home. By then I was already stressed out. Just backing up the trailer was a challenge as I'd never done that before. Everything is the opposite of what you think.

The first challenge, how do we get the lathe off the trailer. It was soon quite obvious that the shop crane could not straddle the trailer tire enough to raise the lathe. Even if it could, we would have had to drive over the one leg of the crane. We realized we had to move the lathe to the back of the trailer so we could get the cranes boom over the lathes center of gravity. We attempted this first by hooking up a come along from the front of the trailer around a post at the rear of the trailer and onto the lathe. We were able to get the lathe to slowly inch towards the rear. Until we ran out of purchase. Then it dawned on me we could simply put my steel pipe rollers I had intended to use for the final part of the move here as well. So we lifted up one end of the lathe with the crane and put rollers underneath. Then the other end. Once it was on rollers we just pushed the lathe to the end of the trailer. In this position we were able to get the crane in the proper position. Then I drove the trailer out from underneath. Oh, it's still a steady rain at this point and we are both soaked as well as the lathe.

The rest of the move got pretty tense. Things were not going as planned. Moving the lathe up to the platform outside my shed was quite ridiculous. At one point we the head stock side of the lathe on the platform and the tail stock side supported on the alley pavement with cribbing and a jack. It was very unstable and our next move almost tipped the lathe over. We found we had to solve each little problem one at a time to make sure we didn't do something stupid and have the lathe fall on us.

At one point we were stumped, standing in the rain scratching our heads. Grant suggested we get a beer. I was skeptical, I know it was only one beer but I had not eaten anything all day and I didn't want to risk being  buzzed while moving heavy machinery. It actually calmed me down quite a bit and shortly afterward we got it figured out and into position to roll right into the shed. It turns out the best way to move it was to simply use rollers and a pinch bar and move it a little at a time.

Done! What a relief. It fits, barely. I'ts going to be cozy in that shed! I can't thank Grant enough. I was planning on doing this on my own if I couldn't get help. That would have been a very bad idea. There would have been no way I would have gotten it done. I was absolutely exhausted by the end of the day.

It's still up on the skids and rollers, but I need to maneuver around it to start working on it. So there it will stay until the next step.

1 comment:

  1. looks like horrible weather... but hey - the lathe is where you can look at it, and work on it now, everything else will wash away just like the rain that day