To recap, I have a 350 Pound Doorstop In My Basement, and I'm damn near out of business until I replace it. Do you know how to move heavy things? I see all sorts of educated people that can't fathom how people built the pyramids. They'll believe aliens did it, but not regular people. When you become far removed from everyday things, you'll believe anything but the truth. Construction workers don't watch Mythbusters.
If I told you you had to move that 439 pound box down a flight of stairs, could you do it? Here's what's at your disposal: A thirteen year old boy, his mom, and whatever you have laying around. Easy. By the way; you're in a hurry, because the item is made from cast iron, and it's going to rain. And you can't drop it -- it's precision machinery.
At the risk of sounding like Steve Martin or Charlie Rangel telling you the way to be a millionaire and not pay taxes is to "get a million dollars and then don't pay your taxes," I'm going to just wave my hand and tell you you've got to accept the shipment five miles away because your driveway is too long and skinny for the truck. Then you get the box into the back of your van using only a ramp.
Look, you're going to have to understand the simple machines and be able to predict how much of a boost each can give your available manpower. For the benefit of people with advanced degrees that train you to be able to type into a little phone with your thumbs and not much else, the simple machines are:
- Wheel and Axle
- Ramp (Inclined Plane)
We don't need all those for this. We're going to need the lever and the ramp. We're going to be wallowing in friction, though. And gravity.
The very first thing, and most important, is making up your mind to do it. I'm serious. You need to determine if it's possible, and then commit yourself to doing it. Otherwise you're going to succumb to the spectre of one idea after another to quit and get more help and more equipment forevermore.
Everyone wants a wheel, right away. It's the last thing you want, in many cases. The wheel and axle part of our story was the semi truck that delivered it. Gravity and weight will get someone hurt, especially if it's skating all over the place on wheels. We walked the box up the ramp. On wheels, we could never have pushed it up.
I'm going to have to pick it up myself. I'm strong enough to beat you up, but I can't lift 439 pounds -- so I'm going to have to be smarter than you, too. You can pick up anything with a lever, if the fulcrum is placed correctly and the lever arm is long enough. Let's make a sled, and combine the ramp and the lever.
We're going to keep the item from sliding down the sled with a strongback. Putting structural members perpedicular to one another increases their resultant capabilities.
Speaking of strong backs, a thirteen year old's is strong enough:
We'll capture the sled on an inclined plane, and use friction to keep it from ending up in China, and me, flat, in geostationary orbit above China. Remember, wheels are bad.
We're going to need a platform at the top to sit the box on. Let's make it from... heh... IKEA furniture.
Somebody gave me a knock-down shelf 25 years ago. This is all it's good for in the long run. Buy real furniture, people! I use pneumatic nails to nail it to the frame.
So we walked it down the ramp from the truck and put it right on the sled. We needed to avoid it tipping over and crushing me, standing at the bottom of the ramp, so I nailed the pallet to the sled with as many three inch framing nails as I could fit. The strap was gravy.
I could easily lift the box by pulling down on the bottom of the lever arm we'd made. There was less than three feet under the box, and I had over nine feet of lever. But there would be a moment when the sled would be tipped downhill, but not fully in contact with the whole ramp. It might start moving pretty quick -- too fast. Fast is always bad. So we put self-adhesive abrasive tape on the ramp to increase the friction.
There's a lot of figuring and checking. My helpers can't be hurt, as they're at the top of this rollercoaster looking down, but I imagine that watching the thing crush me and being sent to the workhouse for the rest of their miserable lives would be less fun than shoe-shopping and playing X-Box, so I was determined not to let the thing land on me. I'm considerate like that.
But it started to rain, less than thirty seconds after I was dumb enough to say: "Thank God it hasn't rained." Time to act.
I tipped that thing down, and the sled hung up perfectly on the ramp. The boy ran around to the bottom with me, and we inched it down by wiggling it a bit. The angle of the sled gets less acute as the lever end slides across the floor, and so the force trying to make it a runaway train abates pretty quick. Et voila!; it has arrived:
And then the setup faeries came while we ate cupcakes and then slumbered, and they put the thing together from the jumble of gun-greased cast iron and bolts that was in the crate. Or I put it together. It was one or the other; I can't recall now.
And now, we're back in business.