Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Backtracking for Moving Heavy Objects

Silly me, yesterday morning I left out chunks of what Ron had been working on.

Saturday morning we got lumber to make ramps to go from the side porch to the ground. Saturday afternoon, while Robin was doing election judge training, we went to Lowe's for the nice aluminum ramp tops they carry, and then to Cabela's to return the less-nice steel ones I'd picked up last week.

We had time to kill, so we went for a wander around Cabela's, including the "Bargain Cave". The most interesting thing we found in the Bargain Cave was a roller fairlead for an ATV winch, marked down from $50 to $13. At some point after buying the road cases I'd suggested using a come-along or winch to get them up and down the ramps to the ground, and I wasn't entirely joking. We decided to buy the fairlead because it was a great deal, and we probably would implement the winch idea at some point (especially if/when Robin ever moves out).

As we strolled toward the checkouts, Ron wondered if Cabela's carries ATV winches. I pointed out where they'd probably be (based on looking for the ramp ends), so we wandered over to take a look, and Ron found one - on sale. 2000 lb capacity, for <$100. It followed us home. It came with a fairlead, so Ron was going to leave the one we found in the Bargain Cave, but I over-ruled.

The winch is so tiny! So tiny and cute! The winch on my Jeep had a capacity of 8900 pounds, a much longer stash of heavier cable, and wasn't a low-profile model. Compared to that one, this one is cute and tiny, comparatively. Why, you may ask, did we not just re-purpose the winch from the Jeep? Because we bequeathed it to a friend when the Jeep went to the junkyard.

To continue: Saturday evening Ron and Robin knocked together a test platform out of scrap lumber and hooked the winch up to the battery out of Ron's motorcycle to test it. Worked fine. Then Ron started pondering how to power it. The winch is set up to run off of an ATV battery, so there's the possibly-dead batteries from the rototiller or my mostly-moribund motorcycle (anybody want a 1984 V65 Sabre with an untrustworthy ignition switch?). But to use it getting road cases up and down the ramp to the porch, it would be most convenient to get it to run from AC power, which is available a couple feet from the door.

Ron consulted several of our friends. One suggested a computer power supply, only problem there is that we've disposed of all our dead computers. After a bit of thinking, Ron went to the basement to fetch the large batter-charger/jump-starter that we don't use much any more, at about the same time that another friend of ours was sending e-mail suggesting exactly that. (I'd forgotten about it, as we also have a smaller/lighter/smarter charger that fits under the hood of a vehicle) Hooked up the charge/starter and the winch ran happily.

Ron and Robin need to build something to hold the winch in place on the porch, but still remain portable (no, I don't want a winch permanently mounted to the middle of the porch, thanks). They're still debating exactly how to do that. Not sure if it will end up using both fairleads, or just one - if one, we'll use the one we got in the Bargain Cave, it's nicer than the one that came with the winch. We'll also probably need to get a tow strap, or see if we still have the one that lived in the Jeep - not sure if there's quite enough cable to go the length of the porch and down the ramp. But that's minor.

On Sunday Ron and Robin built the ramps for the porch - 2xmumbles (10s, I think), with 1x4s on each side to act as rails and add extra stiffness. Robin can walk up one, but there's some bounce. Ron expects he'll have to add a stiffener or brace down to the porch steps, but they'll be fine for the event this weekend.

I do need to find/cut wide leather straps to hoist the end of the big green toolbox, kind of like movers' lift straps, and to control it going up/down ramps. The handle on it is only sturdy enough for moving/steering it on the flat, not going up or down ramps, and certainly not lifting it over a door sill.

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