Brian's Journey Into Welding - Week 2 Redneck Engineering
Have you ever seen a full size shipping container? I’m sure you have. If you’ve ever watched an action movie (or Dexter), there’s roughly a 1 in 3 chance that there’s a scene in a shipyard. Anyway, now that we’ve established that you know what I’m referring to, have you ever been up close to one? Ever been inside one? I’m getting to my point, I promise.
This past week, Weld-Ready decided it's time to expand our horizons, and by horizons, I mean our capacity to store welding accoutrement on site. So naturally, the best way to do that is to bring in a big ass metal rectangle.
So, the day of arrival, my drive to work consists of misty rain and thick fog. Who says January in the Great White North means snow, amirite? About twenty minutes after we all roll in to work, the gentleman delivering the container arrives… with a full size flatbed tractor trailer. Now, I don't expect most of you reading this are privy to the Weld-Ready headquarters, but it does not comfortably take a full length tractor trailer easily. So we all scramble to move our personal vehicles to another lot just down the road, and as we’re getting behind our respective wheels, a delivery guy shows up, blocking all of us in. Neat. Little did we know this would just be the first of many interesting adventures (heretofore referred to as snafus) that would unfold for us on this fateful day.
Fast-forward fifteen minutes, and the big rig with the flatbed finagles his way into the driveway, reversing up to where we want to put the container. Now, I should preemptively tell you that the shipping container is going to go up along the side of the warehouse. This is a tight fit, as there is a drop-off grade on one side, with the wall of the warehouse on the other. It only affords about an extra six feet of space all in. Thankfully, we have a relatively talented truck driver performing the delivery. He backs the trailer up to within inches of the concrete wall of the warehouse, before slowly and methodically beginning the process of getting the container off the trailer. This involves conveyors and hydraulics and, frankly, a bunch of things I know very little about.
Eventually, after plenty or reversing, pulling forward, getting out of the truck, and just more general finagling, the shipping container has successfully been offloaded. Fantastic, we’re in business. Except the container is sitting at an angle, a dozen feet out from where it’s supposed to be situated. Snafu #2. Okay, so now what? Well, this is where the redneck engineering comes in. Can we call someone with a tractor to come and push this container gently in towards the building? Sure, but this will take time, and finding someone with a big ass tractor. Could we rent some sort of crane, or other piece of heavy equipment? Also yes, but again, we’re not an overly patient bunch.
Instead of all the sensible options, we get the trusty old forklift, and start pushing. And holy hell, it works! Enter snafu #3: The more we push the container back, the more it also pushes out towards the grade. This is bad. How are we going to get it back in towards the building? We can't get on the far side of it, so that leaves one option. We have to pull. Time for some ratchet straps. This brilliant idea works for approximately 18 seconds.
At this point, we’re all standing around staring at each other, hoping the answer is written on one of our foreheads. And maybe it was, because duh, we sell welding stuff. Half of us are welders. So now we have to find a piece of scrap that will take a chain, and is thick enough that the weight of the container won't shatter it. Angle iron it is. We find a suitable piece, and break out the Steelmax S14 Chop Saw to cut it down to size (crazy saw if you’ve never seen it in action). Once that’s out of the way, we roll out the Westinghouse 12000DF generator and the Crossfire Trion 210 welder and get to striking some arcs. With the fun part out of the way, it's back to forklifting. We run a chain, hook it up, and get to pulling. Welds hold (no surprise there), and so does the chain, and we’re once again in business (for real this time).
This entire process took the better part of a full work day, but in the end it was so worth it. The next phase is getting the container insulated, running some lights, and stocking it full of all sorts of goodies. There will likely be another snafu or two involved, because that’s just life, but I’m here for it. We might even get a chance to employ a bit more redneck engineering, who knows? I’ll be sure to keep you all posted.