Lifting heavy rack-mount gear (was Re: PDP-8/e rack questions)

Dave McGuire mcguire at
Tue Jan 6 23:39:23 CST 2009

On Jan 7, 2009, at 12:03 AM, Ethan Dicks wrote:
> IIRC, Sridar has a story or two that, fortunately, I can't top.

   Yeah, but most of Sridhar's stories involve his gear nearly  
crushing ME! ;)

   This is rather severely off-topic, as most of the machines  
described are pretty new, but I recently offloaded some very heavy  
gear from a truck onto my driveway by myself.  I had no one upon whom  
to call for assistance, and I was under great time pressure.  Here's  
the saga.  (This is mostly a cut-and-paste from an email I sent to  
Pat Finnegan about a month ago, as this stuff came from his facility.)

   First came the StorageTek Timberwolf tape juke, being very large  
and weighing about 700lbs.  That's pretty light, compared to the rest  
of the stuff.  I wanted to unload it using the ramp, but the weight  
coming down the ramp was far more than I could handle myself.  I used  
a ratchet strap hooked to the sides of the truck to lower it a notch  
at a time.  In the end, I ran out of strap and it started rolling on  
its own, but it only went about eight inches before it was off the all was well.  I removed all the tape carriers beforehand  
in an effort to reduce the weight somewhat.  I used pieces of wood as  
safety catches behind the wheels.

   Next came the Sun Fire 6800s, about 1200lbs/ea...and fragile,  
expensive, and belonging to someone else.  That's pressure.  They  
were laying down on their backs...I pushed, with great difficulty,  
the rightmost machine off the end of the truck, "catching" it with a  
ratchet strap configured in a loop of a reasonable length secured to  
the top frame of the truck.

   I lowered it a ratchet notch at a time until the rear/bottom  
corner was on the driveway, then adjusted the angles a bit, then  
lowered it onto its wheels.

   The left machine was sitting across two pallets, and was far more  
difficult due to wood-on-wood friction with the truck's floor.  I  
jacked the machine up one side at a time in order to remove all  
remaining rear rack protrusions, then tied the rearmost pallet to one  
of the between-the-garage-doors columns on my house.  I then drove  
the truck forward, an inch or so at a time, running back every time  
to check on things, until the rearmost pallet was nearly off the truck.

   I then lifted the bottom/rear of the rack up using a loop of  
ratchet strap in order to remove the pallet.

   After that, I lowered it to the ground with a ratchet strap in the  
same manner as the first machine.

   The E10K was the last to come off the truck.  It was still  
unbelievably heavy even after the removal of all hot-swappable  
components...about 900lbs empty.  It came down the ramp a ratchet  
notch at a time in the same manner as the Timberwolf, but this time  
my friend Ed came by to help, despite being sick.  Here he is  
striking a camped-up pose with the machine midway down the ramp:

   So that was that, what a relief.  That was a stressful few days,  
with the bill for the extra truck rental time climbing ever  
skyward...I was very worried that my new employer (it's their gear)  
would be pissed about the extra expense, but he was cool with it,  
seeing that I risked great bodily harm to move gear for the company  
on short notice.

   But it was fun. :)


Dave McGuire
Port Charlotte, FL

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