Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lockers, Way Too Big Lockers

I bought 7 heavy open mesh lockers at an on-line auction. They were supposed to be 2 two locker units and 1 three locker unit. All the other groups were two and three units. When I got to the defunct nursing home on the East Side of St. Paul I found that my unit was one 2 locker and one 5 locker. These lockers are each 2' x 2' x 6.5' and probably weight about 70 lbs. There was no way that I was going to get the 5 locker unit out of the room. Too heavy and way too big. So I decided to take the 5 unit apart.

I removed about a thousand small bolts and tried to separate the pieces. Well, of course there were 1003 bolts holding the units together. The first, when finally located, came out with the wrench. The second, which was high up and behind a support, just turned. The little bolts have smooth heads, like a rivet, so there was no slot as in a screw or edges like a normal bolt. I tried to grab the edges with a tiny vice grips but I couldn’t get a bite. I futzed around for about 15 minutes trying to get the nut to turn and the bolt to stay still. Finally I brought out the big gun, my angle grinder.

I came prepared. I brought the angle grinder and stopped to get a pack of 10 cut-off discs on my way to the site. I also brought my own extension cord just in case. I got the grinder set up and the bolt was gone in about two thousand sparks and 15 seconds. Success! I was ready to part the sections.

Well that was 1002 bolts removed and now I encountered the 1003rd bolt. It was at the back, under the bottom shelf. I could only reach it by pulling out the 5 locker unit and crawling under the section. Now this was a storage locker room in an old building. The lockers had been in place for years with about 2 inches of open space under the lockers. And that area had never been cleaned. I had to crawl on my back in the space that I cleared by pushing the lockers from the wall and reach blindly into the base to remove that last bolt. Of course it wouldn’t come off. The nut and bolt just turned. The vice grips wouldn’t bite. And there was not enough room to get the angle grinder onto the bolt. Up and down in the grime trying this tool and that tool. (And how can a tool I just had crawl away so I had squirm around on my back to relocate it?) Finally I gave up. I grabbed the smaller end of the unit and tugged and twisted it. The bolt gave and the unit popped out.

I loaded the units onto my cart, trekked through ½ of the nursing home and loaded each onto my trailer. I had to tug and lift and push, but they all made it in for the journey home. The straps were tight. The bungies were in place to secure the cart and furniture dolly. The tools were all back into the truck. So I began the trip from the east side of St. Paul through the heart on St. Paul and then the middle of Minneapolis and out to the busy Minnetonka suburbs. Because I decided to go to an auction in Spicer (110 miles from the nursing home). So I made the trip, hauling the trailer full of vision blocking lockers through the heart of the metro area on its busiest freeway at rush hour. Damn I am crazy.

Mr. Flannery

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