Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Drum

In a more perfect world, the drum would have been on a pallet and I would have had a pallet jack. As it was, there was a 55 gallon steel drum of what we called, "green" in the basement of the Sun Valley Lodge and I needed to get it to the loading dock.

We used pretty much only two kinds of cleaner in Sun Valley: "Pink" was more or less like windex and "Green" was for everything else. Both were highly concentrated in that you would fill your spray bottle with 2 oz of cleaner and then the rest of the way with water. The green was a great cleaner, but you had to rinse your hands soon after each time you used it or your skin would peel. One could wear rubber gloves but most found it difficult to clean quickly with gloves on.

We had gotten a delivery of these cleaners and it all came to the Lodge, but one of them was needed over at the other hotel, the Sun Valley Inn. Now, I could have rounded-up some of my housemen, but we were fairly busy and I didn't want to take them off their normal duties. I would at least try, via my mind and modest strength,- to move this drum.

I figured the drum weighed around 500 lbs, but it is not as if I planned to just pick it up and carry it out. I had a dolly and an elevator, so all I really had to do is figure out how to get the drum from the floor to the deck of the dolly--maybe 3-4 inches high. I found that I could--just barely--tilt the drum onto its edge and then maneuver it around. I wedged the cart against the wall so it wouldn't roll away and then got the edge of the drum onto the cart. Finally, I took a run at the barrel and tilted it to level, enough that it slid onto the dolly. Wheeling it out to the loading dock was uneventful. I was rather proud of myself and planned to brag heavily at lunch time.

Later, a bunch of housemen and supervisors from the Lodge came over and picked-up the drum. Soon after they drove-off with it came word that there had been an incident. They had been wheeling the drum into the Lodge on its edge and the drum got away from them. It badly lacerated one guy's leg.

At lunch our manager asked me with a penetrating gaze, "David, how did you get that drum of green out to the loading dock"? "Um, oh I just used that cart that we always use. No problem."

Postscript: I did the math just a few days ago and found that moving the drum was really at the limits of my capabilities. It took 140 lbs of force to tip the thing onto its edge and since I only weighed about 130 lbs back then, it is about all I could do since the force was horizontal. It must have taken quite a bit more force to lift it onto the cart, but I could take a run at it. In this step, control didn't matter, so I could go all-out. In the tilting-up step I had to apply just enough force or I could have tipped the barrel onto its side. It might have broken-open but at the very least, I would have never gotten it back upright.

Here is the math...

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