November 18, 2004

The final fate of the old shop was to be moved from the spot where it was built well over 50 years ago. One of our neighbors wanted it and knew a crew that had moved several other small garages and buildings. Since I wasn't excited about the prospect of tearing it down board by board we decided that this was the best thing to do with it. So after I had stripped the front addition off the old shop I stepped back and let them go to work. From the moment they started, which was about 2:00 PM on Saturday November 13 until 6:00 PM on Thursday November 18 we watched with a lot of anticipation and concern. We had fears of them getting hurt and concern that the shop may not make the move, in fact one thought I had is that it would collapse on the road and cause all sorts of problems. This page is the long version of this moving process, I have posted a short version with fewer pictures and details. If you prefer the long version with plenty of detail you are on the correct page.

The actual preparation of this building for the move was the most time consuming part of the project. As I mentioned before, this crew of three to four people had moved other buildings in the past and most of them consisted of garages and other out buildings. Although their method does not include the thought of no cracked plaster, windows, or other damage, they stated that they have never failed to move a building in one piece. I had not met the crew before they showed up to begin work, but when I saw a small dump truck with a trailer attached and a load of 30' long railroad track (rails) on top of it I assumed this was the start. Scott was the owner of the power equipment and I helped him as best I could to get the track off the truck, which involved tipping the box up and getting them to slide off. Then an hour later he returned with the mobile home trailer chassis setting atop his dump truck. He brought Bob with him to help unload it, using the skid loader to pick it off the top of the truck.

The skid loader Scott was using had a bucket and also a forklift attachment. As soon as they had the trailer off the truck they began raising the building off the concrete. It was at this moment that I realized that their goal was not to move this building in the exact condition that it was in when they began. They felt the bottom plate was soft and needed replacing so instead of trying to be gentle with it they simply shoved the forks of the forklift between the plate and the cement and pulled the anchor bolts through the plate. Since I was nothing more than a sidewalk superintendent I decided not to offer my thoughts on this method. They raised the plate a couple inches off the concrete and inserted short pieces of 2 X 6 material to keep it in place and continued around the building. When they got around to the east side they found the plate totally rotted and they had to stop to replace it temporarily. In the picture above Bob and Leonard are working on that plate replacement and you can see just a bit of the skid loader through the north wall window. The completed project is shown below as well as a couple of the jacks that would be used to raise the building higher in a later step.

As I watched and listened to them discuss the method of moving this building I realized that there was a major obstacle between them and the road. It was the 4 inch thick layer of concrete I had poured for the shop addition. Once the building was on the move they would need to run right over the ledge it presented and then drop off the same height on the other side. Since all the concrete is slated for removal I suggested that they could remove it now saving them work later. In this picture taken at dusk Scott is removing the slab by raising it with the forklift and dropping it. I had poured rebar in the slab on 2 foot centers so it took a bit of lifting and dropping to get it broken up. This concrete was moved to the north concrete foundation that will be removed in the spring to get it out of the way.

Once the building was raised to the 1-1/2" level they started back around using jack and pry bars to raise it 8" high so a concrete block could replace the 2 X 6 material. Then they used a chain saw to cut openings in the side walls at a height that would allow the train rails to slide above the trailer frame. The picture above shows the three back rails, only one of which passed through the wall on the south side. The other two were in the old door opening waiting for bracing to be added in the opening. They nailed and bolted 2 X 8 material to the side walls above the holes and 2 X 4 material below the holes. This allowed the rails to rest in place until the jacking could continue.

The picture below shows a device that Scott made to handle the rails and railroad ties for his work on private railroad sidings. It mounts on the forks of the skid loader and attaches to his hydraulic system. The arrows point to the business end of this device. They act as pinchers that can pull a tie out from under the track, or in our case can be used to lift the 30-foot long rails. Scott grabbed rails about 6 feet from the end and then pulled the rail end under the skid loader. This allowed him to raise the rail and direct it through the holes, which was easier than trying to carry them by hand.

The picture below is the SE corner of the shop and shows the position and set-up for the front rail that will support the front of the building in the move. You will note that right now it is resting on the 2 X 4 below it, this is the arrangement on the rest of the building.

The picture above shows the large trailer chassis that they moved into the old shop when they began work. It is a 4-axle mobile home frame and was positioned in the middle of the building side to side and a little past center front to back. The 30 foot long railroad track rails are used to span the walls and when they jacked the building up these rails rested on 12 foot long 6 X 6 beams and the beams rested on the trailer.

After a great deal of work they moved a skid loader into the building facing the east wall. The plan was to raise the front of the building with the loader as it lifted on the front rail. The old garage door was closed up with large timbers so the last of three rails were slid into place on the trailer. We anticipated the move on Wednesday afternoon but when all was ready it was discovered that the weight distribution was not correct and the building would not come off the concrete blocks under the front of it. The picture below shows the crew investigating this dilemma and trying to devise a new plan of attack

It was starting to get dark so it was decided to stop work and try it again on Thursday November 18. Before leaving Scott decided to cut three feet off the end of the rails that stuck out of the building since they would be added weight and could possibly get in the way as they moved the building off the foundation. He used a cutting torch to make short work of this chop job, and I must say I was very impressed with how easily these cuts were made.

Thursday dawned with a heavy overcast and a threat of rain and mist. But this crew was determined to get this building moved to its new location. My concern now was that the building had now been hanging on the rails for 48 hours and there were signs that it was beginning to sag. I feared that if it hung much longer on the rails it would be more dangerous to move. But the crew felt comfortable everything was in good shape and started the move about 2:45 PM on Thursday. Sandy called me at work and I rushed home so as not to miss the progress. Sandy caught the action with this picture as the building made its first move to the west. The path was clear for about 20 feet before a tree came into play. They had ramped some rock from the driveway up to the floor level, but at this point the weight of on the trailer wheels was too much for the river rock. So they started clocking the wheels up with plank as they slowly started seesawing the building east to west making a turn to the south.

This next series of pictures were captured by Sandy as she tried to find positions to show the movement of the building from the foundation as they headed for the driveway.

The picture above is the position the shop was in when I arrived home at about 3:15, and this very slow process of turning to the south and back to the east continued for what seemed like forever. They continued to use planks to support the wheels of the trailer and skid loader over the uneven ground and a large farm tractor behind it to lift it when it wanted to skid on the ground.

I took over the camera and the job of being a worry art until this building was out of the drive and onto the neighbor's property. This picture shows the west wall that is now facing NNW as they begin the turn to the east again. As you can see on the left side the bottom plate is dragging on the concrete as they push and pull the building making the turn to the east.

This is again the view from the north and the turn is taking the skid loader and the trailer across the middle of the driveway, but the edge of the building is passing over the open side of the ditch.

Back at the front of the building that used to face east, a hump in the driveway present a challenge in getting the building to move forward. It was at this time that the front rail that was chained to the skid loaders bucket arms started turning over causing a loud crashing sound and the building would drop to the ground. With every jolt the crew would rush into the building and replace the rail and the forward or reward progress would continue.

As the afternoon dragged on it was a constant struggle to move the shop slowly across the ground and then back to make the turn from southeast to due east. The picture above is the last good picture I was able to take as the skies darkened in the mid-November late afternoon. At this point the back end of the shop was dragging on the ground and was unable to make the turn to the north. So there was lots of digging and prying as the tractor and skid loader were used to slowly drag the shop around. By this time we were both worried sick about blocking the road and the workers getting hurt. But luck was with us as they continued using the tractor to lift gently on the now sagging structure.

Rain started to fall about 5:00 PM as the sun had set leaving the crew to work by the headlights of their vehicles. The final turn onto the road came at 6:00 PM and within a couple minutes the old shop moved to the north into the darkness. We walked behind it for a while not believing that it was actually moving all in one piece down the road and not a hint that there had ever been an obstruction in its path. There was a bit of a wait at the neighbor's driveway as they used a smaller tractor and scraper blade to smooth off a few obstructions. After all the trouble of getting it out our driveway they weren't taking any chances with humps and bumps in his driveway. The crew moved the old shop onto his lane and pulled it well onto his property before stopping for the night. This final picture was my last attempt to record the short trip the shop made down the road.

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