Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tread Softly and Carry a Big Stick, You Will Go Far


We have lift-off. Here are a couple photos, for posterity, of the house coming down the driveway just over two months ago. It's hard to believe only that much time has passed, but nice to say that it only took Tyson and his dad that long to figure out how to get the damn thing up the hill. The photo above illustrates the fourth major miscalculation during the initial moving process, i.e., the eaves of the house extending beyond the known house width and tangling with eucalyptus trees in the driveway.

This photo shows some of the finagling they had to do with the trees to drive the house up to its initial resting spot. Note the use of the word initial. Good news ahead...

A few weeks ago, Tyson and I hiked over to his little spot in the hills where he has "collected" materials from the nearby quarry. In real estate, there is a phrase used to describe the transmission of ownership of property by occupation: if the true owner of the property knows that someone is occupying their land but doesn't step in and tell them to get off, after a period of time, the person becomes a legal occupant and title-holder through "adverse possession." Tyson kind of has this situation right now with the local quarry, as they have seen him loitering about their scrapyard, but think him harmless. I mean, what can he really do? It's not like he's going to drag steel through miles of hills and forest or anything.





Boy are they wrong.








Tyson's dad, hereupon known as Ironhorse, cut this beam into pieces and used it to mount the winch to the suburban.






But here I am getting ahead of myself. Let me show you the process whereby the boys moved the house up the hill:



Tyson - Here we have begun to drag the house forward so it will be in position to turn. Our neighbor Eric generously donated his time and equipment to the project; we couldn't have done it without the use of his bobcat, pulleys, and dump truck.



We placed 3" steel pipe under the skids to help the house roll, and then discovered that the slightest tug would make the house coast forward with sickening ease. So we choked up on the cable and ran it through an old racing slick which would function as a bumper in case the house made contact with Eric's Bronco.


Here I'm driving a lubricated piece of pipe through holes I drilled in the skids, so that we would have a strong purchase point for attaching chains and cable.


If we had simply pulled the house up the hill as it was, the orientation would have been wrong when we got it into position, so we had to spin it 180 degrees while it was still on the open concrete slab. It spun very reluctantly.


Once the house was oriented and pushed to the farthest edge of the road with centimeters to spare in order to avoid overhanging trees, we began to pull it up the hill. At this point Ironhorse and I have already been working for approximately ten hours.



The house began to crawl up the hill at what can only be described as a snail's pace. Here we are towards the end of the first day of work. By day's end we had only managed to round the corner towards the suburban.



Where there were no trees for us to anchor the suburban to, we had Eric drill holes with his bobcat and then sank an I-beam in to serve as an anchor point...



...like so.


This is day 2. Ironhorse and I have settled on a push-me pull-you approach, with him pushing the house with his tractor while I operate the winch.



View of the suburban and winch from the interior of the house. What is difficult to show in the pictures is the arduous process of pulling the house ten feet or so, then having to re-rig to get a new bight and start the whole procedure over again. In this fashion we averaged just under 160 feet of forward progress each day.



Day 3. Ironhorse takes a turn at the winch controls.



This was a particularly bad part of the road, and we were afraid we'd need the tractor just to move the suburban. Here Ironhorse is moving the I-beam with his tractor.



The last leg of the journey was also the most treacherous. The path here was so steep and sandy that the tractor was unable to get purchase, and we were soon forced to move the house with only the winch.


Here, we have repositioned the suburban onto the house pad to pull the house the rest of the way unassisted.







The next couple of photos attempt to convey the angle of the hill. The pitch is very steep.




This final picture shows the house resting on the pad just a few yards from its ultimate station. Four days, 626 feet, the greatest engineering challenge of the project complete.


1 comment:

Wandering Wolf said...

Just a thought: I wonder what the house, which probably considered itself a fixed object, thought about all this moving!
Great blog. I found you because of "Tiny House Blog".
DiAnne