This is a delightful little book, and I won’t post much from it because it’s so delightful that posting the illustrations would constitute a “spoiler.”
It’s a smallish book, but that’s because the author has a few things to say and it’s not necessary to elaborate unduly. Also, the illustrations and text demonstrate a great deal of care and thought, and I’d say it was a lot of work to produce the book. The result is a good “coffee-table book” or, as I generally use such books, “a toilet tank book.”
If you know someone who’s always cranking, yanking, towing, or lashing down stuff – this is a good book for them. It’s not really super-practical but it’s beautiful and interesting. Having watched a few “moving heavy things disasters” on youtube, I sympathize – it doesn’t take much before physics demonstrates its relentless superiority to human thoughts and prayers: [start at 9:24 if you just want to see the disaster] [spoiler: nobody gets hurt except for Will’s wallet]
When I was a kid, one of my favorite dioramas at the French Naval Museum in Paris was the “moving the Obelisk”, which illustrated what a truly crazy feat of hubris it was. I could probably go on about moving obelisks, but let’s just say it’s a crazy stupid thing humans do. By the way, the Bowery Boys podcast about moving the obelisk to New York is really good [bowery boys] These are very heavy things to drag around the streets of New York, and the streets of New York are not made to withstand them. Fun.
See what I mean? Delightful! Every part of the illustration is well thought-out – you can appreciate how he demonstrates not just the mechanical advantage but something about the kind of anchor you need to keep that mechanical advantage under control.
I’ve had a few experiences where this book might have come in handy – fortunately never “… while I was in the hospital” but that’s one thing the book does not adequately emphasize: understand also your escape route and make sure everyone won’t cluster up or, worse, be too stubborn to just let go and run when physics takes over. In the video I linked above, you can see Will’s mind race as he’s trying to decide whether to fight the situation or run, and he makes the right choice. When I’m moving heavy things I always make sure that everyone nearby gets a lecture that is basically, “if we start to lose it, let go and run, it’s OK, it’s just money. Never wrap a rope around your waist or wrist, ever.”
Anyhow, if this is your kind of book, it’s definitely the kind of book you need.
I seem to have the impression that moving a Saturn-V rocket is the Ultimate Supreme League of moving heavy things. When I was down at Cape Canaveral getting a tour, the bus gave us a little jaunt along the special roadway used by the crawler that carries the assembled rocket. I forget the specs, but “they are insane” is all that comes to mind. Also, there were stories about first attempts at making the crawler, and ball bearings squishing out from wheels like they were made of play-dough. Fascinating, when you’re moving something that expensive and heavy. I’d hate to go down in history as the guy who ended the space race by dropping the rocket into a marsh.
When I was reading up on how to move Bridgeport milling machines, I found a story about someone who didn’t put anchor boards down to keep the machine from sliding around in the back of the truck. Apparently the machine worked its way out of the straps and out through the lightweight metal side of the truck, and took a nap by the side of the road, before being cut up with an oxy torch and sold for scrap. One does not fling precision machinery out of a truck.
Well, that’s definitely the
next book I’m buyinglast book I bought.
There’s a gory history of apparently harmless and well-intentioned games of tug-o-war at church fetes and similar ending with impromptu and unexpected amputations.
My employer has a made a thing recently of focusing on what they refer to as “line of fire” incidents. This is any incident where there’s stored energy that can release suddenly in a particular direction. A large proportion of recent incidents have been of this type. (In one sense, this is a good thing – if, as a chemical company, you’ve reduced instances of things actually blowing up or releasing clouds of poison to the point that they hardly ever happen at all, and you’re biggest problem is people dropping heavy things onto their feet, you’re doing something right. You’re obviously still doing something wrong, but nobody’s perfect.)
Rigging is a fascinating a specialist trade. I’m a chemical engineer, and quite a lot of the things I blithely scribble on the back of an envelope turn out, when they’re made into real objects, to be really big, heavy and awkward to lift. This is, mostly, not my problem. I’ve got a lot of time for the people whose problem it is, because to me they are little short of wizards. Shout out to my riggers.
That book looks really awesome to me. According to the Partner, “moving heavy things” is what men in Minnesota do to impress women. Read the book, learn the things, and impress women!
I see some hitches I am familiar with. Knots and hitches fascinate me, always have.
Totally not something I need but I think you found me a nice gift for myself Marcus, thanks :D
Oh maybe it helps me find a [s]easier[/s] needlessly complicated and silly way to lift my planting soil to 7th floor …
Marcus Ranum says
A saw a clydesdale team at a county fair start to take off, then they realized “no, bad horsie” and stopped. Right before they were going to drag a guy under the back of a car. He was complaining that he damn near broke his wrist and a few of the more horse-savvy made a point of muttering loudly “he’s damn lucky he has an arm.” Fuck me. Clydesdales. What are you gonna stop a single Clydesdale by putting a person on the end of a rope? Give me a bollard sunk in concrete and, yeah, I’d teach the horsies a thing or two, but that guy was near to being ripped apart and I was near to seeing it. I had nightmares for weeks.
if, as a chemical company, you’ve reduced instances of things actually blowing up or releasing clouds of poison to the point that they hardly ever happen at all, and you’re biggest problem is people dropping heavy things onto their feet, you’re doing something right.
I bet that company that scattered cannonballs all over Seattle never expected anything like that! Chemical drums rolling out the back of a truck is a picture my mind’s eye can summon easily. “Hey what is Hydroflouric Acid?”
I should do a posting about how I wound up with so much Potassium Cyanide the FBI did nothing about it…
Marcus Ranum says
Read the book, learn the things, and impress women!
That would imply that it is possible to impress women by moving heavy things! That makes the NASA rocket-mover guy the most impressive guy ever.
You just explained tractor pulls. And that also would mean that failing to move a Bridgeport mill negatively impresses women, which may be the origin story for “the Bridgeport Incels”. Their first album was OK. So was their last. But it was the same album.
The worst I ever saw, was when I was stationed in Turkey we got rid of the pump engine originally purchased for firefighting. Never mind that we were on top of a hill with no water and the instructions were to get everyone out and let it burn, the previous maintenance MSgt. wanted our maintenance team to be firefighters.
When he rotated out, the new MSgt. in charge of maintenance said, “Fuck this! We are not fucking trained as fucking firefighters and the fucking maintenance team is not going to fucking enter any fucking burning building to look for fucking people too fucking stupid to fucking use one of the emergency fucking exits!” We worked with some hazardous chemicals and very flammable materials, so there were not only very thick walls but an emergency exit every couple of rooms.
So the pump was sent away. Presumably to some other airbase which could use it, or maybe sold as surplus or scrap.
When the crew came to take it away, they brought a crane truck and a RAM 2500 pickup. Not exactly what I expected, but the pump was only about 1-1/2 tons, about 3 feet wide and 8 feet long. I had, for some reason, expected a flatbed. So they put a cable from the crane onto the pump, and lifted it up. Of course it was not balanced, so one corner lifted higher than the others, and one corner was much lower. There was probably about a 2 foot difference between the highest and lowest corner. That seemed excessive to me, but it didn’t seem to bother them.
So they lifted the pump higher than the sides of the bed on the RAM 2500. And backed the RAM2500 under the hanging pump. No, the cable didn’t give way, that would have been an unavoidable accident. What happened was completely avoidable had someone thought the problem through. As soon as the lowest corner of the pump started resting on the bed of the truck, you had two points which the pump could swing around. And it did.
The first thing that happened was that the pump was no longer in line with the truck. They had not attached any stay lines, so the only thing to do was to lift up the pump again, drive the truck out from under, attach stay lines, and try again. Of course they didn’t do that. They let the pump continue to rest the lowest point on the truck, and tied a couple lines to the pump so they could “swing” it around. Then tried again to let the pump down onto the bed. Their sway lines worked at first, but as soon as enough unbalanced weight was swinging around they didn’t have the strength to hold the pump square with the bed. Which meant the pump swung to the side, and flattened the sides of the truck bed. I mean the sides of the box were pushed back like a flower until they were level with the truck bed. This meant the tailgate fell completely off, and who knows what damage was done to the bed supports. The eight foot long pump sat at about 60 degrees off the line of the bed, but at least it was on the truck. Mostly. It was hanging off both sides. But it was on the truck.
They didn’t bother to chain it down. “It’s not going to move.”, they said. And they drove off. I didn’t hear anything more about it. It wasn’t on the side of the road when we went down the hill, so they must have got it to where ever they were going. But I sure would have liked to have read the incident report for that fiasco.
I have no disaster to report, but during my time in the Air Force, I was working in “petroleum, oils and lubricants”, my job being mainly refueling aircraft.
Near the end of the Viet Nam war*, I was stationed at K-2 Air Base in South Korea. The base had a couple of railroad tracks for receiving tank cars, and there was no switch engine, so the cars had to be spotted by hand. If the car was empty, three or four guys could just push it…no big deal; but if it was full of fuel, it took ten or twelve guys and a tool that would move one wheel just enough to break the friction on one axle. Somethimes that worked and sometimes it didn’t. We’d push like hell to move the car a few inches, then push like hell to move it another few inches, then push like hell …
*I was never in ’Nam, and I make no claim to being a hero. I know some folks who were heros, and I wasn’t one. I don’t want to talk about it.
That just reminded me of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyatt_Regency_walkway_collapse#Investigation
There was an incident a few years back when some containers of HF were stolen from a local industrial estate. The police were very vocal in putting out the word that “look, if you weren’t aware of what it is you’ve acquired, it’s really not something you want to remain in your possession. So if you just put it back no questions will be asked…”
(And it was returned quickly: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/norfolk/3544530.stm )
If you want to see a heavy object wizard in action check out Wally Wallington.
A google search will quickly return hits for videos of his amazing spells.
Have you seen the videos of people moving moai (the Polynesian statues)?
I have no horror stories about moving heavy things, but that’s because I’m scared of unstable heavy things
For Kestrel, I give you the greatest knot of all:
Marcus Ranum says
Have you seen the videos of people moving moai (the Polynesian statues)?
Yup! Amazing stuff.
The Egyptian thing with the rollers is also really cool, but really you can’t use those techniques without slave labor.
Marcus Ranum says
Why do I want to see a soviet techno-disco version of that?
Marcus Ranum says
The first thing that happened was that the pump was no longer in line with the truck. They had not attached any stay lines, so the only thing to do was to lift up the pump again, drive the truck out from under, attach stay lines, and try again. Of course they didn’t do that. They let the pump continue to rest the lowest point on the truck, and tied a couple lines to the pump so they could “swing” it around.
I’m surprised the truck didn’t end up on its side.
Marcus @15: Well, I don’t know. I didn’t have you in mind when I posted it for kestrel. If they share your taste in music and humor and don’t like it, then that’s fine too. I thought perhaps their love of knots might be the deciding factor? Again, I don’t know.
As for it being a techno-disco version (is there another?), I know you know much more about music than I do, but I guess I’d describe it as Country Western with touches of Korean Gangnam Style beats, sung by Norwegian comedy hosts. And a faux-Romanian insert video made separately to promote the song. ymmv
@Ridana, loved it! I do love knots and hitches. I’ll actually read books about them. Check out the Ashley Book of Knots, wonderful book.
bluerizlagirl . says
The problem with pulleys is that they only reduce the number of Newtons you need to overcome the force of gravity acting on each kilogram; not its mass, which is what determines how much potential energy it can store — and that’s a sensible proxy for how much damage it can cause. So it might take you less than ten (as near as damn it) Newtons to lift a kilogram; but if you lift it just a tenth of a metre, you have still imparted a Joule of PE to it. And if you need to use pulleys, then it probably isn’t just one kg you’re lifting, either, but hundreds. Maybe a megagram or two. And now it’s on the end of a pendulum …..