(Long post - pictures at the end)
For the past couple weeks, I’ve been trying to figure out how to get my two-ton pizza oven from the warehouse where it was rusting away to my house where it would be lovingly cared for. Sunday afternoon, I got an email from that the warehouse going to need the space this week, and the oven needed to go. I was ready to bring my baby girl home (unlike with my boys I was allowed to take her home without picking a name), so this was the push I needed to make it happen. I would just do it myself.
On Monday, I found a brand new flatbed in our yard that nobody was using this week and made a reservation to rent a forklift from a place near my house. Tuesday would be the day. I had a lunch appointment with my friend Scott that I had to cancel. When I told him, what I was doing, he volunteered to help. So, Tuesday afternoon, we headed out on what was to become an odyssey well beyond anything I had imagined.
We got to the warehouse right on time, and had the oven loaded up in just a couple minutes. I noticed they used some heavy steel extensions on the forklift when they picked the oven up, and I quickly noticed why… without them, the forks would barely go past the center of the oven it is so large. This was the first thing of several things I had not considered. I asked the guy if I could borrow them, and God bless him he let me – didn’t ask for a deposit, credit card or anything. There are still some darn good people out there. If anyone needs warehouse or logistics services in Houston, please let me refer you to them.
We headed out to get the forklift right on schedule. When we got to the rental place, the paperwork was completed quickly and I pulled the truck into the yard to pick it up. Something about the way the guys in the yard were acting did not give me the warm fuzzies, and I quickly learned why. One guy comes over to tell me “I’m sorry, but we don’t have a working forklift.” What? I thought. You have got to be kidding me. What the heck am I going to do with this oven? Sorry, they said – nothing we can do – they will have to help you back at the office. Back at the office, they really didn’t seem to care and just make things better, it was starting to drizzle.
After expressing to them in a very polite way that not having a forklift was a big problem for me, they made a few calls and located one 30 miles away. So much for my schedule. Off we went to the next place. We made pretty good time and had a forklift on the trailer quicker than I expected and were on our way to get her home at last. 4200 lbs of oven and another 8000lbs of forklift and trailer was giving the truck a workout, but we were at the house before we knew it – which was good because it really looked like it was going to rain.
I unloaded the forklift, ran it up into the driveway, pulled up the truck, took off the sides, untied the oven, and had her off and on the ground in minutes. Let’s get her in the garage before it rains. We backed up the truck to give us some more room, swung the oven around and headed for the open garage door. We both noticed the problem at the same time – just moments before the top of the forklift bumped the top of the door opening…
You have got to be kidding me, I thought for the second time that day. I measured our forklift at the office. It was the same size – 5000lb capacity. I knew it would fit. In retrospect, it was pretty dumb to assume all forklifts of a certain capacity would be the same height – my second oversight of the day. What the heck was I going to do now? I began studying the structure. Thank goodness, I could remove almost 6 inches of height before I got to anything load bearing. Scott could see what I was thinking. I could see he was thinking it was a bad idea.
I’ve been working on the beach house recently, so most of my tools were there. I went into the house and asked my wife if I could borrow her car. She asked why. It's probably better if you don't know, I replied. I grabbed Scott and the car, and we headed to the hardware store. He was silent the whole time – completely in disbelief of what I was contemplating. I dashed in and grabbed a couple pry bars and a sledge hammer and headed out. Now he started talking. He reminded me that my earlier plan involved putting the oven on machinery movers (very heavy casters I could set the legs directly on). I had given this idea up as impractical as I couldn’t move the oven once in place because it will need to be vented through the roof.
His idea was plausible. Lift up the oven, carry the first two legs over the threshold with the forks, put them on the casters, then set it down and pull the forks back and use them to roll the oven into the garage and then set the back two legs down on the other casters. From there we could roll it into place. But where they heck were we going to get the rollers now? I called my office, and they sourced me a set by the time I got to my house. I could get them today if I hurried for the bargain price of $500. My friend was convinced that it was a good move financially as I was about to do (in his opinion) more than $500 damage to my garage.
I must admit, I was quickly warming up to the idea. Before committing however, I measured and calculated. I was not going to make the same mistake again. The conclusion – it wouldn’t work unless we completely removed the garage door, and then it was too close to call. The only way to be sure was to cut a couple inches off the legs. Forget it, we’re doing it my way. I grabbed the pry bar and got busy. I can tear some stuff up when I’m motivated, and I had all the wood removed from around the door in minutes. About that time my boys got home from school. You know you do a lot of strange things when you’re tearing apart your house and the kids don’t even ask why.
I followed the boys into the house to grab a glass of water, and my wife was standing in the kitchen. I knew she had been watching. I remember thinking I was glad Scott came along because she probably wouldn’t yell at me with him there. I mentioned that this was ending up being more complicated than I expected. Her exact reply: “what do you ever do that isn’t?”
After a quick disconnect of the door opener mechanism and Scott’s brilliant use of a flathead screwdriver to jam the door all the way up, we were good to go. I picked up the oven, rolled her in and sat her down. We took off the wire holding in the stubby little transport legs, lifted the oven, and they fell right out. I recruited my wife and the boys so we had one person on each leg. I lifted the oven up about four feet, and everyone inserted a leg. Everyone’s feet clear? I looked at all the legs and all people before slowly lowering the oven onto its own legs. At this point, a lot of stress went away. The two biggest concerns were largely behind me. Nobody got hurt, and I didn’t drop the oven.
At this point, the oven was about 6 feet from where I wanted it. We used duct tape to hold the legs in place for the final move. I went to lift the oven, and nothing. The lift and tilt controls of the forklift were locked up. For the third time the day, I thought, “you’ve got to be kidding me.” I called the rental company, and for the next half hour, the mechanic tried to talk me through several potential fixes. Nothing worked. Finally, they sent out a mechanic.
He worked on it for the better part of an hour before I saw him putting it back together. I walked over, and he gave me the thumbs up. What was wrong I asked? Nothing he replied. It just started working again. I was lifting the oven as he drove off. I got it to within six inches of its desired position when it locked up again. I can’t really say it surprised me. Murphy was definitely riding shotgun that day. I called the mechanic back, and for once, it was someone else saying, you have to be kidding me. He came back and spent the next two hours working on it before giving up.
He came and told me he had called for a trailer to come pick it up. They would take it back to the shop, fix it, and bring it back to me first thing in the morning. OK, I said. I told him I was going to leave him there to deal with it, and Scott and I left to take him back to his truck so he could go home. When he first volunteered to help me, I asked him if he had anything planned that evening. I told him that, worst case, if the move dragged out, I would have to take him to our Cub Scout meeting that evening. At this point, we were two hours past when the meeting would have ended if I hadn’t cancelled it. I looked at him and noted that I was wrong when I said that was the worst case scenario.
As we were leaving my neighborhood, we saw the truck from the rental company pulling in with a trailer to get the forklift. I dropped Scott of at his truck and about an hour later I was back at my house. Imagine my surprise when I pulled into my driveway and saw the forklift stuck eight inches deep in my yard and nobody from the rental company to be found. For the fourth and final time that day, I said to myself, oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.
Earlier in the evening, thinking I would be taking the forklift back the next morning, I left my trailer in the driveway – completely blocking it. I didn’t even think about moving it before I left to take Scott back. I can lift it and move it with my bare hands by myself, and there were three of them. However, rather than move it, they decided to drive around it, through my yard. As my boys would say – epic fail. I went into the house and my wife started telling me about the screeching so loud that neighbors 10 housed down the next street came out of their houses to see what was going on. Sure enough, I went out and found the skid marks in the drive way where they tried to pull it out – and more trenches where their truck also want into my yard.
At that point, it was just funny. I called Scott to tell him, and we just laughed. Just more story to tell. I joked that years from now, I’d have a pizza restaurant built around this oven, and he’d be sitting at the bar telling other people about the story about the first time we moved it. After I hung up, I went to the computer to look at double wall chimney pipe and building codes. That took my mind off the previous events of the day. Particularly when I saw how much it was going to cost me to do the venting. One more thing I had not fully though through before buying the oven. I’d have to say that, right now, the leading names are Caprice or Capricia which come from the Italian word meaning impulsive or unpredictable.
I called the rental company in the morning and asked what they planned to do with the forklift they left in my yard. They laughed… a little. It’s gone now, but the ruts remain including a few new ones. My wife wants to know when they will be fixed. I’m more concerned with moving the oven the last six inches so I can vent it and get to the serious business of making pies. So, that’s where I am. More to come as it happens.