Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Delayed details of final loading day, Saturday August 9 - Part two

Once the machines were prepped for transport, it was time to get them loaded on the truck, van or trailer. Most boxes had casters installed and could be rolled from place to place, although that could involve some strong tugging and pushing. A caster sitting on a rug since the mid 1980s has established a deep depression. Moving the caster from that long term position to any other meant pulling the wheel up over the rim of the depression; in some cases it took four or five team members to yank a box sufficiently to start it moving.

Final prepping of 1132 printer required anchoring those cables inside.
After we had these staged on the concrete floor of the next room, rolling the box was easier. To transport each machine, one or two people would push it on its wheels along the long corridor adjacent to floor to ceiling storage racks - those racks filled with supplies, parts and other items - turn left onto another corridor that led to the rear freight elevator.

This unit ran between the basement and ground floor. The elevator had a scissors style gate which you manually pulled open or closed. The elevator doors were opened by turning a handle on the outside or by pulling up on a release bar on the inside of each door side.

The procedure was to push the call button and wait for the car to appear. Open the left outer door by the handle, then reach inside the right door and pull its release bar. With the two doors open, you could grab the scissors gate and slide it to the right to gain entry to the car. After loading the car, pull the left and right doors closed, slide the scissors gate closed and push the button to move up. As long as the doors and scissor gate were closed, the call button on either floor would bring the elevator automatically, otherwise you had to be inside to push the button for your desired destination.

The people who rolled one of the machines to the elevator would call it, open it up and roll the machine inside. Rather than riding up with it, they would close up the elevator, walk up to the ground floor and push the call button to make the elevator come up. Opening the doors and gates gave access to the machine which could be wheeled out and through the loading bay.

A rolling door could be opened to give a large opening for moving things in or out of the building. We staged some boxes up in the loading bay but still inside the building, until it was time for them to be put onto the truck. One consideration was the order of removal that we anticipated at the destination - the first stop in the bay area should have its items loaded at the rear of the truck, while boxes for later destinations were further forward, thus loaded earlier.
Items staged to be loaded last
The first items loaded in the front of the truck were boxes of software on punched cards. We stacked them to about three feet in height, too low for any to slide off and fall down onto a machine nearby. Blank card boxes were used to build a few successive 'walls' of cards just behind the first wall. To keep these from shifting, we next loaded three units - the 29 Keypunch, 59 Verifier and CHI 1105 Disk Drive cabinet. These were anchored in place to the sides of the truck using our nylon racheting straps.

These straps were bands of 1" wide nylon with a big S-hook at each end. A rachet mechanism allowed the strap to be shortened to tighten it, each swing of the rachet mechanism wound a bit more of the strap around a roller in the mechanism. The truck had heavy metal bands around all three sides, with rectangular slots cut about every inch along each band. We would place an S-hook into one of the slots, wind a nylon band around an item to be secured, put the other hook into an appropriate adjacent slot, then ratchet it tight to the side wall. Some straps ran diagonally to lock down movement in other directions.

To move the 29 Keypunch, which is a box sitting on four legs and weighing over 100 pounds, meant we had to wrestle it up onto a wheeled cart for its trip from the basement, up in the elevator, and outdoors. At this point, the keypunch would be taken off the cart and the forklift would lift it from under its body in between the legs.

For each item lifted, after we drove the forks of the lift into position and/or wrestled a box to the right point over the forks, we would lift the forks (and the item) up into the air. Generally we would tip it backwards towards the forklift slightly, to ensure it didn't slide forward off the forks while we moved it. The forklift would then be driven to the rear of the truck, the item lifted high enough to clear the deck of the truck, and the forklift would roll forward until the item was suspended inside the truck.

Equipment staged in loading bay ready for loading
Lowering the item carefully to the deck, assisted by team members inside, got the unit positioned for movement to its final transport location. The forklift backed away and the team would drag the keypunch or other non-wheeled box over to its desired spot. Padded blankets would be draped over its unit and it was then strapped to the side of the truck using our nylon bands.

The disk drive was placed on a handtruck, then took its route from basement to outside. Tilting and rocking the box back on one edge gave us room to get the forks partly under - grunting and tugging was needed to drag it to a safe spot atop the forks. It was lifted to the truck deck, pushed to position and lashed down.

Yellow 1131 alongside Will's ALD manuals and related gear
Next out were the two 1131 units. The yellow system had its main body in one unit and the extension frame that held core storage as a second unit. The blue system was just a main body. These were individually pushed on their casters through the corridors, taken up by elevator, and pushed into the loading dock. Here, we choose to use some shrink wrap to protect (parts) of the units. The control panel, a pedestal that sits above the console typewriter, was the starting point. On the yellow machine, the wrap was only used around the control panel and console typewriter. The blue machine was going to ride outdoors all the way to the east coast, so it was wrapped from top to bottom in many layers of shrink wrap.

The casters under the 1131 boxes didn't raise the bottom of the box high enough for the forks to fit under for lifting. Thus, for these units and many others, we had to raise the box by a mix of levering a side up and sliding wood blocks underneath, until we could drive the forks under the proper place. If the forks were too far from the center of gravity, a long unit like the 1131 might tip to one side or even fall off the forklift. Some trial and error was used to discover the right placement.

Forklift in action
The yellow 1131 and its extension frame were each hoisted onto the truck deck and wheeled inside the truck to a point were they were lashed to the side walls. The two 1132 printers were similarly handled, first moved outside, then transferred onto the forks of the lift, moved up onto the deck of the truck, wheeled to position and then lashed against the side rails.

The blue 1131 was going to ride on Will's trailer, so it was handled differently. His trailer was a flat open bed with attachable sidewalls but otherwise open to the elements. Robert had a long ramp that could be run from the rear of the trailer to the ground; it was used to push wheeled objects up onto the trailer. The 1131 had been wrapped completely in shrink wrap, then has further covered by several pallet bags - thick plastic bags that would create a watertight seal.
 Blue 1131 ready to load on Will's trailer - watertight and protected
Will put the CHI 1103 printer up on the trailer, and then loaded the remaining items into his van and spare spaces of the trailer once the sides were attached. These included a Burroughs Decollator, disk cartridge cabinets, S/34 manuals, and other smaller pieces.  Bought in a side purchase from Robert, he also loaded an MITS Altair floppy disk unit discovered in one of the storerooms, and some stock of vacuum tubes. .

I decided to take two disk cartridge cabinets that Will couldn't carry back plus one of the large Wrightline card cabinets. Art spent some time organizing the card cabinet I took with blank punched cards. It was extraordinarily heavy and had no wheels. We had to take a pallet jack down the elevator to move the cabinet - this is a set of forks with a handle and hydraulic lifting mechanism. The bottom of the cabinet was high, above the normal range of a pallet jack, but with suitable wood blocks that Robert found, we lifted and moved the cabinet outside.

Once we set it down outside we could remove the pallet jack, use the fork lift, and place it up on the truck deck. It was impossible to budge until all the card drawers were removed, then took quite a bit of heavy tugging to move it to the rails. We put the drawers of blank cards back inside and then lashed this down with multiple straps. We made sure that each column of drawers were held back by a vertical strap and then used a horizontal strap to further anchor the cabinet to the truck.

The 1442 card reader was a beast to move. It has no casters and had to be levered up on each end, blocks inserted, then further lifted until it could be on dollies to wheel through corridors, up the elevator and out to be loaded. Once placed on the truck deck by the fork lift, there was still the matter of dragging the reader over to the side of the truck to lash it in place.

1442 Reader/Punch on dollies, ready to push to elevator
Similarly, the 083 card sorter took some effort since it had no wheels - it was rolled on dollies and lifted by widening the forks on the lift to their max. The card sorter has an open area with two round horizontal bars joining the two cabinets at left and right, but we weren't sure that the bars where strong enough to lift the unit. They might have been decorative as part of the art deco styling of IBM gear from the 1940s. The wider forks could fit under the two cabinets, rather than the bars.
083 Card Sorter ready to roll to elevator and outside
The 085 Collator was a pleasure to move, by comparison, rolling easy on its casters and simple to get onto the fork lift. The card sorter, collator and one of the 1132 printers were the units at the rear of the truck, since they would be unloaded first, although due to its extreme weight and difficulty being dragged, the card cabinet was also at the back.

It was a very hot and humid day - reaching 97 degrees with mostly blazing direct sunlight and little cloud cover until later in the day. Alan who did most of the lashing with the nylon straps, was up inside the truck which seemed like an oven, heating well above the outside air temperature even with the rear door open. The work of stacking, pushing, lifting, dragging and all the rest left us all sweating profusely and quite hot. Fortunately the basement was relatively cool and the large fan that Robert provided helped us cool down quickly.

We had two coolers, one styrofoam and one donated by Robert, filled with ice and lots of soda and bottled water. With the heat and activity, we burned through the many dozens of cans and bottles by mid afternoon. Art and Carl had made a run to Subway to buy sandwiches for everyone for lunch, then Art took another drive in the late afternoon for more water, soda and Gatorade, when we were getting too dehydrated in the heat.

A team began loading all the remaining boxes in the center between the rows of gear lining the left and right side of the truck. We had boxes of disk cartridges, boxes of maintenance manuals such as ALDs, boxes of printer and typewriter paper, and a sea of boxes of unpunched cards. Odd shaped items were loaded, like the kick plates, black sheet metal that is fastened under the equipment to hide casters and fill space down to the ground.

The blank card boxes were retrieved from high shelving, pushing a large wheeled stepladder into position, where one person handed down boxes to another who stacked them on a cart until it was loaded high. The cart was taken to the elevator, brought up and wheeled to the back of the truck where the boxes were handed up from a person on the ground to another in the truck. We stacked boxes to fill the space and to be as flat as possible, to minimize any chance of shifting around during the drive.

Each unit that was loaded was covered by padded blankets as part of its lashing into place, to cover the top and the sides where it will contact the truck side or other units. Finally, we had to secure the boxes that sat in the middle between the equipment so that it wouldn't slide back when the truck accelerated or climbed hills. We used the two hand trucks to form a wall, with some punched card boxes weighting them down and straps lashing them in place, then finished with Alan and Carl's suitcases across the back of the opening.

Center area filled in with boxes and strapped in hand trucks under roll/blanket at front of picture
The truck was left with a few feet of clear open space at the extreme rear, but we were more worried about weight limits that filling all the space. The truck was ready to go, other than a few final straps to be placed on the rear units which we would finish tomorrow morning as we began the drive to the west coast. We didn't finish the lashing tonight for two reasons - it was approaching 8PM already and ominous dark clouds were building rapidly joined by gusting winds, all hinting at rain to come quickly.

Arthur and Alan at the end of a long successful day loading everything
Robert invited us all to dinner afterwards at a restaurant in town. We had a very nice meal and good time socializing - during the hectic loading we often were working in different areas, rushing past each other as we focused on different aspects of the project. The rain that had been threatening arrived while we ate, coming down very heavily.

When it was time to leave the restaurant, we found it was raining furiously with quite a bit of lightening flashing about. The staff who were running trash barrels outside would dash through the door and return absolutely sodden. It didn't appear that the storm was going to lessen anytime soon, so we had to face it now. Robert was going to drive Will back to the site, as Will planned to start driving that evening in spite of the rain. Art ran out to the lot and brought the car out in front.

We saw the water level on the sidewalks and street rise to the point that we could no longer see where the curb was - it was a solid lake from the door to the other side of the street. When Art pulled up, we made a dash for it. In the ten seconds it took to reach the car and get inside, our clothing was soaked through because of the heavy rain, and our legs were dunked in about 12 inches of water. Our sneakers took three days to completely dry. Just before we made the run out to the car, a loud screech blared from our cell phones with a Flash Flood Emergency message showing.

We drove back to the motel in the downpour, careful because the water on the road was deep in some places affecting control of the car. Art strategically drove in the middle of the road, near its highest point, except when the sporadic car passed us in the other direction. We did make it to the motel safely, although very wet.

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