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How to Move Heavy Objects



Kevin gets asked how he moves his big, heavy sculptures not only in the studio, but also, once they've been transported, on the installation site. He often uses a good, old-fashioned handtruck, or dolly. It has a foot on the bottom and a long handle so you can get leverage. Its hard rubber tires work well on hard surfaces like concrete and wood.

For a recent project called Curtains ( http://www.kevincaron.com/art_detail/curtains.html ), though, he needed something that could transport the heavy panels through gravel. Instead of a dolly with hard rubber tires, he got one with bigger diameter, wider, air-filled tires. The handle isn't as long so you don't have as much leverage as with the other handtruck, but the foot is about the same on both dollies.

With large air-filled tires, you also can let a little air out of them to make them balloon and get even wider. It makes it a little easier to move things in rough surfaces like gravel, bumpy sidewalks, cobblestones, etc. The dolly with the big air-filled tires takes about half as much effort to move something as the old-fashioned kind.

Either handtruck can handle as much as 800 pounds. The hard part - and the big secret with them - is keeping them balanced. You don't want the weight coming back on you and you don't want the dolly too upright so it's always falling forward. You have to make sure you are in control of the handtruck.

Next Kevin reveals a big trick: industrial caster stores. They have casters and wheels, and you'll probably find them in your phone book or online - search for "casters" or "wheels." They have all sorts of tools for moving things.

You can take the wheels off, say, the old-fashioned dolly and tell the people at the caster store what your axle and wheel sizes are, and what room you have to work with. You can get a wider or taller, softer or harder, air or hard rubber tire. The tires should make sense for your particular job.

Kevin also uses furniture dollies quite a bit. They're wood, and they're cheap. You can find them at the big orange box store or "Horrible" Freight. Sometimes he changes the casters to heavier casters or ones more appropriate for a specific job to make them last a little longer. He's also adapted one wooden furniture dolly with some extra pieces of oak to make the surface flat, which can help make the load more stable. He also has a metal dolly he made out of 2" heavy wall steel square tube with 800 - 1000 pound casters. He's moved 1800 pounds of boulder on it. "It's ugly, but it works," he says.

Next Kevin shows a door dolly that he put air-filled rubber tires on to transport Curtains' heavy panels. It had small, hard rubber tires on it for moving doors, but he installed air-filled tires for navigating that gravel. Using this specialized dolly, one person could move a 300-pound panel by himself.

Then he takes the concept one step further, pointing out that you could adapt this basic design - a pad with a fulcrum and two wheels - for your own needs. As long as you can get whatever it is you trying to move centered and balanced, away you go.

And then there's the Egyptian Method. (You know, the one they taught you in school.) Kevin says you have to have a pry bar of some kind to raise whatever it is you are trying to move so you can get a roller underneath it. Once you get one roller under it, you push your load up onto a second roller, and just keep adding rollers. You can even make it turn by shifting how you place the rollers.

Once your load has arrived, get your pry bar back under it to move it wherever you want. Kevin shows the new, big, heavy, monster pry bar he just bought and shows how it works. So when you're ready to move something, just pick it up, move it, roll it, get it in place, then set it down.

Kevin once had to move an 1100-pound sculpture using 1/2" diameter, schedule 40 (thick walled) PVC water pipe. He used 15 - 20 of them under the sculpture.

Next time he tackles this subject, he'll talk about getting heavy objects into the air.

First, though, he learns the limits of his lift table ....

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