Monthly Archive for July, 2004

Statue has come home

The marble statue I bought in Vietnam has finally come home. It’s been in a warehouse in Toronto for almost a month, while I tried to figure out how I was going to get it into the house. This shipment weighed in at 600kg, almost all of it is the statue and the circular base it stands on.

I considered hiring professionals for the job. There are people called millwrights who specialize in moving heavy machinery. I’ve heard of them before, but I always assumed they made mills, whatever that means. But I’ve also heard millwrights can earn six figures. I called some, and got an estimate that was almost as much as the statue cost in the first place.

After a lot of head-scratching, I came up with a plan that I thought could get the statue in place with the help of some brawny friends, and nobody getting killed. The plan went into action on the morning of Friday July 9.

I rented a big 24′ straight-truck with a dock-level box. The warehouse insisted the truck be dock-level, so they could load it with a fork-lift. Otherwise, they would just drop it on their dock, and it would be up to me to get it onto the truck. It was bad enough having to carry this thing once, I wasn’t going to do it twice. I got the big truck. If you think it’s easy to drive one of these, you’re very mistaken. After stalling it on my first few starts, I got the feel for the clutch, and mostly did alright after that.

Backing it up was brutal. Nothing but side-view mirrors to show where you’re going. I had to do it at the warehouse, under the amused gaze of professional truckers who could do it in their sleep. But I managed it, only a little bit crooked.

Got home, and managed to line up the truck with my front door pretty well, only hit the house once.

Unloading was more challenging than I planned on. The crate turned out to be too large to fit through my door sideways. But too long to fit on the hydraulic lift lengthways. We had to lower it on the lift sieways, and then do a crazy 400kg dance with two pump-trucks to rotate it enough to fit through the door. That was an unplanned complication, but we managed it.

To help lift it 3 feet onto the marble base, I assembled a harness out of a 4×4 and three crossed 2x4s so that six stout lads could get put their shoulders into it. We strung the statue to the 4×4 with many ropes and straps. The idea was to lift the horizontal statue up, walk it over to set its foot onto the marble base, and then tip it up vertical. But we realized that due to the position of the statue in a corner, we would not be able to leave the wooden frame in place while tipping it up: the 2x4s would hit the walls before the statue was even part-way up.

We shook our fists at human limitation, and resolved to hold the statue up by hand while the ropes were quickly cut with a knife. We went for it, and it was ugly, but we prevailed. Somehow Graeme and Hugh ended up at the foot of the statue, which is much heavier. They looked like they were going to burst a vein. I ended up almost completely underneath the statue while the ropes were cut, which was probably very foolish. Thirty seconds seemed like an eternity. With the last rope cut and the wooden frame removed, and one big push, up she went.

If I ever sell this house, the statue goes with it. Nobody was hurt, but that operation was just too dicey. It could have gone much worse than it did.

New photos are in the Gallery.