Our work area in the shop is only a little over fifteen hundred square feet. With the large crew busy in the shop each day they go through an amazing amount of work. Typically the pieces start in the welding area, then go to the middle section of the shop for the application of the diamond lath. The fiberglass reinforced concrete and sculpting is the next stage and then after a few days curing it is time to apply the many coats of paint. All these steps means the pieces are continually shuffled through the different areas of the shop ending up by the big magic doors just before they head out of the shop. With smaller sign work we often set the signs on a flat four wheel dolly we had built for this purpose but the pieces we are working on now weigh in at thousands of pounds and are far too large for our pre-made dollies. We had to come up with a way of moving things around easily rather than dragging them on the concrete using the entire crew plus a tractor at times. And as always the answer proved simple - once we thought things through.
The solution Peter and I figured out was to weld short lengths of square tubing vertically into the bottoms of the structural frames of our pieces. We then lifted our pieces into the air and set them down again onto swivelling dolly wheels which had a slightly smaller diameter pipe welded to the top of them. These wheels are swivel castors and do not have brakes, not necessary on the flat floors. When we wheel the pieces out of the shop to be loaded the wheels will drop off the bottom when the crane or forklift raises the pieces. We can then reuse the sturdy wheels on the next piece. It will take a little more time and effort the build our pieces but we are confident the work will pay off many times over.
This afternoon I fired up the welder while the crew began jacking the current pieces off the floor. In a short time we could easily wheel pieces that weighted in at up to 4000 lbs around the shop with little effort. It was very cool!
The super large hollow log currently in the welding area required a little more creative treatment. It took nine dolly wheels to safely hold it off the ground.
I love it when a plan comes together!