April 14, 2009

Ramping Up: A Feat of Epic Proportion (or stubbornness)

Maybe it was a coincidence, but today, Nick Joerling came by to drop off some work we're taking up to D.C. for him. And I had the time to try to move the old Peter Pugger into the studio. Incidentally, I bought the Peter Pugger from Nick, back when I was a resident at Penland. But I failed to coerce Nick into helping out, Damn. So, as I checked the e-kiln and watched its slow climb in temperature, I had time to push, pull, and strain to get this heavy machine up the steps and into place. I tried chaining it to my truck with marginal success. The pug mill has two hard wheels, but it was almost impossible to move around on the gravel, hence the truck idea. I built a ramp out of 4 x 4's and scraps of plywood, boards, etc. and I can't tell you how much joy it brought me to use these little scraps of plywood and boards that most sane people would have burned or thrown out.

But I was still stumped on how to get the mill up the ramp. It's heavy! I felt that there must be some way I can get this up the ramp by myself, or with the truck!


I broke down and called Stacey to see if she could muscle it up the ramp with me. But she wasn't coming home for a while and I was growing impatient. I tried to think about simple physics, pulleys, winch, levers, hmmmm???

Then it came to me!! What i needed was another wheel! Duh! SO off I go to the hardware store to buy a caster for the front of the mill and made this third wheel.

What followed I don't have still images or video footage of, but first I tried to push this behemoth up the ramp and slipped a couple of times, but the adrenaline was coursing through my veins. Would I be pugging clay by the end of the day?? I stepped back and then had the sensible idea of pulling the mill up the ramp. So I pulled a chain around and through the frame and stepped up to the porch to try to pull. I was able to get the thing rolling up the ramp with all my might. But then I had to let go of one hand to re-grab the chain as I pulled it toward me. Could I do it, should I do it?? (this is where a soundtrack would come in real handy) You must be thinking that I have lost my mind, by now??

Well as you can see from the pictures below, (you'll have to take my triumphant word for it), I got the mill up to the porch level, and easily rolled it into the studio. But then I realized that I one more feat to perform. The final ramping up onto the platform that the mill sits on. No problem, thought I. And for once I was right. Just a simple ramp made with ware boards and the ubiquitous scrap pieces of 2 x 4 and 2 x 6! With a rolling start I rolled the mill into place and plugged her/him in.

The rest of the story is history. I mixed a batch of very, very sandy reclaim clay to run through to attempt to get some of the flakes of rust out, before i run my "good" clay through.

AHHH. Now I'm ready to turn some pottery!