March 12th, 2012


Bravo trailer winter 1996

As Windward evolves, many of the ideas for how to use various resources that have been squirrelled away in the past get to be put into practice. Over the last year myself and others disassembled an old trailer named "Bravo". The trailer was ready to go, and the space it occupied has great potential. An insulated shipping container is scheduled to be moved onto the support pillars that once held up Bravo, creating a large, non-freezing space in which we can store canned goods and produce very close to the community dining hall.

The process of taking apart a trailer piece by piece was interesting and cathartic. Sometimes a great deal of care was needed in order to preserve the value of various materials, like wood from the front porch, light fixtures, waterlines and cabinets.

We were able to make good use of these salvaged materials. For instance, I used some of the lumber to build a portable shelter for our rams and bucks who have been inhabiting an area along our northern boundary that we are transforming into a large perennial garden space. The electrical wires were stored away to be melted down when we have our foundry operational, and the cabinets were reused in another trailer I fixed up and am now living in.

A bat making its way out of Bravo as I was taking the ceiling down.

One interesting thing we discovered in Bravo was that bats had begun occupying the front section of the roof where is bulges outward. Since Bravo was next to the dining hall with its automatic solar powered lighting, there is a large number of insects who hang out there at night. The clever bats figured this out and took up residence near by, and in the process helped reduce the number of biting insects we encountered in an area of the property we inhabit often.

Another bat, this one is about to fly right past my face.

Once Bravo trailer was taken down to just the bare frame and sub-flooring, we had to move it out. Given the size and location of the frame, this was an intricate and delicate process. We thought about it for quite a while, and eventually decided to employ the skills and resources of friends and apprentices Edgar and James. With their experience with moving objects similar to Bravo, they were able to devise a straightforward plan to haul out the old frame.

We started by raising the rear-end of Bravo with farm jacks in order to slide a single axle trailer underneath. Pallets were stacked on the trailer in order to provide the clearance needed to get the frame above the trailers wheel-wells. We then backed the farm jacks down until the single-axle trailer was taking the weight of the rear-end of Bravo. The two were firmly attached with straps and chains so they moved as a unit.

Here we are beginning to move the trailer. You can see the single-axle trainer attached to the trailer frame.

We then lifted the front-end of Bravo up in order to hitch the ball onto a powerful diesel truck that would do the heavy moving work. Slowly and cautiously the truck pulled forward and made a wide turn in order to avoid hitting our pantry building which sat on the northern side of Bravo.

Another angle of the move. James is ensuringit clears to power box and steps.

There were waterlines ans septic lines that had to be removed so that the trailer could roll forward. But a remaining vertical pipe still remained, and we watched carefully to ensure the pipe lay outside the path of the single-axle trailers wheels.

A view from the front. James and Edgar stopped to remove a rebar anchor that might pop a tire.

Once the trailer was safely away from the pantry building, Edgar backed it up into a section of a road to the northeast where it will rest until we figure out what we can do with this massive steel frame.

All clear and moved out. No damage done and no one got hurt. That qualifies as a success.

The dance of moving such a large and heavy object was tense; requiring a lot of patience and keen eyes. The process took a few hours, as we took it slowly to ensure we were in control.

Now that the trailer is moved out, we can reset the pillars and begin the process of moving the insulated shipping container from its present location into place near the kitchen.