50 ways to love your lever

The deck demolition project continues. Last weekend we got all the deck structure removed, and over the week friends have been coming to lay claim to the scrap lumber. We still have some of it, but enough is gone to be able to begin working on the exposed area, getting it ready to put into garden beds.

Today’s project was been to remove all the posts and their concrete pilings. I spent much of the morning just unearthing the piles, getting them loosened enough for removal. Then I had to figure out a way to get them out of the holes–safely. Understand I am not a big boy. I weigh 130 lbs. These piles weigh at least 50 lbs, and they are in a hole below ground level. A recipe for pain.

But then came the idea. This is one of the reasons I enjoy working with my hands on projects like this because invariably there will come a point when muscle alone will not solve the problem. I get to engage my brain more significantly to come up with a solution.

In this case the solution was a lever. I found some rope and a 5′ length of 2×4. I tied one end of the rope around the post still exposed above the concrete. I tied the other end around one end of the 2×4. Placing the other end of the 2×4 firmly against the ground, I could then pull backward on the top end of the 2×4, which would drag the concrete piling out of the hole. By moving the bottom end of the 2×4, then pulling on the top end, I could continue dragging the piling to the collection point much more easily than I could roll it or boost it into a wheelbarrow.

Here, let me demonstrate with a diagram:

You will note, of course, my big, burly muscles, and that I can do it one-handed. And yes, I really do float on air! (Note: picture is not drawn to scale, nor is really at all indicative of my appearance, nor my physique (especially the muscles), nor the gravitational conditions in my area.)

So anyway, thanks to my simple machine, I have cleared out all the posts that are in the way. There are a few I will just leave, as they’re not in the way of anything. But it’s amazing how simple machines can make such a difference. I continually had difficulty getting the piles to budge with just my shovel, but the minute I got the idea to get one of my 25-pound landscaping blocks to knock against the top of the post, things went much easier. I could knock the piles loose much more quickly than I could excavate them. And the lever was simply wonderful! I couldn’t have done it otherwise.

Archimedes would be proud.

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