Pulled up a stake today!

A few days ago I mentioned that I was preparing for my favorite holiday—Halloween. Work has to start early because there are a lot of things to do but more than that things have to be done in a certain order and there are some things that don’t seem to make any sense. For example, why is it important that a rebar tree stake be removed from my backyard?

Let’s start from the end result and work backwards. It is necessary to have the Halloween display operational from the hours of 6 PM to 9 PM on Saturday, October 31st. That’s fairly reasonable but a reliable performance of homemade pneumatic, electronic, and mechanical props requires that they be set up a day prior so that all the repairs from last year and all the new bugs can be worked out. It has been our tradition for the past 6 years to invite over friends on the day before to show off and exercise the equipment. The small number of friends became a large number of friends and a full blown house party. Luckily, Nancy decorates and prepares the house while I concentrate on the grave yard display.

We’re getting to the stake. I promise.

A full blown party requires furniture that we don’t use except for during the party. We have a collection of folding chairs and tables that usually get stored in our guest bedroom. Also, the Halloween props don’t reside with us all year. They are stored in one of those rental storage places about a mile from the house. As a result our guest room isn’t very useful as a guest room and I have to move a lot of material to and from the house to the storage unit. So this year we decided to get a storage shed in the backyard.

Here’s the list of things that came out of those concerns (in reverse chronological order):

Install Murphy bed

Empty guest room

Build storage building

Pour slab of concrete

Remove stake that is in the way

There are other things that have to happen. For example, sometime I’ll have to retrieve all of the Halloween stuff from the storage location, build the new props for 2015, and rework and repair the previous year’s props. (This year I’m computerizing some of them.)

The stake was located right where the concrete slab needs to go. I had no idea how deep it went. Previously, I tried to remove a similar one on the other side of the tree. My landscaper installed three of them to hold up a young Mesquite tree after it fell over in a Monsoon storm. It is made of rebar material and I wasn’t able to remove the other one. I ended up digging down about 18″ and cutting off the top. It’s still there and that fact bothers me. While you might say that it’s no big deal, it still bothers me and that’s just the way I am. It’s not right! So I was prepared to do what was necessary to pull out this one completely.

Yesterday, I dug down about a foot. Then I took a pipe and drove it in the ground around the stake. Of course, the pipe was difficult to remove and the stake was still stuck fast. I poured water in the hole and quit for the day. Today, I went out with more water, a bigger shovel, a small portable jack hammer, and my trusty steel pipe. I worked on it for about an hour and it didn’t budge one little bit. But then I got an idea…


I had a hydraulic motorcycle jack that will lift 1,000 pounds and some chains, a pair of vice grips, some tire irons, and a steel rod to put over the hole…Presto!

Mission accomplished.

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About AZAtheist

Retired--Researcher, Developer, Program Manager, Arizona Regional Director--American Atheists, Organizer--Tucson Atheists, Organizer--Skeptics of Tucson
This entry was posted in Halloween, Repurposing Material, Retired--A Day in the Life, Science and Technology and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Pulled up a stake today!

  1. Diane says:

    Now that’s quite a feat which entailed a lot of planning and hard work. I really thought you were going to tell us that you found “golden tablets” buried there. Do enjoy Halloween, know it is has to be among the top celebrations of the year for you. Have fun as people of all ages enjoy your engineering accomplishments.

  2. Jim Brown says:

    You know, Don, we’re both engineers. As an engineer, I learned long ago that “good enough is good enough.” Any more is wasting resources. I would’ve cut it off several inches below ground level – Good enough! (Just between you and me, it would bug me, too, but I’d get over it.)

    • AZAtheist says:

      Jim, you’re right but had I just cut it off, like before, I would have missed out on that special feeling of accomplishment when the stake moved upward at the end of that chain. That feeling was so overwhelming that I had to share it. Besides, Nancy read the article and is now wondering why I left the other one out there…

  3. Jeremy C says:

    If it’s worth doing at all, it’s worth doing overkill. Sounds like something I would do, just with a cherry picker instead of a bike jack.

  4. Pingback: A Retired Engineer’s Work is Never Done | AZAtheist's Blog

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