A Retired Engineer’s Work is Never Done

I should have titled this blog, “Pulled up 4 stakes today” or “Another day in the life of a retired engineer.” On September 13, a couple of days ago, I wrote about pulling up a rebar stake out of my back yard. I received a bit of criticism from a few folks chastising me about how I may have gone overboard with the effort. That’s fair! More than fair, actually. I used to get similar criticism from my father. He used to say, “You just spent three days making something that saved you 20 minute’s work.” I think behind the bluster he actually admired my ingenuity so it didn’t bother me just as the criticism I received about the “Pulled a stake today!” article didn’t really bother me. The main reason it didn’t bother me is because I knew that I had 7 more stakes that needed pulling and the work expended in pulling out that first one wasn’t lost effort. It was more of an investment. I felt pretty good about the first one until today. Today I found out that the motorcycle jack, while it worked on a stake that was half dug out, didn’t have the necessary power. 1500 pounds of lifting capacity was not quite enough unless I first dug down about 18 inches and poured water down the pit. I needed more power! I just happened to have more power in an automotive floor jack but I wasn’t sure if I could make it work. The floor jack is rated at 5,000 pounds of lifting capacity.

It turns out that that is enough. The trick is that the first several inches of pull are done with the jack over the stake and the remaining extraction is done with the stake in front of the jack. I was able to pull 3 stakes completely out without digging in less than 45 minutes. The fourth one I pulled with the jack after the motorcycle lifted failed. It is the mangled one in the picture. (Pendants Pedants will notice a 5th stake in the picture…it was not extracted today but used as a tool.)

Hopefully, this is the last time I’ll mention pulling stakes in this blog but I hope maybe a couple are interested in some of the details.

The keys to pulling the rebar stakes include a 5/16th chain hook from the hardware store, some chain, a small bolt, a couple of washers, and a nut to fit the bolt. I made a small chain loop around the bar under the lift pad on the car lift using the bolt, washers, and nut. The chain hook was placed over the stake and the chain loop was placed in the open hook. The jack is positioned on top of the stake at first. Once the jack reaches its lift limit, the jack is lowered and re-positioned behind the stake. Upon reaching the lift limit the second time; the stake should be easily pulled out of the ground by hand.

The math says that I have three more to pull and now I have a method that takes only a couple of minutes and doesn’t involve digging a hole. I hope someone finds this useful. Not everyone has a motorcycle lift but I’ll bet more people have a floor jack.

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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 Repurposing Material, Retired--A Day in the Life, Science and Technology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A Retired Engineer’s Work is Never Done

  1. Jeremy C says:

    Automotive equipment – making every other job (except working on cars) easier for everyone. 😀

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