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February 22, 2021

Moving Part 1

What is rigging anyway?

By: Amanda Kievet

Demag riggers rigging our spinner

“Just as long as it’s not February”. That was Michael Hampton’s plea back in October when we asked when he would prefer us to move the mill equipment we had agreed to purchase. Well, here we are on February 22nd having done just that after a series of well-intentioned earlier target dates got pushed (locations fell through, parts needed to be replaced…). So far (fingers crossed) the weather has played nice and all of our equipment is sitting cozy in a huge semi truck in northwestern Vermont. The guys at Demag Riggers & Crane Service out of Williston did a fantastic job loading up almost a dozen pieces of very heavy and fragile equipment without a scratch on a slushy driveway. Phew!

In talking about this coming week with friends, the question was posed: “what exactly is rigging?”. It was a question that I still could only vaguely answer and yet a service for which I was ready to pay quite a sum. All I knew in the beginning is that we needed to get a bunch of large and heavy equipment from one side of the state to the other, and that it certainly wouldn’t just fit in my Subaru. Michael recommended we reach out to Demag who had moved the equipment into his space when he set up shop 11 years ago.

Moving the picker box to the truck
Pin drafter and spinner waiting to be loaded in the correct order.

According to Wikipedia: “Rigging is both a noun, the equipment, and verb, the action of designing and installing the equipment, in the preparation to move objects. A team of riggers design and install the lifting or rolling equipment needed to raise, roll, slide or lift objects such as with a crane or block and tackle.” The riggers from Demag rigged our equipment with a forklift, pallet jack, and the assistance of assorted 4x4s and plywood onto a semi truck where they blanketed and strapped it securely to the sides of the truck which apparently has “air suspension” (which I can only hope means none of the cross beams will go out askew on the treadle.)

Though my only contribution to this morning’s work was unscrewing some bolts that held our picker frame together, just watching these guys for four hours was exhausting. They seemed to have a full body awareness of their position and the position of the load they were moving through space. Michael and I watched while the carder just barely made it past a post as it swung around on the forklift. I was impressed by their ability to problem solve as they used several pieces of wood to prop up the “ugly green piece” (their words, ahem) from the picker that didn’t sit flat.

The extremely heavy carder being moved on a forklift
Michael loosening the bolts that hold a piece of the picker together

We asked Doug from Demag how he got into this line of work. He replied that he was the third generation in his family to inherit the business which started back in the 50s. In the 1970s they got their first crane. (Aside from moving fiber mill equipment in and out, Michael had Demag install his garden shed which wouldn’t fit between his house and garage. Demag came with a crane and hoisted the entire thing up and over his garage into place!)

I have never thought much about the semi trucks rolling down the Interstate before, but tomorrow morning my thoughts will certainly be with the nondescript truck making its way an hour and a half down the interstate to White River Junction with our entire mill in tow. I think I’ll follow another piece of advice from Michael: “Tomorrow, after the rigging is done, go home and make yourself a cocktail.”

The last piece of equipment to be loaded onto the truck: our spinner