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February 24, 2021

Moving Part 2

Now we're really in business

By: Amanda Kievet

Before and After

After a night of furious sweeping and shoveling and a last minute call to hack off the bottom of our staircase to nowhere, move-in day finally arrived and we had to leave well enough alone. I recruited my husband, Cody as an extra set of hands (and photographer) for the day. We picked up some doughnuts and coffee and met Peggy and Michael at the mill around 7:30, unloaded some odds and ends from Michael’s truck, and waited for the riggers and the semi truck full of equipment to arrive (read about Moving Part 1 here).

I was in the midst of labelling “Junction Fiber Mill” on our newly-acquired shop vac when I saw the truck through our storefront windows and excitedly ran outside to answer whatever questions I could and, quite honestly, to gape at the maneuvers the truck would have to do to get into our parking lot. Traffic stopped. I worried the cops would come and give us a ticket for causing a ruckus during rush hour. They didn’t, and after a few tries at backing in, the semi finally pulled straight in in the back parking area.

The semi truck carrying our equipment

I showed the guys from Demag where everything should go and the somewhat-still-visible tape marks on the floor. They got right to work unloading the equipment from the truck in the reverse order from yesterday, which meant our spinner was first. It was a good thing the stairs got hacked off as it just barely fit through the doorway. Many pieces had to be placed temporarily to the side so that the equipment buried in the back of the truck — the picker and the carder — could be moved in first toward the front of our space.

Our (the non-riggers) main project was assembling the picker. Made up of three very heavy separate components, it needs to come together just right so that they can be linked up by the silver sheet-metal pieces. Demag unloaded the frame which suspends two of the three pieces first so that we could get to work screwing it together. This went without a snag as Michael had meticulously labeled everything.

Cody had set up a time-lapse to try to capture the full move but unfortunately we didn’t think the battery of my old Go-Pro might not last so we only captured the first half of the day. Here you can see how the picker came together at least.

Once the picker was in place, then came the carder. This is our single heaviest piece of equipment. I asked Dave from Demag how much he reckons it weighs — probably about 6000 lbs (3 tons, or just about the weight of a car). The riggers are really good at what they do, but even so I nervously fluttered around while the carder made its way through our bumpy snow-covered parking area into the mill. I was concerned about the feed belt which was down close to the ground — one minor bump and the whole thing would have been out of whack. As expected, they did a phenomenal job and the carder made it in place without a scratch. After setting it down from the forklift, it had to be turned to the correct orientation. They used the pallet jack to elevate and turn it around, setting it down right in place with astonishing gentleness despite such a heavy load.

Moving the carder
Peggy and I deciding how exactly the carder should be placed

The most stressful part of the day came when we needed to place the pin drafter. We knew it was going to be a tight fit in our space which is why we had one of the back walls removed. We needed to work backward from the bended pipe wool feed (I’ll someday learn the technical names) which was buried in the truck so I had to run out with one of the guys to get it while the rest of the team was tapping their toes with the pin drafter on the forklift. Not only that, but the can coiler also needed to line up perfectly and at the right distance from the end of that. I looked to Michael for advice and got a, “hey, it’s your wool mill.” There was talk of completely ditching the layout we’d taped out in favor of turning the whole setup 90 degrees. In the end, we stuck with the original plan and I think it all turned out great but tensions ran high in the moment and I’m sure the Demag team was frustrated.

The guys got the rest of the small stuff (some carts, shelving, toolboxes, etc) off the truck, we thanked and paid them and they were on their way back up to Williston leaving us to put the final pieces of the picker together.

Putting the spinner in place.
Michael, Cody and I adjusting the suspension on the picker

This was the moment of truth. The big “picker box” at floor-level needed to attach to the parts suspended on the frame by a sheet metal arch. We tried to be careful about marking out how much suspension to give the back pieces and to check the distance between them and the box while the forklift was here, but our floor is a bit different than Michael’s and a margin of error of even a half inch on placement meant a major headache. So it was that Cody and I ended up using boards to hoist up quite heavy pieces while Michael wrenched on the bolts to adjust the levelness and suspension of the pieces a fraction an inch at a time until — thank god — things finally lined up enough to screw it all together. I’ll admit, there was a moment when I thought we’d need to get Demag to turn around and reposition everything.

We bid farewell to Michael and he to his well-loved and cared-for equipment. It was surreal seeing everything laid out in our new as-yet-to-be-finished space. We did a last pass covering the delicate parts up and re-installing the plastic divider between the construction mess part of our building and the precision equipment, and we went home. It was an emotional, exciting, and draining couple of days. The work’s not over yet, but having the equipment in place feels like a huge step. Onward!

Peggy and I: two proud mill owners
The Before
The semi holding all our equipment
Showing the riggers where everything should go
Putting together the picker
Michael, me, and Cody adjusting the suspension of the picker
The riggers moving the second piece of the picker into place
The 6000 lb carder with the feed belt precariously close to the ground
Getting things in place as the floor gets dirtier
The picker situated so that we (the non-riggers) can put the remaining sheet metal pieces together
Loading the spinner onto the forklift to put it into its final position
Peggy and I discussing where exactly the carder should be placed
Peggy watching the last piece of equipment move in: the skein winder
And, lunch break!
The carder, Peggy and me
Two proud mill owners
The After