Saturday, April 18, 2009

4.5 Tons of Salvaged Goodness

Pete and I moved 4.5 tons of salvaged material today. The house we worked on with other members of Friends of Historic Preservation, will be taken down for a new elmentary school.

Here is a photo of the house from the county assessor's site:

Pete and I took the six porch pillars and the blocks below them. The pillars are made of cement and with three courses of blocks, and a two piece cement cap below come to a toal of eight feet in height. My plan is to take these and make a pergola in our back yard.

I was really worried about how heavy the pillars would be. We had my brother's dump truck to haul them, and I had made 5 T- shaped support posts by screwing together 8 foot 2x4's to put in as we took the pillars out. We used a John's bottle jack and worked like we did last summer in taking down the pillars on the back porch.

First we used the jack to raise the porch roof next to a pillar. When there was a visible gap we would wiggle the pillar toward the inside until we could get it clear of the cap at the top of the pillar. Then we would tip in down and support the end on the bottom cap. After re-adjusting we would move the pillar to the porch floor. We would take the T support post and get it into place then lower the jack to take the porch roof down to the temporary post. The two piece cap was also cement, we would wiggle them off. The take out the cement blocks. These were made with a mold so that the outer face looks like cut stone.

We got the six pillars out in about an hour and a half. We then loaded them along with two of the base caps and 8 blocks into the truck. We stopped at the landfill to get a total weight. Truck and all came to 4.9 tons. I called my brother and left a message asking how much the truck weighed.

We unloaded all that and went back for the other blocks and caps. I'll need a total of 36 for the six pillars, but since they were built below the porch floor on the house I was able to get an additional 12 blocks. I have another idea for those. We loaded 40 blocks and 4 caps into the second load.

While unloading the second time, Pete asked how much I thought the blocks weighed, I guessed 30 pounds each. We were stacking three onto my dolly and wheeling them into the yard to pile up. My daughter came out with the bathroom scale and we discovered they were really 60 pounds each. That made our second load somewhere in the neighborhood of 2400 pounds for the blocks and probably 800 more for the caps. for a total of 1.5 tons.

When we talked to my brother he said the truck weighed 2 tons empty, so the first load was 2.9 tons. With 1.5 in the second we came in at 4.5 for a total.

I'm tired tonight!

Besides the porch pillars FHP salvaged: 2.25 inch wide pine flooring, 5.25 inch wide pine flooring, window and door headers, a pine collonade, newel posts, window and door casing, leaded glass windows, exterior doors with leaded glass, and five panel interior doors


Jacci said...

Good for you! That's great that you were able to use those pillars.

I've been trying to figure out how to get "in" on some of the great stuff to be salvaged from homes in my area, but I'm not coming up with much. A guy from the city dept. told me that no one is allowed to salvage from buildings scheduled for demo. Any info or tips??? I'd be especially interested in hardware - doorknobs, cabinet pulls, etc.

Congrats, again, on your "salvaged goodness" :)


Mike said...


Friends of Historic Preservation is a non-profit organization. As such we carry liability insurance for our members who volunteer to salvage at demolition sites. We work closely with city government and have our "salvage barn" site where materials are sold to the general public located at the city landfill.

City officials will notify Friends when an older house is slated for demolition and we contact owners to try to work out a time to salvage. We generally work on weekends. The benefits to the owners are, everything we remove is weight not taken to the landfill, and the materials salvaged can be considered a donation for tax purposes.

In the case of the porch posts, these are really too big and heavy for Friends to take, so I offered to remove them and made a donation to Friends as well.

Karrey said...

Wow, you guys got a lot done! Have you had any salvage jobs in 1950s houses yet? Kevin and I are still considering joining Friends to be able to salvage items from those houses, although we felt really out of place at the one meeting we did attend.

Mike said...


We really haven't done any '50's houses yet, but I did make the crew take the pecky cypress paneling from a '50's addition to a bungalow in Cedar Rapids that we salvaged from 2 years ago...

Keep with FHP you folks are the future! When I first started going to meetings lots of the older members didn't consider bungalows historic, because they had grown up in them. Now that I'm nearly old enough to qualify as historic myself (pushing 50) I understand how hard it is that the new homes of my youth are "historic."

If I were an Iowa City resident I'd be signing the chicken petition in a heartbeat. I'll admit I'm intrigues by the idea but think there may be a few too many raccoons in our neighborhood to make it work here.