Posted: 10/06/2013 at 00:38
This is a story of idiocy and grim determination to use alternative thinking to find a 'quick' way of solving a practical gardening problem, and how I ended up spending two days at a job that should have taken about two hours max' - the first with my head and shoulders in a deep hole in the ground and the second performing a ludicrous aggressive 'caveman' type ballet involving three bits of wood and a workmate!
Several decades ago I needed to replace an rotten fence post. Should be simple enough? But no! Having removed the broken off top bit of post, I was left with the rotten stump embedded in its concrete foundation underground. I didn't know how to get the huge bit of concrete out of the ground so decided to reuse it.
First I drilled, chiselled and generally chipped away at the bits of rotten wood left in the post-hole in the concrete - much like a dentist working at a huge decayed tooth. Took a good day's work ... in a kneeling position ... In the sun!
The next day (blisteringly hot) I presented the new post to the existing, cleaned out hole. It seemed to fit and somehow I managed to get it vertically balanced in the hole ready to bang it in with a clubhammer.
I really needed a heavier hammer - a sledgehammer - but I didn't have one and couldn't have lifted high enough anyway as the top of the 8 foot post was too high for me to get any weight behind the hammer blows. But, being exactly the right size the post did go in ... about 3 inches! Then it was stuck! It would go no further and there was no way of getting it out again either.
So I knew I had to invent something... A really big BIG hammer!
I had a couple of spare beams, really thick, heavy ones. I screwed them together with a hefty hinge and wedged one of them vertical in my workmate so that the other rested horizontally on top of the jammed new post.
I was proud of my manually operated 'steam hammer' - even if it did look a bit like a gibbet! It was my hammer!
Standing on the workmate I could lift the transverse section of the 'gibbet' up above my head to bring it crashing down on top of the post. But when it came down I quickly realised I was going to be in the way of it achieving its full arc.
So I got back down on the ground ... But then I couldn't reach up enough to get the huge beam high enough in the air to build up a downward momentum. So I worked out a way of standing beneath this Heath Robinson contraption, pushing the cross beam high in the air with a stout stick and then pulling it down hard again with a rope; and if I crouchedlow as it crashed down on the post I could avoid braining myself!
It worked! But I had to get out of the way of the beam really quickly as it came down or I would really quickly be dead.
It was all working so well I got into a nice rhythm: push up, pull down, crouch low, CRASH! I found if I could put even more energy into the pull stroke the beam came down harder and the post went in further...Push. Pull. Crouch. CRASSSHH!
Now I expect you are all waiting for the unexpected happening, 'the accident'. There wasn't one - but I must have looked totally crazy, I certainly felt like a right idiot... Push, PUll, crouch, CRASSSHH! Push, PULL, crouch, CRASSSHH! Anyone seeing my antics, without knowing WHY I was doing it, would have definitely considered me insane - but the invention worked!
After about an hour or two of this strange dance the new post had travelled the full length of the hole in the old concrete base and was eventually in! And I hadn't even needed to make up a new bucket of concrete!
If you want a punchline then it must be that I couldn't move the next day - my back went into spasm and I was laid up for a week!