Moving Mountains and Salvaging at Sea – Notes From the Field

by Ryan DeSales, Seattle Field Crew Member

The RE Store’s Seattle field crew braved the high seas, perilous mountain heights, and speeding trains this November to bring home the goods. Granted, those high seas were on Lake Union, the perilous mountains were made from Plaster of Paris, and that speeding train was actually a scale model. Regardless of the actual danger, those of us on the field crew were in unfamiliar territory as we completed our first ever boat and train pickup (okay, model train and dingy pickup).

From the top of the Smith Tower, to a Chase Bank vault, to a Stephen King movie set near Magnuson Park, the field crew gets to salvage some pretty interesting buildings and places. But we’re not all salvage all the time. In fact, The RE Store offers free residential and commercial pickup services across Western Washington. This means that those of us on the field crew spend half of our time picking up donations of reusable building materials. So, we were only half surprised when the first work order of the day simply read “boat” with an address and time.

Well, it was a boat alright; still floating and everything. Unfazed, we hauled her out of Lake Union and onto dry land. In this case, dry land was a narrow dock covered in metal cleats, ropes and other obstacles. Normally, we would rely upon our trusty furniture dolly, Wheelie Dan, to move such an item. Unfortunately, the dock was impassable this way. Fret not dear reader, for the field crew is gifted with almost, but not quite, superhuman abilities. With our powers combined, we managed to manhandle the eight foot dingy down the dock, up the gangway, and across the parking lot to Fuso the truck.

While the field crew has loaded countless oversized, odd-sized, and even fun-sized items onto Fuso, a boat was indeed a first. Normally, we use our space age aluminum incline plane, also known as a ramp, to load the trucks. However, it would have blocked traffic in the busy parking lot. Therefore, we opted to load the dingy the old fashioned way (the donor was kind enough to help, too). As always, we observed proper lifting techniques and even followed Feng Shui principles to orient the dingy properly once it was on board Fuso.

After unloading at our Ballard retail store, it was time to move some mountains and a train or two. To be specific, a working N scale train layout. Of course, this was not the only thing on our list; we just happened to save it during the course of salvaging a house. Luckily, the handmade train layout, complete with a detailed plaster mountain range and tunnel, was quite manageable. It took just two of us to get it up the ramp and onto the truck. In addition to the train layout, the RE Store netted an electric range, dishwasher, numerous pieces of furniture, solid fir doors, and pounds and pounds of great door hardware, drawer pulls, and cabinet knobs.

While the RE Store makes every effort to save reusable building materials from the waste stream, we sometimes stretch that definition provided that an item can be re-purposed. That said, a dingy can be reused as a dingy of course, or as a planter, a shed roof, or many other wondrous things. And who wouldn’t want a model train to go with their dingy?

Things like lift gates would have made these jobs easier on our field crew – help by donating to our Truck Fund so that we can Keep On Rolling and salvaging great materials and fun objects like this.