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Project: Moving An 835lb Tank While Maintaining Your Calm

Early in November 2008, I got a call from Randy Cameron. Randy is the fellow that I had given the job of building my tank. He said, "the tank's done - it'll be shipped tomorrow". "And by the way", he said, "this thing weighs 835 pounds"... Whoops, over 800 pounds? I mean, I knew it was going to be heavy, but... eight hundred and thirty five pounds!! I immediately went into panic mode. I wasn't ready, was I? No, was the answer that popped into my head - no way! It had finally hit me that I was going to have to move an 8 foot by 3 foot aquarium made out of 3/4 inch glass.

Over the next day or two, I went over the moving scenario, in my head, a thousand times. The more I thought about, the more possible disasters I managed to conjure up. Finally, I forced myself to calm down and started thinking about exactly what had to be done.

In order to save some money on freight (the tank was coming all the way from Canada), I had decided to have it shipped to the main FedEx terminal in Tampa, instead of to my home address. I own a 5ft X 8ft flat bed trailer, and I figured that FedEx would have an appropriate fork lift (with an 8ft fork) to get the crate onto the trailer without a problem. So... getting the tank home - solved.

So how many strong men do I need to carry the tank into the house? I figured 100lbs per man, to make it safe. That's nine! Problem is, as I'm kinda up there in age, most of my friends and acquaintances are in my general age group and, like me, have back problems - a 100lbs, no way. What to do?

I'm a member of the Tampa Bay Reef Club, so I posted a plea for help on the club's forum at Reef Central. Now, our club has some great members! They are always willing to help out a fellow member - and the response was as expected. Eight strapping young members volunteered to show up the following Saturday morning at 8:00. In addition, I managed to find four friends that were young and strong enough to help. Looked like manpower was taken care of.

Final preparations

The day before the big move, I went to a local tool rental and picked up 12 vacuum glass lifters - each  rated at 260lbs. I also rented a duct jack - it's a hydraulic lift used to raise A/C ducts up to the ceiling while they're being installed. I figured lifting the tank up to it's niche in the wall would be a lot easier with some mechanical help. Then I drove to the local Harbor Freight store and bought two furniture dollies, each rated at a 1000lbs. I figured it would be easier, to roll the tank into the house and all the way to the living room, than carrying it.  I built a ramp out of 2"X4"s and doubled up 3/4" ply to handle the 4" rise from the front porch into the house. So, I hoped I had thought of everything. My wife said I hadn't and on the morning of the move, made sure there was plenty of beer and eats available - thank you, dear.

So, by early afternoon, the day before the move, I and a friend drove down to the FedEx terminal to pick up the tank. Everything went well. FedEx did, indeed, have no problem getting the crate on my trailer - and it's at this point that I'll start illustrating the story...

Here, we have arrived at FedEx, the crate has been loaded, and my friend Rick is opening the crate so we can inspect the contents:

Inspecting the crate

We made it home with no problems. I backed the trailer up into the driveway to await the next morning.

And it's moving day!

Saturday started out peacefully enough. Just the first arrivals standing around a huge crate on a trailer:

Standing around the crate

Soon, more of the guys began arriving:

Helpers arriving

Everyone grabbed hold of the trailer and manhandled it, over the front lawn, up to the front porch:

Backing the crate up to the porch

Once the trailer was in position, we started removing the crate. The tank was so well crated that it took half an hour to get it all unpacked:

Removing the crate

And there she stood - my Glass Reef, although, from the look on their faces, some of the guys weren't exactly sure what they had in front of them:

Crate is removed

The tank was then readied for the move off the trailer, while still on the pallet. The dollies were placed in front to receive the palette:

Moving the tank off the trailer

Pushing that 835lbs took some doin':

Moving the tank off the trailer further

Count 'em - 9 strong bodies. Well', 8 and a supervisor...

Backing the crate up to the porch

After a lot of hard work, the tank made it through the threshold and into the house. Thank goodness for double doors:

Moving the tank through the threshold

 Before the move actually started, we had moved aside all the furniture in the hall, living room, and den, so that there would be no danger of an accident. Once through the front door, the easiest part of the move began - pushing the tank (on the dollies) the 40 feet to the waiting lift. That's the duct lift I rented. It was only rated at 750lbs, but I figured it must have at least an 85lbs cushion:

The duct jack

As I mentioned, the lift was used to raise the tank to the height of the stand. It was a huge help and well worth the rental cost. Here are a bunch of pics to illustrate what a job it was getting the tank on the lift:

Putting the tank on the lift

Putting the tank on the lift - 2

Raising the lift

Here we're just about to slide the tank off the lift and onto the stand/PVC pipes (see next comment, below). You can see the vacuum glass lifters we used. We never would have been able to get the job done without them:

Into the niche

Someone had suggested that we put PVC pipes on the stand so that the tank would roll onto the stand more easily, so I cut about ten 8ft sections of 1/2" pipe and placed them lengthwise, on top of the stand - worked beautifully.

The tank was pushed into the hole in the wall length wise. Here you can see it starting to emerge into the fish room:

Moving the tank into the fishroom

Moving the tank into the fishroom 2

As the tank moved into the fish room we turned it diagonally, increasing the diagonal more and more as it was moved further into the room:

Moving the tank into the fishroom 3

Almost in...

Moving the tank through the threshold 4

As soon as it was all the way in, the PVC pipes were removed and 1" compression foam was slipped in under the tank. It took eight people, four in front and four in back, to lift the tank and hold it up:

Placing foam under the tank

After that, the foam was straightened and adjusted from the front:

Placing foam under the tank 2

Ta-daaa - it's done! All together is was an hour and a half job. Not bad...

Full tank shot

Here it is from inside the fish room. Notice that I immediately started to fill it with water:

Tank on stand

After a hard job well done - a little food and a "little" beer...

After the move 1

Well, and some Coke, too:

After the move 2

After the move 3

So, my sleepless nights spent worrying about every possible catastrophe are finally over. It didn't fall off the trailer. It didn't get smashed by a crow bar while removing the crate. It didn't fall off the lift we used to raise it up to stand height. None of those terrible things happened - and I owe that fact to the great group of guys (most of them from the Tampa Bay Reef Club - TBRC) that gathered and did all the back breaking work that was necessary to get that monster tank from the driveway to the stand.  




Joey Z says...
Awesome documentation. It's amazing how much "friends" can really help out, when needed! I've been under similar circumstances and I value their kindness and effort!! Good job, guys!!
GlassReef: Thanks! You're absolutely right, nothing is more important than friends.
4th June 2011 7:20pm

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