From the full version of Sunnyside's Lousy Book.
Building the World’s
Greatest Work Truck
I'd checked out a quick change payload system found on many smaller 15,000 to 20,000 lb. gross trucks. Harold uses them for his recycling business in and around Pierce County. The smaller roll-off system he uses is referred to as the "Hook-Lift.” It looks quite ugly and has some disadvantages when compared to a roll-off type system. One thing is that the center of gravity is higher; the amount of angle of tilt to the payload when loading and unloading is more than a conventional roll-off system. And above all it isn’t possible to put an over the cab latter rack or camper on a hook-lift.
I had a hook-lift demonstrated for me one day; it operated quite fast with an empty bin, but as the driver/operator drove out of the parking lot, the payload box clanged around so much, I imagined paint buckets splashing around and tools being tossed off shelves. Needless to say, I wasn't too impressed with it. I figured that the mini roll-off or as I called it, "Mini Dumpster Truck" design was more to my preference because I thought it would not only look cooler than a hook-lift, but out last one too. I figured that if I'd buy a welder and built a small roll-off system myself, I'd be able to build it for less than the expense of a hook lift. The advantage I realized to the idea was that I would have a welder left over afterwards to build even more payload beds for it in my spare time.
Here you have it kids
<One thing you must understand is that for legal reasons, I'm trying to write about my method of dump without disclosing the actual invention. If you happen to already know what the method of dump is – you will understand how I conceived the invention by reading this material. The idea of this segment is to hint around the idea and you just might come up with it yourself. If you do come up with my method of dump without knowing about it beforehand; then we can say that I have stimulated your creative juices in the right direction.
First off, I realized a conventional roll-off design would be a little bit long for a smaller truck. The problem of keeping it short is the length of frame rails needed for the end of rear carrier rails (or boom) to reach the ground. The rear mounts for the rear leaf springs of the truck's suspension was the limitation for moving the pivot point forward. With the standard roll-off design; I knew the carrier rails would have to be about 13'6" to 14’ long because of the length need for the carrier's frame rails to touch the ground when the carrier is raised in the elevated position. If the rear frame rails of the truck were to be cut off close to the rear leaf spring mounts, (to shorten the frame) the saving of length would be only about six inches.
I figured that if I did trim off the frame rails as an effort to shorten the system; I wouldn't have much to mount to. So I thought the best route would be to make use of what was there by mounting to the end of the frame rails.
I compared simple sketches I made of the various designs with different locations of the pivot points as an effort of coming up with a way of zeroing in on a design that would be shorter as a result of where the pivot point would be located. I realized an easy way to require less amount of carrier frame rail to protrude from the back of the truck be by lowering the carrier's rear pivot point; a method used in some of the older styled drag-on cable type roll off designs..
It didn't take long before I realized why the hydraulic cylinders on the older style roll off had were usually mounted in the reverse direction as often used with standard dump truck configuration and the newer style roll offs which comprise a hook mounted on a rotating roller chain.
I noticed by lowering the rear pivot point connecting the carrier to the truck's rear frame rails will cause the carrier to move back slightly and if the actuators, (hydraulic cylinders) are mounted in the fashion as to the newer hook and chain models and standard fashion used on the common dump trucks, (having the bottom end of the actuators mounted to the truck's chassis frame forward in relation to the upper end of the actuators mounted to the carrier,) the actuators would have to extend more to make up for the rearward movement of the carrier. This rearward movement created by the lowered pivot point sacrifices some of the degree of tilt obtained from actuators extenuation when mounted in the said configuration. I realized when lowering the rear pivot point, it's more efficient if the bottom end of the actuators are mounted to the truck's frame rails to the rear of the upper end of the said actuators mounted to the carrier frame rails. The rearward movement caused by the lowered pivot point forces the actuators to rotate on their lower axis similar the hands of a clock. Instead of the movement created with the standard method, the actuators when mounted in the reverse of standard, (bottom of actuators mounted to the truck frame to the rear of the top); the actuators pivot upward and extend in more of a vertical stance when in the elevated position. I realize that more dump angle can be achieved from the extended vertical stance of the front cylinders with the use of longer cylinders than ones I used on my proto-type because they would force them-selves to rotate further actually tilt backwards to some degree. For a shorter bed length; the use of double stage front actuators would be more efficient for such a task, because it allows for an enhanced degree of dump angle. I've improved the dump angle on my proto-type just by moving the front actuators back a few inches toward the front of the rear leaf spring mounts. It dump angle of my prototype was originally about 43 and now it’s about 48 degrees of dump angle. If I were to replace the cylinders with ones that are 6 inches longer, I’m sure the dump angle would surpass the 50 degree mark with dump too spare; which is good because with having wheels hanging off the back, some of the dump angle isn’t able to be used so more than a 45 degree dump is required if you want clay to slide.
If a lowered rear pivot point is used in conjunction with the bottom end of the actuators mounted forward of the upper ends mounted to the carrier, (standard dump truck angle for cylinders) more actuator extenuation is needed to achieve the same degree of dump angle because the lowered pivot point of the carrier causes the movement away from the lower base end of the cylinders. Therefore I realized that having the actuators mounted in reverse of the standard works more efficiently when used in conjunction with a lowered rear pivot point on the carrier.
I've seen where a manufacture had used multiple stage telescoping hydraulic cylinders to make up for the lost efficiency. In my opinion the added expense for multiple stage cylinders result in less longevity, less stability, excess weight and an oily mess to boot. But with my own system, I realize with a system less than ten feet long will most likely require double stage cylinders, but that’s still better than multiple. And by the time they’ll need to be extended, they well be in more of a vertical stance than on a conventional dump system.
After examining my sketches, I said to myself, "What if." and I thought the solution to the dilemma would be to put another variable, (an assisting mechanical) into the design. More complex, but...
I thought the contraption I'd conceived looked quite strange, but it appeared to be a great way to maintain a shorter overall length. It was able to reach the ground with-out sacrificing the degree of tilt angle.
As my own design bounced around in my head I realized never seen such a thing before. I had to wonder if it had ever been done before. Although it seemed like a brilliant idea, the worries of why it had not been used before also stuck my curiosity and questions entered my head like: How sturdy will it be? Am I going to find out why nobody has used it before? Will it be practical? Is it worth the added weight?
The day after I picked up the new cab and chassis from the dealer, I used a cordless drill to drill holes for the nut’s and bolts I used for pivot points in the two by fours I mounted to a pair of car-jack stands. In conjunction with the bare frame of the truck I constructed a life size model of my contraption to determine the geometry involved.
I'm sure it looked like I was up to something quite strange because I didn't even get a chance to do it without the old man from next door walking over to take a look at my new truck; at least if that was what he was there for. I don't know whether he understood what I was doing or not, but at the time I was more worried of whether he saw my pot pipe sitting on the threshold of the open door on the passenger side of my truck. I figured he had front seat to the task I was about to undertake in the days ahead and end up being a witness to the fact that I was working on my own with no help from anyone else.
My method was in building a model for determining the geometry was quite primitive and I didn't know of any other supply source for hydraulics other than the Northern Hydraulics catalog, but with the assistance of a chart in the catalog, I was able to decide on the size cylinders I was going to use. The longest cylinder stroke offered in the catalog was limited to 36 inches, but my funky geometry showed me that it would be long enough. The tricky part of determining the components needed was the “assisting mechanical” part. Though 12 inch stroke cylinders seemed to be a bit long for the room available for the assisting mechanical, I happened to like the simple ratio of 3 to 1 and figured having the simple ratio would make it easier to make an automatic operating system by synchronizing the movements of the two pairs if operating one pair at a time would cause the carrier to clip the frame rails. At that time, with the primitive way of performing the movements of the system, the geometry was so close; I knew it could go either way. As a precautionary measure I ordered only three hydraulic cylinders in case I found I needed to use a smaller size with the assisting mechanical when it came time to fabricate the components. I figured it would be better to waste only $150.00 instead of $300.00 if I'd have to use a shorter stroke cylinder within the confined space that was available.
When I first began the project realized that I’d never seen such a contraption before, but I did realize the potential of such a system. The thing that I didn't realize was the value of it if it was patentable. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that if it did work, there would be other people with the desire to own a system like it too. Since the contraption appeared to be novel; I wondered how I could find out if whether or not it was patentable and whether it had been patented.
After ordering the cylinders I knew I could easily prove I was the true inventor of the contraption and now from studying patent law, I've learn it's what they call, "Reduction of Practice."
After ordering the hydraulic cylinders, I rounded up the necessary lumber needed to build a temporary flat bed for the back of the truck to use while I gathered the necessary materials to build the contraption. The next day as I was building the wooden bed, (more or less a boxed in flat bed with an opening in the back), I received a visit from Dan McConaughy, the building inspector. He warned me that the city was going to turn off my electricity if I didn't get the temporary land use permit. His time of arrival was somewhat expected and I versioned a big question mark on his forehead if you know what I mean. Reason being is, in the weeks before I received the truck from the dealership I had come home to my trailer to find the blinking light on the controller of my alarm indicating that the alarm had been set off. I figured that if the city had my phone bugged, they would have heard me tell my parents of my plan to build a mini dumpster truck. I figured that there was a chance the city had hired investigators to dig up dirt on me and they could have taken pictures of the original sketches I had laying around in my trailer. Therefore, I might have had witnessed documentation on my progress without even wanting it and the arrival of Dan the BI man show up when he did only backed my suspicion that the city knew what I was up to.
I took a week off and drew up some blue prints for my house. I met with John for breakfast for his opinion on my blue prints, but his idea would have been to tear the whole house down and start from scratch. Never the less he could see how I was gaining 900 square feet of shell by saving part of it and he said, "Good job and to keep up the good work.”
Since I was not up to date on building codes, I thought it would be wise to have an architect finish the blue prints and label them as necessary. I contacted an architect and I found out that most architects don't draw blue prints on paper anymore and he said that he would want to completely re-draw the entire plans on his computer and his fee would be about $3,500 for the work. I informed him that I only had about $18,000 of the insurance money left and he understood why I couldn't afford his services. He then suggested a guy who still drew blue prints by hand and mentioned the he would charge only about $800 for such plans.
I gave the architect a call and when I met with him to show him what I had, I was amazed he only wanted $250 to completely re-draw the plans and that he would have them ready in about two weeks.
I remember one day when a manager of a company I was working for laughed at me when I told him I was going to get a new cab and chassis with a Cummins engine and was going to install a homemade wooden box on the back of it. But the ten foot box ended up looking pretty nice and the truck got a lot of compliments around town since it was one of the first new Dodge cab and chassis around at the time. It received a fair amount of attention and being proud of the new truck, I thought it would be nice to paint the name of my business on the side boards. I hoped the advertising might stimulate some business I might otherwise not have.
I got calls all right. Every Tom, Dick and Harry in town was calling me asking me for a job. Most of them were interested in what kind of work I was doing. Many of the calls ended up being other painting contractors trying to find out where I was making my money because they themselves were hurting for work. To say the least, in less than a couple weeks, I got tired of the calls and painted over the signs.
After I dedicated a week to my progress in drawing my blue prints for the house, work was exactly what I needed to do so I headed out to the coast to perform some work.
Upon the return of the first trip out to the coast with my new truck, I came home to a blinking light on my trailer's alarm system’s numeric control panel. The blinking light indicated that the alarm had been triggered. Since I had found the alarm sys-tem triggered a couple times and nothing seemed to have disappeared. I thought it was just the city was trying to dig up dirt on me by snooping around in my trailer.
The next time I got back from the coast things were different. The excess code to the keypad for the alarm wouldn't work and I had to use the factory default code (1,2,3,4). The default code goes into effect when the alarm system has experienced a loss of power. If it wasn't for the casing around the keyhole being bent, I would have thought of it as just another false alarm because nothing seemed to be missing. Now that I look back on it, whoever they were, they must have pulled the plug on the trailer and then came back a few days later when the back-up batteries had gone dead.
I suspected two things: Either the city had sent Dan McConaughy out to spy on me, or my buddies were trying to pinch the stash of pot I often kept in my freezer. I figured that the City of Tacoma would have had master keys, so the tampered condition of the keyhole lead me to believe it was either Dan McConaughy acting on his own or my friends after my pot. There wasn't much I could do about it, so started keeping my stash in a small hotel type refrigerator inside the shell of my house.
The wooden flat bed box on my truck worked out quite well except for the fact it was too light. Without any weight in it, the stiff suspension of the truck provided a rough ride and another fall back was as winter approached it would freeze and make a lot of cracking sounds whenever I hit bumps in the road. This became a bit annoying and
made it more urgent for me to make some-thing out of the materials and components I had gathered for my contraption.
Trying to find out about the patent industry was a lesson in itself. First I went to the local library looked for a book on the subject. I found a book on patent law and had to reserve it because it was well in demand. When I did receive the book I found it to be out dated. Then I went to a book store and bought a more complete and more current book called, "Patent it yourself".
Prior to reading these two books I had thought the cost of acquiring a patent was up there at about a hundred thousand dollars and out if my reach you might say. Excitement settled in after I learned that a patent will usually cost about five to ten thousand dollars to acquire. Upon learning about the patent application process, I realized I had come up with a good idea and the contraption I was constructing was well indeed patentable.
I realize now should have skipped a lot of the evaluation part and paid more attention to the general rules and ways patentable ideas can be stolen. Of course the way I see it is that lawyers aren’t going to write about all the important stuff in books, because why would we need them for? You have to remember that most of them have accounts working for corporations and they are unlikely to tell you about the pitfalls of being a private inventor.
If I knew what I know now, (and had been warring someone else’s shoes,) I would have filed on my own at the same time I began my project no even if the application would have been rejected because of some formality. I would have just made sure the invention was described thoroughly and the drawings were correct and the claims were broad enough to claim just about anything in that field. I would have also done a more of a thorough job of keeping records on my progress and made sure that it was kept a trade secret.
But that option would have never been available to me because how can a person do all that when they have Affirmative Action and a local and federal government spying on them? I've even found out safe deposit boxes are not as safe as one may expect. If anyone in the strange situation I was in, even tried to do such a thing in a closed environment and not in their back yard, there would have been a good possibility such an inventor would not only find their invention missing, but them self as well.
I doubt if anyone spying on me could have done anything beyond phony paper work to back date my conception, but it that becomes a problem, then I would back date it by using the order for the PTO adapter months earlier when I ordered the second truck. Therefore, anyone that might have seen my drawings in my trailer wouldn't be able to back date as far as I can. As in Stupid Rule Number 3: You can't change history.
The way I see it, is the conspiracy itself has documented my progress and provides all the proof one would need to prove that I'm the true inventor of the contraption. Therefore the conspiracy I’ve had to exist with only provides the proof I deserve patents on all my inventions.
My priorities began to change; my house became less import-ant to me because becoming a surfer I realized that there were many places in the world that I wanted to experience. At times I felt married to the responsibility of being a home-owner and the business that tied me down to the town of Tacoma. I’ve always thought a house was nothing more than a bunch of two by fours and I began to realize that if I could build a proto-type and patent it, I could afford as many two by fours anyone could ever want and where ever I wanted them to be.
Patented or not I figured that if I had the prototype that worked good, other people would want one too. I’d be able to set up shop and start producing it before anyone else could. It meant that would be able to retire from the painting business and perhaps experience the big time.
In the fall of 1994, I was unaware that President Clinton had just signed the GATT treaty within three weeks of the first purchases of hydraulic components which happened to be the hydraulic cylinders for my contraption. A couple months later, Congress approved the move and it was to be active in the early summer of 1995.
I was unaware of the interference I’d experience during the time a patent application would be pending as a result of the GATT treaty. Even before the GATT treaty was signed, the patent laws were setup so that if there wasn't a proto-type, there was a very good chance of phony paper brought up against an application. Regardless of how the laws were prior or after the signing the GATT treaty, it was common sense to me was that if I could build a prototype, how could anyone else say they invent-ed it when I'm the one driving it?
Though I have met a lady who received a patent on her cigar box within three months, I happen to know of another private inventor who even hired some of the same lawyers who work for the Boeing Corporation, but after more than five years of having a patent pending, he hadn’t received a patent. His invention happens to be a simple one he came up with while working in the airline industry. He noticed that the cargo doors would get damaged when cargo was either loaded or unloaded. He came up with a light weight panel that protects the doors from possible damage. He’s shown the invention to many of the executives within the airline industry, but none of them have decided to use it. The inventor realizes that once one of them began using it; the rest will fallow. My thought to it is that at the price of $400.00 a pop; he’d been asking too much money for it. The smart thing he did was that even though it was patent pending, he made them sign confidential statements. Therefore, patent or no patent, the companies he has shown it to can’t use it without his permission.
After I loaned him some literature on the way the GATT Treaty has changed the patent laws he said, "Boy the government sure screwed me over. Boeing gets their patents.” I said, "Don't worry. Just keep doing what you are doing. I'm going to get the patent laws changed back and you'll succeed someday.”
After the demolition work on my house was finished, with the use of a surviving metal frame I'd fabricated for the door of the tool-room prior to the fire I’d built a four foot wide door and installed it on the back of what was left of my house. I put it where the kitchen to the dining room door way was originally. I threw together a four by eight foot loading dock to make it easier to roll heavy objects in and out of the house. I had tore out the wall partition which comprised a large arched doorway dividing the living room and dining room and it made the two rooms into one large "L" shaped room. The only room left in tacked down-stairs was my bedroom which was only portioned off by bare studs and the stairway. I had mounted a few florescent light fixtures to the underside of the upstairs floor joist and use basic wiring so that I could have a light switch just inside the door. I’d made several runs with doubled up 10 gauge extension cords along with strands if 10 gauge commercial wiring to provide power to a 220 volt plug-in on a large cord for a 250 amp welder and a 5,600 watt space heater. Another lead run was to provide power for a five horse eighty gallon upright air compressor. As a result the insides of my house looked like more like a shop than anything else, but lacked the equipment.
By the end of the year1994, just gathering the components, materials and the necessary hand tools to build my contraption began to add up to much more than I anticipated. The fact is; had spent well over five thousand dollars for the supplies and still didn't have all the equipment necessary for fabrication the proto-type. Within the first few weeks of 95, I purchased the welder, a cutting-torch outfit, drill-press and a chop-saw.
The first thing I fabricated with the new chop-saw and welder was a overhead trolley system consisting of a 16 ft. section of 4 inch I-beam supported by A-frames at each end fabricated out of 2" pipe. I repositioned the loading dock so that it extended out from the house and placed the 16 ft. I-bean across the loading dock with room to park my truck underneath it next to the loading dock. With the use of a chain hoist and trolley I was able to transfer equipment off my truck and on to the loading dock, visa versa.
With the use of the overhead trolley and chain hoist, I lifted the temporary wooden bed off my truck and placed it on the back of my old truck. I made some rear fenders out of partial cuts of a fifty five gallon barrel and welded them to cross members I made out of 1,1/4 "square tubes bolted to the truck’s frame. Off the back of the fenders I hung pieces of old rubber foot fatigue mat for mud flaps
Driving the truck around with nothing but the make-shift fenders on the back made the truck looked as though part of it was missing. One time I got a kick out of a guy sitting in his truck at an intersection as looked over and said, "Nice fenders.” I took it as a compliment because I felt proud to have one of the first new Dodge cab and chassis around and an important project underway.
It wasn't long before I realized that a chop saw performed lousy angle cuts and with accuracy in mind, a metal band-saw was in order. It was the same way with the bench top drill press I’d bought initially. After the chuck falling out every ten minutes, I knew I had to go with the real McCoy, so I went out and spent $300.00 on a freestanding model comprising of three inch pipe and 5/8” MT-2 (?) chuck.
The arrangement of equipment and space within my house came together pretty well. I’d always liked shop space and I had even mentioned to the old man next door that I was even better equipped than I’d ever been. I had my compressor and acetylene tank outfit inside my bedroom to the left of the back door and just inside to the right of the backdoor I had a drill press and next to it, a couple of roll-around tool boxes. The band-saw partitioned off the back corner of the large “L” shaped room into a small work area.
Along the north wall, I kept my stock of steel on the floor. Most of the stock consisted of remnants because I could buy reminisce pieces at discount prices compared to partial or full length stock. I bought much of it because I didn’t know at the time of what I would need so I bought the steel that I thought would be useful. I never realized that I was building a magic scrape pile that would come in handy later.
Above the steel stock were the boarded off windows I had and mounted a massive set of gray plastic parts bends for nuts, bolts and hydraulic fittings. Along with the parts bends mounted on the wall next to the drill-press by the rear door-way, I had fifty in all. Believe me, over the next few months I had all of them filled with supplies. All in all, I had the place pretty well organized if you ask me.
With all the new equipment I had brought home; I must have got the old man to the north of me either curious or jealous. One day he even asked to see what the inside of my house looked like. I figured, what the hell, so I let him check it out and told him that I felt like I’d just invested in even more job security with the new equipment. At the time I'd just got my project underway. I’d made some modifications to the 4" I-beams used for carrier rails for my system. I had them placed on car stands and leveled up to insure square-ness and proper width for the cross-members I was in the process of installing. I still don't know what he thought; whether he admired what I was doing or if he was afraid of me trying to set up a fabrication shop business instead of rebuilding the house. He just didn't say anything and now I have to wonder if he was scoping it out for the city.
One of the first questions I had to ask myself when I began to design my system was: Where do I start? The carrier, the back mounts to the truck frame, or the lower front cylinder mounts?
I had to go with the lower front cylinder mounts because they determined where the cylinder mounts would have to be mounted to the front bulkhead of the carrier. My design began with fastening the side plates with the use of bolts going through factory holes in the truck’s frame rails. Only a couple of the holes had to be drilled out for larger bolts as I recall. The first obstacle was the emergency brake cable mount had to be remove and a new one had to be designed into the lower front cylinder mounts.
The front bulkhead was a complicated part to assemble. On a ½” plate T-1 steel covered with layout dye, I laid out the hydraulic motors, shafts I had keyways cut by a local machine shop, bearing and sprockets I’d bought from Kaman Bearings, and pieces of I-beam and angle iron for where the carrier rails would meet. I scribed out lines on what was going to be the bulkhead. It was quite complicated to say the least, because I remember it took a bowl or two and quite a bit of head scratching.
When I was welding the flanges and mounts in place for the front bulkhead, it started to resemble something more than I expected. A close friend will call Ken came by and even he got excited at the progress when he saw the part taking shape. I had the pulley block bearing mounts and the flat trim bordering the outer edge was welded in place. Ken got stoked and mentioned it was beginning to resemble something and said, “It looks like a work of art.”
What I was doing with a tape measure, level and a few squires was quite primitive compared to how major corporations have the same kind of things done. Although I wasn't investing millions, I felt blessed to be doing the same kind of thing. I began to realize the special talent I had within me and I became very proud of my project because I had the gut feeling that it was going to be a major mark in history. As a result of the passion for my project, I took it on as the most important job in my lifetime. I wanted to design it to be built with the best workmanship and quality of engineering as I possibly could. As I saw things take shape, I realized it didn't look like the weird of contraption I had imagined it would be when I first sketched it out on paper.
My only fall back was the amount of time I had to perform such a task because of the fear of having the electricity turned off at any time. Also my supply sources were some-what limited because the lack of knowledge I had as where to find the materials I needed. I put a large amount of consideration in to the detail of each component I made because the cost of a real good design and a not so good design was about the same for a guy who’s building it by himself. I thought that the aspect of details for a project like mine is what makes or breaks a good system. A more refined design wasn't costing me anything but time and during the winter I had plenty of that because of the weather.
A few of the goals for my design were to fit the necessary components into the least amount of space as possible, to keep the payload as close to the cab as possible, to keep the carrier frame rails from extending any more than needed from the rear of truck, to achieve the lowest center of gravity, to design it with as much trolley travel within the carrier as possible and to design it so that it would only be fastened to the truck’s frame with the use of bolts through the original holes provided in the frame from the factory. For every fraction of an inch there was to gain on; I used it.
The lower rear mounts for the actuating member became a very complex one for me. It amounted to crawling under the ass end of the truck no less than a hundred times I would imagine, or at least it felt like it because I felt like I lived under there for quite some time.
To begin with; it consist of welded flanges and pieces of angle iron which wrap the rear frame rails on three sides with large bolts fastening it them in place. One of the nice factors of my system is that no welding was done to the truck’s factory frame. Everything is removable and the truck can be returned to its original state.
One of the things that became obvious when building the main carrier was that it was just too easy to weld things into place. I had to consider methods of maintenance and serviceability. A person has to be able to remove things such as the shafts, motors, bearings and that alone is just one of the many challenges involved when designing such a system. Believe me it was something I had to think about because it’s interesting as to how some of the parts have to be installed and removed in a particular sequences.
Once the front and rear bulkheads were welded onto the carrier, it got to be a bitch trying to roll it out onto the loading dock on dollies. It didn't take long before I came up with a better way of handling the heavy parts and I'm sure I didn't score any points with the neighbors when I had a forty foot section of I-beam delivered. I used the trolley system to hoist the I-beam up to the underside of the floor joist of the second story of the house. I fastened half of its length to the floor joist by welding flat bar on its edge to the top of the I-beam, drilled holes through the flat bar and fastened it with lag bolts to the overhead joist. The I-beam came though the wall above the door at a slight angle so that I could place the carrier towards one side of my dining room. The I-beam went through the dining room and ended up in the north end of the front room where I put a post to help sup-port the very end of the I-beam. I had the other twenty foot of the sticking out of the house above the loading dock which I relocated back parallel to the wall so that I’d have 16 feet of trolley travel in my backyard. I supported the outer most end of the I-beam by intersecting it with the 16 ft. section of I-been with A-frame support legs. This made it possible to drive the truck between the A-frame support legs and park strait under the outer 16 foot length of the forty foot rail.
I bet most guys with a wife and kids would find themselves sleeping in the garage if they wanted to do what I did. I doubt if many women would let their husbands sacrifice their home and spend more than year's time and money building some kind of contraption - without a divorce.
p When designing the contraption in my head, the only person I consulted with was with my father over dinner one night. I was deciding over what kind of conveyance device I was going to use for the trolley. (This is where I wish I had some of my old catalogues for the proper names.)
One of the ideas I had for keeping a low profile for the carrier was to move the trolley with the use of two threaded rods and (nuts) mounted within the trolley. Then with the use of four sprockets, two chains, and a motor; the rod/shafts would spin making its own gear reduction and move the trolley ends in tandem. My dad mentioned that he thought the (nuts) would get too hot from the friction involved. Of course there are (nuts) used in robotic applications which have bearings inside and hardened treaded rods that won’t ware out so fast, but my thought to even that, (the more expensive route,) is that I would have to except that fact that it would get water, dirt and road grim on the shafts (or rods) and not to mention the sand and salt a person such a I would find in a coastal community. Therefore I opted for the chain and sprocket method. (Plus, they just look more industrial like.)
Never the less; my dad didn’t think much of my project. He said, “You should sell your truck and forget about it.” It’s my guess he didn’t think I would be responsible enough to handle the financial responsibility of a new vehicle and spending money and time on a contraption instead of a home was far from what he thought as important in one’s life.
The only physical help I received was when a friend of mine dropped by for some pot. While I weighed out the pot, he operated my drill press, drilling out pilot holes I had in some of the plate work involved.
You can bet I had plenty of drilling to do.
There was a time when I called my parents to tell them about how far along I was getting on my project and tried to spark some interest in my dad to stop by to see how it was turning out. I even mentioned the long hours I was putting in because of the fear that the electricity was going to get turned off. But I was only shot down with the, “You should forget about it and sell your truck.”
If it was my son doing such a thing, you can be sure I would’ve been there operating the drill press, every time I had the chance.
A few times Dan McConaughy the building inspector had dropped by and even sent a letter telling me the electricity was going to be shut off.
The pressure from the lack of time available had an effect on the type of pillow blocks I used. And one of the things I've learned about proto-typing is that it's nice to have a couple of everything. If I had more time I would’ve made a few more of trips to the supply sources and I would've taken advantage of more bearing options available. At the time though, I knew the price of everything I used would be lower if bought in quantities. The standard “P” type of pillow blocks I was bought would normally cost about $25 to $30 if bought them one at a time. By buying imports from Japan, ten at a time, I got them for about $10.50 each. The fallback of trying to use the same type of bearing throughout the system was that I ended up using one more shaft, two more bearings and two more sprockets, than if I’d designed the system with using either two of four flange type four-bolt pillow block bearing within the design. If fact; when I build my next system, I plan to use at least three types of pillow block bearings within the design.
At times I found myself working 12 to 16 hour days on it trying to get finished before the city would pull the plug. I did the cutting touch work and grinding for during the day time and saved the drilling and welding for the nighttime. Although I'd gutted my house and pressure washed the inside of the shell to insure there wouldn’t be any smoke smell in the house when it was completed. I sure did a number on it by welding in it. Even though it was cold when the temperature reached below 40 degrees in the middle of the night, I found myself having to open up the door to let the smoke out and there went the heat as well, but the heat rising from the hot steel kept me going.
Trying to use the truck for work while fabricating my system only made advancements in the development more of a difficult task. To prepare it for work, I'd have to stop what I was doing and usually have to take off some of parts I'd made, then bolt on a tool box and a sheet of floor decking and I'd use straps to hold painting equipment in place.
One day on my way to work, a customer friend of mine, "The Janitor" saw how I had everything make-shifted on the back of my truck stop light. He rolled down his window and asked, "What the hell are you doing?" I just turned my palms up and shrugged my shoulders in return.
I tried to get something accomplished every day, whether it was fabricating something, or rounding up parts and materials. The time it took to create the contraption required much more time than I had originally anticipated. Originally I figured about three months, but in reality it was about nine. Sometimes I worked it as a sideline and other time I worked on it for many long hours day after day. With the various weather conditions in Washington, the way things worked out was that on the few days of nice weather during the winter months, I’d find myself painting, and on the nasty and rainy days, I'd be found working on my truck under the tarp that was stretched out over the top of the overhead I-beam.
Even though I don’t think the old man next door liked me very much, I'd have to say he was one who had some enthusiasm toward my project because he knew of the undeniable long hours I put into it. Each day he would ask, "Aren't you done yet?”
After living in the neighbourhood for several years, I had a pretty good sense of who the neighbor’s friends were. It wasn't long before noticed the neighbours to the north of me began to have some strange visitors. One day I drove up to the front of my house instead of driving around back through the ally. I noticed few men warring suits and ties on their front porch. Strangely enough, the strangers became regulars.
The neighbours to the north of me had a front row seat to the very area where I performed work on my project just by sitting in their kitchen. As snoopy as we all can assume they were; it would be a good guess they wouldn't want to block their view with a refrigerator; unless the placement of a video camera on top of it was the plan.
I'm pretty sure the city or whoever the strangers were affiliated with had another camera set-up in an upstairs window kitty corner across the alley for a bird’s eye view from a different angle, because I saw some strange suits and ties over there too.
I would have thought that the men in suits would have realized that they would stick out like a sore thumb in a neighbourhood such as mine, but over the years I’ve realized just why they don’t ware plain clothes. It’s all about creditability. I would imagine when you’re trying to convince others that you are doing the right thing and want to get them to go along with your game, it probably best to be dressed as if you are some kind of authority figure. Basically, if you are going to tell lies and you want to be more believable to gullible people; ware a suite and tie.
It wasn't long before the ex-son-in-law of the neighbors to the north who worked for a Texas Oil company began flying up every month to get in on the action for a few days. Of course when it got down to the days when I had most of the fabrication work was done, he was sure to be in town. He wasn’t like the rest of the family; that is trying to be less conspicuous. He would obviously curious and made comments about it was looking good as it progress. I thought of him as a pervertious man to say the least.
When the major fabrication was done, I installed the system on the truck. With the aid of the overhead trolley and chain hoist I lifted the carrier and made it go through the motions. It looked magnificent but I confirmed that the movements were too much to be able actuate the hydraulic cylinders in the assisting mechanical all the way through their stroke without the carrier of the system clipping the rear frame rails of the truck. Though I knew I could make it work manually with three hydraulic controls, I knew it was important to have it operable for anyone to use it because I’m only human and eventually some dark night when I’d be tired with other things on my mind, I’d screw up and clip the frame rails. With as much power as hydraulics can generate, I, regret not having it work automatically.
As an experiment I used the chain hoist and with the use of cargo straps to limit the movements of the cylinders to 1/3 extenuation increments. I determined that if the cylinders moved at the same proportion; the system moved through the motions without clipping the frame rails with plenty of clearance to spare for deviations in those proportions.
Although and the words hydraulic synchronization wasn't exactly in my vocabulary before I learned about hydraulics, the mistake on my part was being the type of guy who always seems to try to get to the important part of a book and this is where my own characteristics backfired on me. I should've read the first page about synchronizing hydraulics in my text book where it was mentioned that synchronization wasn't always accurate. But to my knowledge it seemed to me that spitting the fluid into percentages was an easier task than sequencing because sequencing would take some electrical switches combined with hydraulic relief valves. At the time it seemed to me that a more complex method with electrical wiring left more room for something to go wrong because if switch wore out or something just shorted out, things could go haywire; combined with the power of hydraulics a simple problem could be drastic; so I choose to use synchronization as an operating system. Even though the 1 to 3 proportioning theory was a simple one, it wasn’t as simple as you might think when you have to make sure there isn’t hydraulic chatter from forcing fluids back together at a predetermined rate. With the addition of cushion valves to eliminate any possible chatter problems the system became more sophisticated than I had originally thought and the cost of those extra components and extra hose assemblies to connect them all brought the total of hose assemblies up to 52. Originally when I took on the project, I figured that the expense of hose assemblies would be about five to seven hundred dollars; boy was I ever wrong. Though the extra expense was something I had not planned on, after all the work I had put into the system, the additional cost of an operating system didn't discourage me any.
I opted for the gear type flow dividers (somewhat like a gear pump design) because the book said that they were more accurate than the spool type (somewhat like a control); but of course the expense was higher for that choice too. The fall back of the original system was that if I wanted to run the motors at the same time as the cylinders, the synchronization would go out of proportion a bit. Another fall back I didn’t think about at the time was that it would limit the choice of cylinder sizes and combination that could be used in other systems in the future.
(Let’s step out of the time frame of the story for a bit.)
A couple years later I decided to rebuild the system with a few refinements. I also took the opportunity to cut out some of the unnecessary weight while I was at it. One modification was to increase the angle of dump from about 42 degrees to about 47 just by moving the location of the mounts for the front actuators back six inches.
After I learned that the $35.00 micro-switches had a life span of over a million cycles and realized I could mount the switches where they were out of the way from foreign objects that might cause damage to them so my concern over the reliability of the part electronic -- part hydraulic operating system changed quite a bit. I wanted sequenced operating system because it would allow me to run the motors at the same time as the cylinders and cut down on the cycle time involved. But I will have to say the thing that convinced me to change over the most was that for one of my other inventions; I felt there was a need to be able to isolate the front cylinders from the back.
The sequence operating system I came up with utilizes two switches operated by the movement of the assisting mechanical, a couple of sequence type relief valve in combination pilot to open check valves, and a couple of check valves. Though the sequenced system may sound sophisticated to the layman, it's fairly strait forward and brought the number of hose assemblies down to about 40 and that number could be brought down further if the components were integrated into a one piece manifold block.
With the new operating system, I can either watch a pressure gauge or the assisting mechanical while running the motors at the same time as the cylinders; without kicking in the sequence to much. Doing so, the cycle times are decreased quite a bit.
In my opinion a computer type operated system with electronic sensors and a programmable logic control is the way to go with it in the future. Instead of a bunch of hoses, there will be a bunch of wires going to sensors enabling a PLC connected to some kind of computer such as a hand held personal computer will tell either proportional or servo control valves what to do. I see the day when an operating system will operate the system in a predetermined fashion according to the payload bed being used at the time. Unfortunately I deal with a conspiracy and it will be some time before such an operating system will be cost effective for me. It's very frustrating for me not have the funds for such an operating system because another invention of mine will work much better if it would have such an operating system.
(More on it later, but let's jump back to the conspiracy story.)
Barnet Beverly, a water service man for the Tacoma Public Utilities showed up to turn off the water service. I approached him and told him of the problem I had with the city and the fire department. His facial expression showed that he didn't like what he was hearing, so he turned around and put his meter-wrench in his truck without even lifting the lid on the meter box. I thought it was cool that the city had a real man working for it and one whom understands we had a problem going on.
On 3-8-95, the water service was turned off but I lucked out when I told Reina, the neighbor lady to the south of me. She suggested I could hook up to her water spigot. I’d guess that I was lucky I told her about the problem when her husband Mack wasn't around because Mack was a truck driver who had to wake up early in the mornings he wasn't too thrilled when I took up playing the bass. I'm sure he wasn't too thrilled when he learned I was hooked up to their water spigot either. I did however help them out with more than enough money for the water I was using.
On 4-5-95 the electric inspector for the city of Tacoma showed up. He said he was there to inspect the wiring in the house. I told him there wasn't any because the house was gutted and everything was plugged into extension cords connected to the temporary power pole. That was enough to turn him around without even looking inside the house or even checking out the power pole. The power pole alone would have shown him I had an intensive number heavy duty cords hardwired into it and even though the wiring was done properly, I have doubt whether if it was legal or not. I feel he realized that his job even being there was a result of harassment on the city’s part.
With the exception of the rear hold downs, I was able to finish the heavy metal fabrication while I still had electricity. Since you can't change history and I knew had created an important invention history, I knew I was someone the city would have to deal with down the road.
On the day I had the main carrier of the system hanging out-side from the overhead trolley as I was preparing to sandblast before painting. Dan McConaughy the building inspector drove into my back yard in a compact car with a cop inside. I asked why he had the cop with him. He said it was standard practice.
Yeah, standard practice, my ass. A cop riding around with a building inspector; with a camera to boot; how often have you seen that? Well I’m sure the city can always say it was a trial run. I figured I was being spied on by the city through the use of Dan McConaughy ever since the second day of having the new truck he came by as I was building the temporary wooden bed for my truck.
As I informed the cop about the fire and the trouble the city was in. Dan walked around taking pictures with the camera. I told Dan the city was already in trouble and if he was taking pictures to exploit or interfere with my progress I would sue his ass. Having someone from the city coming around taking pictures can only brought on more suspicion that the city was trying to get the idea stolen or trying to make it difficult for me to get a patent on it. I figured a ton of steel was hard to hide and I wasn't too worried about what they had in mind because I realized that the conspiracy was only documenting my progress.
Although I had the heavy fabrication work was done, I still needed to find a couple large springs before fabricating the rear hold downs. I also needed to save some money for the components needed for the operating system and hose assemblies. Driving around in the truck with nothing on the back made it a rough ride so planed to fabricate and mount the rear hold downs at later time. I built a narrow four foot wide bed so I could use it as a regular truck with the use of a couple binders to hold the bed in place.
I painted the system with some left over paint from the printing presses at the Tacoma News Tribune and installed the system on my truck. The next step was to fabricate some fenders and the mounting bracket framework. The mounting bracket frame-work alone turned out to be a lot of work in itself. I figured out how to design the brackets to use the factory holes in the truck's frame just as I did with the rest of the system. The brackets worked out pretty well as temporary fenders by draping rubber mats over the frames and securing them with cloths line cord.
One of the first nights I had the system mounted on the truck and before I even had it operating I witnessed one of the first strange occurrences. It happened in a parking lot of a convenience store. As soon I stepped out of my truck, a bunch of teenagers ran up next to me. I noticed the flash of a camera as another kid took a picture of us standing at the side of my truck. They ran off saying that I had just set it free. I knew someone had put them up to it and I wasn't quite sure of what it all meant. At the time, I didn't realize it was just a sample of the many set-up situations I was about to experience in the future.
The next chapter of Sunnyside's Lousy Book is:
What happened to my drawings?
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