The Good News and the Bad News

I’m sure you all remember Daniel S from the blog Among the Leaves who kindly bought one of my tables back in July. Everything went well with the money transfer and getting it dropped off to be shipped with the brown shipping company’s “Pack and Ship Guarantee.”.

Sadly, a very brown shipping company could not remember to not drop packages in their care and when the table arrived at his place, the foot was broken from the leg. The leg, being a 35lb input shaft from a manual transmission behind a Cummins diesel, also broke out of the top.

When it arrived, it was missing any packing material. There was a box, that was inside another box, and there was packing material between the two boxes, but nothing inside where the table was. The lack of inside packing material is disputed by the manager of the brown shipping company’s store, but facts is facts.

I can only guess that either they thought that at 70 lbs, it was heavy enough, or that when it broke, the distribution folks heard the break, opened it up and didn’t put it back. It’ll one of the biggest mysteries of all time, I guess. But it still didn’t help the fact that Daniel didn’t have a table, he had a pile of scrap metal he had maid a lot of money for. He emailed me, I went to the brown shipping company’s store. The brown shipping company’s national folksĀ  called me and asked some questions and had the repackaged box picked up the next day.

Not being a dumb monkey, I had insured the package for $500 (cost of the table + shipping). Last Thursday, they finally cut me the insurance check. On Monday, I was finally able to take possession of the table.

To say it didn’t enjoy the ride north any more than it did the ride south would be an understatement. The pic of the table as it left is at the above link. The rest of this sordid tale is below the fold


This is what I unpacked. The foot and leg did some damage to one another. And everything else.

Here is what the inside of the box looked like.


The foot was too damaged for me to recover. Both in the clear coat and one of the bolt tabs had actually cracked. The leg also had clear coat damage, but should be fine with some wire-wheeling and a couple coats of clear. The top is semi-recoverable. It may be in 50 or so pieces, but large portions are still attached or are in welded groups and the chain is can be re-cornered easily enough.

Thankfully, I still had a couple of t-case bodies to choose from to replace the above one with. I just wish I had previously spent some time cleaning them up because they all look like this.


After a few hours with power tools (angle grinder with wire wheel, dremel tool with wire wheels of various sizes and shapes) it now looks like this.


I also used a couple of cutting wheels on each of the above mentioned power tools to cut the remainder of the filler from the top and separate pieces that needed to be removed so that I could re-jig the chain to prep it for welding. Tomorrow it gets welded up and (crosses fingers) completed.

Doing all this surgery, I discovered what could be labeled the “offending article”. One of the lower rings I used as a bridge from the leg to the foot seems to be made from some strange alloy I can’t yet identify. It looks, weighs, and magnetizes like steel, but only three of the six welds I attached it with burned in completely. It would have held just fine as a leg to a table, but couldn’t stand the forces of gravity and inertia the brown shipping company’s employees put it through.

It has been hung on the garage wall to maybe help identify items I come across in the future.

Through all of this, Daniel has been Customer of the Year and for that I am grateful. I hope to have the project completed tomorrow of Friday (serious bidness happening midday tomorrow) and then shipped back. I plan on making some bracing and overseeing the packaging myself this time.

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6 Responses to The Good News and the Bad News

  1. Pingback: Among The Leaves

  2. Merle says:

    What a mess!!!


  3. That Guy says:

    Maybe you should look on this as a learning experience?

    I was wondering if it would be better if you shipped it in pieces (base, top, and central support) and had the customer bolt it together. It would be a two man job, or at least one man and a helper, and figuring out exactly how to make it assemble-able would be a bit of work.

    Shipping three relatively lightweight pieces, perhaps packed in that expanding foam from a can, plus saran wrap, would be less subject to damage, and being lighter, would be less likely to be dropped.

    I don’t think that you will ever have consistently good luck shipping a 70 pound table in one piece – unless you maybe make a custom crate, designed to support the assembly in a cradle that supports the top’s weight all around the edge. Even then, if some minimum-wage union stevedore drops it hard enough, it is going to break. There is just too much weight and too much leverage to expect that even the best of welds will hold, and you have hundreds of welds that are at risk. I doubt even a custom crate will provide enough support if the road is rough enough.

    Did you do any structural testing on this table? I know it is basically a art piece, but did you smack it here and there with a rubber mallet to get a feel for it’s structural integrity?

  4. Phil says:

    Trust me, Guy, from the moment I opened the box, I have been trying to learn from this.

    You managed to describe just the first phase of structural testing I did not the table. I also did an overnight weight hold on it by placing 30lb box of books on the unsupported side of the top. There were no defects detected.

    I have drawn up a three-piece support structure for shipping that I will affix under the unsupported edge and to the leg. Daniel will be able to cut it off when it arrives. I’ll be cutting and fitting it this weekend.

  5. dustydog says:

    The Free Market is not ideal. Ideally there is someone competent and competitive to ship that table, but in reality you should probably box it yourself.

    As a trivial parallel, Amazon can’t ship the 76.5 oz cylinders of gatorade. They always pack the the container in an too-big empty box, then the vacuum seal pops as the cylinder rolls around. Apparently, it is not worth it to Amazon to figure out how to ship gatorade to customers.

  6. Dee says:

    Could you ship it bolted to a pallet, upside down? That would keep the Cg low and prevent the cargo apes from getting a good toss on it.

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