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Floating your Float for the Boat

Whatever Floats Your Float

I know I know sounds like I’m trying to kill myself, but it’s spring and there’s things to be done, so yesterday, after the Buoy story I got involved with ANOTHER major project. It only had one slight catastrophe, but not one involving any grievous injuries or permanent damage, just one of those “SHIT!” moments. Here goes:

We have a fifty foot pier that reaches out to the deeper water for landing the boat and jumping off the end of the floating dock doing “Cannonballs” without hitting the rocky bottom. The floating dock has a ten foot long ramp hinged to the end of the pier and a 5 x 20 foot floating dock hinged to the ramp. The dock has four plastic wheels on it to facilitate removing it in the winter. I guide it to the ramp and hook a chain to it and pull it up above high water. In the spring we just pull out the chocks and guide it to the concrete ramp, once it hits that STAND BACK as gravity takes over and it shwooshes into the water. Hopefully someone has a hold of the rope so it doesn’t keep going.

In and Out and In Again

Anyway last fall we pulled her up and chocked the wheels and went about working on the attachment where the jet ski dock goes and some other minor adjustments none worthy of a story. I went down to check on things late fall and noticed that one of the two large black plastic floats had dropped down on one side. I covered that incident earlier noting that when I went to line the holes in the float to the aluminum frame the whole thing dropped down. It came in handy to carry the concrete blocks out to sea, but eventually had to be reattached to the dock. In order to accomplish this feat I would have to flip the dock on its back. I managed to remove the ramp to ease the flipping, but when I tried to flip it myself with a chain and my pickup…well let’s say gravity and those four wheels got frisky and rather than flip it rolled…into the ramp. I decided to wait for someone with a tractor or backhoe to do the flipping. I mean with the aluminum frame, wheels and plastic decking, it’s pretty heavy.

Yesterday was the day to flip it. Got my heavy duty chain out and affixed it to one side of the frame around the wheels and my friend Joe wrapped the chain around his front bucket on his John Deere tractor and lifted the dock, reversed direction and pulled the dock up and over. It landed on the grass with a resounding thump. Mission successful. We spent the next half hour sliding the black plastic float into place and threaded the four stainless bolts, washers and lock nuts into place and with wrenches and ratchet attached the float firmly to the bottom of the dock. We knew how to flip it back, so I attached the chain under the dock and the bucket and lifted the beast to the point it balanced on the side. It as amenable to a light touch to finish the move, so I took the chain off the tractor and dock, Joe backed out of the way and with a gentle push the dock returned to the upright position with a resounding thump and…a crack as the OTHER black plastic float fell off, with two bolts holding the back side and nothing holding the front than now lay on the ground with a piece the size of your fist laying on the ground laying close to where it BROKE OFF the float.

Whatever Floats Your Float Part II

Anxious to complete the job we headed into town and picked up epoxy designed for plastic and four sets of stainless steel bolts, washers, and lock nuts. I got fender washers which are bigger, more like a silver dollar in size. We got home and I went to work. First order of priority was to glue the broken piece back in place. The glue was two pastes, a base and hardener with a 5 minute able to touch and 35 minute cure time. I went to my truck, grabbed my tool box in the back, set it on the tailgate and grabbed the utility knife out to free the double barreled syringe, and squeezed equal amounts into an old Altoids tim. I slathered the piece with the mix, and I held it in place for 30 seconds. It remained in place when I let go.

Minor Catastrophe

Next challenge how to get the black plastic float up to where I could thread the bolts through. With blocks and my bottle jack I was able to accomplish this task with no drama. Remember, the two back bolts, rusted as they were held up the float to the aluminum frame. I grabbed the first four inch bolt and try as I might could not get the bolt to go all the way through. Easy fix. Get a 5/8ths drill and line up the two pieces. Back in the truck, up the 200 feet to the garage to grab my drill and bit. Back in the truck down the drive, around…the corner to the water when I heard a loud crash. I looked in my rearview mirror where the sound came from…behind my truck and quickly ascertained that the loud crash was… MY TOOLBOX WITH ITS HAMMERS, SCREWS, SCREWDRIVERS, PUTTY KNIVES, PLIERS, WRENCHES…you get the idea. If one were to take the time to count all the individual items in the plastic two-tiered box which was LEFT OPEN ON MY TAILGATE I would estimate 200 items. All 200 scattered in a trail mixed in with the gravel from the driveway. Remember the “catastrophe” I mentioned yesterday? Well this was it.

So out of the truck and picking up all the stuff, trying to remember where all the pieces went to allow the lid to be CLOSED and LOCKED. Took about ten (10) minutes and to be honest, my luck, stupidity/ADHD short term memory issues brought a smile to my face. Only me! I thought.

Threading Water

Back in business I drilled the holes, threaded the bolts through the holes and with the nut threaded on top and wrench and ratchet engaged them. When I released the bottle jack everything stayed in place. Hmm. Since that was so easy, and I had stainless in the other six holes and I had bought two extra, I decided to make it right, I would back off the rusted nuts and bolts from the other side and replace them with state of the are stainless. I used blocks and Jack the bottle to keep it in place without the bolts, and they threaded easily. A bit challenging threading the lock nuts on the top of the aluminum brace where you couldn’t see what you were doing only feel it. There was a few dropped nuts, but I stayed with it until the threads caught and finished the job with wrench and ratchet. A job well done.

Today I reattached the ramp to the dock, but it went as smoothly as a hot knife through butter, so no drama…no story. It is ready to literally ROLL into the lake to be attached to the end of the pier. Here’s hoping that that endeavor will fail to involve drama. No drama…no story.

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