Moving a Collection1

(part 1)

Jeffrey Sharp had decided to get out of the hobby and put his entire collection up on e-bay.  I was the person who won the auction.  Because of the size of the collection, professional shipping was not going to be economical (mostly because of the packing required).  This necessitated personally moving the collection.  The logistics of doing this move would be somewhat challenging because Jeff is located outside of Oklahoma City, OK and I'm in San Jose, CA.  Jeff has also specified that the collection had to be moved by July 31st.

This required that the move take place in two "stages".  The first part was to take physical posession of the collection and the next will be to move it back to California (when I have the time to drive back to California). 

This page will describe the process of taking physical posession.  If you're looking for pictures of the individual items that were in Jeff's collection, you'll be disappointed.  I decided to document the move on these pages.  Once the items actually make it to California, then I'll take some detailed pictures and create a page(s) for them.  We didn't even make a detailed inventory as we really didn't have time (and didn't want to have to open a few dozen boxes to figure out what was in them and then have to re-seal them).


I had to determine where I could store the collection temporarily until I could spend the time to move it back to California.  I was talking to Jay West (who was also in the process of acquiring some "bits" from Jeff) to see if we couldn't work together.  We decided that the easiest thing to do would for me to meet Jay in St. Louis, rent a (big) truck and drive down to Jeff's and store the result in St. Louis (why this actually works for me will become clear in part 2).  To further complicate things, Jeff's collection was divided between two locations that were at least an hour apart.

After some coordination, we matched schedules and determined that the move would occur July 18 and 19.  Because of airline flight schedules, I flew into St. Louis on Thursday July 17.

Thursday July 17, 2003

Jay met me at the airport and then we drove to the truck rental place to pick up the truck.  It was a 26 foot (length of the box) with a power lift gate.  Don't even think about trying something like this without one!

Jay headed off back to work while I drove to where we had reserved a storage unit to finalize things.  I met Jay back at his house.  We then headed off down to Oklahoma.  We only made it about half way by the time we decided to stop for the night.

Friday July 18, 2003

We got up early and continued our trip down to Jeff's place.  We arrived around 1:00 in the afternoon where we met Jeff.  It was at this point we realized that we picked the wrong weekend to do this move.  The predicted high for the day was supposed to be 101 and the next day would be hotter!

We decided that it would be best to go to Jeff's other location first since that was where most of the "big" stuff was stored.  Loading didn't get started in earnest until about 4pm -- at least the day was getting cooler!  After loading all of the stuff at Jeff's 2nd location we headed back to his house.

We were hoping to get everything loaded at Jeff's house that night, but there was a lot of stuff.  To keep peace with Jeff's neighbors, we called it quits at about 10pm so they didn't have to listen to the truck engine running and the lift gate's noise late into the night.

Saturday July 19, 2003

We had figured that if we got an early start today we could be done loading around noon (hopefully before it got too hot) and make it back to St. Louis late at night.

At Jeff's house we decided to start piling stuff out on his driveway before we actually started loading the truck (this turned out to be a mistake -- the stuff got really hot in the sun -- I don't think anything was hurt other than the burns on our hands).  Here's some of the stuff we piled in the driveway and the state of the truck before we started loading Saturday morning.

We didn't finish loading until about 1:30.  When we started it was noticibly cooler than the previous day but by the time we finished loading, we figured it was at least as hot as the day before (as we were driving back to the Interstate, we passed a bank sign that had the temperature on it -- 106).

Here's the loaded truck with Jeff on the back right before we closed the door.  Yes, we did fill a 26 foot truck!

Jay thought all the gauges on the dash was cool so he snapped this picture.  This was at night so I was seeing spots for a few moments afterwards because of the flash!  I think he was hoping to get it without the flash, because the gauges did have a "Star Trek" effect in how they looked in the dark.

We made it back to St. Louis late at night (but it was still Saturday!) so we decided to not start too early on Sunday.

Sunday July 20, 2003

Jay met me at my hotel at a reasonable hour and we went to get some breakfast.  We then headed off to get some ice for the cooler and some soft drinks.  We didn't really get going at the storage unit until about 11am.

We had a big storage unit so we felt we could pack for access and not density.

The next set of pictures shows the storage unit filling up and the truck emptying...

Whew!  We did it!  During the process we recalled that the storage facility closed (ie locked the gates) at 7pm so we were under a fair amount of time pressure.  It was also warm (hot actually) in St. Louis but nothing like what we dealt with the day before.  To deal with the heavier items, we enlisted the help of one of Jay's friends who if he hadn't helped, we either would not have finished or one (or both) of us would be trapped under a heavy rack in front of the storage unit.

From a cursory examination nothing was damaged and only a few things had scuffs.  We did a pretty good packing job!

The Aftermath

There were several things that we learned during this endevour that we'll try to employ in part 2 (if we hadn't already figured it out during this move).  They are:
  1. More people are better (but only if they help).  Two seems like a good minimum but you'll need three for really heavy items.
  2. Lot's of breaks are necessary (especially when it's hot).  We took about a 15-20 minute break between each set of the pictures above.
  3. Lot's of ice and cold drinks are necessary (especially when it's hot).  I know I went though 4-5 12 oz cans of Coke and 2-3 20 oz bottles on Sunday.  I don't know how much Jay was drinking but it was comparable.  I have *no* idea how much we drank Friday afternoon and Sunday morning.
  4. Have someone with a car (so if you need to go somewhere you don't need to move the truck)
  5. Have plenty of tie down straps (duct tape is OK, but tie downs tend not to break and they don't leave a sticky residue)
  6. Have a number of furniture dollys
  7. Have a good strong hand truck
  8. Get a bigger truck than you think you'll need.  It makes packing easier and avoids the nasty problem of what to leave when it won't all fit.
I don't drive big vehicles a lot (hey, I drive an Austin Mini to work almost every day) and it always takes a bit getting used to driving a big truck.  A 26 foot truck with a GVW of 26,000 pounds is a bit of a change when you're used to a Mini that is about 1300 pounds!

All in all, it was a lot of hard work, but Jay and I had a hell of a time too!  I can't believe I'm going to do this again real soon!

Actually, the hardest thing to do (aside from the heat) was trying not to ooh and aah over each item as it was going into or out of the truck.  If we had, we'd still be in Oklahoma loading!

1This page could also be titled "The Insanity of this Hobby".