Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Crate Escape

Sometimes, a cardboard box just isn't enough to get a specimen from A to B, here I'll run through the steps that we just went through to prepare a giant outgoing loan. The specimen consisted of several large blocks of rock containing vertebrate bones. The specimen is an unprepared mosasaur that is being shipped to Canada for preparation and description, a point that I won't elaborate on further because I don't really care that much about mosasaurs except, in this case, to get them to their destination safely, and what I really want to talk about is last week's construction of the shipping crates.

Collections manager Lyndon Murray divided the 27 blocks of matrix into relatively weight balanced groups, which led us to building 5 crates, all somewhere between 32" x 48" inches in length and width. Lyn scaled up some simply designed crates that we had lying around in the building, and started measuring out all of the lumber, which I then cut.

The sides and tops of each crate were formed with 1/2" plywood reinforced with 1x4s around the outer edges, glued and fastened with a nail gun. (My favorite sawhorses, Rubbermaid storage bins. Also, use eye and hearing protection when using power tools.)

The bottom of each crate was a 2x4 frame, glued with Elmer's Wood Glue,(laid out for assembly here) and affixed with screws to another piece of 1/2" ply. Note Dr. Murray modeling the Elmer's.

All six panels are finished at this stage, with one side off to show the construction. All screw holes are predrilled, and sides attached to the 2x4 base, and to each other. The lid is also screwed down after packing is complete, each hole is circled just so it is clear down the road where screws should go when the crate is resealed. Also, one end receives a registration mark so it is immediately obvious how it all goes back together.

The final crates, we allotted two days for construction, and it took slightly over a week. Not a big surprise there. Next up, packing the heavy buggers.

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