With 7 pinball machines in the Barcade, and a week off after Christmas, it was time for "The Big Move". We needed to get all 7 pinball machines up the stairs and on to the second floor so that we could bring the pool table and bar into the Barcade. Weighing 250+ pounds each, moving this many machines figured to be backbreaking (and dangerous) work. We decided to save our backs by engineering a system to do the heavy lifting for us. If primitive people built pyramids and standing stones, surely in this day and age we could accomplish a lesser feat on a much small scale.
We already had built a cart for moving pinball machines around with the legs off. We used this pinball transport cart extensively for moving existing machines into the Barcade and also every time we bought a new game. The cart was built with lumber, lag bolts and large all-terrain cart wheels, since there is nothing but dirt with large rocks embedded in it, around the outside of the Barcade...no sidewalks, decking, or even gravel. We had also placed a large eyescrew in the front of the cart which allowed it to be pulled with a rope or strap.
The second piece of the puzzle was to use floor joists left over from the Barcade construction as ramps, which we attached to boards that had been screwed in to the unfinished walls. This allowed us to avoid screwing directly into the stairs themselves (and leaving ugly screw holes behind when the ramps were removed. The ramps were spaced apart at a distance that would allow the tires of the cart to fit within chipboard section of the joists, giving them a natural "channel" to follow.
The final element involved in this engineering feat was to purchase an electric winch from Harbor Freight and attach it to a board with lag bolts; the board in turn was bolted to the unfinished walls. We avoided a battery driven winch because space was tight and we didn't want to mess around with a large 12 volt battery. There was a danger of the cable rubbing on the edge of winch structure due to the angle, so we attached a pulley purchased from Home Depot and mounted it to its own board a little further down from the winch.
The move went very smoothly. I would take the legs off of the pinball machines and lower them on to the cart. The cart was moved to the foot of the stairs and the cable was hooked to the eyescrew. Kelly's dad ran the winch; I walked in front and kept the wheels from jumping the ramps, while Kelly brought up the rear, prepared to catch and hold the cart should the cable break. When the cart reached the top of the stairs, the angle of the cable would cause the front wheels of the cart to lift off of the ground. Kelly and I would then lift the back of the cart up the last step and on to the landing, which was not strenuous since the winch was still holding the front end.
Over 2 days we moved all 7 pinball machines upstairs without mishap and very little physical effort on our part. This allowed the pool table to be moved in, leveled, re-felted, and set up properly (and which also resulted in a couple of games being played to test it out, naturally). We still had everything hooked up when we found and brought home our eighth pinball machine and moved it upstairs too, but that's a story for another post...