Buffalo Trace

Buffalo Trace
From a few years ago, me mugging with the bronze buffalo sculpture at Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Shredding a Shed: How a GMC Sierra 2500 Crew Cab Saved My Bacon


I'm not the kind of guy who pays people to do jobs around the house that I can do myself. It just rubs me the wrong way. When I have time on my hands, I have lots of time on my hands – one of the benefits/curses of freelancing. That's how this blog got started: Work was slow and I wanted something to do. I got the bright idea to create a blog. I posted on it nearly every day in the beginning. Now, I'm lucky to post twice a week. But that's another story.

This 10 ft. by 8 ft. structure doesn't look like much, does it?
When Travelers Insurance – where customer is king – unceremoniously canceled my homeowner's insurance because of my shed, I had no choice but address the issue before seeking coverage from another company.

I only received written notice three weeks before the cancellation date – not a lot of time. I spent a few days pondering my course of action. I waffled from possible solution to possible solution. I could solve the core issue by applying new siding; or, I could knock the whole thing down. Replacing the shed was on my long-term plan; I just hadn't gotten around to it. It wasn't merely my slacker nature holding me back, but the thought of ponying the 1500 bucks or so I estimated the entire shed-replacement project would cost.

Digging this little trench around three walls took hours thanks to hitting either a tree root or brick fragment with every scoop of the shovel.
I decided to side over the problem. It would take less time, and, as I said, time was in short supply. I spent a day on preparation. I had to dig out a trench around three sides where, over the years, dirt had shifted and covered the bottom six inches of three walls. I also removed the metal strips that tied the corners of the current siding together. In the course of that, I discovered that parts of the walls were so termite eaten, that there was nothing much holding the thing together other than the current siding. In fact, over vast swaths of the shed, there was nothing to which to fasten the new siding.

Busy, but well-fed termites did a job on a couple of the walls.
 Dammit! I had to shift gears and demolish the thing after all.

When I first considered re-siding, I called one of the vendors that brings me test cars to see if they had a pickup truck that I could use for my home-improvement store runs. Nothing was currently available, so I reconciled myself to renting a pickup from Home Depot. Once I decided to tear down rather than re-side, I sort of forgot about the truck request. 


As I got ready to start the demolition, a $65,000 2015 Sierra Denali 2500 4WD Crew Cab with Duramax Turbo Diesel roared into my driveway, blocking the view of the houses across the road. The first thing I did was gather up all the stuff I stored in the shed like my weed whacker, garden tools and assorted yard-keeping paraphernalia and loaded it into the truck. I drove it up to a buddy's, who has a huge garage-like shed, and dumped the stuff off.

I returned home and began the tear down in earnest. My strategy was to take down the two strongest walls in the hope the rest of the shed would tumble in the direction of the missing walls. The shed sat in a corner of my lot about two feet from the neighbor's chain-link fence on one side and an overgrown area behind it on another side. I needed it to fall away from those sides.

When I launched into this project, I didn't see this as a huge undertaking. It was just a shed for the love of God!

Here're words you won't often hear out of me: Boy, was I wrong!

Despite sections of it being nearly rotted away, this thing was built like it had to withstand the allied naval shelling at Normandy. Removing the two target walls required two five-hour days and enough cussing to make a merchant marine blush. 


I pushed on the remaining walls and the shed weaved back and forth a bit, but basically remained stubbornly sturdy. I wandered around in circles debating with myself on how best to bring the thing down. Suddenly my eyes fell on the GMC in the car port. It's a monster of a truck with its 6.6-liter turbo diesel cranking out 375 horsepower and a whopping 765 lb-ft of stump-pulling torque. 


Redesigned for this year, the Sierra is updated and improved in every respect. Denali is the top-of-the-line trim, and is loaded. The cabin is nothing short of gorgeous with enough USB ports and power outlets – including a 110V household outlet – to keep a squad of NSA snoopers connected. To features such as leather seating, power-adjustable pedals, dual-zone automatic climate control and rearview camera, Denali trim adds a power sliding rear window with defogger, navigation system, front/rear park assist, spray bedliner, power-folding outboard mirrors and a lockable tailgate.

This thing sounds like a locomotive as you chug up the road. I suspect as the Sierra's massive grille fills the rearview mirror of some pokey sedan Bogarting the left fast lane of I-85, the driver of the offending car is uber motivated to get the hell out of the way. It is a brute.

As I looked at the Sierra at rest in my car port, I had an “ah-ha” moment: Why not put that nearly 18,000 pounds of pulling capacity to good use?

I cast aside my pry bar and 12-pound hammer, jumped behind the GMC's wheel and ground my way to Home Depot where I spent $20 for a 16-foot tow strap and a heavy-duty 1/2-inch eye bolt. Pulling the GMC into the back yard, I drilled a hole in one of the roof rafters, attached the eye bolt and ran the tow strap from the eye hook to one of the GMC's front tow hooks. Climbing up into the cab, I threw the transmission into reverse. 


The shed came crashing forward, but because the force of the pull tore the rafter completely out of the shed, it still remained partially upright. Drat!

I then drilled a hole down through the roof itself, reinserted the eye bolt and jumped back into the truck. Throwing the shift lever into reverse I goosed the accelerator and roof crashed to the ground with a satisfying thump. 

Gotcha!
With my goal that day being to bring the shed down. I retired the field of battle, heading inside to shower and do some work on one of the several paying assignments I had piling up.


It required four more four-to-six-hour days to finish tearing up the rest of the structure. The roof was the only really solid element and was a bear to dismantle. That required a full day in itself. Breaking up the two back walls required another full day. Pulling up what was left of the flooring and joists yet another day. 

Not sure if this is much of a bargain....

I spent $30 on a Waste Management Bagster to load up the bigger pieces: windows, door and large roof sections. It will cost me another $130 to have it hauled away. I haven't had time to research just how good a deal that is. Not much of one I suspect.

Filling up the Bagster and stacking the remaining lumber took another day. I still have some longer pieces I'll have to cut in two to put out for bulk pickup by the county; so the job isn't quite finished.

What remains to be disposed of.
I've already secured new insurance with Liberty Mutual. So, that is off my plate – at least for the time being.

I have no clue how I would have managed to bring that shed down without the GMC. I'm sure I would have figured out something, but it would have been much more time consuming and probably dangerous.

Now, all I have to worry about is erecting a new shed. Oh boy....


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