Delivering a Kiln, What Could Possibly go Wrong?

I have just finished refurbishing an old 2nd hand kiln for a friend. It’s one that I built 20 years ago and although has suffered some neglect. It is in remarkably good condition. We  delivered it to our friend in some very inclement weather. Fortunately the sleet cleared just before we arrived and the frost and ice was melted by the steady drizzle that set in, so the drive was uneventful. The driveway into the property was a bit wet and mushy after all the rain, so it was a slippery slidey reverse up the wet  grassy driveway and up onto the concrete slab.

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As we are way out into the country side here, there are no facilities to call on. Any sort of assistance would have to come a long way and at great expense. So we are on our own. Two ladies and me.

So, if all goes well, it should only be a matter of lifting the kiln up off the truck and then driving away. What could possibly go wrong?  The kiln should then be able to be gently lowered down into the exact position on the slab. A builder has been commissioned to come along later and build a garden shed over to the top of the kiln in-situ.

I think that I have thought of everything. I have lifting gear, slings, chains, shackles, gloves, pallet truck and crow bar. All the parts to built a tripod and a chain block to do the lifting.

Amazingly, it all goes exactly to plan. The rain stops. I take the wooden poles off the truck and build the tripod, walking each leg inwards towards the centre, raising the chin block to a height, high enough to clear the kiln when it is on the back of the ute.

I manage to position the truck with the kiln on the back, more or less in the correct position on the site. Directly under the centre of the tripod and we are ready to lift.

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This technique only works on soil or gravel. I have learnt from bitter experience that the legs of the tripod tend to slide outwards from the centre as soon as the load is applied, when they are sitting on concrete, or other flat , smooth surface. On soil, then settle in and dig down, locking them firmly in place. My only concern here is that the soil is so saturated, that they may just keep on sinking in. The soil is absolutely saturated here.

I try a slight test of the gear. The chain block takes the weight and the tripod settles in. I lift a little bit more and the ute raises up on its springs. A little bit more and the kiln starts to move a little and swing to one side a fraction as the weight comes off the legs. Finally its hanging free in mid-air. Just as it’s supposed to, success! While I steady the kiln and keep a hand on the lifting chain. The Lovely releases the hand brake and the ute suddenly zooms off….!


We are all a bit surprised at the speed. The slope was sufficient to allow the truck to freewheel away quite fast. Without the engine running, the power assisted braking doesn’t work and Janine had to press very hard on the truck’s brake pedal to bring the ute to a stop. Nothing went wrong, but no matter how much planning you do, there is always something else that you haven’t considered.

We wrap the kiln and I load all the gear back onto the truck just as the rain returns.