The Big Squeeze



Bee looked happy as she sat proudly on the drive this morning sporting the mud badges of the previous day’s excitement. Our quiet corner of Wales may not be as exhilarating as her previous life in the Amazon jungle and the Bolivian deserts, but Bee had proved that she was still up to the job. We on the other hand were weary, aching and slow to tackle the great box that filled the view from our office window, but, as the morning fog lifted and the sun considered making an appearance for the second day in a row we could procrastinate no longer. . .

We began by attacking the crate with a crow bar. As the packing boards fell away a great bubble wrapped lump of steel revealed itself. We had hoped that the roaster would seem smaller without its box, but de-crated it appeared even more ridiculous. We had measured, re-measured and measured again. We knew it would be tight, but now, sitting proud on its plinth it seemed that a month of Sundays would be required to get our new machine through that there door.

Butterflies churned in my stomach. Were we completely out of our depth this time? As my imagination struggled to see through the nerves to a solution, Greg, always a practical and unflappable problem solver, took the bull by the horns. The first job was to unwrap the beast and remove everything that could be unbolted. With the roaster minus cooling tray, hopper and control unit the doorway was still too small. Our options now included, taking the roaster apart piece by piece, removing the concrete threshold that we had recently re-built and tilting the roaster under the door lintel or, removing the wooden lintel and hoping that the roof stayed put.

Old stone barns are chunky well made things. They can cope with the loss of a timber or two. Our roastery proved to be no exception. The five inch thick wooden block above the door was not a supporting lintel after all, purely part of the door frame. The roastery could live without it for an hour or two. We set about freeing the embedded timber from the surrounding stone work.

Soon we had a gap theoretically large enough to take a 15 kilo coffee roaster. That left figuring out how to lower the roaster to the level of the roastery floor and how to transfer it from its plinth across a half meter gap and in through the roaster door. (I thought our first roaster had been heavy, but she was a feather weight compared to this). After rummaging in the other barn Greg quickly returned with the answer – a set of 70 cm long scaffolding poles and a 2m long solid steel bar, hammered flat at one end. There are times when really appreciate my Husband’s habit of collecting seemingly useless odds and ends!

With the steel bar, lifting the roaster to remove the wooden blocks underneath was a breeze. We could also use the technique to fit the scaffolding poles beneath the roaster as rollers and then it was just a case of bridging the gap and rolling her straight through the door. With less than a hair’s breadth to spare, she gracefully slid through. Who needs a forklift truck and an industrial unit with roller shutter doors?