StorageTek Timberwolf Unload
This page details the tricks I had to go through to unload a StorageTek Timberwolf model 9710 from a truck, all by myself. This was a relatively minor unload, but I felt it was worth mentioning here anyway. Others (the Sun Fire 6800 in particular) were much more serious.
The Timberwolf is a robotic tape changer that holds eight DLT-7000 tape drives and 588 tape cartridges. It is six feet tall, five feet wide, and roughly thirty inches deep. It weighs about 800lbs.
The truck had a ramp (rated at 1000lbs) but no hydraulic lift. I was running out of time to return the truck, so I had to attempt the unload myself. I waited for a few days for some help to be available, but everyone who I would normally tap for this sort of assistance was either sick or out of town. Go figure.
I used a 2" ratchet strap as a safety catch. I looped it in a horizontal "U" shape around the Timberwolf, attaching it to both sides of the truck. I adjusted the length of the "U" to leave me a foot or so of slack, because while I could get the unit moving by myself, I'd not have a prayer of stopping it, even if I could run around in front of it quickly enough. Once I pushed enough of its mass down the ramp a bit, gravity took over, and it was caught by the ratchet strap. I made the "U" long enough to get some meaningful distance out of the first move, but not so long as to allow the Timberwolf to gain any degree of momentum. If it had, it would have torn the supports out of the back of the truck when it caught the ratchet strap.
From this point, the exercise simply consisted of running back and forth between the rear of the unit to straighten its path down the ramp (the rear waggled from side to side a bit) and then back to the other side of the ratchet strap to lower it a notch at a time. I had just enough ratchet strap to lower its first set of wheels to the ground, where both the decreased slope and the friction of the cement mitigated the risk of any buildup of momentum.