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I Scored!

Or at least I thought I did.

My company throws away a lot of stuff.  A lot of that is perfectly good equipment.  It may no longer be current generation equipment and it may cost too much for the company to bother keeping up but that doesn't mean it is worthless.

The building where I work has been going through major renovations for some years now.  As various departments moved out, moved in, or moved around they changed things within the building.  This particular building has seen a lot of different parts of the company operate within it.  At one time my company used to manufacture things in this building.  Now we subcontract that out.  However, the building was designed with small scale manufacturing in mind, and even after we got out of the business of making things we still had in storage a lot of the equipment needed to do so.  Until recently that is.

As other parts of the company grew, they needed space to grow into.  The under utilized manufacturing space in our building was a natural choice to do that growing into.  And so it came to pass that the stuff which was being stored in the nooks and crannies of this building began to be surplussed.  At first it was reallocated throughout the rest of the company.  Then the remainder was sold off.  What was left was either donated away or, failing that, simply thrown out.  For a couple of years there was a large trash bin parked just outside of our shipping and receiving area on the ground floor.  A bin big enough to drive my truck into if I had the mind to have done so.  It was usually so full of this "trash" though that driving my truck inside wouldn't have been possible.

Most of this trash was legitimate trash and suitable only for the junk pile or recycling centers.  Some of it however, was still worthwhile.  Some of it was also just plain amazing.  For instance, we used to have some built-in wall display cases in our front lobby.  When the company decided to change the look of the lobby these cases went away.  So too did the floor to ceiling glass doors.  Four foot by seven foot tempered glass panels.  They were carried, at great effort, down to the trash bin and placed there with great care lest they break and the jagged pieces become a liability for the company.  Well, I now have one of those huge sheets of glass.  It is going to become a table top to my dining room table.  A table which itself came from one of our company's labs.  A laminated ash workbench top.  It looks like a big "butcher block" wood table top and with just a bit of refinishing effort on my part should be a smashing piece of furniture for my house.

With stuff like this going through that bin I kept my eye out for other items of value.  That is when I saw these two four drawer file cabinets.  "Wow!"  I thought, "they are throwing those away!"  I have a pickup truck and it was a simple matter for me to tip these two puppies into it one day after work.  I looked them over before I did so and found them to be a bit dented and somewhat rusted.  However, it was nothing a good steel wool brushing and a couple of coats of rust proof paint wouldn't fix.  Or so I thought.  So, tip them over and take them home I did.


The humble beginings


Here they are.  A black and a beige file cabinet.  The wire spools around them also came from the trash bin at work.  They make good patio furniture.  Especially once I refinish them and patch up the holes so the black widow spiders can't crawl out from inside and bite me as I have my feet up on the spools.
Yeah, just a few spots of rust! A little bit of steel wool brushing and it'll be as good as new!
OK, so the rust was a bit more extensive than I thought.  Still, I thought, I can deal with this.  It is only rust after all, right?

A typical drawer before... ... and one after a good brushing and washing
After I had used steel wool and a steel bristled brush to take down the rust to the bare metal on both the cabinets and the drawers, I then put the whole lot of them out onto my lawn and washed them down in the sun.

Drawers drying on the healthy green grass Acid burns?  Nope, not here officer!  Just excessive localized sunspot activity!
It was at about this time that I overheard some of the guys down in Shipping and Receiving talking about the two file cabinets which had mysteriously disappeared from next to the trash bin.  I listened intently as they might have thought they were stolen.  No such luck.  Instead I overheard them talking with some amazement that anyone would have taken those two things.  After all, they said, the reason that the file cabinets were thrown out was not simply because they had become rusted but rather because acid had spilled on them and it had corroded right through them.  Acid!?!?  Oh great!

I had taken home two acid covered pieces of industrial waste!  Lifted them with my bare hands and brought them to my home!  What would the EPA say to this?

Well, it turns out that the acid spill had occurred some time in the past and that the cabinets had already been washed down once already.  That had removed the worst of the acid but by no means all.  I found this out after I washed the cabinets down on my front lawn.  The picture on the right above here is what happened to the lawn after that.  In each spot where I had place a cabinet or drawer the grass beneath it got a good stiff dose of diluted acid wash.  Made for a real pretty splotch effect on the newly sodded green grass.  However, that is one nice thing about a natural lawn - it grows back!  I am pleased to say that now, a year into this process, the grass has grown back nicely and you can not tell where the acid runoff had killed it dead.  Lucky me.

Black Cabinets Black Drawers
Here is the end result.  Nothing fancy and not terribly impressive.  Just a couple of file cabinets.  I had thought to give these to the San Diego Lesbian & Gay Center but by the time I had finally gotten done working on them, the Center no longer had the need for such equipment.  So, I donated them to Auntie Helen's instead.  It was an interesting multimonth long effort on my part and a good learning experience to boot.


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In the meantime, I hope you have enjoyed your "stay" at this site.  Check back again to see what new images I have added.  Until then, stay well, play hard, play safe, and have fun!


This page was last updated on: 04 June 2005  

Unless otherwise noted, all photographs and images on this page are copyright protected property of Madoc Pope.  If you would like to use any of my images you must contact me first before you do so.



In the meantime, I hope you have enjoyed your "stay" at this site.  Check back again to see what new images I have added.  Until then, stay well, play hard, play safe, and have fun!