Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Thief Resistant - New Design Criteria

For the last several Tuesdays, the group sponsoring the maker's space (SLACerspace is the name... acronym stands for something) have been meeting for beers.  And discussing some business.  The space will be officially opening this Saturday with a morning garage sale to get rid of excess clutter, followed by fabrication of work benches.  I appreciated the chance to bounce some ideas I had off the group.

Unfortunately, there is a design requirement I hadn't even considered in my plans before.  I have to make this piece theft-proof during and after the construction phase. I learned that apparently thieves case the warehouse area every few hours and occasionally try to break into the unit.  And closer to home, on Sunday, my road bike was stolen out of my garage due to my own forgetfulness when I left the garage door open.  That was another harsh reminder.  So my idea of building things on the flat bed truck and leaving them there is not a good idea.  There is a high likelihood they will get stolen right off the back of the truck if they require under 20 minutes of wrenching to remove.

This basically means I need to weld all the structure onto the truck.  I don't yet have good welding skills, and was planning to do everything with bolted joints, since I'm good at engineering those so they'll work.  But now, I need to weld stuff.  This is going to be a new challenge.  I was just this weekend looking at scaffolding on Craigslist because I thought that would be an ideal way to get the 2nd story platform onto the truck and keep the weight down by getting aluminum tubes.  It would sure weigh a lot less than a wooden deck supported by 4 x4s or even steel frame bolted onto the truck bed.  Here was my idea for the scaffolding, a 5' x 7' x 5' collection :

Scaffolding would be too easy to remove by thieves.  Theft prevention is a new complication and I'll have to factor it into the design.  Perhaps I should bolt everything together, but then tack weld the joints to make them permanent.  If anything needs to some apart, a quick hit with a grinder may be all it takes.  For now, I'm gonna rent some storage space inside the SLACerspace to keep the metal beams and sheets of plywood.  If I can get the metal frame onto the truck in a semi-permanent way, maybe I will still be able to bolt things to it without fear of theft.  Maybe it's just the obvious loose things which will get stolen.  Anyway, it's pretty frustrating.  And after losing my nice bike this weekend, I really don't want another financial setback by losing the building materials I haven't even purchased yet.

Oh, and I am trying to get the truck insured now.  As predicted, personal auto insurance will not insure a commercial truck.  So Allstate is going to have to write me a commercial policy.  Hopefully they won't rip me off too badly.  So far we're on day two and I don't have a quote or policy, so this is apparently not a no-brainer.  My current thought is to keep registration and insurance through Burning Man, and then put it into proper fenced storage, register it non-op with the DMV and cancel the insurance.  Then about 9 months later, fix it up a little over the summer and take it to Burning Man for a 2nd time.  Then it's over, the thing gets dismantled and the truck will be sold.  It's a temporary thing... as is life.

I did get my airplane ticket to Phoenix today to pick up the truck.  Using 12,500 American Airlines miles, and paying $85 for "last minute ticket issuance fees", I'm able to get out there on Saturday morning.  The guy from the auction house offered to pick me up at the airport, so I'm gonna take him up on the offer rather than pay for a 20 minute cab ride.  This guy and his company already has my money for the truck, so hopefully my trust was well placed.  I did check the BBB on them before wiring the money, so I do think they're legit.