Thursday, May 25, 2017

Some assembly required...

Inspired by Storing Your Emergency Supplies by Peter Grant, the Bayou Renaissance Man, and needing some shelving for my basement in the worst way imaginable, I ordered three sets from Amazon.  Here's a review of the good and the bad.

Although I've never met the man, I like Peter Grant, so when Peter wrote that he bought some shelving and didn't add any warnings about not doing what I did or stepping in a gopher hole and breaking your ankle in three places, figuratively speaking, I ordered the same items.  Here's what I found.

Light Duty Plastic Shelving
I ordered two sets of Sandusky Lee PS362472-5B Plastic Shelving, 36" Width x 72" Height x 24" Depth, Black.

The good news is that in this case, you get what you pay for.  The shelves are rated for a maximum load of 150 pounds per shelf, which is quite a bit.  The unit is very easy to assemble, requires no tools for assembly, and being made of plastic it can't corrode.  It's so easy to assemble even I can put it together without a conniption fit.  For the price, you can't beat it.

The bad news here is the design.  The unit is inherently unstable; it needs one or more cross pieces, and it doesn't have them.  Thus, it wobbles and will tip over.  If you put anything heavy on the top shelf, you'll increase the instability and it's only a matter of time before someone (rug rats, stupid playful dog, idiot house guest, klutz of a wife, or slightly inebriated blogger) bumps into this Tower of Babylon and brings the whole works down in a heap. The fix for this is to put something very heavy on the bottom shelf, and save the light stuff for the top shelves.

The design is such that you can't easily get to anything stored on the bottom two shelves.  If that's not a problem for you, you're in better shape than I am, which isn't hard to believe.  Just remember that getting that whatever-it-is off the bottom shelf is not easy.  It's a major pain the rump, as in hard work.  Then you have to remember that when you do empty the bottom shelf, the unit as a whole becomes unstable and is very likely to tip over.

The shelves are plastic, so they'll sag in the middle.  If that bothers you, don't buy this unit.  Buy something else.  But if it doesn't bother you, then you could do a whole lot worse for yourself than this unit here.

I also ordered a heavy duty set of shelves.  This set has a load limit of 4,000 pounds, which is a bit of overkill, but so what?  The price was right.  Just what I'd put on, say, the middle shelf that would even come close to that much weight is beyond me, but there it is.
Heavy Duty Steel Shelves
Pictured above is the catalog shot for the Edsal URWM184872BK Black Steel Storage Rack, 5 Adjustable Shelves, 4000 lb. Capacity, 72" Height x 48" Width x 18" Depth.

Now, think a minute - because I didn't.  Anything rated at 4000 pound capacity is going to be heavier than a baby elephant when it arrives on your front porch all boxed up.  You, or in this case busted up old me, is going to have to move the box inside.  That's six or eight feet of distance, up a step and through the doorway without busting anything up.

The first set of Edsal shelves that were shipped to me got as far as Columbus, when some underpaid lackey noticed that the packaging had failed in a spectacular fashion and the freight was damaged.  So back to the shipper it went.  I learned all this by tracking the package through Amazon.  After the package was returned, I waited a couple days to see what Amazon would do, and nothing happened.  Having no phone number to call and talk to warm-wear, I logged in and opened a chat window.  I got past the robo-chat and found a person who told me I could either have a replacement or my money back.  I chose a replacement, and Amazon shipped it via red hot expedited freight at no charge to me.  I found the box on my front porch Sunday morning; it was scheduled for Monday.

The thing weighs well over a hundred pounds and it has no handles on it.  Worse, the cardboard is slippery and impossible to get a grip on.  I consider the situation.  This is my bride, and I've got to somehow get her across the threshold without damage to her or the house.  Nice, huh?

I carefully wrestle the monster inside, then take a look at what I've got - or gotten myself into.  If I had to wrestle this beast, you can bet the folks at FedEx had the same problems, and not all those freight handlers are gorillas.

Box in the Foyer

Possible Shipping Damage

A Little the Worse for Shipping
The box is beaten up pretty good, but it turned out that the contents are okay, which is a big relief to me.  I unpacked in the foyer and took the beast down to the basement a few pieces at a time.

As an aside to those of you who thought that I wouldn't think of unpacking the box upstairs and moving it downstairs one piece at a time, and who were looking forward to reading all about how I braced myself with a shot of bourbon, then tried sliding the box down the stairs, lost control of it, and how it hit the cat food bin and sent the cat food pellets to all points of the compass, and how I sprained my wrist and am typing all this one handed - I'm not sorry to disappoint you.  Some of us, we do get a little wiser as we get older.

The first thing that should have tipped me off were the warning labels.  I found four of these in prominent locations throughout the box.

Proceed at Your Own Risk

Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200
This would seem to indicate that there is a fairly good chance that there may have been a few contentions between consumer, product, and assembly of same, which resulted in a good deal of dissidence involving the consumer, the retailer, and the manufacturer.  I, of course, ignored the whole business.

The shelves themselves are particle board, and so are very heavy and subject to the usual problems you'll have with particle board - it's susceptible to water.  The unit is stable despite the lack of a cross piece or two, which it really should have.  The real problem is assembly.

Particle Board Shelves - Zeus Supervises

Posts and Supports

You'll need a rubber mallet to assemble this unit, and I'm not exaggerating.  If you're working by yourself, you'll also need the patience of Job.  If you're working with someone (like offspring or wife), make sure you don't yell at them when you lose your temper.  It isn't their fault; it's the engineering staff that designed this monster.

The shelving fits together with a series of fixed rivet pins and corresponding holes (photo above) in the vertical supports.  You slide the pieces together and tap them down tightly with the rubber mallet. The problem comes right after you assemble the bottom half.  The vertical supports (ones with the holes) are not one single piece the way they should be; they come in two pieces, which, in theory, can be joined end-to-end and held in place with the horizontal supports.  It turns out that like many things in life this is easier said than done.  Working alone, you assemble the bottom half without a problem.  Then you wonder why, since this is so easy, they would include all those warning labels.  Next, you have to get two vertical pieces in place on top of the bottom half, and then carefully-carefully, without disturbing anything, get the other two vertical pieces aligned correctly (almost impossible, but not quite), and then tap everything together with the rubber mallet - which makes the whole business fall apart. 

Once the verticals are assembled, you have to assemble the top shelf to keep them from falling apart on their own - which they have a nasty tendency to do.

I finally got the thing together, and while it's sturdy (so far) and the materials are good, the assembly is a job I wouldn't wish on anyone.

Fully assembled, I'd rate this unit four and a half stars out of five.  If in included cross pieces for stability and single piece vertical supports, I'd cheerfully give it five stars out of five.  The unit should come with a warning label up front - before you buy this thing, know that it's a real bitch to put together, and you need a rubber mallet, patience, and help.  The help can be unskilled but must have a thick skin.

And that's the latest.


Sdv1949 said...

We stocked our basement with mid-70s to late 80s Sears heavy duty steel shelves by haunting estate sales. Already assembled, average cost $10 each and two of them will fit into the back of a Ford Explorer.

CWMartin said...

Closest I got to that right now: Laurie bought some "wire basket" storage cubes that were "stackable" when connected by the little plastic "connecter" circles. After Laurie had enough of their Kung-Fu grip, I said let me have a go. Long story short, the baskets are now held together with plastic ties and the circular "connecters" are keeping company with whatever else currently inhabits my bedroom trash can.

Mad Jack said...

Sdv1949: Wish I'd thought of that. Well, estate sale season is starting, so I'll go looking. I can still use another set of shelves.

CW: I've seen those so-called stackable wire basket cubes, and you're right. They sort of work and sort of don't, with the emphasis on the latter.