Ogden City parks employee rigs new sandbagging equipment
OGDEN — Ingenuity is alive and well in Ogden’s Parks and Cemetery Division in the face of a major natural threat.
With rivers in and around Ogden rising as a result snowmelt and the prospect of needing large quantities of sandbags fast to head off flooding in the city, Jacob Chadwick — structural maintenance supervisor for the city’s Parks and Cemetery Division — had an idea last month.
“I was up one night thinking about it and I was like, ‘I know we can make something that would automatically fill sandbags.'” he said. “I was sitting there running through all of the challenges in my head.”
He said that as the idea came together in his head, he was starting to lose sleep.
“When it came into my head, I wasn’t going to get any sleep unless we tried it,” he said. “That’s what I told the guys when I came into work the next day, I said we’re going to try this today. … I said, ‘We don’t have a whole lot going. We’re going to try this. It’s either going to work or it’s going to fail, but I’m going to sleep tonight.'”
As the concept was brainstormed that day, Chadwick said unorthodox parts started to come together to form the new piece of equipment — a derelict park merry-go-round, an old truck axle, a frame from a diesel exhaust fluid tank, old bearings and a post-hole digger helped to build the device with minimal new material purchases.
“A lot of it was just recycling stuff and repurposing,” Parks and Cemetery Division Manager Monte Stewart said.
Several sandbags can be loaded onto individual pipes and spun around to a point where sand drops down from a hopper, filling the bag to a near perfect amount before it then drops down to a table at the end to be taken away and tied up by a separate worker.
The impromptu sandbagger took only about three days to put together — and as with so many new concepts, it wasn’t perfect at first.
“They had done the volume math on the pipe and it filled the pipe,” Stewart said. “But then it filled the sandbags maybe too full.”
“Where we made our mistake was we made our measurement from the bottom of the pipe to (the top),” Chadwick said. “Well, it actually fills it to the table.”
To rectify this, two-by-fours were added to each of the pipes to cut down on the total volume of sand.
Chadwick said part of the idea was to be able to use the equipment both at the public works shop and out in the field.
“I was thinking, ‘Keep it portable,’ in case we have to go out and do it somewhere, so we kind of kept it small,” he said. “You can disassemble in probably not even 10 minutes and reassemble it in about the same time.”
Stewart said the contraption requires about three people to run it and additional personnel to sufficiently tie and ready the sandbags.
Chadwick said in testing it took 20 minutes to fill 80 sandbags and that he feels this number will only improve as workers and volunteers get used to the equipment.
He’s confident that the sandbagger will be able to stand up to the rigors of actually having to fill bags on a large scale.
“It’s heavy duty,” he said. “I always kind of hope for the best, plan for the worst. Obviously, with the snow, it was like, ‘We’re going to need sandbags and a way to fill them.'”
Next up, Chadwick said the department is going to paint the new piece of equipment and come up with a name for it.