Oh, the sacrifices we make for this hobby of ours! My curse and blessing is a second-floor listening room I call the Music Vault, where I do the listening for all of the reviews you’ve read in my column, “The World’s Best Audio System.” Equipment doesn’t just magically appear there, though I wish it did. 

We all know that, generally, the better the audio component, the heavier it is. The problem of moving heavy gear into the Music Vault is compounded by the stairwell leading up into the room, which includes a small landing with a 90° left-hand turn -- and maneuvering really heavy gear up the stairs and around the bend is an absolute nightmare. Let’s see . . . I’ve hauled Wilson Audio Specialties X-2 Alexandria speakers (600 pounds each) and a WATCH Dog (almost 300 pounds), JL Audio’s Gotham g213 (almost 400 pounds), and Rockport’s Altairs (515 pounds each) and their modular but even more mammoth Arrakis (900 pounds each). And there have been many small-fry products, like the EgglestonWorks Andra (215 pounds) and the PBN Audio Montana Sammy (250 pounds) -- around here, we don’t consider anything “heavy” until it tops 300 pounds. For anything over 500 pounds, we hire outside help. 

But, as Harry Callahan once said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” When I decided on the speaker for TWBAS 2012, it became obvious to me that something had to change. I can’t yet tell you that speaker’s name, but I can say that it’s a one-piece model, it’s extremely heavy, and it’s taller than the Rockport Technologies Altair. To get a pair of them up into the Vault, I had to figure out something new. 

The job 

Luckily, I have a very handy neighbor, Tom Dugan, an engineer who worked for IBM and is now a general contractor in the construction business. I described my dilemma to Tom, gave him a rough idea of a solution I’d come up with, and he figured out the details. Actually, it was Tom who made my idea feasible at all, coming up with some clever solutions to an unusual problem. 

In a nutshell, heavy equipment can now be moved into the Music Vault not up the stairs and around the bend, but through the floor, lifted by a forklift, to be staged in my garage. Here’s a photo tour of the work, as completed over two weekends: 

Image 1

Demolition begins . . .

Image 2

The rough opening

Image 3

The opening will be made in two sections. This is the small one.

Image 4

Lowering the large section -- note the 6” spacing of the floor joists.

Image 5

The removal complete, the steel receptacles are installed.

Image 6

Hoping the new steel-reinforced floor panel will fit . . .

Image 7

The square steel tubing, lining up perfectly with the receptacles. These tubes bear the load.

Image 8

The smaller section of the floor panel, which accommodates the forklift carriage, will drop into place beside the main panel.

What’s left to do?

The carpet has to be repaired and the room made cosmetically whole again. I’ll need access to the steel receptacles so that when the panel is raised by the forklift, the steel tubing can be removed and the panel lowered into the garage. The load will then be moved onto the panel, the panel raised into the room, the steel tubing replaced, and the load removed. Sounds simple, eh? 

TWBAS 2012 is coming, and I plan to be ready. Bring it. 

. . . Jeff Fritz

Note: Special thanks to Tom Dugan, who expertly engineered and completed the work on this project, as well as to Martin Wazielewski and Ron Antonucci for their hard work and skill in seeing it through.