A convoy of extreme truckers conquered snow, 250 traffic lights, and 1,614 service wires to move six gigantic one-million-bottle capacity fermenting vats from a German ship to the Molson Coors Brewery in Toronto. That's a lot of Keystone Light.
When Molson Coors ordered six industrial-sized vats from a German manufacturer last year they were left with the challenge of getting them the approximately 30 miles from the port to their brewery in winter. For the move they turned to Challenger Motor Freight, who estimated the move would take four days. It took 11 days.
The technical obstacles for moving the vats were enormous. Each vat weights 100,000 pounds, is 27 feet in diameter, 24 feet wide, and 150 feet long. When saddled to a tractor-trailer, the rigs take up two lanes and are too tall for most traffic lights and electrical/cable/phone wires. And there are six of them.
Starting on January 7th, the vats were unloaded and transported onto the trucks for a carefully mapped journey. They'd have to avoid major roads because they moved at a snail's pace and couldn't fit under freeway overpasses. So as not to clog traffic they'd be moving from 9 pm to 6 am.
A convoy of approximately 40 vehicles (the trucks, support vehicles, police escorts, utlity trucks) started their slow journey from the port. When they arrived at their first turn they had to get city workers to remove a sign so they could make it, explains photographer Joseph De Buglio.
It's cold. It's snowing and it's almost 4am. This is the first major tight corner for these Vats. This was a very tight squeeze. Here is a city worker removing signs from the pole. When the turn was made, there was only a few inches to spare.
This was the first major challenging turn on the trip. As you can see from the tire marks on the road, the truck had to make more than one attempt to make this turn. - Joseph De Buglio
Complicating matters along the way was severe wind and snow, which made it difficult for the crews to move the wires. According to De Buglio, "These guys were up in the bucket for over an hour. In some locations, crews were up in these buckets for 3-to-4 hours at the beginning of the move."
Moving the Phone and utility wires was tough and, to make sure they got them high enough, a truck with a pole attached would have to drive under each one before the trucks would be allowed to pass through. Power was routinely cut to nearby neighborhoods to avoid any dangerous incidents.
Each day they'd have to move the vats and equipment to the side of the road, park them, and send the workers to get food and sleep so they'd be ready for the next evening's commute.
They were delayed by weather on January 11th, and not just because it made it hard for them to do their job. According to tweets form Challenger Motor Freight head Frank DeVries, they had to "ensure snow cleaning crews and first responders have unobstructed access to all roadways."
This type of trip would normally carried out in the summer when the weather's more predictable, but according to The Toronto Star, Molson wanted the extra 20% capacity now so they'd have enough beer for "patio season."
After 11 slow days of transporting the beers at an average of three miles a day the enormous vats finally arrived, intact, on January 17th. DeVries considers the move a success, despite the slow speed, telling The Toronto Star "Nothing got damaged and nobody got hurt."
Molson, for their part, is looking forward to installing the vats.
"We're going to be able to install them, and put them up and start brewing beer in the summer, invite the city of Toronto over for a pint of beer," said Cathy Noonan, a Molson Coors spokeswoman.
Images (c) Copyright JW Vraets and Louis Tam, used with permission. Additional photos JBD Photos CC 2.0