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Timber!

As I mentioned previously, I’m working on improvements to my office space at home. The painting is all done, and I’ve booked installation of a hardwood floor for Monday. This means I have to (fairly quickly) remove everything from the floor of the room. That meant disassembling several computers, reorganizing wiring, and figuring out a way to keep my network switches/routers connected without anything actually resting on the floor. I thought I had it all worked out until disaster struck…

I installed a wall mounted shelf rated for fifty pounds of weight and moved my gear, including my server and UPS, from a rack onto the shelf. Right away, I bet you are saying “aren’t UPSes notoriously heavy?” Yes, they are. But I picked it up, said to myself “Self, that weighs no more than 30 pounds, and the rest of the stuff is under 20, so I’m golden!” I shouldn’t listen to myself.

At about 1:00 am, as I was getting ready for bed, there was a horrendous crash from the direction of my office. The shelf had splintered in several places, and all that expensive gear had plummeted to the floor. Since it wasn’t enough to have a server, several switches/routers, a firewall, and a UPS fall five feet to the floor, the collapsing gear also hit the nearly empty rack nearby and knocked an LCD monitor to the ground as well. Irene woke up and came running down as I surveyed the disaster area. I took a deep breath, told her to go back to bed, and started putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Amazingly, nothing other than the shelf was seriously damaged. In fact the network was still up and running and the server still serving web pages, even as its guts were spread upon the floor. The chassis of the server split open and plastic bits snapped off, but a little work with some pliers and dislodging a few broken case parts from near the motherboard, and I was able to reassemble it more or less as it was. The UPS was sitting the the floor, upright and still happily providing power- I swear it had an expression on its LCD panel not unlike one of our cats after they fall off the counter or something similar: an expression that says “I meant to do that.”

The routers and switches didn’t seem to notice their fall at all- solid state for the win! The LCD display seems perfectly functional as well, and really it was the most fragile part of the whole collapse. The nice, new paint is damaged where the shelf banged into it, but it is just scratches and gouges. Once the floor is done I’ll have to retouch the baseboard area anyway, and the impact damage is small enough I’d consider it touch up work as well. Its a little frustrating after all that work, but it could certainly have been much worse.

I had a second shelf that I’ve reattached to the wall, and I’ve placed nothing but the critical network gear on it. The UPS and server I’ve placed in another room for now, attached to my Time Capsule/Airport Express switch. It’s not ideal: the UPS normally provides power to all my network gear as well, but I’m not putting that thing back on the shelf.   

According the the APC website, my model of UPS (Back UPS XS 1300) is supposed to be 13.5 KG, so about 30 pounds as I guessed. The shelf was firmly affixed to studs at either end (and the screws didn’t budge at all): what gave way was the wood itself, splitting at the critical support point. Either the shelf specifications are wrong, or my guesstimate regarding the weight of all the other stuff was out significantly. Either way, I’m not going to press my luck.

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