My shop: Plant organization pt.4

ms_hummer_smallUpdate 6/26/2015 -This entry is deprecated. I’ve bought a larger building off site and no longer work in the facility described here. I will update this post soon.

As any rational person would imagine, a post about factory organization opens with a picture of a humming bird nest and a bit of Scottish poetry. From To A Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest, with the Plough:

Small, crafty, cowering, timorous little beast,
O, what a panic is in your little breast!
You need not start away so hasty
With hurrying scamper!
I would be loath to run and chase you,
With murdering plough-staff.

I’m truly sorry man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
And justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
And fellow mortal!

Remember when I said Monday that “The best-laid plans of mice and men/ Go oft awry”? I wasn’t kidding. The latter is a line from the above poem and couldn’t be more apropos. You can click on her for a larger photo.

My shop entrance is enviable; it has a 15 by 10 foot high roll up door with an automatic opener that actually works -one of the few things around here that does. Path to the door is clear sailing. Or rather it was until Ms. Humming moved in. She’s sitting on three of the tiniest eggs you’ve never seen (smaller but rounder than a jelly bean). You can’t tell from the angle of the photo below but were you to look at the door straight on, Ms. Humming’s nest is midway through it, six feet off the ground. Meaning, my 15 by 10 foot door is -for all intents and purposes- 7 by 6 feet. I knew I should have trimmed that branch last February.

shop_nest_proximity I know that Man proposes and God disposes but I have the truck parked to prevent the worst of possible mishaps because I’m going to be a nervous wreck until fledging season is over. I’ve never watched humming birds fledge. I hope I will have only good news to report when it’s all said and done. If you’re curious, the nest is comparable to the size of an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper wadded into a ball.

shop_floor_planAt right is the basic layout of the shop. When setting up yours, some things are immutable usually based on budget. The constraints of this place are:
Size: 30′ x 75′, that’s good enough. It’s broken into three rooms, also fine.
Power: The mains is at the lower left corner by the main entrance. I don’t see any need to change it. Outlets are too few, are in the wrong places and lack the load capacity needed for given equipment (220/110). The typical solution for most garment manufacturers is feed rail which is suspended overhead. In this place, feed rail should go under the lights. Feed rail is going to have to wait for awhile. The layout includes circuits we recently installed.
Lighting: is lousy. It consists of 8 foot shop lights mounted to the ceiling (12 ft high). There are a total of eight units; six in the front and one in each back room. The maximum wattage is 75 per bulb with 2 per unit. Not enough light at all. And besides, the ballasts in 6 of the 8 units are toast. I’m dreading replacing those like you wouldn’t believe.
Entrances: There’s a door out front (lower left) and an overhead door in good shape. The back left room had a smaller overhead door opening to the back pasture (whatever for?) that wasn’t salvageable. I had that framed in and installed a standard 36″ door. It’s half glass so it lets in some light. Clearance to all entrances is good with the previously noted exception of Ms. Humming’s family planning.

kathleen_shop_smallAt right I’ve shown how the shop is set up for now (click on the image for a larger version).

This layout required new circuits in the office (back left) for the computer and CAD system accouterments. An additional two circuits were needed along the left wall 0f the main room. One of the sewing machines (the Adler) takes 220/20A -which is totally silly; Eric tested the machine at top speed and it only drew 5 +/- amps but that’s German engineering for you.That’s not a complaint either. I prefer over to under engineering so what’s a separate circuit among friends?

The pressing station midway through the length of the left wall in the main room needs its own circuit. The boiler runs on 110 but it draws every bit of it. Better to be safe than sorry.

Lighting is a serious problem. For now we’ll have to make do with augmentation, clusters of four foot shop lights I had in Las Cruces. It’s clunky looking, not an elegant solution by any means.

There is still room to spare (note the grey box marked “lounge area”) and I don’t have anything to furnish it with but will work on that. One thing I’ve needed in a work space is a place to sit comfortably to eat, read and take notes. It gets old doing that at your work desk. I don’t plan on adding more than one or two machines in the future (nod to Paul’s comment) so I should have room.

The desk in the back room doesn’t exist yet. It’ll be framed and built into the wall. I’m working on that now. None of my stuff is gorgeous, I’m the farthest thing from a finish carpenter. But it will be sturdy with a plywood top and a layer of melamine on top of that for smoothness.

Feel free to kick the tires of this plan around. I’d sincerely appreciate it!

Plant organization
Plant organization pt.2
Plant organization pt.3
Commercial vs Industrial space

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  1. Paul says:

    Kathleen, is the branch small enough that a rope could be tied to it to pull it up higher into the tree and not disturbing the humming bird too much?

  2. Paul says:

    I don’t know if you have thought of this but the wiring throughout the building could be 220. Where ever you need 110, you use one of the hot wires and the neutral wire to give you 110. The two hot wires are different colors so if you wanted to balance the load, use X number of devices on one part of the 220 and the other equal number of devices on the remaining hot wire. I wired a garage like this once and had 110 and 220 outlets next to each other.

  3. Robyn says:

    I love the bird’s nest! Sorry it’s in your way. I think it’s a special find. I have never seen a hummingbird nest. Or a hummingbird sitting still.

  4. Donna S says:

    Mama hummers can be really vicious. I had one that dive bombed me everytime I went out the back door. Same little critter cornered my neighbor and kept her in the corner for 15 min. I could always find the nests in my citrus trees by their attacks. They are also very vocal and make a huge noise to ward of us humans.

  5. ClaireOKC says:

    Oh these little things are truly marvels of nature. I love ’em. When I lived in the country, would have tons of them in the evening buzzing (more like dive-bombing with incredible accuracy) around the feeders….they will fledge about end of July (maybe sooner in your part of the country) and have plenty of sugar-water ready for them. (When starting 1:1 water/sugar ratio, then after they know it’s there 2:1 water/sugar ratio to keep ’em coming!) I used red feeders, but never put any coloring in the water/sugar mix as I never needed it to attract the birds, and I figured the nectar doesn’t have it (only the flowers have color).

    Can not WAIT to see the progress here…and of course we all expect pictures!

    Love your plant – actually am green with how organized you are and the room you have. Am also green you have a historical treasure – yeah, I know, it’s more work, but in NM you have so much more history than in my neck of the woods!

  6. Eric H says:


    Yes it *could* be done for 240, but the runs are long enough that it could get quite expensive, and besides it would be time consuming. I think changes are in store for the long term, but right now we just wanted functional.

  7. Eric H says:

    Also, yes that branch *could* be tied up, but it would change the angle of the dangle and possibly dump the contents out.

  8. patsijean says:

    I have a couple of hummers right not. Could be females as them seem to arrive sooner. The sugar water is ready and one of my three feeders is up and running. I have the kind of feeder that allows them to rest while feeding rather than expend additional energy while doing so. They eat bugs, actually, and Tennessee has plenty of those. The sugar ratio that I have found on hummingbird sites on the internet say to boil 4 cups of water and add 1 cup cane sugar, and allow to cool. Do not add any kind of food coloring as it will make the hummers sick. We seem to get quite a few Ruby Throated Hummingbirds here as the summer goes on and my neighbors and I have about 6 feeders between us. Never been lucky enough to see the nest or eggs. You are doing exactly as I would do. I would not try to move the branch for fear of disturbing the nest. It will be for only a few weeks. What a treat. Lucky you.

  9. JustGail says:

    I can think of far worse reasons to be unable to use the door! I’ve never seen a hummingbird nest either. I have heard them though, it took a few minutes to realize that yes, all that racket was from that tiny bird.

    Outlets too few, wrong places. I think that’s a universal issue with all buildings. We built a house 7 years ago, and I joked about running the industrial continuous power strips around every room. I think I should have. I’m looking forward to seeing the progress on your shop!

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