Massive beer vat convoy heading to Toronto
One of the most logistically complex moving jobs in Ontario’s history has begun as six giant beer vats are taken from Hamilton harbour to a Molson Coors brewery in northwest Toronto.
"Today is the big day. It is finally here!" Sarah Sheehan, spokesperson for Challenger Motor Freight, said Friday about what her company is calling the Big Move.
The Cambridge, Ont.-based company began its work on the project in July, with events starting to accelerate in late October, she said.
The vats, which resemble jumbo jet engines, are 45 metres long, eight metres high and more than seven metres wide. They can hold about six million bottles of beer.
They were made in Germany and shipped to Ontario by boat, where they arrived in late November. The vats are loaded on trucks and ready to be moved.
If the vats were of a more manageable size, it would be about a 66-kilometre drive up the QEW to the brewery, located at 1 Carlingview Ct. near Pearson International Airport and Highway 401.
However, due to the sheer size of the load, the total distance travelled will be about 108 kilometres. The move will be spread over five nights, with the vats scheduled to arrive at the brewery at about 6 a.m. on Wednesday.
Sheehan said the convoy can't pass under any overpasses because of the size of the vats. That was one reason why the vats were delivered to Hamilton’s harbour rather than to Toronto's, which is much closer to the destination.
"There's no way to get to the north side (of the city) without going under something," she said.
The convoy will only be on the move between the hours of 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. to avoid traffic.
There will be about 25 to 30 people involved from Challenger. The route marshal will lead the convoy and truck drivers will have a "tillerman" assisting them.
The tillermen will steer the back ends of the trailers in especially tight areas, Sheehan said.
A total of 40 vehicles are involved, with 20 of those being police cruisers.
The convoy is about one kilometre in length. Police are needed to control traffic when the vats move through intersections.
Because the size of the cargo, service wires will have to be raised -- or cut, in some cases. This will lead to localized service outages that should last about 30 minutes, but could be up to two hours.
Sheehan said some of the work of raising wires has already been done by utility companies.
An estimated 250 traffic lights will have to be dismantled at numerous intersections to allow the convoy to get through.
For that reason, the convoy includes a mechanic and a welder.
A food truck will also be travelling with the convoy.