Soon we'll be Living the Dream, but first: How to move an arcade game cabinet up the stairs?
December 5, 2007 9:03 AM   Subscribe

What is the best way to transport a an arcade game cabinet (Ms. Pac-Man, if you must know) across town and then up the stairs?

My partner likesuchasand and I are going to look at a Ms. Pac-Man arcade game tonight, and we are pretty sure we want it. One of the things I'm most worried about, though, is how we will get it across town (rent a U-Haul? Then how do you strap it securely?) and up the stairs to our second-floor apartment. Without breaking it.

The stairs are your typical apartment complex stairs: poured concrete in a metal sort of frame, with metal edges. Is this even possible? Am I trying to build the pyramids? Does my solution involve blankets, plywood, rope, what?

Assume several strong people, who will be rewarded with much beer. Thank you!
posted by fiercecupcake to Grab Bag (17 answers total)
Uhaul truck and an appliance dolly with wheels on the back and a bunch of moving blankets. With care and helpers it should be a breeze.

posted by dirtdirt at 9:14 AM on December 5, 2007

It should be able to fit in a pick-up or van. Rent a large hand truck like those used to carry refrigerators. It'll have straps and it's just a matter of one person pulling it up the stairs from above while one (or two) push it from below.

When I moved, it took four LARGE moving company dudes to get my home-built cabinet up our narrow stairs and that was with all the insides and control panel removed. Mine was built out of MDF though, which is quite heavy. Your cabinet will (hopefully) be a bit lighter, though it might not be easy or practical to remove the insides.
posted by bondcliff at 9:16 AM on December 5, 2007

Most Uhauls have a have a sort of rack running along the inside of the cab to strap stuff too. What I would do is bring a ton of of old blankets, and lay these down to to put the system on top of, in an upright position. Also wrap the system itself in blankets, at least around the sides. Put it against the side of the cab and use ratcheting straps to really hold it tight against the side of the cab. You can get the ratcheting strap at the Uhaul pickup place probably.

Even with all this done, I would drive there at about five miles an hour and flip the people honking me the bird.

Then, for going up the stairs, you're just going to need brute strength, to lift it, and keep it lifted. Obviously you want to keep to a minimum the number of times you're putting down so you can avoid putting it down too hard. Consider also at the Uhaul place those "forearm" furniture moving straps. They make moving awkward and oversized furniture easier.

Also, make sure the system is not too big for the turns in your stairwell (should be ok, but you never know), and make sure your apartment door is wide enough. These are probably obvious, but just thought I'd throw it in there fore completeness.
posted by poppo at 9:21 AM on December 5, 2007

I've bought several standup arcade games so I'm familiar with this process.

First of all, get a U-Haul trailer if you don't have truck or van. Also, get a big sturdy hand truck with straps on it. That should be enough to get it from where you buy it to your apartment.

As for the stairs, I suggest using a hand cart, moving it up one stair at a time. You also might want to setup some kind of rigging system with ropes to keep the cabinet from tipping over and killing everyone. In my experience I just use a few strong people to handle the weight.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:22 AM on December 5, 2007

My friend attempted the same feat and he told me that they were able to take the cabinet apeart a little bit to remove some of the heavier components before carrying it up stairs. I'm not sure if you can only do that on certain games, but it might be worth looking into because the last thing you want to do is risk dropping it down the stairs.
posted by jenniferwalker at 9:33 AM on December 5, 2007

The handtruck burnmp3s is talking about is made for moving refrigerators. Get it. It will have straps with tensioners built into it and rubber rollers on the back to help you move it up and down stairs.

I don't know exactly how heavy a refrigerator is, compared to a ms. pac-man machine, but it took only took two people (people stronger and stupider than your average human) to move a refrigerator down a single flight of stairs using such a hand truck. (I would recommend more people if the people involved are smarter and/or weaker than your average human.)
posted by clockwork at 9:47 AM on December 5, 2007

I once moved a Buck Hunter game across town in the back of a small pickup. Unless you've got a big uhaul and some good straps I suggest laying it down on some carpets and securing it that way. These things are really top-heavy so if you transport it upright it's going to start swaying and it's just fiberboard so the base may crack and the top might shear right off.
posted by otio at 9:59 AM on December 5, 2007

If you rent a truck, you may be able to rent a hand-truck from the truck rental outfit, as this sort of thing comes up pretty frequently.
posted by Mister_A at 10:01 AM on December 5, 2007

If you have a truck or a van, rent an appliance dolly with straps, as has been suggested (I think I paid $12 to rent one three years ago; any tool and party rental place should have them available).

But if you don't already own a pickup truck, for the same money as a UHaul + dolly + straps + blankets you could just pay someone to move it for you --- safer, easier, and often cheaper. Every city and town has lots of "two guys and a truck" services (and in several places I've seen ads for "two dykes and a truck" businesses, so you can be equal opportunity about this) that advertise on bulletin boards and in the classified ads; if you are having trouble finding one, call around to some appliance repair shops and ask who they recommend. The last time I paid for this, there was a flat-fee of something like $50 for an in-town pick-up and delivery, up to some maximum size and weight; the guys I used were bonded and insured, so in theory if they drop the machine there is some chance of compensation.

I've moved plenty of fridges and washing machines up and down stairs over the years, and honestly at this point in my life I see that $50 as money that is exceedingly well-spent.
posted by Forktine at 10:08 AM on December 5, 2007

Jealous! LOVE Ms. Pacman.
posted by Kangaroo at 10:08 AM on December 5, 2007

You won't be able to significantly lighten the cabinet by dissassembling it, unless the cashbox is full of coins, since the 95% of the interior weight is the monitor, and that's a bitch to pull out.

It's only got a 19" monitor IIRC so the game isn't that hard to manhandle up the stairs on a truck/dolly.

(worked in an arcade for 6 years)
posted by panamax at 10:52 AM on December 5, 2007

I've helped to move a Plinko machine game using a pick-up and a hand truck/dolly all of which were rented from U-Haul. Also, I had to link to this clip from the Seinfeld Frogger episode.
posted by bluefly at 11:07 AM on December 5, 2007

get some of these!
(via core77's gift guide)
posted by kidsleepy at 11:11 AM on December 5, 2007

Seconding the dolly, and going crazy slow, one step at a time, with pauses for rest. Also, for your wtf of the day, linens & things is selling an arcade game. I guess that 'nthings covers a hell of a lot more than I realized. NOV2907 is a discount code that makes it 320.
posted by cashman at 11:26 AM on December 5, 2007

I moved an arcade game that was definitely taller than Ms. Pac-Man in a regular-size minivan with the seats taken out. If you can avoid U-Haul, do so. Three people to move it on an undersized wheeled platform.
posted by user92371 at 1:53 PM on December 5, 2007

nth-ing the appliance dolly.
I've owned/moved many stand-up games and an appliance dolly is de rigeur. If you're going up stairs, have a suckerfriend following ready to spot on a moment's notice. If, by some chance, you lose your grip or get tired, they are the only person who can prevent the game from committing suicide on the fall, potentially taking a wall with it.

If you have to tip the game on its side/back, search carefully for loose coins/parts that decided to turn themselves into inconvenient conductors in the high voltage circuitry.
posted by plinth at 2:20 PM on December 6, 2007

Used an appliance dolly and a couple of big strong man-friends, Ms. Pac-Man made it up the stairs, and there she stands still.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:20 AM on June 18, 2008

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