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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingFebruary 20 - February 26, 2019

Relocation The Hard Way

by Jim "Buck" Sorrenti

William Josler founded Sabil & Sons, based in White River Junction, Vermont, in 1980. He is now retired, but still hands-on. Sons Douglas, VP/service manager, and Wayne, parts manager, are co-owners of the company and handle the day-to-day operations.

On Nov. 15, 2017, Sabil & Sons were called to assist in moving a house in Woodstock, Vermont. Bill, Doug, lead recovery operator Timothy Keener, operator-in-training Travis Gault and one additional trainee, Wayne's son Zach, went to the site.

"We worked closely with the general contractor and Messier House Moving & Construction Inc. out of East Montpelier, Vermont," Doug said. "The Messier brothers, Jason and Norm, are also a family-run operation like ours. The rigging process consisted of multiple trips up to the site the week before the move. We worked with Jason and Norm to coordinate and try and wrap our minds around what we were about to commit to."

This was not a small structure. The house dimensions were 60' x 32', weighing in at 140 tons, including porches and two fire places. The power unit/guide vehicle was a 1972 AM General 10-ton with a Cummins V-8 power plant and 18-speed trans, 6x6 wheel drive, with Mack 75,000 rears.

"We used the smaller units in our fleet," Doug said, "a 2005 Kenworth T800/Jerr-Dan 25-ton and a 2016 Kenworth T880/35-ton. We also used our 2000 Kenworth T800/NRC rotator and a 1987 Mack R-600 to help hold recovery units in the hill."

The crew ran out single lines from both Jerr-Dan recovery units hooked into 1" leads off of the 10-ton military 6x6 guide vehicle. Next they positioned the NRC rotator and the Mack R-600 in front of the twin Jerr-Dans and ran cables out to them for stability.

"Loading our cables, checking several times to ensure all connections were tight, we started to pull 300 feet or so to the top," said Doug. "As we did not have that amount of cable on the truck winches, we knew there would be a second pull.

"Using over 300 feet of 1-1/2" cable, we established a safety net of sorts. Running the cable through to the rear-most beam of the carriage and sheave blocks, back up the opposite side to a D850 crawler bulldozer and a dead man."

They had to unhook and reset the tension on the cables and started the pull again. Partially through the last pull, they found that the house jacks were bottoming out.

"Two-hundred-and-fifty 6x6 blocks had to be put in front of the 6x6 guide vehicle to raise the front end to relieve the jacks," Doug said. "Once the blocks were in place, we continued to pull uphill to the top without any further adjustments.

"We unhooked and stowed all equipment. The house still (needed) to be brought down a hill across power lines and a marsh area, then up another 20-percent grade to its final resting spot on the new foundation. Total travel, about 1/2 mile."

"It was an amazing day," Doug said. "Amazing crew we have; thank you to all involved."

Photo credit: Time-lapse images of the house being towed up the hill were done by Evan Kay, Climb High Productions (

Editor's Note: Stayed tuned for the complete story on this mobile home in an upcoming issue of American Towman Magazine.

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim "Buck" Sorrenti at; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!
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