About Those Great Things

Archimedes lever
Leveraging the World

Yes: Yard ramps are among our finer inventions. To get there . . . this week, we take a page from and pay homage to McCoy Fields, our trusted friend and official Yard Ramp Guy licensee.

McCoy proudly declares his belief in three essentials: Family. Country. And Great Things. We especially admire his list of those Great Things, which he calls “history’s finest inventions”—The Lever, The Pulley, The Wheel, The Ramp, and The Pile.

The Lever

The word itself stems from the Latin levis—“light” (not heavy). Archimedes first wrote of the lever in the 3rd century BC, declaring: “Give me a place to stand, and I will move the Earth.” It’s a simple machine—a beam that can pivot and move heavy materials by exerting relatively small pressure on one end of the beam. As in: a lever provides leverage. Anthropologists speculate that the ancient Egyptians used levers to move many tons of stone.

The Pulley

The pulley employs a rope that runs over a wheel. Attach a hook to one end, secure it to what you want to move, and then pull and position the other end of the rope: as with the lever, you have the ability to lift and reposition a weight in a way that would be unlikely or impossible with a person using muscle alone.

The Wheel

We’ve been using this round thing for a long, long time. The oldest wheel yet discovered dates back more than 5,000 years. Connect wheels to an axle, or axles, build a platform on top of that, and you have the ability to move your load small or great distances with reduced strain. Think of a wheelbarrow loaded with brick, a horse and buggy, a family vacation in the car…and, yes a portable loading dock rolled into position at your bay, helping to offload inventory. Which leads us to…

The Ramp

McCoy describes the ramp like this: “Brilliant as a concept. Exquisite in overall simplicity. Superb in functionality. Essential to the growth of civilization.” We agree. And if he’s romanticizing the notion of an inclined plane just a bit, we have absolutely no problem with that.

We’ve used the ramp since prehistoric days. The ancient Greeks, da Vinci, and Galileo studied its value. As with the lever and the pulley, the ramp is designed to ease the movement of something from one point to another.

These are all part of what Renaissance thinkers referred to as simple machines—elementary, essential inventions that, yes, have helped advance civilization. And yes: we’re honored to be part of that rich history. Which, um, leads us to…

The Pile

With all due respect to McCoy Fields, we can only imagine he’s included the pile in his list of Great Things because he keeps a messy man cave…and the pile (as in: tossing his stuff into a corner) gives him—if not his wife—a sense of order.



Okay, McCoy Fields . . . we’re not inventing this:

Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.Dave Barry