View Full Version : Skip (dumpster) diving

10-07-2011, 02:40 PM
At a customers shop the other day and needed some scrap so I went dumpster diving its allowed there, first one some large steel pipe about 3/8" wall 8" next bin stainless plate and tube, next bin wow :eek: a Heinrich lever lock vise missing the knob on the end of the sliding jaw shaft, it wouldn't slide so I took it any ways, got home put some Kroil on it, works like a charm. Looked on Heinrich's web site and found the vise they want over $200.00 for the same one, this one is a horizontal and vertical type, so for the price of a knob I got a sweet vise. If you look on the Heinrich web site its a G M 4. :D

10-07-2011, 02:48 PM
wonder how many of us are avid dumpster divers ? i do it whenever im out, in fact i have a "dumpster diver route" :).

10-07-2011, 03:41 PM
I do it very rarely now. Used to cruise a large machine shop with 4 outside
dumpsters with various scrap inside, but reluctant to drive up and rummage
without permit and they have since moved the dumpsters behind a 6' high
chain link fence. They did that when scrap iron price skyrocketed a couple of
years ago. Found a 9' x 9' x 30' dumpster full of computers, monitors and
printers in the '90s. Salvaged a few things. High school cleaning out its
IT dept. These days with metal theft a big problem it seems prudent not
to do this any more. Too much risk of being classified with the wrong end
of the criminal spectrum. The CC where I took some classes was across the
street from a huge Delphi plant, now closed, that surplussed all sorts of
raw metal to the CC machinist program. They had 3" hex stainless 10' long
in piles behind the shop, 40 or so 1" hex stainless ~10' 1ong and a variety of
other bar stock in tool steels. They had to fence the area because of thievery
and later move the stuff inside.

My best 'dumpster' dive was two Burgmeister DP surplussed by a friends plant.
He said come by Thursday, forklift happened to drop the DP in my pickup enroute
to the dumpster.

10-07-2011, 11:14 PM
just outside the lab in the steelplant i work is a big 20t skip, all sorts of come handys get chucked in, i have a field day there!, so much so that someones painted 'marks office' on the side, i wont get in the skip, thats too dangerous, good way to get injured but i do go fishing with a pole and swichable magnet, an a bit of rope, i'm a firm beleiver in repair and reuse, the natives are learning, a lot of stuff gets dumped outside my office door these days as people have seen me dragging out what they have chucked in!
i dont take it all home btw [just the good bits!] we have a red tag area, i repair it and leave it in that area, usually someone will put it back to use, saves a fortune and keeps me amused.
before i started this they would chuck anything and everything as it was cheaper to replace than fix, stuff like metallurgical microscopes that were ill [focus usually just needed lube!] were talking high end kit, nikon, olympus and so on. drill bits that just needed sharpening, electrical appliances by the ton. [i have to do a PAT test before reintroduction] what a wasteful world
however it does lead to a wealth of freebies, especially the skip outside the central engineering workshop, i think the 5 s thing went too far by about 4 ses

10-07-2011, 11:15 PM
Best time is when college is letting out for the summer. It's amazing what they throw away or don't have oom to take home.

10-07-2011, 11:50 PM
I've always wanted to dive into the dumpsters in back of the local Goodwill store. After donors drop off items, the Goodwill staff takes a lot of it directly to the dumpsters. I suppose they have some idea of what to try to sell, and what to toss out. The problem is, the dumpsters are in direct view of the local Police station, and I suspect Goodwill doesn't want me doing any diving.
It's just as well. I haven't unpacked all of the boxes I bought at the local auctions over 10 years ago.

10-08-2011, 02:45 AM
My father is a Pro class dumpster diver. One day at the Berkeley dump he dragged home an authentic NASA satellite. It was a training model for the Chimp in Space program in the 60s.


He kept it for a decade or so and then sold it to a space museum for $6000.

We don't have many good dumpsters around here but I have found some good items like an really nice leather office chair with the only thing wrong being a worn out swivel bearing.

The worst thing about the hobby is that I sometimes find myself diving in my own dumpster...


John Stevenson
10-08-2011, 07:59 AM
Don't talk to me about dumpster diving, I hold the current world record.

We have these wheelie bins that are collected every week, about 3 foot square and 5 foot high. Household rubbish one week and garden waste second week. Don't matter what you cram into them they are lifted, tilted and emptied by hydraulic arms on the back of the truck, only manual input is dragging them on their wheels from the pavement to the truck.

We have two of the brown garden waste bins which we usually fill every fortnight but this one week either I didn't put them out or they didn't empty them. Inconvenient but at this point I was getting ready for a trip to China and if I had left the bins full Gert would have thrown a wobblie when she couldn't get any more in.

No sweat, manhandle them into the Donald and drive up to the local recycling centre and tip them in the big roll on - roll off dumpsters there.
Now these are dumped on the ground in bays and there are ramps and a walkway at either side so you can tip stuff in so me and small son drag a full, very heavy bin up the ramp where their is a completely empty dumpster waiting

Idea is one hand on the handle, one on the bottom, lift, onto the rim of the dumpster and tip.

Problem was small son not fully in tune with the cosmic forces relevant on this day, so I lifted, rested on the rim and got ready to tip.
Small son lifted, rested and threw the f#~king bin into the skip, problem was my hand was still round the handle.

So what happened was something out of an Abbott and Costello movie with me doing a inverse pirouette and getting dragged over the rim still holding the bin and landing 8 foot down in the bottom of an empty steel dumpster.

Then one of the site gorgers comes over and shouts "Wot you doing in there ?"
Rather obviously I'm trying to get out but painfully as I'd crack two ribs being dragged over the rim.

Didn't help going to China the next day being crammed into the rear of cattle class then finding out that most of the toilets at the show are the Eastern pattern with a hole in the floor.

Not easy trying to stand one legged over a tiger pit with one foot on the door handle [ no locks ] with two cracked ribs.

So please don't talk to me about Dumpster diving .....................

Your Old Dog
10-08-2011, 08:33 AM
"not fully in tune with the cosmic forces relevant on this day"

Great turn of phrase big John! I love it. :D

10-08-2011, 11:08 AM
I suspect John has kindly translated the technical terminology for us colonials: dustbin lorry ==> dumpster truck :D

10-10-2011, 10:56 PM
[QUOTE=John Stevenson]Don't talk to me about dumpster diving, I hold the current world record.

You were lucky it wasnt partly full with rotting garden waste , I can imaging the commentary .

10-11-2011, 10:36 AM
Heaviest "dive" so far--work was discarding a defunct CMM system. I got the base. My wife now has the flattest 3'x4'x8" granite bench in any garden...

10-11-2011, 12:04 PM

I see your pictures but where is your dumpster? :D

10-11-2011, 12:41 PM
Before steel prices soared I would go through the bins at a friends shearing/fab shop.One day he pulled up to hear me in there rummaging about but couldn't see me.He peaked in and we scared the mutal crap out of one another.
When I worked at the hardware store the standing order was to set anything remotely useful on the dock and to let me know then I would pick and choose then toss the rest.
My best dumpster save was 2 Lincoln SP-125s.Both had failures but I made one good machine from the 2 and gave the other away.The last time I talked to the guy it welded fine but the wire was hot all the time.

10-11-2011, 01:09 PM
I love to dumpster dive. Once I found an oil well drill bit so I took it to an oil well supply company the guy looked it up and said, list price is $4500. the most I can pay you is $500. it might not sell for 2 years because it is not a common size used around here. I took the money. I live in a college town at the end of every semester there are tons of things people abandon. I use to collect truck loads of stuff then have a big yard sale and make $700 in one day. But not anymore I am a pack rat and value the floor space in my work shop more than the stuff. I still like to dumpster dive but I am very selective about what I bring home. I collected over 60 bicycles about 5 year ago sold them all on craigslist for $75 to $100 each after fixing them up. The next year I knew which bicycle sell the best and collected only certain ones sold them all too. I got tired of screwing with bikes I still have 15 bikes to fix and sell. I had a lot of fun cutting up bikes and using the parts to build recumbent bikes some bikes I built sold for $2500. each.

10-11-2011, 01:48 PM
I'm not much on dumpster diving, but I do take advantage of "targets of oppourtunity" from time to time.
I think my best was when the gas station/carwash a couple blocks away replaced their car wash unit, The old one was just piled up along side the alley. Checked with the owner and he said help yourself. 4 hydraulic motors, and a couple of hyd. cylinders, 3' of 1 1/12" shafting, w/ 2 pillow blocks - left 2 3ph. motors w/ gear reduction, didn't know better back then.
Other scores - A 2'x3'x3/4" sheet of umhw, a pair of marine bronze hyd. steering cyl., a good Stihl backpack blower engine (040), the plastic housing was damaged by a truck, a 6'+ x 1 1/4" SS propshaft from a boat, and a couple of bronze Jabsco raw water pumps in need of rebuild.

10-11-2011, 02:08 PM
It was amazing what could be found in the maintenance area dumpster in Col. Wmsbg.

They'd apparently send a team of guys in to clean out an unused space somewhere. They's throw out everything. I found a new pair of Channelocks in it once. My helper,Jon,found a bunch of ORIGINAL 18th.C. prints,all framed and ready to hang. They were quite valuable.

They threw away 2 sets of cast iron garrison cannon wheels. A friend of ours,unknown to us,had rescued them and put them in the back of his pickup truck as weights for Winter driving. They allocated $6000.00 dollars for my shop to make wooden patterns,and the foundry to cast new ones in iron. Then,we'd turn them true and bore them out on our big lathe.

It came to light that he had the wheels during a meeting with the supervisor of the foundry. He made the buy them back-at a high price!! I'd have given them back.

Just another example of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing.

10-11-2011, 03:43 PM
one of the more amusing cases of 'dumpster diving' consisted of the recovorey [for the xmas do] of parts of temperature dip probes at the steelplant, these were made by heralious and contained a small length of platinum wire as it was a dip rod for measuing ladle temperature [1450 c up to 2050 c ] well all the old dip rods were broken open and the plats were recovered and put in an old tobacco tin, 6 oz later they wewre taken to a precious metal buyer, then the truble started, platinum is notifiyable in the uk, the police arrived at the steelplant, the CID [crim investigation department!] they had the lot of us down the local nick in handcuffs, theft!
we had to give it back, it was ok to throw it in the landfill but to sell it was theft!, we dont do it anymore!

10-11-2011, 11:45 PM
This is ditch-diving, not dumpster diving, but same anyway. I noticed a rather lengthy piece of pvc water main lying at the bottom of a ditch. Over a month later it was still there, so we talk to the foreman on this water system upgrade project about it. He said if you can get it out of there, it's yours.

So I came up with a plan and we alternately skewed and rolled the thing till it was at the side of the road. More innovative thinking and we had it up in the air at about half bumper height on a pile of 2x4 pieces. Then I backed the van up to it and got the floor partway under one end, with a length of plank under it. Backing up further, it almost loaded itself, but we had to help it the rest of the way in as far as it would go. Doors wouldn't close, so all was tied and it got home. 560 lbs of pvc is what it turned out to be. Laid out flat it would amount to over 60 sq ft of pvc, 1-3/16 thick.

Again, no dumpster involved- near where I once worked was a rack of metal standing outside, abandoned. The nearest thing to an owner was the landlord of the building we rented, who owned the building where this rack was. He basically waved it off to us, so I went there to scout it out. Turns out to be some lengths of hex brass, one of which was 1-1/4 across the flats, some stainless I beam which I couldn't budge, some stainless tubing lengths, and several pieces of various dimension bar and rod stock. I got a full sheet of stainless, which I'm still using though it's nearly gone now, and also a record vice.

My third and last no-dumpster dumpster dive story was at a commercial garage door business. Every door system they removed to replace with new was thrown outside the building. I did ask about taking some of it, and they were happy to see it go. I think I got three working motor-units out of there, of which two haven't found new uses yet, but also some solid 1 inch steel rod, lots of perfectly good track rollers, lots of track with all the hardware, bearings, springs, etc. We got my friends garage door system up and running with parts from that.

Afterwards, the pile disappeared and never re-appeared. One of the guys said something about liability- somebody could get hurt in that pile of junk.

OOh, one more- guy calls me and says there's some test equipment being dumpstered, come and get it before it gets tossed. Upshot of that is that I now have several pieces of older test gear- signal generators, semiconductor test set, rf power meter, power supplies, and a big old Techtronix dual trace scope. The scope is a tube model, using 102 tubes.

John Stevenson
10-12-2011, 11:25 AM
I have 2 gear reduces about 40 RPM each with a 1 HP electric motor, free to a good home, including free USPS shipping, they are in my way and I have no project for them.

Gary if you were closer I'd have them in a heartbeat, especially with the free shipping

Don't suppose this covers shipping to the UK ?

10-12-2011, 03:37 PM
Delta 17" floor standing drill press with a crank up table. HVAC service company had thrown it out because the chuck wouldn't stay on and they had scored up the end of the stub spindle trying. Found a old usable replacement spindle, bought a chuck, less than $100 in it.

10-12-2011, 10:41 PM
Found a like new doctors exam table complete with stirrups. :) Really old and in like new condition. Put it on EvilBay and got $100 for it. Was thinking a Doctor starting out would snag it. Surprised when while pulling out of the driveway, the guy said its going to a strip club. Hadn't thought of that and might have not sold it if I had thought of that. Kept the wife far from the garage till it sold. The looks I got when hauling that home during rush hour were priceless!