What is this? Found in old bar kitchen.

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Joined Apr 25, 2017
We are in the process of building a kitchen on an overgrown lot that had a restaurant / bar on it until the building collapsed in 2010-ish. We have been working on clearing the old slab so the grease trap can be inspected and we found this...thing.

It is metal (steel I think) and quite securely fastened to the slab. We tried to pry it up with the rake and shovel and it does not move at all. The one side may be hinged, but we're not sure. It is about 3 ft long and stands 4inches high.

We will be back out there this weekend and I am going to take some water and a scrub brush to see if it has any markings.

In the meantime - any ideas?
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Looks like the thing (I don't know what it's called) that keeps an equipment firmly on the floor.
 
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I didn't watch the X-Files the first time around and am doing the binge thing to catch up to the revival season.
Anyways if I were you I would have a Priest out there to splash some holy water around before proceeding....
IMO anyways.

mimi
 
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fatcook fatcook , i haven't a clue as that what that is. It may not be fully expose. Scares the hell out of me that you were trying to pry it off. Having done demolition for family businesses as a d, I learned the hard way. Clean it up, the best you can. CLR isn't bad. If you can identify that there is an orifice that may be some sort of hold down for it. STOP. Gather 100 cash and have a professional come in to make sure there is no pressure under it. I'm not sold on equipment hold down. It looks beefy. Unless they planned on hiring disgruntled employees to come to work every day with a sledge hammer. I know gas and those things are a pain to deal with, but if there is some sort of waste removal under it, prying it off can have monthly or yearly aftereffects with odors. Just sayin. Course that looks like poured metal not forged. If it's got a dimension like 3X5" never mind. I keep telling my wife the internet is getting useless, try goggling that pic and take a look at the results.:>)
 
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Agreed. It could be a bracket for attaching a handle or hook which would be used to remove the cover of an old grease trap. Does the location seem to suggest anything like that? Any seams in the concrete to suggest a cover? Then again it could just be a hold down for something but the absence of any bolts means it was placed when the concrete was originally poured adding credence to the cover theory. I would do some detective work to try and figure out what was there before. Clean everything up real good with a broom and maybe a pressure washer so that you can see the concrete clearly.
 
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Looks like the thing (I don't know what it's called) that keeps an equipment firmly on the floor.

Something like that did pop into my head - one of my early kitchen jobs involved helping run the dishwasher and that thing was a beast, but it doesn't seem right for that. I think it has the same red paint hat the slab does on it.

I didn't watch the X-Files the first time around and am doing the binge thing to catch up to the revival season.
Anyways if I were you I would have a Priest out there to splash some holy water around before proceeding....
IMO anyways.
mimi

You know, I do find myself thinking about through the day and wondering what it is and if there is anything under it - isn't that how some scary movies start...? Hmm, maybe I should see if they have holy water on Amazon.

fatcook fatcook , i haven't a clue as that what that is. It may not be fully expose. Scares the hell out of me that you were trying to pry it off. Having done demolition for family businesses as a d, I learned the hard way. Clean it up, the best you can. CLR isn't bad. If you can identify that there is an orifice that may be some sort of hold down for it. STOP. Gather 100 cash and have a professional come in to make sure there is no pressure under it. I'm not sold on equipment hold down. It looks beefy. Unless they planned on hiring disgruntled employees to come to work every day with a sledge hammer. I know gas and those things are a pain to deal with, but if there is some sort of waste removal under it, prying it off can have monthly or yearly aftereffects with odors. Just sayin. Course that looks like poured metal not forged. If it's got a dimension like 3X5" never mind. I keep telling my wife the internet is getting useless, try goggling that pic and take a look at the results.:>)

We didn't pry too hard - not out of common sense (oops) but because the shovel is a grain type shovel, so a pretty thin blade and I didn't want to break it. I know it isn't piped gas since we checked for our use (no lines out that far, we will be having a tank).

It isn't likely to be a buried tank with our high water table, but I will take the picture to the local utility and see if they recognize it. We definitely don't want unforeseen (or smelly) consequences.

No seams in the concrete, it is very smooth. I did do google image search and it came back with boulder pictures, the dirt made it think it has texture. I plan to clean it completely Saturday, take better pictures, and try again.

Agreed. It could be a bracket for attaching a handle or hook which would be used to remove the cover of an old grease trap. Does the location seem to suggest anything like that? Any seams in the concrete to suggest a cover? Then again it could just be a hold down for something but the absence of any bolts means it was placed when the concrete was originally poured adding credence to the cover theory. I would do some detective work to try and figure out what was there before. Clean everything up real good with a broom and maybe a pressure washer so that you can see the concrete clearly.

It could possibly be the cover of the inside port/access of the grease trap (?) - the actual trap is about 6 ft from the slab and it has a lid for servicing. This is rural and has septic rather than sewer so the grease trap is external and quite large.

Thank for the ideas and cautions - I will update everyone once we figure it out!
 
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Was the building originally built for a restaurant? If not, it could be something left over from whatever business was there before. The four semi circles look to me like where the legs of a machine would sit, the center and top hole would be for downward knobs to lock the device in place, all meant to keep a heavy machine from vibrating out of place. The machine could have been a lathe or machining tool with a spinning arbor, used under great pressure, hence the need for the brace.
If you can remove it successfully and clean it up, it might be a great conversation piece to hang in the front the business.
 
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Was the building originally built for a restaurant?

I am fairly certain it was always a restaurant and / or bar, but have a call in to the previous owner to be sure. DH thinks it looks like pieces taken off a tractor. We will definitely do something with it other than toss it.
 
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It is starting to look like it may be the inside clean-out access or hook up for the grease trap - maybe. Not sure since we've never been involved in this part of putting a kitchen together before, and things vary so much from place to place. It does seem like it would be hard to open and a major trip hazard in a kitchen, the adjacent floor and it were painted red as a warning.

Of course, we don't know where in the building it was either, it was an odd shaped building. This thing could have been in the office or another part of the business. We've had a handful of people stop by to ask if we are going to re-open the place, it was a popular local hangout (sorry people, we are not). I am hoping one of them may be able to walk us through the layout.

I was able to clean it off a little more and there is a hatch of sorts under it. IMG_4653.jpg

This is looking from the thing to the grease trap. The cinder block is over the grease trap opening, the plug wandered off when the lot was abandoned. IMG_4663.jpg
 
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Could it be the base for a gasoline pump? Now that it is all cleaned up, that's the first thing I thought of. You could be sitting on an old gas tank so watch your sparks. Your city engineering department or city hall, tax assessor, or power company could tell you what was there before. You could also check old copies of the local newspaper for advertisements and stories about that location.
I was thinking it might have been the other way around. The grease trap might have been inside and this thing was outside.
 
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Looks like some kind of valve. The square stem in the center would be turned with a removable T handle. What's interesting also is the 6 allen screws around it and also the larger one recessed on the right. Wonder about a propane shut off. I wouldn't touch it without some informed answers and advice. Local plumber and building inspector should be the ones to look at it.
 
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We've had a handful of people stop by to ask if we are going to re-open the place, it was a popular local hangout (sorry people, we are not).

I thought you said you were building a kitchen...but it's not going to be a restaurant? o_O
 
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A better look tells me it's probably made of steel. Put a magnet to it. If it sticks, it's steel. You say the location is pretty remote for utilities. I'm thinking it's access to oil for heating and such. Is the large area around it cylindrical? Are you positive that's in cement. Take a magnet to the area. Some of those large oil storage tops unscrewed. The way that piece is designed, it looks like it would accept some sort of pry bar to be pulled sideways. Just guessing, but have been playing with steel for years. Look closely around the piece. See if it is welded. It could also have cement over the steel. I'm pretty sure the orifices and such were to burp the tank before opening.
 
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Would you mind telling us where this property is located? (State, town.) That might give us a hint because different parts of the country do different things. With your permission I could post your pictures over on a professional electricians board. These guys are from all over and have seen a lot of things.
 
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ghvLewG.jpg

Mystery solved! It's the remains of a car lift. Apparently in another life that was a repair shop.
Credit goes to my friends over at the electrical forum.
 
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You next question will probably be how to remove it. Because it does contain hydraulic oil there are environmental concerns so I wonder what you bought yourself into. I would contact a oil tank removal company to do the soil testing and removal. I found this video that shows the procedure.
 
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I apologize for the long delay in getting back here. It's been a busy week both working and making some headway with the permitting process, not sure which is more exhausting.

Could it be the base for a gasoline pump? ... The grease trap might have been inside and this thing was outside.

All of the pictures we can find of the site when the restaurant was there show that this was inside the building. We have a computer savvy friend doing more research on it's history.

Your city engineering department or city hall, tax assessor, or power company could tell you what was there before.

I really wish this was the case. The site is outside of any municipality so falls only under the county /state. They haven't a clue.

As an example - We contacted the state health department before we bought the land to be sure we could use the grease trap / septic for our purpose. They had us hire someone to do an inspection, the company wrote a letter that everything was operational and gave capacity. State said that's fine.

Later, we begin the zoning process (county) and we have to get a letter from the state saying we can operate a kitchen on the lot in relation to the grease trap / septic. The state says - huh we don't have any records for the lot, hire the septic company to draw an 'as built' diagram and apply for a permit and we will come out and inspect it. We do that (and in the process of doing some clearing, find this thing) and they give us the permit - with the caveat that we move the grease trap. They don't know how the previous place was able to use the grease trap where it is, it is way too far from the septic (yet it was approved by this same department to be open as a restaurant...). The inspector had no idea what the thing was either.

We have pictures circulating and a pool started. You all have squares.

Wonder about a propane shut off. I wouldn't touch it without some informed answers and advice. Local plumber and building inspector should be the ones to look at it.

We have some requests in for people to look at it, including a propane company. Tanks are all above ground here, but we are not taking any chances.

I thought you said you were building a kitchen...but it's not going to be a restaurant? o_O

Production kitchen, catering, commissary :)

A better look tells me it's probably made of steel. .... Is the large area around it cylindrical? Are you positive that's in cement. Take a magnet to the area. Some of those large oil storage tops unscrewed. The way that piece is designed, it looks like it would accept some sort of pry bar to be pulled sideways. Just guessing, but have been playing with steel for years. Look closely around the piece. See if it is welded. It could also have cement over the steel. I'm pretty sure the orifices and such were to burp the tank before opening.

It is definitely metal and the slab is definitely concrete, no hollow sounds, no metal underneath. It is square and part of the building slab, not separate. No heating oil here. There is a local company that can do ground penetrating radar if it comes to it (we would rather not spend the $$ if possible).

Would you mind telling us where this property is located? (State, town.) That might give us a hint because different parts of the country do different things. With your permission I could post your pictures over on a professional electricians board. These guys are from all over and have seen a lot of things.

This is a good thought and I have been remiss in adding that - we are in South Carolina. Please share the picture anywhere someone may know what it is.

Damn i was going to say that

Me too!

Mystery solved! It's the remains of a car lift. Apparently in another life that was a repair shop.
Credit goes to my friends over at the electrical forum.

You know, my folks were in town this weekend and got the 'tour' and that is my dad's guess, he has some experience from the service. He'll be tickled if he wins the pool.


Thank you again everyone, your ideas are very helpful!
 
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No, it's definitely what's left of a car lift. Look at the drawings and the shape of the center piece attached to the ram. Notice the curves at the ends that allowed the arms to be adjusted. Notice the pattern of the bolts or holes around the center. Exactly like what you have. Besides, it's the only thing that makes sense. The square "stem" in the center is a plug that you remove to add oil. It's been a long time since I saw a single post hydraulic lift around here, repair shops all use two post mechanical lifts that can be moved if necessary. So your pictures didn't ring a bell.

And since this was a car lift it suggests a gas station, so I would be even more concerned about the possibility of old tanks that were never removed and remediated and waste oil that was never properly disposed of. That lift is a big red flag because it suggests that someone tried to get away with not removing an environmental hazard properly, or it's so old that there were no environmental requirements at the time. This can be even worse because of all the years that the hazardous materials had to leak and seep into the ground.

If it were me I would either walk away from it or insist the seller provide environmental testing and certification before I gave him a penny. This can be the kind of thing where you buy a piece of property cheap and wind up holding the bag for millions in environmental clean it up costs. Which, incidentally can go on for decades.
 

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