Every job has its ‘perks’. And being asked to help Andrew Hanson adjudicate at the weigh-in of the pumpkin competition of the Royal Paddocks Allotment Society in Hampton Wick is definitely a ‘perk’. It might even be an honour.
Normally we put the pumpkins into a large ‘IKEA’ bag and lift up the bag with two luggage scales – each capable of weighing 50 kg. We then add the results together to find the total weight.
This year we were faced with an unprecedented challenge which we met with a combination of new technology and ingenuity. The new technology was some 100 kg parcel scales with a remote readout. These were fantastic and very easy to use.
But we knew we had a problem when the first large pumpkin weighed in at 24 kg. Then the next two ‘biggies’ weighed in at 87 kg and 95 kg respectively. All this made it obvious that the ‘Great White Pumpkin’ was going to weigh more than 100 kg. We tried it, and sure enough, the scales overloaded and switched themselves off. So how could we weigh the ‘Great White’?
The solution was to combine the new parcel scales with the old luggage scales and team of expert lifters. We first manouevered ‘Moby kin’ onto the luggage scales in its large bag. We then slid an IKEA bag underneath and completed a belt around the beast’s underbelly with a camera strap. We then attached the luggage scale to the strap.
A carefully synchronised procedure was then implemented:
- First the luggage scale was switched on, zeroed, and left unstressed on the top of the beast.
- Then the expert lifting team raised ‘Moby kin’ off the scales allowing them to be zeroed
- The team then lowered the weight onto the scales until the weight read approximately 90 kg.
- Then two people gradually took the residual weight of the pumpkin with the luggage scales.
- Then the two scale were read simultaneously, and the sum was our estimate for the weight of the pumpkin.
The uncertainty of measurement was larger than for the other pumpkins – probably around 2 kg – but it was still pretty clear which pumpkin had won. And then we all had some tea and cake. All in all a very pleasant Sunday lunchtime.