This first project is two years old now, but I’ve had plenty of time to test my work with this one. It’s our mailbox, and it’s unique.
In the winter of 2008 some drunken teenage drivers slid around the corner by our house and ran down our old, traditional crappy tin mailbox on a wooden post. I always hated that box and like everything else surrounding me, I had plans to redesign. It’s one of those things that gets put past the back burner and off the stove entirely, since it was still working and not an urgent priority. That all changed one night that winter.
Forced to repair the damage in order to get our mail, I decided to go ahead with my own design rather than take the simple way out and put up another 4×4 post with a crappy box on top. I was reluctant because I knew how much work was ahead of me, not to mention the cost of materials. The plans were already in the works, so I picked up where I left off and finished the design. Then I went to Metal Mart.
Click on the images for a larger view
My design had to incorporate all the US Postal Service requirements for mailboxes, plus I had to consider the consequences should some poor bastard decide it would be fun to run down my new unit. The box (steel tube) itself is made out of 10″ OD .25″ wall steel pipe/tube. It ways about 65 pounds by itself and is the perfect height for a car’s windshield. I wasn’t so concerned with vandals (they get what they deserve), but I was a little worried about some unfortunate driver who may veer off the road accidentally and end up with my metal box in their lap. There would be damage, and I don’t need a lawsuit. I build things to last, but I certainly don’t want to kill anyone!
I planned and sketched and figured and engineered all the possibilities until I finally had a good solution. The box hangs suspended from the support above by a horizontal pivoting connection. Should anyone hit it, it will swing, so it’s not a solidly mounted weight that could kill. Other safety features fail-safes are built into the base itself. The frame is made out of 3×1 steel tubing and is 4′ square rotated 45º so it could be mounted on a point. The bottom point mounts to the base assembly which is sitting on a 4′ x 6″OD steel tube sunk into the ground and set in concrete.
A lot of thought went into the base assembly. I didn’t want to cause injury to anyone, and I also didn’t want to rebuild this entire metal sculpture in the event some other jackass thinks it may be fun to run it down. On top of the tube planted firmly in the ground, I mounted a rear wheel hub from a small front wheel drive car. Since it’s mounted vertically, anything connected to it will rotate 360º. To connect the bottom of the mailbox frame to the base hub, I built in another little safety feature in the form of a second horizontal pivot held in place by a sheer pin that will break away if hit by a car or something. The entire mailbox would either spin around in a circle if it was just clipped by someone’s car mirror, but it would rotate and tip over on it’s side right at the base if a car ran right into it. If the perpetrator wasn’t putting serious effort into trying to destroy the unit, I would simply have to stand it back up and slip a new sheer pin into the base if it did get knocked down.
The large open space in the center of the frame is used for seasonal decorations. During the summer, we hook a basket filled with flowers and vines to dress up the space. At Christmas, we have an oversized Christmas Tree Ornament that hangs in the center and lights are strung around the frame.
At the base of the mailbox, Cindy planted a flower garden with Ivy and other similar plants in the center that climb the frame of the mailbox, while the outer part of the garden has bright flowers and colors to match the mailbox and the plants in the hanging planter.
We’ve been adding to the garden quite a bit since these photos were taken and will post updates this summer when things begin to bloom. Also, the one element I never finished is the house number. I will be fabricating that this summer as well. Photos to come!