So what did we really learn about wine racks and earthquakes from Will It Shake?
Behind the Scenes on the Set of Will It Shake? Wine Rack Episode
Engineer Andy warned us before hand, “If you value your wine, I’d secure it.” How’d he know the rack would fall?
If it was that obvious wouldn’t every wine rack in the great wine loving state of California already be strapped to the walls?
So I was skeptical.
In a small and brief earthquake simulation, the wine bottles shook against the sides of the rack, and the rack shook against the wall, but nothing fell. The magnitude was low enough that we all feel those kinds of earthquakes every month in California. I worried we’d have to scrap the shoot.
But in the next test, we cranked the virtual earthquake up a bit. Even though it was still not as long as a real 7.5 would be and before the shaking really got going, the wine rack came down in one whole piece.
As the wine rack fell, wine bottles shot out, smashing into the ground and then into each other. Broken glass and “red wine” were everywhere.
The estimated magnitude of the earthquake simulation was 7.5, but that does not even come close to being as long as a real 7.5 magnitude earthquake would be. If Paul let the shake table go for the full minute a 7.5 earthquake would take, all that spilled wine and broken glass would have ended up all over the laboratory.
As it was, the clean up was really hazardous. A few of our crew were Totally Unprepared, and couldn’t help clean up the broken glass because they weren’t wearing closed toe shoes and didn’t have work gloves. I blame the line producer. Oh wait, that’s me!
We scooped and shoveled and swept and mopped up all the extra slippery glass and the water mixed with glass chards. The clean up took longer than it took to build the wall and bottle all that fake wine. It took a LONG time, and we were in a controlled laboratory environment. Imagine trying to clean this up in your dining room.
After all, it didn’t take a whole lot of shaking to get the wine rack to fall over. The wine rack on the left, just standing against the wall full of wine, is a lot like ones you see in homes, stores, and restaurants. You see them everywhere. Now look to see how many of them are secured to the wall.
Now think about the wine rack in the corner of your dining room where your toddler rides her tricycle around in circles. Or the wine rack in your favorite brasserie (that’s French for restaurant) next to your favorite seat by the bar. You too could be Fred, the Totally Unprepared Wine Loving Crash Test Dummy.
So why didn’t the other wine rack fall on Jennifer, the Prepared Wine Loving Crash Test Dummy?
Our first step in wine-focused earthquake preparedness was to take a set of earthquake furniture straps and strap the rack to the wall. The best lesson we learned in this test was that things that are attached of the structure of your house shake less. All those beams and girders that keep your house in one piece can be put to good use securing your furniture . Make your wine rack part of the house structure with two straps, a set of screws and a stud finder. The stud finder helps you find the stud (not our engineer!) which is a vertical structural support in your house right behind that thin layer of plasterboard.
Then, if you want to keep individual bottles from falling you’ve got two options. The first are wine leashes. These little doodads are nothing more than thumbtacks and metal rings. The thumbtack goes in the front of your wine rack and the metal ring goes around the neck of the bottle to keep the bottle from heading too far out if it shakes loose. The other option is to use museum putty. It’s slightly tacky stuff that doesn’t dry out and keeps thing stuck to other things. It’s like gum under your desk, but not gross. We put a dab on the front side of the wine rack where the wine bottle rests and those bottles stayed stuck. The only down side is if you’re a serious wine aficionado (that’s French for “fan”) you’ll have to unstick the bottles before you turn them. Kind of a minor inconvenience if your wine is that valuable to you.