New Mailbox Details

A couple of years ago the mailbox of 74 years – well, at least the post was succumbed to the rigors of numerous blizzards and the heavy snow launched from the snow plows. It was rusted and slightly bent when it was dethroned from it’s long time place in Chili. Put there in 1946 I suppose it’s time had come. The town came and put in a untreated 4X4 post with a mailbox on it. I am told they do not have to do that, so it was better than nothing. But it didn’t stay for long. Another snow storm, another snowplow and another trip by the town to replace it. It was working and I was thinking and researching another way to build the mailbox. And then, in the middle of summer, some guy comes by as I am sitting out front and whacks it with his car causing the frail post and box to do somersaults to the middle of the property. Watching his post accident behavior was mind boggling to say the least, I’ll just leave it at that. So I took what was left and put it in the ground until I could speed up my fabrication of the newer, “more robust” version.

Well, I found a big steel one on Facebook marketplace. The guy didn’t want much for it, and it was big enough so that Tony (the mail carrier) could leave more stuff in it. I went to the local metal outlet- SMC Metal (these guys are awesome to work with) where they cut me the appropriate metals I would need. I decided to over engineer the thing so I didn’t have to worry about it again. Thanks to some time as a fabricator and living in the land of salt and brine in the wintertime I had a good idea of what was needed.

The 4×4 piece of steel was extra long so I could cut it to the correct height as the postal standards suggested. I welded a plate on the top of that to use for the connection to the box itself. I took these parts over to Jesse at Line-X of Rochester for a nice weatherproof coating in black along with the box. I then needed numbers. I didn’t like the cheap ones from Home Depot so I had Matt from MSH Custom CNC cut three from 1/8 aluminum. As a first responder it’s important to make them visible. So I took them and covered them in white reflexite giving it contrast and reflectability at night. I also covered the flag in red reflexite. To make them just a little more trick, I spaced them by 3/8″ away from the box itself with aluminum spacers. I did that on the three sides. All of the hardware was stainless and I even covered the nuts that were exposed with plastic acorn covers. Attention to detail counts on a project like this! Lastly I had some leftover Turtle Tile that went inside instead of the cheap plastic tray that came out every time you took the mail out.

I had looked at a whole bunch of mailboxes on the ‘ole interwebs, but this one was robust enough and looked great. One night when there wasn’t much traffic I measured from the centerline of the road and added a couple of feet to make sure it wasn’t in way of the plow and give myself a little extra room. I also walked down to my neighbors and eyed up all the mailboxes distance from the white line. Because the avenue was much, much smaller when my house was built it sat closer than everyone else’s. My extra padding made it sit just a smidge back from the others. Another thing I did was move it further from the driveway itself. It was almost impossible to back a trailer in from that direction, so this would help with that.

Before I mounted the box to the post I mixed up some concrete in a five gallon pail and sunk the post in it. After it cured a it I went out and started digging. You don’t realize how far the old road gets flattened out underneath the lawn. I had to dig through layers of sod, and various layers of stone and dirt to get down deep enough to meet the height requirement. I had the entire assembly put together and drop it into the hole. I used some dirt and rocks to make it plumb and then added another bag of concrete and covered the whole thing up. I was very pleased with the project. A couple days later there was a small note in with the mail from Tony saying “I love the mailbox!” – that was some great validation for me. One thing I didn’t consider was making it easier for lawn maintenance around the post. This summer I am going to put a form around the bottom and pour some concrete to finish it off and make one less obstacle to line trim around.

In total I probably have about 10 hours in with including driving around to get the parts and maybe $150 in materials from left over parts. I had to get it Line-X’d and have the numbers cut being the more expensive items.