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  #1  
Old 06-09-2004, 06:18 PM
candemom654 candemom654 is offline
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coffin weight?

can anyone help me? i would like to know how much the average casket weighs? just for curiosity!!
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  #2  
Old 06-09-2004, 07:34 PM
marvin431 marvin431 is offline
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I saw on the news today that President Regans coffin weighs 450 lbs empty.
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Old 06-09-2004, 07:34 PM
jnglmassiv jnglmassiv is offline
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No cite but I heard on the CBS radio broadcast coverage of the Reagan casket procession today that the coffin weighed 700lbs.
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Old 06-09-2004, 07:36 PM
jnglmassiv jnglmassiv is offline
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Ha..awkward simulpost. Assuming 6 pallbearers, your number sounds closer to the correct value.
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Old 06-09-2004, 09:44 PM
Miabella Miabella is offline
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I was watching the Reagan funeral procession broadcast, and they said the coffin weighed between 700-800 lbs (with Reagan in it, I assume). I was surprised by that, it seems unlikely.
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Old 06-09-2004, 10:34 PM
AWB AWB is offline
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Hmmm... 450 lb empty, 700 full. Which might lead one to conclude that Reagan weighed about 250 when he died.

There is the assumption that very old people get small and frail. But being over 6 foot tall and possibly bedridden for quite a while, he might very well have put on the pounds. That probably explains the whole closed casket throughout the week.

[hijack]My subdivision is right next to Andrews AFB in Maryland. When the presidential jet arrived, they had a small ceremony with a 21-cannon salute. With our door open, we heard the actual sound waves from the cannons less that half a second after we heard it on the TV.[/hijack]

[hijack]My wife and I watched most of the procession this evening. We were quiet through most of it. But when the pall bearers and Mrs. Reagan were headed into the Capitol building, they stopped at the entrance. I then turned to my wife and said, "Man, I can't believe they're stopping them at the security metal detector!" [/hijack]
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Old 06-10-2004, 12:41 AM
Lissa Lissa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by candemom654
can anyone help me? i would like to know how much the average casket weighs? just for curiosity!!
They can vary widely, depending on the material from which their made. I don't think that you can really answer this question in terms of "average" coffins, since there's so many differences in them.

The very lightest probably weigh only a few pounds. (My husband works in a prison. He tells me that indigent inmates are buried in coffins made of Styofoam. I imagine they're quite light, indeed.) The heaviest are ones which are made from hardwoods and lined with lead, or ones made from very heav-guage metals.
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Old 06-10-2004, 07:44 AM
HeyHomie HeyHomie is online now
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Having been a pallbearer, I can tell you that the weight of a coffin, when "loaded," is FREAKING HEAVY.

It's extremely difficult trying to maintain decorum and solemnity when you and 5 other guys, all equally uncoordinated, are each trying to lug their share of 700 pounds (which works out to over 100 pounds each), over unequal grassy terrain, in 100+ degree central Illinois summer weather, while wearing a 3-piece suit.
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Old 06-10-2004, 07:53 AM
WIGGUM WIGGUM is offline
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Quote:
It's extremely difficult trying to maintain decorum and solemnity when you and 5 other guys, all equally uncoordinated, are each trying to lug their share of 700 pounds (which works out to over 100 pounds each), over unequal grassy terrain, in 100+ degree central Illinois summer weather, while wearing a 3-piece suit.
.....and dress shoes with absolutely no traction.
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  #10  
Old 06-10-2004, 09:26 AM
js_africanus js_africanus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lissa
They can vary widely, depending on the material from which their made. I don't think that you can really answer this question in terms of "average" coffins, since there's so many differences in them.
At the risk of being a jackass, may I say that if there is a range of values, then you can give an average by doing a little arithematic.

Re: The OP. I worked at a funeral home for about a year. The cheapest caskets are cardboard, more-or-less, and can be easily lifted and carried by one person. Wood caskets can be carried by one person. I used to stand midway down the side of a casket, press my hip against the side and reach over the top with my arm. Straightening my legs, the lion's share of the weight would be on my hip bone and the rest with my arms. I could lift a casket and move it that way, though I wouldn't want to carry it too far. I'm not particularly strong. IIRC, the metal ones weren't too different in weight from the wood ones, though that is as much guess as not.

Generally speaking, the vast majority of casket lifting was done by two people and this included occupied caskets. Two people can lift and carry a full casket without too much difficulty. It would be heavy and it would have to be put down before too long; but, they were almost all liftable by two people. When we couldn't lift one with two people, that was the result of the occupant and not the casket.

I would imagine that the fmr. President's casket is by no means your average casket. That it weighs 450 pounds empty may be possible, but I wonder how much and what type of wood you'd need to get to 450 pounds. Most of the casket is empty space, the rest being satin cloth, batting (padding), and a not-too-comfortable minimalist bedspring. The 450 pound figure makes me a little skeptical, but I'm sure it is certainly possible.

I just shot an email off to the Batesville casket company. Maybe they'll reply!! I'll let you know.
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  #11  
Old 06-10-2004, 09:40 AM
Lambo Lambo is offline
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OK, so this cite may be as accurate as a bucket of warm spit, but according to this
eBay auction, which claims to be for the exact same style coffin President Reagan is being buried in, the weight (empty) is about 550 pounds.

While that is a mighty pretty box, I just can't see ever being able to justify spending almost $16,000 for a casket. Well, unless it was real tricked out, you know. DVD player, drop down plasma screens, neon ground effects...
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Old 06-10-2004, 10:03 AM
C K Dexter Haven C K Dexter Haven is offline
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So, the story going around that all caskets weigh exactly 21 grams at the moment of burial, that's just urban legend?
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  #13  
Old 06-10-2004, 10:25 AM
js_africanus js_africanus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C K Dexter Haven
So, the story going around that all caskets weigh exactly 21 grams at the moment of burial, that's just urban legend?
Pardon?
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  #14  
Old 06-10-2004, 01:51 PM
robcaro robcaro is offline
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Here is a link that defines the weight of the Mohogany casket and also the number of pallbearers (8) that carried it:

http://www.news24.com/News24/World/N...540978,00.html
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  #15  
Old 06-10-2004, 02:02 PM
js_africanus js_africanus is offline
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FTR, at the funeral home I was informed that a pall is a cloth draped over the casket and the pall bearer is the one who carries it. Those who carry the casket are casket bearers.

Haven't heart from Batesville yet.
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  #16  
Old 06-10-2004, 02:15 PM
robcaro robcaro is offline
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American Heritage dictionary defines pallbearer thusley:

pall·bear·er n. One of the persons carrying or attending a coffin at a funeral.
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  #17  
Old 06-10-2004, 02:16 PM
Duckster Duckster is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by js_africanus
Most of the casket is empty space, the rest being satin cloth, batting (padding), and a not-too-comfortable minimalist bedspring.
How does one define "comfort" for a corpse?
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  #18  
Old 06-10-2004, 02:59 PM
js_africanus js_africanus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robcaro
American Heritage dictionary defines pallbearer thusley:

pall·bear·er n. One of the persons carrying or attending a coffin at a funeral.
Literate literati lament lax lexicographers' legacy: lame, lackadaisical lexicons loosed loathsomely.

Duckster, it depends.
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  #19  
Old 06-10-2004, 03:19 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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From dictionary.com:

Pall:
Quote:
1. A cover for a coffin, bier, or tomb, often made of black, purple, or white velvet.
2. A coffin, especially one being carried to a grave or tomb.
This would give a lot of leeway as to what a pallbearer carries.

And how many caskets today even have palls?

Some word history:

Quote:
Strictly speaking a pallbearer is a ‘coffin-bearer’, so why is the person not called a ‘coffin-bearer’ and called a pallbearer instead? If it comes to that, what is a pall? Well, it turns out the a pall is (literally) ‘a cloth’. It comes from an Old English word meaning ‘a costly cloak or robe, often a purple robe’. From this pall came to mean a rich cloth used as a covering for something or spread over something. From this, one of the meanings of pall came to be: ‘a cloth, usually of black, purple or white velvet, spread over a coffin, hearse, or tomb’. The earliest citation for this use of pall is from the 15th century. I take it that pallbearer started life as an euphemism. What the bearers are actually bearing is a solid, heavy coffin containing a dead body, but what they are said to be bearing is just the cloth or pall. It is, I guess, a more comfortable way of referring to a grim subject. Which is why today coffin-bearers are still called pallbearers even when the coffin is not covered by a pall.
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Old 06-11-2004, 08:56 AM
Atrael Atrael is offline
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I don't know about that assertion that lower end metal ones are light. When my 98 year old grandmother died, she couldn't have weighted more than 100lbs. But when I was a pallbearer, with 3 other guys, it was far from light. Not impossible to carry, but a hell of a lot more than what other posters are describing. My guess would be probably around 300lbs total....making the coffin around 200. And we picked a lower end of the line. Mostly because my grandmother was thrifty, and wouldn't have approved of us spending a lot.
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  #21  
Old 06-11-2004, 09:08 AM
BJMoose BJMoose is offline
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Church supply catalogs still list palls; I suppose some "high-church" folks use them during the church service, but they do seem to be uncommon.

Presidents tend to wind up with heavy coffins. JKF's weighed upward of half a ton (I can't remember exactly - anyone have a copy of Manchester's Death of a President within reach?). His casket team nearly lost it going up the Capitol steps, which may explain why, with Reagan on Wednesday, they stopped and swapped teams halfway up the steps.


[truly obscure hijack] A few years back I played organ for the funeral service of the widow of Lt. Sam Bird, who commanded the Kennedy casket team. Probably makes me another co-conspirator in the JFK assassination. . . . [/toh]
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  #22  
Old 06-11-2004, 10:10 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is online now
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This is a drive-by post, as I haven't read the rest of the thread. Dan Rather (I believe) mentioned that the coffin weighs about 740 pounds (with Reagan in it).
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  #23  
Old 06-11-2004, 11:24 AM
vetbridge vetbridge is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C K Dexter Haven
So, the story going around that all caskets weigh exactly 21 grams at the moment of burial, that's just urban legend?
The 21 gram figure is (if I recall correctly) the weight loss a person undergoes at death. There was the suggestion that this was the weight of the "soul". This has all been shown to be poor science/UL/whatever.
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Old 06-11-2004, 11:36 AM
vetbridge vetbridge is offline
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Originally Posted by vetbridge
The 21 gram figure is (if I recall correctly) the weight loss a person undergoes at death. There was the suggestion that this was the weight of the "soul". This has all been shown to be poor science/UL/whatever.
I was whooooshed, wasn't I?
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  #25  
Old 06-11-2004, 04:21 PM
robcaro robcaro is offline
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According to the article that I posted earlier, the total weight of the coffin without the body of Ronald Reagan was 396.83 pounds. I don't have a clue as to his personal weight.
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  #26  
Old 06-11-2004, 11:35 PM
anson2995 anson2995 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HeyHomie
Having been a pallbearer, I can tell you that the weight of a coffin, when "loaded," is FREAKING HEAVY.

It's extremely difficult trying to maintain decorum and solemnity when you and 5 other guys, all equally uncoordinated, are each trying to lug their share of 700 pounds (which works out to over 100 pounds each), over unequal grassy terrain, in 100+ degree central Illinois summer weather, while wearing a 3-piece suit.
Let me second this, and say I'm confused by the story js_africanus told about moving a loaded coffin with two people. I was one of six young men carrying a coffin no more than 40 feet from hearse to grave, and I'm amazed to this day that we didn't drop it.

Is it possible the casket seems a lot heavier because of the angle at which you're holding it?
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  #27  
Old 06-12-2004, 01:47 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is online now
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I was one of six young men carrying a coffin no more than 40 feet from hearse to grave, and I'm amazed to this day that we didn't drop it.
The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) could lift a loaded coffin under one arm!
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  #28  
Old 06-12-2004, 10:53 AM
robcaro robcaro is offline
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The 740 pound that Dan Rather gave minus the 396.83 pound coffin weight leaves 343.17 pounds for the weight of Ronald Reagan. That sounds a little ludicrous doesn't it? How could the body of Ronald Reagan weigh 343.17 pounds? I assume that the 740 pounds was the total weight of the casket and the body, but it sounds a little overinflated to me.
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  #29  
Old 06-14-2004, 11:03 AM
js_africanus js_africanus is offline
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Heard back from Batesville. While I wasn't given a proper average weight, I was given the following:
Quote:
The Marsellus by Batesville Masterpiece casket weighs 550 pounds empty (which is more than twice as heavy as our other wood caskets).
So, your wood casket is gonna be about 200-ish pounds. Reasonable for me to lift on my hip bone using my legs to move a short distance. Or for two people to lift even if there is a body in it. (Note that most people die without much meat on their bones.)
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  #30  
Old 06-14-2004, 11:13 AM
js_africanus js_africanus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anson2995
Is it possible the casket seems a lot heavier because of the angle at which you're holding it?
Missed that question, sorry.

I've been wondering about that myself. When I was there we got about 220 deceased and I was involved in moving a large proportion of those, at least in some capacity. Two men lifting a casket will do it with their arms down, as you might imagine carrying any heavy thing. It is a familiar position.

The casket bearers are lifting a body, usually someone they know, which I think takes a little getting used to even if it is in a locked casket. They're doing it in front of a crowd for a sacred ceremony that would be tragic (and, let's be honest, comic—at their expense) if they messed up. Finally, they're carrying the weight in a position that is unfamiliar. All while trying to coordinate with five other people with whom they probably don't do much heavy lifting. To say that it "felt" heavy is more than reasonable; to say that it was heavy as a result of nerves and inefficiency seems more than reasonable as well.

I don't have photos of us moving caskets. You'll just have to take my word for it that when the Batesville delivery truck showed up, we had neither the time nor the manpower to unload the semi using four or six people to a casket.
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