Subject: Machinery Moving (Was:Are Smithy/Shoptask any good? )
From: Doug White <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 1 Aug 94 17:30:19 -0400
One of the big concerns of many would-be machine owners is: How do I get
X (where X is large) tons of machine into my garage/basement. I am not
big and burly enough to be able to wrestle large pieces of equipment single-
handedly, and most of my friends are less than athletically inclined.
This left me with only a few options for putting my shop together:
1) Get the dealer to move it. I bought my Clausing vertical mill from a
used machinery dealer, and for an extra $100, he brought it to my house,
and using a ramp and rollers, moved it into my basement (which has fairly
good access from the garage). Bigger machines, and more treacherous
entrances (down winding, narrow, wooden stairs for example) may cost more.
If you are going to do this, check with the dealer before hand and be very
honest about the route it's going to take. Many machines can be dismantled
into (relatively) easy to move pieces, but they will want to know if this
is going to be necessary before they get to your place. Some places will
(for a fee) set up the machine again, and level it.
2) Get a professional machinery mover to move it. This can be expensive.
Big machinery moving companies are used to dealing with big companies
moving entire shops, and may charge a lot for one machine. On the other
hand, they can field-strip a Bridgeport in no time, and wrestle the pieces
into some pretty tight spots. I talked to several of the big movers in
the Boston area a few years back, and they wanted $500-$700 minimum to
move anything. Fortunately, one of the companies listed under 'Machinery
Movers' in the Yellow Pages was 'Death Wish Piano Movers' (no joke).
Piano movers are used to dealing with single pieces, and will frequently
move things more carefully (both in terms of the piece, and your house)
than an industrial mover. They charged me $300 to pick up my lathe at
the freight depot, and move it into my basement. They did a great job,
and were very careful with everything. They are much more used to dealing
with twisty little passages (all the same...) than commercial riggers.
A friend of mine had an upright piano moved that had to be lifted over the
top of a 3 story house, and then swung in the 2nd floor back porch. I
doubt if any of the big machinery movers would have touched a job like that.
They're used to dealing with flat concrete floors, freight elevators, and
loading docks. What a bunch of wimps! :)
(As an aside, 'Death Wish' was GREAT! They show up in a big shiny black
truck, with skull & crossbones on the doors. They all wore similarly
decorated T-shirts. All my neighbors came out to watch the show. I was
absolutely delighted to take delivery of my new lathe, but half the fun
was having a chance to hire 'Death Wish' for the move. The guys at the
freight yard got a big kick out of it too.)
3) Rent equipment, and do it yourself. If you know what you are doing,
plan ahead, are careful, and have the right equipment, you CAN move this
stuff yourself. This may require a lot of research, but it can be done
if you're on a tight budget (although renting stuff isn't exactly free).
Having seen 2 pieces moved by the pros, I know roughly what gear to look
for. You'll need a crane, and machinery rollers at a minimum. If you
have to go down stairs, you will need ramps, and probably a wench. You
may have to shore up the stairs to take the weight. You'll want to
dismantle the piece as much as possible to make the bits more manageable.
Measure everything, and PLAN! You have to calculate what sort of slings
you'll need to use with the crane, clearances through doors, floor loadings,
etc. My one experience in this area is renting an engine hoist to lift
the lathe up onto its cabinet. Renting a 1.5 ton hoist at the local
Taylor Rental was easy. Getting the sling set to the right length to
pick up the lathe, and then get it high enough to get onto the cabinet
without hitting the ceiling was a matter of inches. It took a couple of
runs to the local hardware store for chain and shackles to get it just
right. If you are contemplating the do-it-yourself approach, study some
industrial supply catalogs to see what sort of gear is out there, talk
to the rental people, and if possible, watch some pros at work to see
how it's done. This is not for either the timid, or the stupid. I
know of more than one instance where someone or something was seriously
damaged because a heavy piece of equipment slipped due to inadequate
rigging. You can get seriously crushed by this sort of stuff, and dropping
your new machine on it's head won't help it much either. By the time you've
added up the cost of all the rental equipment, double check with the
piano movers to see just how much you are saving.
MIT Lincoln Laboratory