But moving it to your shop can kill a great deal.
A used piece of equipment can be a great value. The price is often very reasonable and the machine will come with many accessories that you must buy à la carte with a new machine. Sometimes heirs just want the machine out of the basement so that they can close a chapter on a loved one. The deal breaker for most people in buying used machinery is moving it.
A couple of weeks ago I got a call from a long time friend and colleague. His shop “had to go” because he was moving into a retirement home. “Was I, or did I know someone, who might be interested in his Oneway 2536 Lathe?” Having always wanted what I refer to as the Marcedes-Benz of lathes I said, “look no further.” We agreed on an extremely fair price based on two additional codicils: That I would remove the Oneway from his basement expeditiously and that he could visit his lathe whenever able. We shook hands on the bargain.
I have moved a lot of heavy stuff in my day. For really big machines you call a rigger, the term for machinery movers. At one of my early jobs I watched riggers move a forty-five ton press brake. When our family was manufacturing lathes I did ten or more trade shows a year. I got so sick of moving seventy-five pound lathe legs that I had three sets cast from aluminum, which reduced the weight to twenty-five pounds. To compensate for the lack of weight I would super glue the feet to the floor. This scheme was busted when a brute of a Texan grabbed the lathe and lifted it with two floor tiles still attached to the lathe.
I have accumulated a kit of essentials for moving heavy objects. With these implements I have moved a lot of heavy stuff the most challenging being a nine hundred pound safe. They include:
• One small hydraulic jack and two automotive floor jacks; the newer one from Harbor Freight is low profile, which is much better for getting under things.
• An assortment of crowbars for lifting machine bases enough to get under them.
• Two hand trucks (dollies).
• Wide canvas straps for lifting from a convent height with your legs and not your back.
• Rounding out this array is a climbing rope, a come along and a half-ton chain hoist.
Stairs are always the biggest challenge and most shops in North Eastern Ohio are in basements. My friend’s basement was a flight of stairs ending on a landing with a door to the right. Complicating matters, there was no place to anchor a rope or hoist from above to secure the load.
Divide and conquer is a good slogan when moving machines. The Oneway was easy unbolted into manageable pieces that I was able to carry up the stairs to my pickup truck in a few hours. The thorn was the bed, which even with the motor removed was three hundred pounds. With no way to secure from above I was uncomfortable with a standard dolly.
After a couple of hours on the Internet I found a rental company with a stair climbing hand truck called a Lectro Truck. Clicking the link will take you to a training video. This amazing dolly has an electric motor and a battery that allows the operator to raise and lower the wheels and climb stairs. I was able move the Oneway bed out of the basement to my truck with no damage to the house or the lathe. I had the Lectro Truck back to the rental agency inside of four hours for a rental charge of $74.48. What is more I moved the lathe and reassembled it at my shop single handily with no help whatsoever?
Have you moved heavy pieces of equipment? Tell us your stories or share your best tips for moving heavy tools and equipment.