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View Full Version : Design and build a new MOBILE machine shop.



Jimno2506
07-25-2006, 11:38 AM
Gentlemen,

I've decided to get the shop out of the basement and into something a bit more "industrial". Since I do work on the road I thought it would be neat to set up a big gooseneck or stepvan or cargo trailer with a machine shop. I don't like the box truck idea because they are so high off the ground. I'd park it in the garage when I wasn't on the road, and use it there. To me it's the best of both worlds.

I don't need anything special for machinery, I do plan on having a cnc knee mill, manual lathe, drill press, welder, torch, grinder, jib crane, work bench, generator etc. Also thinking of putting up a collapseable curtain for a ventilated paint booth/nasty job area. Air and heat would be required. I'd have an industrial shop vac central vac system for chip removal.

Most trailers and truck come in 8.5' width and 7' tall. I'm thinking 32' long would be great.

Still debating whether to go with a big air compressor and run air tools or go all electric.

If anyone has suggestions or recommendations I would really appreciate it.

Regards,
Jim

Millman
07-25-2006, 11:53 AM
Sweet. Go for it!

Elninio
07-25-2006, 11:55 AM
if you had the air compressor, then the tools would be smaller (because electric teals involve a separate motor for each tool), plus you could use the air from the air compressor for other things, such as clearing debry or mess from those hard to reach areas (corners, pinholes, underneath gears)

Fasttrack
07-25-2006, 12:03 PM
And air would allow you to run a plasma cutter if desired :)

Sounds cool! Let us know how it comes out! I like to doodle machine shops and mobile machine shops while sitting in class :D

Jimno2506
07-25-2006, 12:28 PM
Guys, thanks for the encouragement. Here's my inspiration...although this is way bigger than I need. http://www.teamindustrialservices.com/mobileshop/default.html

I've figured I'll need somewhere around 30kW genset, not a problem finding one.

What about the air compressor; what cfm would make the most sense?

I'll have a power cord to hook up when I'm at home or if the client has a power outlet handy. I figure 220v and 100 amp service should be plenty as I'm the only one in the shop and won't need to run too many pieces at once. Highest draws would be from air compressor, mill, and welder/plasma.

The trailer will have to have leveling jacks and substantial floor support for the 3000lb+ mill. Plenty of custom trailer makers can do this.

Any other input is VERY welcome.

Regards,
Jim

Optics Curmudgeon
07-25-2006, 01:12 PM
There was just such a thing for sale on the SF Bay Area Craigslist site a month or two ago. Maybe there is a way to look back that far (I looked, didn't see it)

Al Messer
07-25-2006, 01:26 PM
See if you can find an old photo of one of those that the U.S. Army used to have that deployed with the troops. It will show you how much and what kind of equiptment you can reasonably tote with you.

Wareagle
07-25-2006, 03:41 PM
Sounds like a great idea!

You might find out that it an 18 wheeler and trailer is just as cheap (maybe cheaper) as something much smaller would be. Upsides would be possibly having a bunk in the truck (unless you set up a living quarters in the trailer), plenty of room for equipment, and not much worry in overloading the chassis. The drawback to that would be parking, maintainence, and fuel.

Air or electric tooling? If you can afford to, look at doing both. An air compressor isn't that expensive, and you will have to already have a generator to run your machinery (unless you plan to have a hook-up). Your capabilities would be more having both.

That's my $.02 worth.

Come to think about it, this idea might be the ultimate 'doghouse'! When you are in trouble with the wife, then take a trip and do some machining somewhere; the lake, the mountains, the beach, or wherever! Hmmm, maybe I need to start shopping for trucks! :D

Dan Craig
07-25-2006, 03:50 PM
Cool idea.

would be nice to have enough cfm for abrasive blasting / plasma, but I'm not sure which takes more air...

the idea of parking your trailer at the lake or river, etc is pretty nice. sure couldn't beat the view.

BadDog
07-25-2006, 04:20 PM
Hmmm, I like the sound of this. My screen name (also CB handle) comes from the fact that I'm usually "in the dog house", and something like this would almost make that a GOOD THING!

Evan
07-25-2006, 04:25 PM
Look for a horse trailer with living area. They are perfect for what you want. Something like this would be ideal.

http://vts.bc.ca/pics/htrailer.jpg

Jimno2506
07-25-2006, 05:10 PM
I'm not sure I want to get living quarters in the trailer. I prefer hotels. Most of the time I will be at home using this equipment, parked in a shed.

I've been getting dims for the mill, lathe, and welder as well as workbench and genset and a 32' will be minimum length. Haven't got it done, but this is a start.

Keep the good ideas coming.

Jim

IOWOLF
07-25-2006, 07:38 PM
Hey I have a military 5KW generator that will do 3 phase, this would be handy.

Fasttrack
07-25-2006, 08:04 PM
If you go with the semi-truck approach make sure you don't get lost! You can literally drive for miles just looking for a place to turn around in some areas, plus then you need a cdl unless your within 100 miles of you place of establishment.

Tin Falcon
07-25-2006, 09:25 PM
check the archives if you have not already. there was some discusion on this a while back with photos of what has been done by nasa the military and a home built.
Regards
Tin

Elninio
07-25-2006, 09:35 PM
unless your going to be using air tools all day, dont worry about the cfm because most of the time the compressors have enough cfm to make it use-able, just make sure the air cylinder is large enough so that its not running all day and giving you a headache (i have an old campbel hausfield compressor and its REALLY loud!)

Wareagle
07-26-2006, 12:54 AM
If you go with the semi-truck approach make sure you don't get lost! You can literally drive for miles just looking for a place to turn around in some areas, plus then you need a cdl unless your within 100 miles of you place of establishment.
For an 18 wheeler, register it as a private motor coach. Doing this avoids all of the hassles with fuel taxes, weight stations, CDL, etc.

_Axel_
07-26-2006, 01:54 AM
I love the idea! I have been thinking about something like this myself, altho my needs are far less than what is decribed in this thread.

But what about keeping the machinery level!?

Jimno2506
07-26-2006, 09:39 AM
Considering the weight of the equipment, tools, trailer, I'll probably be in the 20000 lb range. I'm thinking of a 650 or 750 size tractor with a 5th wheel.

I'm getting quotes on trailers and finalizing my needs for equipment.

I'll let you know how it goes.

As far as keeping it level, the trailer will have to have leveling jacks.

Comfort provided by a heat pump since I'll be using it at home as well as on the road.

Jim

Fasttrack
07-26-2006, 09:47 AM
Shoot only 20,000 lbs? Thats nothing! GVWR for most full size trailers and tractors is 60,000 some 80,000 - buy more machines ;)

"For an 18 wheeler, register it as a private motor coach. Doing this avoids all of the hassles with fuel taxes, weight stations, CDL, etc."

-Didn't think of that - that's a clever little trick. Suppose that's what all the guys who use an 18 wheeler to pull thier dirt-track racers are registered as?

Evan
07-26-2006, 11:09 AM
GVWR for most full size trailers and tractors is 60,000 some 80,000 - buy more machines

Don't know about elsewhere but the maximum legal weight for a tractor/single trailer (tridem axel) combination here is 102,300 lbs. Trains and logging trucks can go as high as 140,500 lbs.

Jimno2506
07-26-2006, 01:42 PM
Honestly, I don't want to go that big. Sure, bigger is better, but I really don't have a need. Don't plan on doing this full time, most of my work is in design and prototyping so work is far from constant. Just want the option of taking the shop along on an installation.

Since I'm taking the plunge I'm going full cnc on the knee mill and lathe. Equipment so far is a Bridgeport style mill (millions to choose from) and probably a Haas TL-1 for lathe. Miller XMT350 welder and when I decide for sure I'm going 3 phase I'll decide on generator. The generator will be somewhere around 30kW diesel. I figure a 5hp air compressor will handle my needs.

Still waiting on the trailer mfg quotes. I wanna build from ground up to make sure I have the strength and featues I need.

Jim

Evan
07-26-2006, 01:51 PM
Get a self powered welder and you can downsize the generator to something a lot more efficient.

Mike Burdick
07-26-2006, 03:07 PM
Honestly, I don't want to go that big. Sure, bigger is better, but I really don't have a need. Don't plan on doing this full time, most of my work is in design and prototyping so work is far from constant. Just want the option of taking the shop along on an installation...


Jim
Jim,

What sort of work do you do that would require you to have a complete mobile shop? You also state: "...most of my work is design and prototyping and is far from constant …."

You don't have to justify any specifics to me, and no offense is intended, nor do I wish to dampen your spirits, but I was wondering if you put a pencil to this to see if it makes economical sense? I can see a van or small truck outfitted with some portable tools but a CNC mill and lathe...? Also, what are the insurance costs that would be attached to this? Seems like you could buy quite a few pieces of equipment that make money rather than a tractor and trailer that are a liability.

Regardless of what you choose to do, I wish you the best!

torker
07-26-2006, 03:38 PM
You may want to quash any ideas of using a horse trailer unless it is a "multi-purpose" type trailer.
Horse trailers are NOT designed to carry heavy loads such as small footprint machines that weigh a lot.
Horses do not haul the same as heavy machines. They have built in shock absorbers that ease the weight.
In BC and I'm assuming other places, it is actually illegal to haul anything in a stock trailer but stock. They'll fine you for hauling hay, furniture, firewood etc.
People do it but it is not legal(for good reason).
Several years ago I was hired by an insurance company to look into a badly damaged, nearly brand new 8 horse trailer.
Two large sections of the floor had collapsed and were dragging on the road.
Turns out the guy had a small skid steer and some lumber piled in the new trailer.
He hit a rough section of road and the two heavy items went through the floor.
He even went over a scale and was within the GVW of the trailer but he ignored the "Livestock Only " warning.
He was trying to get an insurance claim and a warrantee claim.
The manufacturer had a fit when they found out what he was hauling.
Both of his claims where denied.
Russ

Jimno2506
07-26-2006, 04:52 PM
Jim,

What sort of work do you do that would require you to have a complete mobile shop? You also state: "...most of my work is design and prototyping and is far from constant …."

You don't have to justify any specifics to me, and no offense is intended, nor do I wish to dampen your spirits, but I was wondering if you put a pencil to this to see if it makes economical sense? I can see a van or small truck outfitted with some portable tools but a CNC mill and lathe...? Also, what are the insurance costs that would be attached to this? Seems like you could buy quite a few pieces of equipment that make money rather than a tractor and trailer that are a liability.

Regardless of what you choose to do, I wish you the best!

Thanks for your comment.

Here's the thing...installations NEVER go as planned, something always comes up and I find myself in the toolroom trying to get an already-too-busy toolmaker to machine or turn or modify and I waste quite a bit of time and energy that could be better spent. Do I need CNC for this, no, but why buy two machines? I can use it at home when I get a job to do. When I get on the road there is always a nagging feeling that I could use something else, and the boxes get bigger and bigger and I have to load tools in and out of them when I get home...kind of a pain. So, my thoughts are this, one shop, all the time, home or away.

As far as costs go I just got my first quote $48k for the trailer +/-. I'll need a tow vehicle but as it turns out my wife wants an RV....hmmmm this may be better than I thought. I had planned on a nice Longhorn conversion or the like but now the thought is more about a Class A diesel and a bumper pull. Again..not sure, but thinking.

I understand where you are coming from and I get your point, It was a good excercise to put my thoughts in front of me. Still sounds like a good idea to me. Your thoughts and comments are welcome, as always.

Jim

BillH
07-26-2006, 04:56 PM
you could get a cnc taig mill and lathe and bolt it down to the kitchen table in your RV, lol.

sasquatch
07-26-2006, 06:20 PM
Lincoln makes a nice welder generator called a "Ranger 8", and one next up in size from that. Worth checking out the Lincoln info, quality product!
Ray In N. Ont.

Wareagle
07-26-2006, 11:25 PM
"For an 18 wheeler, register it as a private motor coach. Doing this avoids all of the hassles with fuel taxes, weight stations, CDL, etc."

-Didn't think of that - that's a clever little trick. Suppose that's what all the guys who use an 18 wheeler to pull thier dirt-track racers are registered as?
Yep! Look at a lot of the rigs the racers use, and you'll find that there isn't any sponsors, team names, or whatever on the truck and trailer; usually you'll see "Not for Hire", or "Private Motor Coach" somewhere on the tractor. If there are any graphics, it is a generic outline or something to that effect.

bob101
07-27-2006, 03:46 AM
Yep! Look at a lot of the rigs the racers use, and you'll find that there isn't any sponsors, team names, or whatever on the truck and trailer; usually you'll see "Not for Hire", or "Private Motor Coach" somewhere on the tractor. If there are any graphics, it is a generic outline or something to that effect.

This isn't the case or at least always the case anymore. Just because you put "Not for hire" on your semi doesn't mean you don't have to obtain a CDL. Most still do it and it helps - depending on where you are and which grey area you fall into.

Welcome to the "grey" area. Lately in some states NHRA racers (National Hot Rod Association) have had a string of tickets related to such matters.

You can defenitly get into the grey because it's a federal system but some states approach it differently. Some states won't even let you register your vehicle and/or inspect it without a CDL licence to drive it during licensing and inspection.

It's been a pretty hot topic as of late with a lot of racers who use a semi tractor to pull a smaller trailer than a full semi, and those who drive the new breed of semi tractor with trailer built onto it with motor home carriage part as well.

I know of one racer in PA recently it took 6+ months for him to work thru the system.

I'm guessing as usual states were loosing money on registration fees, licensing, and inspections etc... now that these are becomming more and more common for people to use outside normal "commercial" operations.

Just something to think about, check your state DMV. States have a recip agreement where they accept what other states pass as laws as far as registration. But as my friend found out - your not gonna get into lenghty legal discussions about grey areas etc.. when you are receiving a ticket on the side of the road from a state trooper (you'll let the court figure it out and like him - had to wait till someone with a CDL arrived to move it out of the state).

lalatheman
07-27-2006, 07:43 AM
I too am planning a mobil shop. Light lathe SB 9 ,10 ,10H or 13 or Logan or Sears 12 X 36 fully accessorized , if SB eventually to have raising blocks . Sears 12 is already raised. . .. .LOL

I really like the way all the old lathes had those tee slots on the carriage wings to bolt stuff to for boring and some on the cross slide thad'd be purfect for this app. OK a really old light lathe. . .with DRO

Sleeping quarters YES !

Grizzley 1006 benchtop milldrill eventually CNC'd a la Friestad. Medium size generator small air compressor. Build 2 axle trailer myself.
I first planned to go larger putting my Beloved 3000 pound LeBlond Dualdrive and 1800 lb bridgeport on board . . . . but whew looking at it realistically 90 percent of what usually gets made uses about 10 percebt of one's capacity.


The Nuclear subs had SB 9's with greatly shortened beds........ Several pics of military truck shops show SB 9 class lathes, sure the full size semi trailler shop will have a SB 16 or a raised SB 16 that turns 24. . . . yeah.

Carla tells about the SB lathes on some military trucks had only one leg at the foot end . centered under the bed and a ball and socket on the floor.

Supposadly there is a guy mostly on the east coast with a semitrailer SHOP rig authentic Army restored who goes to military history conventions and shows it and does work for peop;e at the shows.
Need a part for your M1 Tank ? commin rght up

We have a new little miller inverter welder at work plugs right in a standard 120 V outlet and has never popped a breaker yet HUMMMM

I get the feeling the VFD drive on the bridgeport takes very little amps at least if one isn't hogging . . I really think a 4000 watt generator would do it.

OH yes drill press ,HF 4 X 6 saw cutting torch , small gas forge small anval 12 X 18 surface plate and scraping supplies compact electronics work area

David Lawrence

DR
07-27-2006, 11:13 AM
Jim,

What sort of work do you do that would require you to have a complete mobile shop? You also state: "...most of my work is design and prototyping and is far from constant …."

You don't have to justify any specifics to me, and no offense is intended, nor do I wish to dampen your spirits, but I was wondering if you put a pencil to this to see if it makes economical sense? I can see a van or small truck outfitted with some portable tools but a CNC mill and lathe...? Also, what are the insurance costs that would be attached to this? Seems like you could buy quite a few pieces of equipment that make money rather than a tractor and trailer that are a liability.

Regardless of what you choose to do, I wish you the best!


I'm kind of thinking along the lines of Mike....

I've been in the prototype machining business for a number of years. I've never had the need for a mobile shop. In my experience, very, very seldom does a part have to be modified on site.

Come to think about it, not many of my customers would look kindly on having a big rig pull up to their doors. There might be liability issues with having you work on their site. For sure, very few shops would have a way to hook you up to their power, but that's what the generator is for.

Out of curiousity, what type of work do you do? If you don't mind telling us, that is.

The mobile shop concept implies your customer base must be wide spread. Do you envision charging travel time to the customer? Would you drive the shop to the customer on every delivery, or only after the initial delivery of parts indicated a problem?

Like Mike, I don't mean to put the idea down, it's just that there's a bunch of questions that come to mind.

Jimno2506
07-27-2006, 11:23 AM
I'm kind of thinking along the lines of Mike....

I've been in the prototype machining business for a number of years. I've never had the need for a mobile shop. In my experience, very, very seldom does a part have to be modified on site.

Come to think about it, not many of my customers would look kindly on having a big rig pull up to their doors. There might be liability issues with having you work on their site. For sure, very few shops would have a way to hook you up to their power, but that's what the generator is for.

Out of curiousity, what type of work do you do? If you don't mind telling us, that is.

The mobile shop concept implies your customer base must be wide spread. Do you envision charging travel time to the customer? Would you drive the shop to the customer on every delivery, or only after the initial delivery of parts indicated a problem?

Like Mike, I don't mean to put the idea down, it's just that there's a bunch of questions that come to mind.

I work with the metal stamping/injection/compression molding industry modifying presses/machines to make tool changeovers more economical and precise..quick die change..if you will. So the installs I do are on 900 year old presses that no one has prints for and has been modified so many times that it would take weeks to make drawings, make mods, confirm and change. So I get stuck with problems and changes mid-stream. Not fun if you can't make it work on-site.

Again 90% of the time I'll be at home, under the shed, in my trailer, but the 10% of the time I'm on the road contributes to 80% of the headaches. This is my idea of a solution.

Our sytems are quoted turnkey, if the customer wants installation, we can do that too. We charge installation rates based on distance and work to be done. I've done installs from Ogden, UT to Lumberton, SC. I enjoy the work (basically millwright kind of stuff) but the stuff I get stuck with can make a grown man cry LOL.

Regards,
Jim

DR
07-27-2006, 12:32 PM
Okay, now I see what you're up to....thanks for the clarification.

Makes perfect sense to me.

If you're going with the Haas toolroom CNC lathe, you might as well go with their toolroom mill too, rather than a knee mill.

Jimno2506
07-27-2006, 01:04 PM
Not a bad idea, thanks for sharing.

Jim

Tin Falcon
07-27-2006, 05:22 PM
just a thougt here. About a year ago 10 year old school buses were selling at aution here in NJ for around a thousand bucks. NJ law requitres buses be retired after Ten years of service. So every year the schoolboards an transport Co have to sell some. This may be true in other states also. What is the weight of 40 passengers.
Regards
Tin

Elninio
07-29-2006, 04:13 AM
but schoolbusses are pretty high off the ground, and you would have to take all the seats out, and the celing is really low, and you would have to make a wall separating the driving area from the shop area / something as low as possible to the ground would be ideal