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  • leveling a machine stand on wheels - anything new?

    I seem to often want to make a stand or rolling base which I want to roll or stay put but also which I want to be able to level, ideally without having to bend down to the ground to do it.

    Over the years I've seen many designs which accomplish some of these design goals with varying degrees of elegance/buildability.

    I want to build a stand for a 36x36x8" surface plate and I want it to be able to be leveled and also to roll. As there is little force involved in the use of a surface plate, it doesn't need to stay put i.e. if it were on casters, that would be fine.

    Have you seen any nifty ideas lately?

    metalmagpie

  • #2
    They sell casters with built in leveling pads now. I bought some cheap ones on Amazon that had a few quality control issues, like the threads for the stud not being deep enough and the stud pulling out.

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    • #3
      Suppose you made a plate the same size and bolt pattern as the caster plate (the one it bolts on with). Now suppose you machined your plate to be a wedge, with a shallow taper. And you machine a longer wedge with the same taper. On both wedges, the taper is all on one side. Machine, 4-bolt wedge (flat side to machine), drive wedge (flat side down) then caster. Loosen your caster bolts a little and drive the wedge with a hammer. Kind of brute force, but it should work.

      metalmagpie

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      • #4
        Make a three foot long extension for your socket wrench?

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        • #5
          I commonly allow for one adjustable foot on most things I make which move around. But this isn't to level but instead to just steady the table or machine by making all four legs take equal share of the load.

          If you want to merely steady the stand then you only need one adjustable foot. If you instead want to actually level the table then you need all but one foot to be adjustable. And adjusting for level AND even load so it isn't twisted or tippy is quite a trick. On the other hand THREE feet with two adjustable will always self load evenly and with two adjustable feet it would be easy to level the stand.

          But three points isn't all that stable. What I think I'd do to avoid a possible embarrassing moment is to have three casters with two adjustable and then have an outer perimeter frame that rides very close to the floor so a high load on one corner will not allow the table to tip very far at all. Or possibly two casters on a sort of low bogie which is hinged to the stand so it acts like a third point while actually giving you four rolling corners. For this you would limit the pivoting angle quite severely so it only tips so far before it changes from a three point to full four point suspension to avoid tipping. I'm thinking 3° of travel each way before hitting a hard stop? Something that permits up to 1/4" of difference corner to corner before the hard stop limits any further pivoting to avoid tipping any further.

          The handy commercially made levelers require us to kneel down. But if you make your own built into the legs then you certainly could include a way to extend up to some hand wheels at the top of the stand but under the working top. Or at least a place for a wrench.
          Last edited by BCRider; 05-24-2022, 02:58 PM.
          Chilliwack BC, Canada

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          • #6
            The frame could have one foot that is adjustable to steady the unit and three points between the top of the frame and surface plate of which two would be adjustable for leveling.

            Rog

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            • #7
              Originally posted by swarfjunky View Post
              The frame could have one foot that is adjustable to steady the unit and three points between the top of the frame and surface plate of which two would be adjustable for leveling.

              Rog
              That's actually the best of all options. The four legs with just the one load equalizer for a steady and stable lower. Easily set for a firm footing. Then the two leveling screws for the actual plate. That makes it super easy to rapidly level it one axis at a time too. Even to the point of using a machinist's level degree if so desired. Primo option!
              Chilliwack BC, Canada

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              • #8
                When I think about this I find it difficult to come up with a simple way to both have casters and leveling in the four(?) legs. I like the one adjustable leg as BCRyder suggests to keep it from rocking. Of course that could also be done with three legs but that is not a good idea with the weight of a surface plate. Too much chance of tipping. You could put the two wheels on one side on an arm that is pivoted at the center of that side. That would provide three point support but still have the four casters under the four corners. A limit could be provided to that rocking motion via a pair of bolts at the corners. Those bolts would be fixed to the rocker arm and go through oversized holes in the two legs with some fixed amount of slack to allow the rocking but to prevent the table from tipping over if overloaded at one of those corners. About 1/4" of slack would be enough for most floors. But BCRyder's adjustable leg does sound like the better method, at least to me.

                THEN, provide for leveling at the surface plate itself. It should be supported by three points but I will omit just what those points are as that is the subject of another discussion. Just make two of those three points adjustable. This could be either with adjustment knobs below the top or with some kind of lever or drive mechanism that brings the adjustment out to the edges of the table.

                By separating the two functions you make both of them easier to achieve. And once the table is positioned and stabilized via that adjustable foot if that option is selected or by the rocker arm, you can easily level the surface plate without disturbing the stability of the table.

                And I, knowing just how floors can vary from flat, even with a fraction of an inch of movement, I would definitely suggest brakes on the casters.

                Thanks for this discussion as I am planning a roll around stand that will hold a surface plate as well as other items. This has given me some new ideas. Thanks!



                Originally posted by metalmagpie View Post
                I seem to often want to make a stand or rolling base which I want to roll or stay put but also which I want to be able to level, ideally without having to bend down to the ground to do it.

                Over the years I've seen many designs which accomplish some of these design goals with varying degrees of elegance/buildability.

                I want to build a stand for a 36x36x8" surface plate and I want it to be able to be leveled and also to roll. As there is little force involved in the use of a surface plate, it doesn't need to stay put i.e. if it were on casters, that would be fine.

                Have you seen any nifty ideas lately?

                metalmagpie
                Paul A.
                SE Texas

                And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
                You will find that it has discrete steps.

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                • #9
                  scaffolding castors are the cat's pajamas. You do need to bend over a bit though.... Big star wheel adjusters! ;=-)

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                  • #10
                    Paul, the combo idea for one equalizing foot and then the adjusters on the plate itself was Swarfmonkey's, not mine. But darned if it isn't a great one.

                    What I like about the separate plate levelers is that if one should wish it is super easy to level first across the short direction and then along the long. And with a fine enough thread on the adjusters super easy to even level it to the degree permitted by a machinist's level. Just lay the level along each edge for each axis and level.

                    It is worth noting though that the A leveler must be done first and THEN the B.

                    If like me it even bothers the rest of you to see even a sketch of a delicate machinist's level on the edge of a sketch of a surface plate then use a square to align the level further is so it's not at risk of being brushed off the plate.

                    Click image for larger version

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                    Chilliwack BC, Canada

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                    • #11
                      For machines under two tons that I might want to move more than once I use a pallet jack. Many have clearance and those that do not have space for toe jacks. As many have suggested I park the pallet jack under one of the machines.

                      Some are shimmed level and some have leveling feet.
                      *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

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                      • #12
                        Thats a 1,000 pound table and I think a heavy duty set of casters ( 4 inch min) with brakes should work well
                        and having a steel frame on top ( no bending over) with three jack screws to level the stone . Its easy using Hex Socket Head Screws and a Allen wrench to adjust table leveling BUT
                        I would add 2 important considerations. First use fine thread like 1/2-20 so adjustment is more sensitive and easier to attain
                        and second have pads ( 1/4" thick ie) next to the screws where you can lower the table on them during the move, as you do not want Point Support (3)
                        during a move on rough floors. Also suggest the cap srews have their ends radiused slightly for smoother adjustment
                        Rich
                        Green Bay, WI

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by swarfjunky View Post
                          The frame could have one foot that is adjustable to steady the unit and three points between the top of the frame and surface plate of which two would be adjustable for leveling.

                          Rog
                          My surface plate stand has a 3/8" plate on top. That plate is drilled and tapped for 4 rubber feet, 2 of which are right next to each other. Those rubber feet are somewhat height adjustable but you cannot get to them without lifting the stone off the stand. Like many surface plate stands, mine has no openings below until you get all the way down to the floor. There is a 3 or 4" opening around the floor but it would be absolute murder trying to get on those rubber feet from down there.

                          I think you can rule out leveling the plate right at the top of the stand. That's why I'm looking for a leveling solution at the bottom.

                          metalmagpie

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                          • #14
                            I was working out this problem in CAD and discovered the solution is to make sure your floor is perfectly flat and level.

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                            • #15
                              metalmagpie wrote:

                              "I seem to often want to make a stand or rolling base which I want to roll or stay put but also which I want to be able to level, ideally without having to bend down to the ground to do it."

                              "My surface plate stand has a 3/8" plate on top..."

                              Sorry, I assumed you wanted to make a stand.

                              Rog

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