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Today's adventures: bargain mill retrival (long, rambling)

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  • Today's adventures: bargain mill retrival (long, rambling)

    Is this the right place to post about adventures involving moving heavy old machine shop equipment? If it's not, go ahead and move or delete it.

    I've been building my home shop over the last year or so. I've got an old meduim sized (14" swing)Lodge and Shipley lathe meant for overhead shaft drive, that I still don't have running. I also have a round arm Bridgeport with an M head. Neither involved an adventure. The places that sold these had forlifts and were able to load them on my trailer. Both were small enough that my skid loader (minus the bucket) could pick them and put them in the shop.

    Last night I won an online auction for a Kempsmith model 2G plain horizontal mill and some tooling. Here's a link to the auction if you want to see a picture

    Anyways, I didn't get to inspect it up close before the auction becuase the rep from the auction house was late on the day of the inspection and I had to get to work. I can't blame them, things happen, people are sometimes late for work. I have no complaints about them. Besides, people not getting a chance to inspect machine equipment shouldn't make the price go up.

    I did get to peek in the windows though and I could see where the mill was located and what it would take to rescue it. It was in a basement shop, but there was an alley dug down that lead to a wide door that was just over 6 feet tall. The mill was off to the right, kind of behind some other stuff. I could see that we'd have to use a strap to drag it to the door and then pick it with a fork truck of some type.

    Anyways... I won the auction last night, so today I had to get into gear.

    I have an F250 turbo diesel and so does my cousin Paul - who used to repair Mazak equipment for a living. Paul is a great guy who is always ready to lend a hand on any type of machinery related project. We both have trailers that normally hau off-road Jeep (your basic car trailer). As I menioned earlier, I have a skid loader too, but it is not even close to big enough to pick that Kempsmith. No problem with a round arm Bpt colum with the turret off, but that's about 1/2 of the weight of that Kempsmith. So I called my friend Dave with a much bigger skid loader, the problem was that he didn't have his skid loadr trailer handy and he was heading off to the auto auction and wouldn't be back until 2:30 this afteroon. My next call was to my friend Mike who live out by the place where the mill was. His company's skid loader was on a job, but he gave me the name of a rental place. The rental place didn't have a skid loader big enough, but they suggest I call Herculift . It turns out that herculift was only a couple miles out of the way and they had a 3000lb rated forklift for rent for $100 a day. Nice people there too. We got out there at about 11:30, signed my name on a piece of paper and was handed the keys to the forklift. They didn't even ask if I knew how to drive it. At any rate, major problem 1 solved. I had a lift truck capable of picking the Kempsmith.

    Now onto major problem 2: Getting the fork truck to where the Mill was located. Paul's trailer deck is lower and he has a dovetail, so we opted for his trailer. We were only about 1000lbs over the max weight of his axles. Fortunatley, the tires weren't over max weight and we didn't have to go over 45 mph between here and there. We drove cautiously and had no problems at all on the trip out or back.

    Geez I'm rambling, I bet there's a ton of mis-spelling in there too... Back to the story.

    Major problem 3: Getting the mill out of the basement. We got there and started dragging the mill to the door, using nylon tow straps and moving it inches at a time before we had to re-position the forklift in the narrow alley. This is a process that took about 2 hours total, spread over 3 hours becuase we stopped to haul stuff for other people. Did I mention that I had the only forklift out there? It was nice when people offered to chip in on the rental.

    Eventually, the mill was at the door and... the forklift bareley picked it off the ground half way out on the forks - but that's as close to the door as we could get the mill and the fork truck didn't fit through the door. We picked it by the overarm. The mill had the manuals with it, and this was the place suggested by the manufacturer. Shuffle the mill back a foot and a half and try again. It felt a little better up by the base of the forks. There was no way I was going to be able to back up the hill with that Mill on the forks though.

    I ended up backing about 20 ft out of the shop and setting the mill down. Then I drove to the top of the sloping alley and backed down. I tried to drive out again, no dice. Not enough weight on the driving tires when facing uphill and in the dirt. There was no room to turn around either. The only way out was to pick the mill to get more weight on the driving tires and drive - so I did. A pickup blocked the road at the top. I tried to sneak around and found a hole in the yard with the right front tire. I should have known better, but I was hot and hungry and tired at this point. I have learned to drop the bucket on my skid loader if it starts to tip forwards. Apparently this works on Forklifts too. I hit the handle to drop the forks, and the tipping stopped. The mill and the fork truck were now slightly off kilter and the Fork truck won't move becuase a tire was in a hole (damned open differential, it should have a cable actuated locking differential for this situation).

    The guy in the truck comes to the rescue and gives a gentle pull back. The fork truck was righted, but the mill was slightly off the road. I went around to the other side and picked 1/2 way out on the forks again and was able to bring it safley onto the road. Regular trailer loading experiences ensued from there and the adrenalin level began to drop.

    Next we had to retrieve screw machine that Paul had paid a whopping $1.50 for. This was back in another shed with a low door height. There were about half a dozen other screw machines in there too. A guy with a tilting bed type car hauler had loaded three already, but ours was still 3 back. He couldn't tilt his ramp anymore because of the load on it, but his winch could pull the machines to the door and from there we could fork them out of the building. With a little co-operation, we had the machines out of the shed and loaded in about an hour.

    That brings us up to about 5:00. Paul and I wanted to return the forklift today rather than haul it 60 miles home and 60 back tomorrow. We took off for the rental place at a cautious pace again and arrived at about 6:00. The few cars left in the parking lot were leaving and the door to the rental office was locked, but I heard a bang from around the side of the building. I wandered back, greeted the person who had made the noise and explained our situation. It turned out that he was the rental manager and we were able to return the fork truck that night.

    That's basically the end of the adventure. The drive home after that was un-eventful and the mill and screw machine are on my trailer, coated in LPS3 rust inhibitor and under a tarp. All the arbors, tooling and the vertical head (which seems to use the same MT2 tooling as my M-head!) are in the shop already. I'll get Dave's skid loader tomorrow or the next night and move the mill into the shop then.

    I warned you it was long winded. I just wanted to share the experiences of a hobbyist trying to bring a big machine home without professional help. It was a lot of work and I'm exhausted. I will seriously consider hiring a rigger next time... If there is a next time.

  • #2

    I enjoyed your story, sounds like the things I get into. I'm always loading too big a load on too small a trailer and limping home hoping the DOT or Highway Patrol ignores me. Anyway, that's why we have backroads up here in boondock USA. How old is your Lodge& Shipley? I've got an 1905, 16" L&S.. wore out but it suits me.


    • #3
      Congrats on the new toy!I always remember the A-team"I love it when a plan comes together
      It reminds me of one of my adventures,I too had a B-port round ram,I got it from a guy who was tearing down an old mill in N.O.LA.The place was in the middle of cracktown,needles and crap all over the ground,people passed out in the gutter,burned out cars on the sidewalk you get the picture,anyway I got there along with my uncle and his 3/4 ton Chevy and a 2t cable comealong!An American made one not HF though.
      Well I rolled the mill about 150' with a dolly and a pry bar and got it to the back of the truck,ran a chain over a 10x10"wood beam that was only half rotten Hooked the comealong into the eyebolt on the mill ram(this is when my a-- started puckering)and cranked away-oh did I mention that I was standing on top of the table on the way up?no guts no glory!Well it held,we loaded it and thats when the guy says"hey, how much of this other stuff do you guys want?With out skipping a beat my uncle says"we got 2"of spring travel left I got a Pexto bench punch,2 48"shop fans,a Hausfeld bender and a few other things and we hit the road.
      Looking back it went really well,but now that I am older I bring a Buget electric hoist with me
      I just need one more tool,just one!


      • #4
        Part of the 'lure' of new toys is in the transport logistics and the inevitable re-organising of the shop to accommodate the new toy. I get a kick out of getting any toys large or small. Small tooling has to have a place where you know its going to be! This often means a major re-org and parts getting bounced around from tool draws, to hooks on a tool board, to boxes under the bench, etc, All dependent on the tool hierachy. Big tooling is just an excuse for a complete re-vamp of the shop.

        I enjoyed sharing your experiances in getting the mill. Just one small question, did you get it from a military establishment? I like the 'camo' paint finish!!!!



        • #5
          Thanks everyone.

          Dhammer, I was told that the Lodge was built in 1903 but I haven't confirmed that. I could post a picture if you'd like. Do you know of any way to decode the serial number? I found the number at the tail stock end of the ways, but I don't have it in front of me right now.

          WS, free Hossfeild bender and Pexto punch? Score! That was probably worth the ride on the bpt table while you hoisted it.

          RR, It was a private party. It just has a bad paint job. Looks like off-white over the original dark gray, with a lot fo the white chipped away.

          I do have some re-arranging to do. I've got an M38A1 tub in the back of the shop that will have to go outside. The tub is kind of rusty and ratty, so it's not a big deal. And I need to build shelves. Lots of shelves.

          Unfortunatley, the kempsmith is still on the trailer. I hope to get it in the garage tomorrow evening, becuase I need the trailer for a week long Jeep trip starting Saturday.