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how to put a Bridgeport onto a pallet without a crane

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  • how to put a Bridgeport onto a pallet without a crane

    How to put a Bridgeport Mill onto a Pallet

    I recently decided to sell my Bridgeport mill. I found a buyer, we agreed on
    terms, the money changed hands, and we made arrangements for him to come
    back and pick it up. I was then faced with the problem of how to move the
    mill out of my shop and into the (flat) driveway.

    In the past I have done this or similar moves using an engine hoist and custom dolly. But this time I decided to use a pallet jack, because the buyer had one available at his end and because my friend had one I could borrow. The first thing I figured out was that you can't use a regular pallet with a pallet jack. You need a pallet open at the bottom, which requires a much sturdier-built pallet. Fortunately, my friend who owns the pallet jack also had an extra jackable pallet he let me have, which simplified matters enormously.

    Feeling cheerful and upbeat, I put the pallet jack and the pallet into my little trailer and towed them home, and rolled them into my shop. Then I realized: uh-oh, now what? There's a 2500 pound mill sitting next to a pallet whose top is 5-1/2" above the floor. I no longer own an engine hoist. How do you get a mill up onto a pallet without any kind of crane? I am writing this paper to describe how I did it.

    I did the whole thing using only a few tools. I used a 6' prybar bent at the end crowbar-style, I used a 4-ton "auto body repair" hydraulic jack kit, I used an additional 5" tall 2-ton hydraulic cylinder which works with the portapower, and I used an 18 pound sledgehammer. I also had some 3x24" strips of 16 gauge sheet steel on hand and I used two of them for this job also, along with many different blocks of metal and pieces of wood beams, etc.

    Here are some links:
    2 ton small ram:
    4 ton portapower kit:

    The very first thing I did was to stick the prybar under the little notch in the front of the Bridgeport's base, and pry it up a little, then slid some steel pieces under it with my foot while I held it up in the air. Then I put it back down. Now the front was up maybe 1/2". I used a block to raise the prybar, and repeated the maneuver, switching the metal dunnage each time to thicker stock. Eventually in this manner I got the front raised up about 1-1/2" and then I could get the little 5" hydraulic cylinder underneath the base and upright.
    It took some fiddling, but I was able to use the portapower to raise the front of the mill quite a bit more that way. I was able to raise it enough so that I could slip a 30" piece of 3-1/2" square tube under the mill behind the hydraulic ram. Then it was a simple matter of lowering the mill, putting a block under the little jack, raising it more and sliding the square tube back more until I had the front of the mill high enough to slide the front of the pallet under it by about an inch. At this point I stopped raising the front.

    I went around the back and put a whole bunch of extensions on my portapower ram, the regular one not the little 5" one. I angled the ram plus extensions quite a bit, and stuck the top end up under the ram where the ram just enters the mill base, and started raising the mill's back end, putting steel blocks underneath it, and then getting a fresh grip and raising it some more, until I had it high enough in the back to slide a piece of 8" I-beam all the way underneath it, then I put the mill down on the beam. At this point it was considerably higher in the front than in the back, and it was bearing solidly across the back and also the front, so there was no tendency at all to want to move sideways.

    Then I went back round the front and used the prybar to lift the front just enough to slip the two sheet metal strips under it, just barely enough, and put it down on them so the strips stuck out in front of the mill on the pallet like tire tracks. At that point, I just took the big hammer and pounded on the front of the pallet until it skidded nearly all the way under the mill. Finally, I
    lifted the back of the mill using the portapower plus extensions under the ram lug again, just enough so I could slide out the 8" beam, then put it down gently on the pallet.


    written April 2010


  • #2
    Originally posted by metalmagpie
    How to put a Bridgeport Mill onto a Pallet

    The first thing I figured out was that you can't use a regular pallet with a pallet jack. You need a pallet open at the bottom, which requires a much sturdier-built pallet.
    Nice write-up, goes to show that there is more than one way to skin a cat. Not sure what you are talking about on the pallet though. A standard pallet is 40" x 48" and works quite well with a standard pallet jack. A high lift pallet jack is a different story, then you need an open bottom pallet.



    • #3
      It's easy. You do as you did to lift it up, 1/2" at a time. Then you put two 2x4's, supported at one side by the pallet, the other by some blocks of wood. Now you roll it on to the pallet with pipe, then jack it up to get the pipe and 2x4's out, and then incrementally let it down.

      I've done that move a lot of times.


      • #4
        There's a guy who lifts multi-ton concrete 'standing stones' using that technique. He moves the stones - alone - using pebbles and a lever.

        He's trying to show it doesn't take UFOs or advanced technology to make Stonehenge and his argument is convincing.

        Ah here.


        • #5
          Raise the knee.

          Run the saddle back to bump the stop. Plant a couple of 2 x 4's cut to fit between the bottom of the table and the floor. Arrange the 2 x 4's vertically on either side of the machine base. Connect them with a piece of plywood (like the crosbar of an "H") to keep them from flopping sideways.

          With the 2 x 4's in place, crank down the knee. The table will contact the 2 x 4's and as the strain comes on them the toe of the machine will raise to pallet height. Once the toe of the machine base is on the pallet a couple of guys can see-saw the mill up into the center. Or you could use prybars and wood blocks.

          This throws a bit of a strain on the dovetails and the knee elevating screw but it works and the mills I've used this trick on came through it without a hitch.

          Yeah, it's a hay hand technique but I feel a little crude tonite. Personally I prefer a lifting horse and a chain hoist.
          Last edited by Forrest Addy; 04-24-2010, 05:02 AM.


          • #6
            Or you could get 100 chinamen to lift it onto the pallet.

            Mentally confused and prone to wandering!


            • #7
              It's only a Bridgeport, push it over on it's side, screw the pallet to the feet and push it back upright again.

              On second thought just push it over onto a pallet and strap it down, that way it won't be as top heavy.


              Sir John , Earl of Bligeport & Sudspumpwater. MBE [ Motor Bike Engineer ] Nottingham England.