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Batmobile machine shop for the machinist on the go

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  • Batmobile machine shop for the machinist on the go

    Park it at the beach, take it on vacation, and maybe even make some money on it. Looks like fun!

    Not affiliated in any way. H/T to Ironhorse, the lurking HSMer.

  • #2
    How cool! If I got that, I could clear out my garage and actually park a car in it. Very novel. And with a 60KW generator I would not care too much about power outages either. Many advantages to owning this. I'd better go talk to my wife.
    Last edited by alanganes; 01-07-2012, 02:06 PM.


    • #3
      I wish I was loaded, I'd go grab that just for the heck of it.

      Does anybody recognize what kind of lathe that is, it looks reasonably modern.

      Paul T.


      • #4
        That does look like a solid lathe, and I doubt they skimped on it.

        The whole idea is interesting, basically having a mobile machine shop. For those who might move around a lot it would provide a way to transport the lot of it without the hassle of rigging, hoisting, skidding, etc of the heavy machines.

        For the typical HSM'ist, I see it as being most practical if it is independently driveable. This would mean using a converted bus or similar. You would jack up the frame once on site to take the load off the axles, and you would probably skirt it in to protect the tires and give some partially protected room underneath for materials, etc. I also envision being able to park it in such a way that an outdoor covered hallway of sorts can be built between the entranceway and an exterior door of the house or garage.

        You would likely run afoul of local codes though. This is something you would want to thoroughly investigate beforehand.

        To me, approaching retirement age and probably needing to downsize to some degree, I could see such a thing as a way to keep the workshop operating and having somewhere to stay in a pinch while the rest of the domestic scene is ironed out. I've known people who lived in converted buses for years, not that I'd be looking forward to that kind of lifestyle. This living arrangement would be interim- the typical thing here is to have a mobile home or trailer, which you would vacate once the new home has been built on that piece of land out in the country (how many of these dreams actually work out as you'd like them to-)

        Anyway, to convert a bus to a workshop, I think I'd want to remove many of the windows and do a decent job of filling the gaps in and insulating, etc. Where there's to be a piece of heavy machinery, I'd look into whether there's a need to reinforce the floor, etc. I'd also try to plan it out so the bus still has a reasonably well-balanced loading side to side and front to back. You'd want it to be safe to drive.

        Hmm- I think I've skewed away from the original post in this thread- I can't see needing a 60 kw generator for a shop this small, unless the purpose was to drag it to a work site and actually use it as intended. What do you tow that thing with?
        I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-


        • #5
          GSA sells these periodically; some are in better shape than others - this one is pretty nice. Takes a big fifth wheel to move a nice 10 ton rig (you can get those from Uncle Sam too).


          • #6
            Looks like a pretty nice rig for a mobile mechanic that goes into places that can accommodate a tractor trailer rig of that size. Not really something that would be practical for the backyard.

            I also noticed that the headstock, compound, and tailstock appear to be on risers, must have been a modification to the lathe to meet a maximum diameter turning spec for the military.

            I wonder what various military mobile shops look like now.
            Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
            Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

            Location: British Columbia


            • #7
              Sweet, Looks to me as though it is in real good shape for military equipment.


              • #8
                Wot a wuckin' furry with having to re-level the lathe each time you needed to use it if it had been moved since the last (re)levelling. You'd soon get sick of or frustrated with that and would be tempted to take a chance and let it go and use it "as is" as "near enough".

                I can hear the "it must be precisioned levelled before ya use it" crowd now.

                Here is an OZ (where else?) solution that meeds no fifth wheel or prime mover.


                • #9
                  Looks like the old bus Ken Howard (AKA Von Dutch) used to have on his property in Topanga Canyon. When he wasn't pin-striping, his other hobby was making unusual guns and swords.
                  No good deed goes unpunished.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by oldtiffie
                    Wot a wuckin' furry with having to re-level the lathe each time you needed to use it if it had been moved since the last (re)levelling. You'd soon get sick of or frustrated with that and would be tempted to take a chance and let it go and use it "as is" as "near enough".
                    Granted a trailer is likely going to flex a bunch more than a ship, but how is it different that a lathe in the machine room on a military ship? I thought the tailstock end of the bed was mounted on some kind of pivot to avoid twisting the bed??? The pics on the OP's link don't show the end of the bed very well, so maybe that was done here too?



                    • #11

                      I'ver used a lathe on a Naval Destroyer as well as an Aircraft Carrier. In smooth to mild seas OK, but the main problem was hanging on!! And by and large the work turned out pretty well. Weapons systems were precision-levelled in harbour or on blocks in dry-dock but they sure lost there relative levelling in a sea-way (it was compensated for electronically by reference to a gyro but that was a "one size fits all" correction which was not the case more often than not - but "near enough" I'd guess).

                      I spent a bit of time at the Woomera Test Range and the fitting a machining facilities on 6 x 4's (Army) truck were pretty "rugged" (as was the ride over the "gibber" stones in the desert on recovery/repair duties on the missile testing ranges). I can't ever remember having to have the truck or the lathe level - but under the conditions we operated in, it did pretty well. The workshops were marginally better.

                      I spent three of my five year apprenticeship at the support facility Long Range Weapons Establishment (LRWE) - and later renamed Weapons Research Establishment (WRE) at Salisbury in South Australia. My parents spent 14 years at Woomera while I boarded in Adelaide.


                      • #12
                        Ain't no way I'd drive a converted bus with a lathe , or worse yet, a Bridgeport fastened to, at best, a 12 gage floor.I think you will find the floor of the military trailer has substantial structure under all the necessary places. Thhe military , from my experience uses a safety factor of at least 10 .Bob.


                        • #13
                          The trailer in the link is an oldie, and not a goody IMHO, 70's design and likely build. The price is also rather ridiculous. When my father was still actively in the business we used to see these sell regularly for $1500-2k mostly complete and needing nothing to go down the road.

                          Ive posted this before, but will add it again bc Willy asked about the modern version of the trailer. I "owned" (not literally) one of the early FRS's for 5.5 years. I could roll up, drop the frs (pronounced "fresh") in under a minute thanks to being built on a "roll off"/"hook"/"load handling system" body and be open for business. It had every imaginable variety of mechanic's tools and all of the popular welding/cutting processes held solidly inside of stanley-vidmar cabinets with foam cutouts for every single wrench and socket. It also has a 30 kw onan gen set, crane, 150 cfm IR compressor, and could sleep six while maintaining 50F internally when it was -70 outside (been there, done that, very important to a traveling soldier). The only downside is that 12 tons mounted on a truck that typically has an 11 ton capacity makes for a rather scarey ride off road and at high speed. I could get the truck up to ~80 with some "modifications" but really didnt want to with that much weight being so high above the center of gravity.

                          Beyond that, I dont think there is a current version of a mobile machine shop due to machinists being slowly phased out in the Army at least. Most today get attached to either a motorpool or aviation unit and cross-trained as weldors.
                          "I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer -- born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in the steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace, and propelled by compressible flow."


                          • #14

                            Thanks for posting the link to the M-7 FRS maintenance system.
                            It makes sense to have a highly mobile platform mounted unit like this. Battleground logistics dictate that it can be loaded on a C-130 for rapid deployment, mounted on a truck to it's location, and yet not tie up that truck so that it can perform other duties.
                            Very impressive piece of hardware.
                            Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
                            Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

                            Location: British Columbia


                            • #15
                              Bill Laughridge of Cylinder & Slide Shop used to haul a trailer to major pistol matches with a smallish lathe and bench top mill, along with other tools and merchandise to sell. It was a converted roach coach catering trailer, a fairly big one at around 18-20 feet long as I recall. Still a bit cozy with selling stuff out the side and doing emergency gun work for customers at matches like the Bianchi Cup.

                              David Kaiser
                              “You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once.”
                              ― Robert A. Heinlein