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Combo Cart Idea: Surface Plate AND Mill Vise/RT/Etc.

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  • Combo Cart Idea: Surface Plate AND Mill Vise/RT/Etc.

    I just had a wild idea. My shop is a two car garage, basically 20' x 20', so space is limited. For some time I have been thinking about getting a larger surface plate: I have a 9" x 12" now and that is only good for small parts. I do not have any good way for storing my 10" RT, it's tailstock, my angle plate, my milling vise, etc. So, I am wondering if I can kill two birds with one stone.

    Make a steel (angle, channel) frame cart on large wheels for easy movement. Make a top that is at the same height as my mill table and mount it on two heavy duty bearings at the center of the long sides. Add tie downs for the various items to be stored there.

    On the flip side of that top, make a mount for a new surface plate with the three point suspension. Again, add some clamps to hold the plate when it is flipped over.

    The two ends would be open to allow the top to flip over with the various things on it.

    Since the balance would not be exact, I would probably need some kind of braking and cranking mechanism to aid in turning it over. Perhaps a gear motor with a chain drive: I am lazy and too old to trust my muscles with that kind of weight. I can barely lift the RT now and have no idea if I can lift a new surface plate onto a table. A cord on a spring retractable reel to plug it in. Electrical interlocks on those clamps to prevent dumping them. And lock-downs for the table at each end of rotation, also interlocked.

    I may need a bridge piece to aid in sliding the mill items back and forth. Or perhaps a small crane with stabilizing legs below that extend under the mill table.

    I may have to learn welding for this. I need/want to anyway. I think I am going to look up the weights of some surface plates.

    Your thoughts? Am I crazy? Great idea? Or what?
    Paul A.
    SE Texas

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

  • #2
    I think it's a great idea. I also think that you simply need to rig up a gear or chain drive and crank handle setup that gives you the mechanical advantage you need to make it work easily instead of using a complicated motor drive setup and moving the darn cord around.

    Carts on wheels is a great option for storage in a mixed use shop such as a garage that still needs to let you move a car in and out at need.

    One issue is how to hold the surface plate so the edges are clear and not fouled with hold down clamp fingers. That one I'm not sure about. Perhaps a lid that serves as both a cover to keep grit and dust off the stone as well as hold it in the tray when inverted? It would need to be pretty skookum. But you'll be working with heavy stuff just to make this cart and for the clamping setup of the RT and other heavy items on the other side.

    OK, what about a cart which is a bit longer where you can have the surface plate on one side and the items clamped to the table on the other? The benefit here is that you don't lose all that swing area below the rotating table. So you can install drawers and really make this cart store a heap of goodies for the mill or some other use. It could almost be another work bench if done well with a work top that also serves as a lid for the SP. Of course that depends on what size of plate you are considering.
    Chilliwack BC, Canada

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Paul Alciatore View Post
      I just had a wild idea. My shop is a two car garage, basically 20' x 20', so space is limited. For some time I have been thinking about getting a larger surface plate: I have a 9" x 12" now and that is only good for small parts. I do not have any good way for storing my 10" RT, it's tailstock, my angle plate, my milling vise, etc. So, I am wondering if I can kill two birds with one stone.

      Make a steel (angle, channel) frame cart on large wheels for easy movement. Make a top that is at the same height as my mill table and mount it on two heavy duty bearings at the center of the long sides. Add tie downs for the various items to be stored there.

      On the flip side of that top, make a mount for a new surface plate with the three point suspension. Again, add some clamps to hold the plate when it is flipped over.

      The two ends would be open to allow the top to flip over with the various things on it.

      Since the balance would not be exact, I would probably need some kind of braking and cranking mechanism to aid in turning it over. Perhaps a gear motor with a chain drive: I am lazy and too old to trust my muscles with that kind of weight. I can barely lift the RT now and have no idea if I can lift a new surface plate onto a table. A cord on a spring retractable reel to plug it in. Electrical interlocks on those clamps to prevent dumping them. And lock-downs for the table at each end of rotation, also interlocked.

      I may need a bridge piece to aid in sliding the mill items back and forth. Or perhaps a small crane with stabilizing legs below that extend under the mill table.

      I may have to learn welding for this. I need/want to anyway. I think I am going to look up the weights of some surface plates.

      Your thoughts? Am I crazy? Great idea? Or what?
      That's actually really good idea. make sure use nothing less than a quarter inch anything.lol. yeah that's some weight you're talking about

      fcawvegasbob

      Comment


      • #4
        Yes, it is some weight. I have to look up the weights first. That's the starting point.

        As for a longer cart, I don't know. As I said, limited space so I would want it as compact as possible.

        Another thought I just had is there could be three mounting surfaces for "things" in a triangular arrangement. That would increase the storage space and perhaps one could be for lathe tooling. I can only work at one station at a time.

        The tie-downs for the surface plate would be wood, probably pine so they wouldn't do any damage. Zero knots in them. I think two or three 2X4s or 2X6s on edge would probably do it. I will need to look up some strengths of the materials. I don't know if a cover would be needed if it is stored upside down. Perhaps a light cover for when it remains on top.

        I just looked up some weights. A 24" x 36" is probably as large as I could want and only weighs around 365 to 430 pounds. Definitely more than I want to pick up, but not as bad as it could be. Or an 18" x 24" is only 170 to 180 pounds.

        No motor? Boo, Hiss! Oh well, that was icing on the cake. But I do kind of like it. Could I use just a small one? Please?

        If it is manual, I think I would have to use a worm drive, which is self locking. The motor may be less expensive. As for plugging it in, my 20' x 20' garage/shop has 16 wall and ceiling mounted outlet boxes with two 230 Volt circuits and eight 115 Volt ones. In addition, each bench and my lathe table has utility boxes or strips that are plugged into one of those permanent ones. It is hard to be more than a step or two from a power outlet. If I do this I will definitely add a utility box or strip on the mill.

        Oh boy, here comes another project.
        Last edited by Paul Alciatore; 06-16-2016, 09:52 PM.
        Paul A.
        SE Texas

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

        Comment


        • #5
          It sounds like a good idea to me. We all have to make the best out of the limited space we have.

          I have my 18x24 surface plate sitting on top of one of my Kennedy cabinets. It fit just perfectly.


          JL............

          Comment


          • #6
            I like the combo idea, my shop space is not tiny, but it not huge and pretty full. So I appreciate efficient use of space. While this is different that what you are proposing, for storing the milling vise, I think it is hard to beat one of these swing away storage arms as shown here:



            We had a commercial version of these in the shop at a place I worked a while back, except they were mounted to the side of the mill column. Worked really well.

            Your idea is good. In my case, I have a larger one, but don't use it terribly often so having that space available do double duty would be a great option.

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            • #7
              The three sided option sounds like a winner. At least that way the swept volume during rotation holds one whole extra surface worth of goodies.

              And best of all the gearing or chain drive setup for rotating the unit could then be located inside the triangle.

              What I'm thinking is that with some gearing or a multiple chain and cog setup you can have it so you need something like 5 or 6 cranks of a handle to move through 1/3 of a turn. That would make it super easy to manage without the need for a power cord or an onboard battery.
              Chilliwack BC, Canada

              Comment


              • #8
                In the "shop made tools" thread there is a post about a chop saw table for 2 chop saws that rotates to allow the operator to choose which saw was needed for the operation. You could use something like that, but use it for storage/use of your rotary table and surface plate. The heavier tool would be offset by the weight of the lighter tool, so you would only be lifting the difference in weight (i.e. 180 lbs for the weight of the surface plate - the weight of the rotary table) and you would only be rotating that. Worm gear seems like a lot of trouble to go to for not much gain.
                Hi, my name is Wilson and I am a tooloholic.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Here's a rotating tool table similar (I think) to what your are describing.

                  http://www.doityourself.com/forum/el...d-table.html#b
                  John Titor, when are you.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Ehhh, I think it would be only a matter of time till you forget to tighten one of those clamps properly and drop a rotary table on the floor (or on your foot!)

                    Since we are machinists, I wonder if we could make something better? for example, something more akin to a ferris wheel.

                    Except I am thinking with 2 'wheels' to keep objects parallel to the table top, and have the wheels 'under' the load.

                    Then you could even leave things on your surface plate while you rotate it.

                    Im thinking having both move, because then when you rotate it the cart won't unbalance and tip. Of course then you need space behind and infront of it when rotating.
                    Play Brutal Nature, Black Moons free to play highly realistic voxel sandbox game.

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                    • #11
                      Paul,

                      Maybe a bit simpler, but how about just making the cart for the surface plate, and then make a plywood cover for the surface plate. Put the R/T on top of the wooden cover. A sheet of HDPE on top of the cover would make sliding the R/T even easier.

                      Ian
                      All of the gear, no idea...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        You posed some questions in post #1. To answer the second one: Yes, you are, and so is everyone who posted encouragement.

                        I had to check to make sure yesterday wasn't National Wake Up Stoned Day.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          After consideration of the idea it got rejected on a couple counts.
                          Having built similar devices to position weldments w/3" plate that weighed several tons, you need careful consideration of the center of gravity and failsafe hold downs/clamps as the item rotates. All the items would need to be in the same position and constrained, or your drive/braking requires safety factors for that variable.
                          It takes discipline to keep objects off horizontal surfaces. A surface plate should have a cover if it is not in regular use. Removing whatever is on it to rotate sounds like a PITA.

                          Could you suspend your mill items from the ceiling and lower them w/ counterweighted cables and pulleys? Just a SWAG, but maybe they add up to a quarter ton or less. Shouldn't take much to bolster the roof framing, that's two big boy roofers and shingles. 'Course I don't know what you have for structure.
                          Or a lazy susan axled between floor and roof, back to the side of the mill. Use a chute board to get from shelf to mill deck.

                          Your surface plate table can then be used for underneath storage.

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                          • #14
                            Perhaps I mis-understand but are you proposing hanging your surface plate upside down? Does not seem wise to support your plate on anything but the airy points. Maybe it's not an issue, I don't know.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              ahh the need for space. A challenge I find is there are so many items that need a spot on a bench to be useful, but there is never enough bench space. otoh many are used somewhat infrequently but are too heavy to want to pull down off the shelf.

                              So.....combine the shelf and workbench, you can call it a Shench or a Worlf lol. The idea is to make a vertical carousel with 3 or 4 foot wide shelves hanging from a looped chain. on top of each shelf is a tray where the machines sit. It's motorized, and when a tray is in the right position, a lever/toggle thingy comes in from the side and lets you slide the tray out (or maybe 1/2 way out as with most items you working with the front of them) onto a rigid working area.

                              Its sort taking your idea of vertical stacking to the next next level. you'd get many times the space out of the vertical area

                              Short of the that major project, heavy items like RT's and dividing heads need some care in handling. To save space I eventually welding a rack where weight is taken by the floor but it is held vertical by they mill. One of table mounted cranes lifts items on and off. I can lift the 12" rotary table for example, but unless they reverse the aging process it will eventually get the better of me.....so I preemptively decided to stop lifting things that heavy
                              Last edited by Mcgyver; 06-17-2016, 01:53 PM.
                              in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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