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mill move - tiltback flatbed? really?

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  • mill move - tiltback flatbed? really?

    I need to move a Bridgeport-sized vertical mill. The seller can't lift it. I can't lift it onto a truck or trailer.
    Therefore I'm looking to hire a guy with a truck. I have heard that guys have had machine tools successfully moved with a flatbed tow truck, what I would call a tiltback wrecker. Even with the head upside down sitting on the knee a mill is pretty top-heavy, though.

    I need to know if you know for sure if a 2500-lb (ish) Bridgeport-type vertical mill can be winched up onto a flatbed and lowered back down at the other end safely. I'm not really looking for an opinion, I really need to know hard information as to whether not this will work.

    Thanks!

    metalmagpie

  • #2
    I do not know about winching one onto a tiltback wrecker.
    But if you have access to a suitable trailer or truck you could call a wrecker at both ends to lift it on/off the trailer/truck.
    That's how I moved mine.
    Lynn (Huntsville, AL)

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    • #3
      Originally posted by lynnl View Post
      I do not know about winching one onto a tiltback wrecker.
      But if you have access to a suitable trailer or truck you could call a wrecker at both ends to lift it on/off the trailer/truck.
      That's how I moved mine.
      What kind of wrecker can lift a mill?

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      • #4
        I would advise against it due to the top heavy nature of the the mill. You will have to go to extraordinary measures to keep it from tipping when loading it on and off the deck. Having loaded many top heavy items onto tilt decks (no milling machines) I can attest to the fact that this can be a trying experience especially with a piece of delicate machinery like a mill.

        Have you entertained a flatbed truck with a hydraulic crane? Cost will probably be the same as a wrecker and it will be so much easier loading and unloading.

        Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
        Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

        Location: British Columbia

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        • #5
          Originally posted by metalmagpie View Post
          What kind of wrecker can lift a mill?
          The ones I called!

          I would think any towing company could do it for you. Just discuss it with them beforehand so they'll know what equipment is needed.
          Lynn (Huntsville, AL)

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          • #6
            The short answer is yes, you can successfully move a Bridgeport type mill on a ramp truck. The long answer is that there are some preparations that must be completed before the mill is moved. With the head inverted and the knee lowered, the mill is reasonably steady front to back, but side to side stability needs to be enhanced with some stabilizing beams bolted to the base and running parallel to the table X axis. Install a pair of five foot long 4x4s, lag bolted through the base using the holes cast into the machine should be sufficient.

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            • #7
              I don't know about the wrecker, but another option might be an engine hoist. I used one to lift my Bridgeport clone off the trailer when it came home; no issues. The only caveat might be the total height it can lift, if your trailer is tall.

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              • #8
                I just bought a Bridgeport and it will be loaded into the bed of a pickup. I intend to load it in pieces with an engine hoist--The table, head, ram, knee then the column. At least that's the plan.

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                • #9
                  This guy did it.

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                  • #10
                    Really. I have picked up at terminal and dropped off into my garage shop (with very tricky approach) mills and a lathe via tilt bed. Works slick as can be. Two guys can push off of the tilted bed and onto floor by themselves in my experience. All my tools came bolted on 4x4 posts. Winching onto bed even easier if need be. Only close call I had was clearance at top of machine when unloading. In that case the guy unloaded it in front of the garage, and skillfully nudged it into garage with edge of bed.

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                    • #11
                      I would just rent a drop deck trailer from Herc rentals (hertz). They have them in a few sizes up to like 10,000lbs. It takes some muscle with a prybar and some pipes, but it's cheaper than a rollback and safer IMO. Platform drops to the ground, roll mill onto it and strap down. I did this when I moved my shop from bothell to lacey, with lathes and mills.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by metalmagpie View Post
                        ..................... I'm not really looking for an opinion, I really need to know hard information as to whether not this will work.
                        Had it done twice. Didn't even flip the head upside down. Works fine AS LONG AS THE TRUCK OPERATOR KNOWS HOW TO WINCH MACHINERY AND HOW TO TIE IT DOWN PROPERLY.

                        Steve

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by CCWKen View Post
                          I just bought a Bridgeport and it will be loaded into the bed of a pickup. I intend to load it in pieces with an engine hoist--The table, head, ram, knee then the column. At least that's the plan.
                          I can see maybe pulling the head and ram in one piece off, but not the rest unless maybe it's going in a basement via stairs.

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                          • #14
                            No real problem. For my last move, they put my MillRite on a pair of Travel Lifts (kind of like a mini-forklift) and carefully winched it onto the back of a roll-back wrecker. The knee was lowered as far as it would go, the head was inverted and the table removed ( so it would fit through the door). At the other end we rolled it off the bed and onto the garage floor. Smooth a silk. Just go slow and don't make any quick moves. Bridgeport is heavier, so a little more caution needs to be taken.

                            Craig

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                            • #15
                              When I moved mine I used a car trailer and ramps and a come along. Not the easiest method but I couldn't afford to rent forklift. I got a 4x5 sheet of 3/8 plate and had a welding shop bend the leading 3" about 30 degrees to make a ramp and pulled the mill onto the sheet and strapped it down. Took a lot of the "tippiness" out of the project. Then I used pipes to roll it out of the shop and up onto the trailer. Did the same thing with the south bend lathe and used a floor jack on the leg end. I had a forklift at home for unloading and turned the plate into a table that I still use to this day 20 years later.

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