Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest
If the type is too small, Ctrl+ is your friend

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Milling Machine Move

Dennis, Osmany, Jack and the milling machine on the drop bed trailer

Jack has a small, bench top milling machine. He's had it for a long time, long enough for him to become familiar with its shortcomings, shortcomings that make doing any kind of precision work a bit of an ordeal. So he looked around and found a much larger, floor based machine for sale a few miles away. Now all he has to do is move it across town and into his garage. This is going to be a bit of a trick because the machine weighs pert near 4,000 pounds.

Jack prepared for this event by reserving a drop bed trailer, borrowing a pallet Jack from our fellow gearhead Marc, assembling a selection of heavy duty do-dads and gee-gaws that looked like they might prove useful, and getting a number of friends to sign on to help.

Come the day of, I'm feeling poorly, seems something I ate is disagreeing with me, so I don't go, not that I would be much help, stove up like I am. But around noon, I get a call from Jack telling me that while he is all set, none of the other folks showed up either. I might be useless, but I have Osmany and I dragoon him into helping. Good thing too, I don't know if we would have been able to get the job done without him.

We drive to the pick up spot and at first we don't see Jack's truck because he has driven up the narrow ass driveway to the back of the house. It's 100 feet from the street to the back fence, and Jack is right up against that fence. The milling machine is sitting in an oversize two car garage. A path has been cleared across the floor. The floor and the driveway are concrete and in excellent condition. All we have to do is get the mill up on the pallet jack and we can roll it out and onto the trailer.

The first problem is to get the mill away from the wall. We don't make much progress until we learn that the concrete footer protrudes a good six inches above the floor.  With some wood blocks (cribbing) and a six foot steel pry bar, we (Osmany) are able to move it a foot or so away from the wall.

Now we commence jacking it up. We do this one corner at a time, 3/4" at a time. Lift the corner with the pry bar, slide in a wood block. Lifting up one corner also lifts the other corner on the same side, but we have our boards underneath the front and rear edge of the machine to give us enough space to slide the pallet jack in between them. Coming in from the front would not give us as much overlap over the tines. We don't want this thing tipping over or sliding off the pallet jack. Coming in from the side will give us the most overlap. Just tipping the base of this thing 3/4" is scary enough as it is. We repeat this like four times for each corner and now the machine is sitting 3" in the air, high enough to slide the pallet jack in.

We roll it out of the garage and now we are looking at a maybe 2" high rounded curb that we need to cross. Somebody thought a piece of 3/4" plywood would give us enough of a step to be able to get over the curb, but after jacking this thing up and rolling it out the door, we have a much better appreciation of how much mass we are dealing with. We don't even attempt to scale the plywood.

If Jack had backed the truck in, the curb would not be an issue. Jack tried several times to back in without success and he eventually gave up and drove in forwards. Now I get the big idea to unhook the trailer and wheel it out of the way so we can back the truck out. Backing the truck in without a trailer should be a cinch, and we should be able to reconnect the trailer easily enough and then we'd be golden. Hah.

Block the trailer wheels, disconnect the safety chains and wires and start spinning the handle on the trailer tongue jack. This goes on for while and eventually I come to the end, but the foot still hasn't reached the ground. I say it's done, but Jack is sure it will go farther, after all he remembers the guy at the rental yard pulling a pin out of a hole in the jack and that hole has not appeared yet, so there must be more to go. So we put Osmany on the crank. He gives it a turn and the jack breaks and the handle now spins freely.  Wonderful. We spend half an hour dismounting the jack and attempting to repair it, unsuccessfully.

We borrow a hydraulic jack and continue trying to disconnect the trailer. Everything is loose, but the hitch won't come loose from the ball. Jacking up the trailer simple lifts the back end of the truck. There must be some tension in the hitch, but we are unable to relieve it. It was baffling. I suppose we are getting tired.

Okay, nothing for it but to back the truck and trailer back down the driveway and for reason I get appointed. The driveway itself is fine, maybe ten feet wide, but we have the house right up against one side with several utility protrusions. On the other side is a one foot tall concrete curb and I get to back Jack's new truck and the new rental trailer down this gauntlet. No fun at all, but with a dozen or so back and forths, I get it done. Now we need to back the trailer up the driveway. Fortunately we realize that we only need to go as far as the front of the house as the driveway is nearly flat to the point. I go back and forth a couple of dozen times, but I've exhausted my trailer backing skill supply. We turn it over to Osmany. He has almost as much trouble as I did, but he eventually gets it lined up. 

I used to deal with trailers on a regular basis 50 years ago and my younger self would have had no trouble with this. But my experience soured me on trailers and I had successfully avoided them until today. I just hope it doesn't happen again.

Now that we have the trailer in position we easily roll the mill down the driveway and on board the trailer. Tie it down and away we go. Osmany and I are following Jack and Dennis back to Jack's house and I realize I am missing my gloves. No big loss, they are pretty old and raggedy. We get to Jack's and there are my gloves sitting on the fender of the trailer. Surprised to see them we surmise that I put them there and they sat there for the whole trip back to Jack's. No, that's not the case, I left them in Jack's truck and he set them on the fender when he got home.

Jack crosses his driveway and then backs up maybe six feet till the end of the trailer crosses the edge of the driveway. From there it's simple matter to roll the mill into his garage. Having a concrete driveway helps. Now we just have to repeat the jacking process in reverse until the mill is on the floor, then we can celebrate with a glass of Old Crow.


Chris said...

You guys are amazing! Well done.

xoxoxoBruce said...

Moving machinery is scary shit. If you drop it there is no embarrassed "Sorry" and start over.