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Colchester Master Mk1 lifting + moving advice

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choochoo_baloo28/10/2019 00:30:20
250 forum posts
54 photos

Dear all,

I'm finally able to move my under-cover Colchester Master Mk1 into it's proper home. It's still sat under tarpaulin from delivery.

The plan is:

  • Lift off the pallet onto scaffold poles
  • move about 50 yards on flat-ish ground,
  • lift up a step into the workshop

I've never moved a lathe of this size before. First step suggests an eye bolt + engine crane? What is the thread of the tapping in the lathe bed for the eye bolt?

Any advice will be gratefully received.

Nick M0NPH28/10/2019 06:46:15
24 forum posts

7/8 Whitworth but i think you should be ok with UNC or i think you can get / make a plate that goes under the slide and clamps on top with an eye bolt


Clive Foster28/10/2019 09:24:39
2204 forum posts
73 photos

If moving over "ground" rather than a hard pavement, concrete et al surface seriously consider splashing out on a couple of sacrificial sheets of shuttering ply or OSB to give a better surface to run on. Having used both I think OSB is a little better than shuttering ply as the surface is harder giving a cleaner roll for the poles. But OSB is more brittle and likely to break if the underlying surface is not flattish enough. Best is waterproof chipboard under floor board but thats getting spendy. Its advisable to use boards if you are moving over slabs too. If you don't odds are you will sit a lot of weight or the curve of the crowbar in just the wrong place to crack one.

A quick way to get unpopular with the domestic authorities!

As you have a full length base consider sliding the lathe along scaffold poles laid rail fashion rather than using them as rollers. Worked a treat for me with long lengths of thick wall 1" water pipe and a quick squirt of lube to help things along. Having used both rail and roll methods I now think rail style is a bit better unless there is a crossways slope which will let the rails roll sideways. Should I ever move a hefty machine again I'm minded to try some fairly hefty angle iron laid point up as rails. Probably need to blunt the corner tho'.


PS  Taking advice from a more experienced friend I flattened the end 4 inches or so of a 6 ft length of scaffold pole to make a hefty "lifter, pusher, lever alonger" thingy.  Very handy.  The extra leverage compared to the usual crowbar makes life far easier.

Edited By Clive Foster on 28/10/2019 09:24:54

Edited By Clive Foster on 28/10/2019 09:29:58

Edited By Clive Foster on 28/10/2019 09:30:27

Nigel McBurney 128/10/2019 19:52:06
708 forum posts
3 photos

I have owned round head and square head Masters ,and have also moved bridgeport mills and other machines plus lots of stationary engines 2 cwt to 2 1/2 tons. First thing avoid using scaffold pole tubing, its about 1 7/8 diameter and if one of the poles slips from under the machine or worse on one side the machine can possible tilt by nearly two inches and machine tools with some height and a narrow base are likely to get close to tipping over and on uneven or sloping ground the risk is greater ,3/4 inch bore water pipe is a lot safer Thats steel not plastic pipe !! A friend who has moved lots of machines only uses one inch solid bar as rollers, machines are too expensive to drop and very difficult to get upright.Greased steel plate was also a method of sliding machines along ,though not so easy for the amature to aquire. Three of us moved my long bed Master into position using an engine crane on the headstock end ,and a rectangular angle iron frame with three long rollers and spindles fixed to the frame,actually it was a length of roller conveyor cut short,stiffened and used upside down , the snag with moving the master with its pedestlal legs,with rollers is one is forever moving it a short distance and then having to reposition the rollers. With the engine crane and roller frame it can be pushed for a long distance especially if using 8 by 4 plywood sheets, use 19mm ply thinner ply will curl up with the weight ,a long bed Master is 3/4 of a ton.Take the move slowly and steadily do not rush , Regarding lifting eyes,my Colchester Triumph had its original lifting eye and this was stamped UNC

choochoo_baloo28/10/2019 21:18:48
250 forum posts
54 photos

Thanks chaps. I'm away from home so can't readily uncover the Master to check, but RE lifting eye bolt some places mention a steel plate that sits over the ways that seems to support the eye bolt.

Do I also need this plate, since this manual photo suggests just the eye bolt is needed - can't see a plate too?


Bob Stevenson28/10/2019 21:27:39
395 forum posts
6 photos

I have a very early Colchester Master (1946)'s about 30 years since I installed it in my workshop but it was not too bad to shift....first, remove the securing bolts that fix lathe bed to, go to local firestation with 'tinnies' under both arms..see the watch commander and ask very politely if the watch could pop round for lift when their session is over...they will get more 'tinnies'......

When the firemen come offer more tinnies and then organize lifting the lathe off of the stand and out to waiting vehicle....four fireman can lift/move/negotiate hazards quite speedily.

At my workshop I took advantage of some previous favours and selected the four strongest neighbours...unloaded from van...stand first (obviously!)...then the lathe out of van down the side passage, along patio, down path, into workshop and onto stand... It helps to remove anything possible from lathe such as chuck, tailstock etc.

Phil JOHNS28/10/2019 22:02:40
18 forum posts

When I moved house I employed a guy that moved grand pianos, he came with two piano trollies, jacked up my lathe, 400kgs Boxford, slid his trollies under it and rolled it out of my workshop, over the step and along the drive. At the other end the exact opposite. He did have trollies with pneumatic tyres but made the job look easy, no stress or strained backs. Cost me £100, he did say that lathes were easy compared to getting pianos up narrow staircase!

Clive Foster28/10/2019 23:34:12
2204 forum posts
73 photos

As I recall things the Master Mk 1 1/2 I helped move didn't have a tapped hole in the bed for an eyebolt.

It came with an eybolt fixed to hefty plate shaped to sit on top of and between the shears of the bed with a flat plate to bolt up underneath to hold it in place. The manual gave instructions on where to fit the plate and where to set the saddle and topslide to get the beast balanced.

I suspect the lifting plate rather than a tapped hole came in some time after the Master was introduced. The idea seems to have been kept for all the more modern machines.

Nigel is right about the risks from using scaffold poles rather than smaller diameter iron water pipe or solid bars. But plenty of machines have been moved safely on scaffold poles. Quite practical and safe so long as you are aware of the potential problems and the chosen route isn't demanding. I'm inclined to think that you need at least 4 poles decently longer than the machine is wide. If there are never less than three under it things are adequately safe. A 6 ft or more pole with flattened end as describe in my previous post can be very useful to teach the machine manners should it start to get out of line. Just the job for easing the machine up a bit so that wooden blocks can be popped under acting as brakes so it stays put whilst you take a think break or re-organise for the next part of the job.


Edited By Clive Foster on 28/10/2019 23:34:29

not done it yet29/10/2019 09:22:39
4635 forum posts
16 photos

I think the advice given so far is potentially dangerous for this poster. I would not be suggesting moving a lathe, on a base, for perhaps in excess of 50m over undefined terrain. ‘Flatish’ is not a good enough description.

To be safe my method might involve a suitable crane, another pallet and a pallet truck, at least. But actual details would require a good deal more applicable information before committing to the final details.

Mike Poole29/10/2019 11:02:55
2573 forum posts
60 photos

The biggest risk with a top heavy load like a lathe is toppling over, always make sure that you or any bits of you are never at risk if it goes over, you will not be able to save it so let it go. I would strip all parts off that could be damaged if it goes over and put some blocks of wood to take any impact if it does. A heavy gang may work hard assembling the gear to move things but they don’t use their own strength to do the lifting. It might just be worth employing some experienced people, apart from the exchange of drinking vouchers you won’t need to assemble and hire any gear, just make sure the kettle is working and you have some good tea, or coffee if they are a posh heavy gang.


Edited By Mike Poole on 29/10/2019 11:03:53

Bikepete29/10/2019 12:44:41
227 forum posts
16 photos

Agree re more info needed... also about the step into the workshop - how high is it? What's the access around it like? Pictures are always helpful

But my first thought was that if it's already secured to a pallet, I'd suggest leaving it on the pallet for moving. That's if the pallet is sound - if not it might be worth getting (or making) one that is and shuffling the lathe over onto it (and then bolting and/or strapping it down so it can't tip).

Depending on the surface it needs to be moved over, a pallet truck might then be all you need, at least as far as the step into the workshop. Place the pallet edge right up against the step then, if the step is roughly the same height as the pallet, the lathe could potentially slide straight off the pallet onto the workshop floor.

Howard Lewis29/10/2019 14:56:18
3264 forum posts
2 photos

+1 for leave it secured to the pallet, AND move over thick (18 mm min ) Ply, OSB, / Sterling Board.

Short (wider than the machine ) lengths of scaffold pole, (Again, at least 4 ) It should move quite easily.

Be VERY careful if the ground slopes downwards, think how you will positively be able to prevent the machine running away

Keep away from ground that slopes sideways, a recipe for a topple over, unless you are EXTREMELY careful.

If possible pack the boards so that they are leve, but not splitl.

Good luck!


peak429/10/2019 19:08:13
1094 forum posts
124 photos

I've just moved a workshop myself and also had a Warco 1330 delivered, which I needed to move into its final resting place; Also recently helped a friend move a large Elliot Turret mill and a Large lathe, Triumph I think. I've also had a fair amount of practice moving 10' x 4'6" equipment racks around at work, up to about 3/4 ton.

As with many of the above comments from other contributors, caution is advised. Yes it's good that metal to metal friction is fairly low, which helps one move stuff about, but it also allows things to go wrong very quickly.

You obviously don't need telling that you lathe will be fairly top heavy, so side slopes are to be treated with caution, and even on the level, things can still fall over. For that reason, I'd be reluctant to have longitudinal bars for the cabinet to slide along; if it slides off them, it's well on the way to falling over, due to the momentum.
Don't be afraid to have an extra rope(s) transverse to the bed, going to solid anchors, one either side, to ensure it all stays upright.

Steel rollers transverse to the bed work well enough; on a concrete floor I prefer thinner solid ones, but over an uneven surface, a larger diameter can be advantageous as it allows the roller to climb over the odd pebble etc. If a roller stops suddenly, there's a danger that the lathe can carry on going by sliding over the now stationary roller, due to the aforementioned low friction.

I don't know the layout of your garden, so am reluctant to give specific advice, more just food for thought. If your cabinet has suitable bolting down points, how about using them to attach two pieces of box section, transverse to the bed, with a wheel on each end. Anything to widen the "wheelbase" has to help stability.

Personally, this is the only way I'd use longitudinal rails to slide the lathe along, and then only angle iron, rather than scaff tube, unless the latter is somehow constrained to prevent it rolling.
Engine cranes, whilst having a decent capacity, are also quite cumbersome with something as wide and long as a lathe, particularly if the ground beneath is less than ideal. However, if you have one, maybe it could temporarily loan its castors to your two lengths of box section; they should have the capacity.

Here's how I've done stuff recently, utilising some specially designed angle brackets which were attached when I took delivery of a large and heavy cabinet at work, not sure of the weight but well over a ton.

I re-purposed the brackets, and use a couple of lengths of threaded rod at each end, to form a pair of cradles in which the lathe sits, shown here on a Myford, but have been used on bigger stuff such as my large fire safe. I think I used them on the big Warco as well. 600+Kg

Myford on Wheels

Myford on wheels

Myford on Wheels

If enlisting help, I always make it clear that only one person is in charge at any one time; it may or may not be me depending on the individual logistics. I prefer a rule that states anyone can shout Stop, but only the person formally in charge, at any one time, says Go. Discuss the plan in detail before moving anything, and make sure everyone fully understands it.
Also, its perfectly reasonable to hand control to someone else part way through a move, such as going through a door. I always do that formally, even if it does sound officious, i.e. "John, you're now in control"; make sure they've heard you and confirmed/agreed.

N.B. Ensure all personnel have an escape route in case it goes pear shaped.

Good Luck

p.s. whereabouts roughly are you in the country?

Edited By peak4 on 29/10/2019 19:16:14

choochoo_baloo29/10/2019 22:25:07
250 forum posts
54 photos

Thanks all for the helpful input. I know the time it takes to sit down a write a comprehensive post (I’ma slow typist by modern standards!) This is an excellent forum for noobs like myself.

I’m away from home atm - will post pics of the route

Hopper30/10/2019 10:35:33
4527 forum posts
94 photos
Posted by Phil JOHNS on 28/10/2019 22:02:40:

When I moved house I employed a guy that moved grand pianos, he came with two piano trollies, jacked up my lathe, 400kgs Boxford, slid his trollies under it and rolled it out of my workshop, over the step and along the drive. At the other end the exact opposite. He did have trollies with pneumatic tyres but made the job look easy, no stress or strained backs. Cost me £100, he did say that lathes were easy compared to getting pianos up narrow staircase!

^^^^^ The is is what I would be seriously looking at. A tonner well spent.

Moving a large lathe 50 metres over "flatish ground" is a big ask. Moving machinery on rollers is ok on nice flat, smooth, level concrete. I would not try it anywhere else. And an engine crane and a step would worry me too.

pgk pgk30/10/2019 11:06:02
1782 forum posts
287 photos

If rural with access then a local farmer and a telehandler is another method...

I shifted mine (still crated) using the lifting arms of my compact tractor and did the last bit in the shed with an engine crane.

not done it yet30/10/2019 11:19:52
4635 forum posts
16 photos

Well said, Hopper. As I see it, if it is OK for pipe rollers it is likely OK for a simple pump-truck. I have a mate with an engine crane that is suitable for a lift of over half a tonne - most aren’t - and it would not fit in, or on, my vehicle!

Moving heavy, potentially unstable, items by potentially non-practical personnel is a potential accident waiting to happen. Well, it would not really be an accident - as that is an unforeseen occurrence, not a predictable one.

This thread does not seem to sufficiently reflect the unseen dangers of shifting heavy kit. I only use rollers for short straight moves on good surfaces

Howard Lewis30/10/2019 12:07:12
3264 forum posts
2 photos

Two days ago helped to load a small lathe, (Warco 918?? ) onto a van with an engine crane. As soon as it was clear of the stand, it was lowered to near ground level. To keep the C of G as low as possible, this minimised risk of the whole outfit toppling over. This was pretty easy as the floor was either concrete or block paving.

You are dealing with at least a quarter of a ton of valuable machine, so taker no chances of injury to you, your helpers, or the machine..

Would not use longitudinal round bars or tubes. If there is ANY side slope the while thing will try to shoot off sideways. Even a push on a corner may do it! Use rollers across the machine. Gentle pushing can be used to steer it

Moving may be made easier, and safer if the machine is winched along, with other hands to help steer / brake it.

Even a ratchet strap can be used to do this. And it provides an additional steady tom reduce the risk of a run away or fall over.

Call in a few favours! Two sturdy friends, one each side at the rear, can steer while the machine is pulled towards the destination, and the roller are picked up from behind the machine and placed in front (Which is why you need at least three rollers! )

You will need at least one hefty pinch bar to lift the machine onto the rollers, possibly one corner at a time, (CAREFUL! ) but preferably in the centre of the end.

To negotiate the step, lay down a board, on each side of it (Outside and Inside ).  You may need to prise the machine off the leading roller so that it can be levered far enough forward to be lowered onto a roller on the board, and then repeat the process as the rear end comes to the board.  This was how we have moved a Myford Connisseur on its HEAVY stand over two steps on several occasions.


Edited By Howard Lewis on 30/10/2019 12:15:54

Hopper31/10/2019 11:31:40
4527 forum posts
94 photos
Posted by Howard Lewis on 30/10/2019 12:07:12:

You are dealing with at least a quarter of a ton of valuable machine, so taker no chances of injury to you, your helpers, or the machine..

800kg more like it. Proceed with caution. Enough to fold up many so-called one-tonne engine hoists.

not done it yet31/10/2019 11:54:30
4635 forum posts
16 photos
Posted by Hopper on 31/10/2019 11:31:40:
Posted by Howard Lewis on 30/10/2019 12:07:12:

You are dealing with at least a quarter of a ton of valuable machine, so taker no chances of injury to you, your helpers, or the machine..

800kg more like it. Proceed with caution. Enough to fold up many so-called one-tonne engine hoists.

Agreed - and with a centre of mass which can easily, and quickly, stray outside the base area!

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