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How to move a Colchester Student ?

A short journey by car

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Tim Stevens04/09/2020 15:51:19
1623 forum posts

I need to move a Student lathe (just over half a ton) about 15 miles by road, so I would like to hear from anyone who has done this. I have offers of a 4-wheel low car trailer, an hydraulic engine lift, etc, and several mates. I think the best option, as access at both ends of the journey is not wonderful, will be to dismantle the major parts so that lifting is easier. This would mean the chuck, tailstock, saddle, etc off, and the motor and drive pulleys off, and then what? Take the headstock off? Remove the bed assembly from the stand?

The lathe will need a decent overhaul in its new position, and the electrics are known to need sorting, in any event, so disturbing all the bits should not create too much extra work (I hope). And yes, I do intend to take photos of everything before a screw is turned.

So - have I got it about right?

The move is mid-way between Hereford and Shrewsbury, in case that is relevant.

Looking forward to comments

Regards, Tim

old Al04/09/2020 16:15:47
186 forum posts

I moved my Student with the help of 3 others and we were 20 years younger then. We took the tailstock off, headstock off and bed off.

Its a lot of work getting the saddle off.

We had to man handle the lathe through the length of someones house, they had rear access when the lathe was installed.The base is extreamly heavy and difficult to pick up, they dont drag nicely over someones carpet!

We put the whole lot in a twin axle transit. It didnt like it one bit and we only moved it about 5 miles.

In hindsite, it would have been a much better solution to move it in two trips. In the garage, i have 3 scaffold poles and its easy to shove around at will

old mart04/09/2020 16:29:30
3913 forum posts
268 photos

Make sure you have plenty of straps to secure it and blocks to stop the base moving. Just take the tailstock off, and move the saddle to the far right and lock it.

Andrew Johnston04/09/2020 17:20:24
6679 forum posts
701 photos

If by a car trailer you mean one designed for moving a car forget it. You need a two, or ideally four, wheel trailer with a solid floor and ideally a rear ramp. Once the machine is loaded and the balance is right, ~50lbs downforce on the hitch, then block the base of the machine in all directions. And I mean blocks, don't rely on straps. Perfection would be to mount the machine on large cross baulks of timber before loading as that will also help to stop it tipping during loading anf unloading. Once on the trailer and blocked then add straps at angles to prevent any fore and aft or side to side movement. While you may not expect to do an emergency stop, you don't want the machine sitting alongside you in the car if you have to.

This is how I moved a cylindrical grinder over 100 miles. I was cautious and limited myself to around 50mph on the M25:


The straps have been removed along with the tie for the counter-balance weight. A better trailer was this one, moving a repetition lathe, only 15 miles but it's still securely fixed. For ease of loading the lathe is actually sitting on a pallet truck, but everything is still blocked and tied:


Note the stands at the rear of the trailer, very useful when loading/unloading. Make sure you tow with a sensible car, ideally at least 1.5 tonnes kerb weight. It's no fun when the trailer takes charge of the car. sad


Tim Stevens04/09/2020 17:36:37
1623 forum posts

The trailer I am offered is a four-wheel job with low bed and ramps. The access from the old site to the road involves a 180 degree turn, and until we try the trailer empty I'm not sure it will manage.

The difficulties I anticipate are:

1. The capability of the engine crane - and this is why I ask about dismantling so the bits weight less.

2. the headroom above the current lathe position which will not allow access for anything much chunkier than an engine crane.

At the other end the problem is that the garage where it is to go has a sloping drive - with a Subaru on the trailer and a competent driver we should be OK, swerve across onto the level forecourt, and do the unloading there.

Thanks for the comments so far - I have a collection of wood chunks, and rope, straps etc. Short lengths of scaffolding should arrive next week.

Cheers, Tim

Paul Kemp04/09/2020 18:51:26
732 forum posts
27 photos

Moved my Harrison L6 on a single axle unbraked plant trailer which in hindsight was probably highly illegal! Harrison info for weights suggested it was OK but possibly not! To get it to the trailer it had to be extracted from the shed it was in, with no room for any lifting kit inside and soft ground outside. Then had to move it about 50' uphill on grass, over a lump of concrete round a drain before getting onto concrete and out onto the road. Took 5 of us about 4 hrs.

What did I learn? Don't use scaffold poles as rollers, use 3/4 solid round bar or water barrel - much more stable. I bought a couple of 8x4 sheets of 3/4 ply and had them ripped lengthways in half, made a good surface on which to move it over the grass (would be the same for gravel). We only removed the tailstock and chuck and set the carriage all the way to the right, lifted with engine crane on the road and then backed trailer in underneath. As suggested, plenty of ratchet straps and blocks to stop it sliding around. It rode quite well, no bouncing!! At the other end backed the trailer up to the building and used the adjustable suspension on the Land Rover to raise the front of the trailer. Built a ramp from end of trailer from the plywood and blocks and using a pull lift to lower down the gradient rolled it straight into position.

In truth it was more of a worry thinking about it than actually doing it. I wouldn't say it was easy but in truth and being sensible it wasn't difficult either. The most risky part was lifting it with the crane. Just make sure you have a steady crew that are not inclined to get too excited and rush ahead, that's when it goes wrong!


Durhambuilder04/09/2020 20:11:56
72 forum posts
5 photos

And definitely an example of how not to do it

Andy Stopford04/09/2020 20:57:21
166 forum posts
25 photos

I moved my Harrison L5 several times (including to Portugal and back) dismantling it each time. Yes, it's a nuisance, but if you take the opportunity to give all the nooks and crannies a thorough clean it sweetens the pill, and it is much easier (and safer) to handle in this state. If the access is awkward it may be little slower than doing the rollers thing. You can have a beer whilst cleaning it of course - try to avoid taking a gulp from the paraffin can though.

One thing to take care with - if it's like the Harrison, the headstock is rather oddly balanced.Have two people lifting it with a bar through the spindle, and, ideally a third to help balance it as you lift.

Andrew Johnston04/09/2020 21:05:04
6679 forum posts
701 photos

Using an engine crane is a right royal PITA. It doesn't generally have enough reach to place the machine where you want it on the trailer and the legs and trailer wheels or rear stands always seem to clash. If at all possible roll the machine on and off the trailer. I use lengths of 2" steel bar as rollers.


Andy Stopford04/09/2020 21:11:17
166 forum posts
25 photos
Posted by Durhambuilder on 04/09/2020 20:11:56:

And definitely an example of how not to do it

Well, you've got to admire their, er, bravura...

He's right about using rollers though; on a flat surface it's surprisingly easy, if foolhardy to attempt single-handed.

Phil Whitley04/09/2020 21:46:42
1450 forum posts
147 photos

The only problem is on and off the trailer, the engine crane will probably not lift it fully assembled. The student has a tapped hole in the bed which is the lifting point, tapped 7/8 whitworth, get a lifting eye. open the top drawer, and remove the electrical panel, and you will see the bolts that hold the lathe to the cabinet, remove them, there are only three, take off the end cover, the belts and the chuck, and remove the reversing and on/off switches from the lathe, but leave them connected. Fit the lifting eye, lock the tailstock onto the bed at the end, and lift the lathe off the cabinet, using the saddle traverse to balance it. Remove the studs from the bed underneath and the lathe can now be lowered onto the legs of the engine crane, and moved to the trailer like this. Make sure the engine crane wheels are perfectly free and well oiled, and sweep any concrete of any dirt or grit before you attempt to cross it. If the going is rough, two 8x4 3/4" plywood sheets will help. All lathes tend to be top heavy, and moving them fully assembled has to br done very carfully with respect to this fact. Don't (I am sure you won't but) put ratchet straps or ropes round or pushing onto the lead screw or feed drive rod, and don't lift by the chuck or the spindle!


Edited By Phil Whitley on 04/09/2020 21:52:07

Gareth Jones 904/09/2020 22:44:16
23 forum posts

I've moved two lathes - a Colchester Bantam and an early Harrison. Both using a 750kg rated two wheeled trailer. No problem towing either hundreds of miles. I was able to crane the Colchester on and off with beam mounted workshop cranes, but the Harrison was manhandled by bars out of the workshop on rollers. The trailer was unhooked from hitch and tipped up so tailgate formed a ramp and a chain lift used to pull the machine onto the trailer. Same to get off the other end. Neither machine was dismantled.


Dinosaur Engineer05/09/2020 05:22:06
147 forum posts
4 photos

Easiest way of moving a lathe is to hire a tailift van. most tailifts have 1000 or 1500Kg capacity.

Pete White05/09/2020 08:57:26
174 forum posts
16 photos

I won't repeat what Paul said, sound good to me. Moved my L6 , Herbert 10 Adcock 1ES like that, used my ramps, blocked up rear of trailer solid and winched machines up on rollers. strapped ithem secure and away, less the rollers of course. The sheets of ply is the trick and saves damage to the trailer floor from crow bars!

I moved 2 of 3 L6s that I bought at auction 35 years ago that way, sold the third to a chap who collected from site with a skip lorry, no skip of course, a mate moved a big Colchester that way?


Howard Lewis05/09/2020 09:13:09
6317 forum posts
15 photos


You have a PM


SillyOldDuffer05/09/2020 09:25:08
8912 forum posts
2000 photos
Posted by Durhambuilder on 04/09/2020 20:11:56:

And definitely an example of how not to do it

Didn't seem daft to me; I think that was thought out and safe. Perhaps the requirement was to do the job without anything special in the way of equipment? Boards, crowbar, rollers, two engine-cranes, a winch and a couple of box girders all readily available.

I think the video was probably honest too: it shows how soft tarmac is! After doing the difficult bit, the chap got into trouble on his drive. Should have put a board down at the end.

How would the team recommend doing this removal?



One thing I strongly suspect to be a bad idea is lifting a lathe and stand together unless they are made as a unit. Lathes are designed to sit on a firm base and lifting stresses them in the wrong direction. I guess lifting a lathe with a heavy stand suspended underneath is likely to twist the bed or worse! Cast-iron being weak in tension caused many Victorian engineering failures. Dee Bridge example described here.

Henry Brown05/09/2020 10:40:23
559 forum posts
119 photos

Good luck with the move Tim.

I can't add much except if there are a few of you doing it make sure one person is making the decisions and calling the shots. When I sold my Super 7 the chap turned up with a mate who knew everything. When we lifted it onto their trailer by hand he was told to keep his fingers well out of the way. When I did the final shove after shouting "fingers" he put his hand between the S7 and the trailer side - he spent a good few minutes jumping about on the lawn clutching his hand, fortunately no damage was done to it.

When I moved my GH1322 in January, just over 500kg, I did it on my own with my wife watching just in case I needed a hand but it was a straight forward lift with a 2 ton engine hoist and then my home made lifting beam, I did buy a rated 1 ton sling from ebay rather than using rope.

Andrew Johnston05/09/2020 11:03:39
6679 forum posts
701 photos
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 05/09/2020 09:25:08

I guess lifting a lathe with a heavy stand suspended underneath is likely to twist the bed or worse!

My Harrison M300 (1500lbs) is bolted to the manufacturers sheet metal stand. I understand that the lathes were shimmed to the stand during assembly. So it is an all round bad idea to separate the lathe and stand. The manual recommends slinging using either an eyebolt in the M16 thread in the bed cross member or with a sling around each end of the drip tray, so lifting on the stand rather than lathe itself.


duncan webster05/09/2020 11:28:16
4128 forum posts
66 photos

I'd pay Landylift to do it, he has a flatbed transit with a Hiab type lift. It's not worth the risk of dropping it, lots of potential for getting hurt


Speedy Builder505/09/2020 11:48:23
2654 forum posts
219 photos

Ref the you tube video, how did the previous owner get it up to the shed? Perhaps the shed was just a concrete base and shed made later around the lathe ? Certainly getting it from the shed to roadside would make many a professional scratch their heads short of an enormous roadside crane and flying jib.

What there is to learn from the video is don't rush things, easy stages, secure things between stages.

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