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Moving machines

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Derek Lane20/06/2021 21:09:42
761 forum posts
171 photos

I know this has been covered. I am trying to think ahead for when I get my machines. I am going to buy the stand for them so will need to lift them onto them. Would something like THIS be suitable not only to move them but lift them to the correct height it does lift it above the height of the top of the stands. I will not be doing this alone

Rod Renshaw20/06/2021 21:36:12
376 forum posts
2 photos

Hi Derek

Looks a useful thing for lifting but expensive.

If you have the height in your shop, an engine lifting crane is usually cheaper to buy,( or easier to borrow) and it can lift from the floor. Some can be dismantled to take up less space when not in use. For moving, a strong, low level trolley can be made from boards and castors.


Clive Foster20/06/2021 21:53:54
3135 forum posts
109 photos


The two bad points about this sort of lift table are a rather high lowest position and no provision for tying things down.

Typically the table starts at about a foot above the floor so you have some significant lifting to get a machine off a pallet onto the table. The basic footprint is rather small which is good for getting into confined spaces but not so good for stability when lifted.

Machine tools tend to be narrow footed, top heavy and rather unstable so its best to tie them down good and proper until ready to shift from table to bench.

Engine hoist or high lift pallet jack are, in my view better options. I've used both. If you do go the engine hoist route get one with parallel wheel carrying arms at the base not the less costly versions with them splayed out from the column. Way back I saved maybe £50 by getting the splayed leg version and regretted it many times since as it's not possible to slide it to full jib depth over a cabinet.

As ever there is no affordable perfect solution. Its all a matter of balancing the disadvantages against how you plan to do the job and whatever other capabilities you have to hand. I've always found it useful to concentrate on what the thing can't do rather than what it can. After all you are not going to look at anything that is totally unsuitable.


Edited By Clive Foster on 20/06/2021 21:54:54

peak420/06/2021 22:13:21
1713 forum posts
183 photos

I have one of those tables and wouldn't be without it, but then again, mine came second hand for a small fraction of the new price.
I like it for getting heavy stuff out of the van, as my engine crane is too deep to go under the back axle, so I would have to jack up the loaded van and put the tyres on blocks.

I tie things down onto it by using ratchet straps with hooks on the end.
I also find it handy as a variable height workbench, and use it to supplement my 1/2 size short hydraulic motorcycle work bench. Front wheel and centre stand on the bench, back wheel on a paddock stand attached to the Clarke bench.

As Clive points out though, they don't go close to the ground and are of limited height.

One thing to note, which is both useful and potentially dangerous; the co-efficient of friction twixt machine tool bottom and table top is very low.
Handy for sliding stuff around, but very easy to lose control, so maybe add a plywood sheet, with location blocks around the edge to engage on the table.


not done it yet20/06/2021 22:14:49
6809 forum posts
20 photos

It’s listed as 125kg. Removing a few parts (tailstock and chuck, for a start) should make it manageable by two healthy strong people - even if it means lifting in stages - is my view. Unless you have plenty of use for a lift, as linked, it would be an expensive toy. An engine hoist would be much cheaper, but not needed, IMO, for this particular lathe

Moving should just be a matter of rollers of some description, pallet truck, crowbars, etc.

Andy Carruthers20/06/2021 22:20:56
317 forum posts
23 photos

As one of your purchase is a lathe, is the platform long enough for the bed and head?

Having just moved a workshop we managed with a pallet truck and rollers

Steviegtr20/06/2021 22:38:39
2432 forum posts
336 photos

Most hire shops will have an engine hoist.


Kiwi Bloke21/06/2021 02:47:23
666 forum posts
1 photos

+1 for engine hoist - so much more versatile. You can even lift engines with one! I got one, and a pallet truck, from machinery auctions, years ago, and ever since regard shifting machine tools (under a ton) as fun, not a challenge.

Chris Crew21/06/2021 06:04:49
204 forum posts

I would suggest you don't know exactly how you are going to deal with a machine until you actually see it and buy it. What size of machines are you wanting? Are you buying new from, say Warco who I understand will deliver, or used from a dealer, for example? Are you looking for small bench-top machines or those larger types from industry or education which have the stand integral to the machine? I have shifted a few machines of all sizes and weights up to 2-tons over the years, and into some very awkward locations too, and I would suggest the lift you have indicated in the link is totally unsuitable for shifting anything much but the smallest and lightest machine tool. For a start, any lathe around 'Myford' size two of you can usually lift and shift that without much trouble, if it's 'Colchester' size then I suggest you lever it up on blocks and slip a pallet under it. It can then be moved, given the room, easily with a pallet truck. Make sure you strap any machine down when shifting because most of them are top heavy and will topple very easily and once they start to go you can only stand and watch because there is absolutely no stopping them. It would be very dangerous to try in any event. Machines with integral stands can also be shifted on level ground by levering round bars as rollers under them and inching them along with a pinch bar. There are any number of ways of shifting machines including jacking them on to machine skates. I have been banging on in other threads about just using common sense in all things and its no different when shifting a machine tool. Assess the tool, assess the move and then decide on the best way of doing the job. It's not rocket science, but if you feel you must buy something to move a machine I would suggest you buy a cheap 2500Kg pallet truck for about two-hundred quid on eBay, they are not as good as the proper Swedish BT make but they at least do the job. I have shifted a 2-ton J&S cylindrical grinder on one, it creaked and moaned a bit but it did the job. With or without a pallet make sure you strap any top heavy machine down and, if you are making tight manoeuvres with the machine on the truck where the rear wheels will be at right angles to the rollers, bolt or clamp some stabilising bars to it to arrest any possible tilt beyond the point of no return because if it starts to roll you will never stop it. Think about what you doing, try to anticipate any possible risk and above all do it all slowly for safety's sake, you are not in a race. I always wear PPE when moving machines, safety boots, heavy duty gloves etc. I would also suggest that you think about doing the same when the time comes.


Edited By Chris Crew on 21/06/2021 06:07:53

Graham Stoppani21/06/2021 07:53:36
124 forum posts
26 photos

I used an hired engine hoist when putting my Warco Minor mill/drill on its stand. I also purchased a lifting strap from Machine Mart rather than risk using ratchet straps or such like.

Iain Downs21/06/2021 07:56:25
857 forum posts
751 photos

When I moved my mill in (240kG - a lightweight compared to some), I found a chap on ebay hiring his engine hoist for somewhat less than a hire should would have charged. Two particularly challenging parts:-

getting the machine over the ridge of the door in the shed. The door and frame were integrated so there was a 3 cm bar there. I build a platform of two long wood joists, lifted the mill onto the outside of the door with the engine hoist, pushed it along by hand, (somehow) navigated the hoist over the mill and continued at the far end.

The other issue was that there was ONLY just enough height in the shed to lift the mill in place. Probably not an issue with a lathe, but worth thinking about.

OH - I had the help of a strong young man. I could not have managed on my own.


AdrianR21/06/2021 09:29:51
583 forum posts
36 photos

+1 for an engine hoist to lift them, but you do need to invest in good slings and also you will need rachet straps.

Remember engine hoists can only lift the rated weight when the arm is at its shortest. This limits the height you can lift too. Also, remember you will need to consider the length of the chain hook and slings and ceiling height.

For moving them I suggest you use skates. I have two, each rated at 250KG that are about 50x30cm. They are only plywood with casters that I bought from Aldi. I could not move the engine hoist when my lathe was on it, but with the skates it was super easy.

Nigel McBurney 121/06/2021 10:03:55
1000 forum posts
3 photos

Always try to lift machine tools from the top with an engine crane,lifting from below ie with pallet truck or lifting table can be dangerous ,just too top heavy, use a strop for lifting,new ones are not expensive ,a lot cheaper than a damaged machine,rope can be used for smaller machines as long as its new and not old ,dirty and oily and you know how to tie knots.for horizontal movement I prefer steel rollers anything from 5/8 dia solid to inch bore water pipe,scaffold tube at 1 7/8 od is a bit too big ,if the load slips off this tube on one corner the load can tilt a bit too much for comfort ,if it slips off small rod it cannot drop too far,though the floor has too be smooth.Engine cranes can also be used to dismantle/assemble machine tools,that cannot be done with a pallet truck.

Nicholas Wheeler 121/06/2021 10:48:28
930 forum posts
87 photos

I find the enthusiasm for using an engine crane to move and install small lathes very odd.


Consider what the crane is designed to do: pickup an engine that is in front of the car, move less than 2metres in a straight line and lower the work into place. That's it! They're tall, narrow, awkward, heavy, top heavy, have small wheels only 2 of which steer, don't fit under the bench/lathe stand, need the long load hung along the crane's axis to be safe which is contrary to how you need it positioned, only work well on smooth/level/flat surfaces, need properly rated lifting kit - I could go on. It's also introducing several more ways of making bad mistakes through inexperience.


NDIY has it; if I had to move the 125kg item I would buy some beers and 'pay' a couple of competent lifters to do the job. This is exactly what I did to get my WM250 out of the car, across the road, down the cellar steps, through the space and onto the bench. Then we went to the pub. One of the lifters was me and another mechanic for the other end.

Edited By Nicholas Wheeler 1 on 21/06/2021 10:52:19

noel shelley21/06/2021 11:06:25
1345 forum posts
21 photos

As one who had to be rescued from under a shaper, BE VERY careful. Many machine tools ARE top heavy and prone to topple at the slightest oppertunity. On anything but a hard flat surface rollers or skates may not work. An engine crane is the way to go, and lift from as high as can be. A lift, swing and lower repertition will get you over a threshold or where the crane can't be moved loaded due to rough or soft surface. A hot day and tarmac is not a best plan ! Good luck Noel.

Derek Lane21/06/2021 11:16:55
761 forum posts
171 photos

Thank you all for the information will have to look at a different option. As for space I will have to measure up the space available in the workshop once it is erected,

For those that may not have seen a previous post the machines I am looking at getting are the WM280v lathe and the WM18 milling machine

colin vercoe21/06/2021 11:59:25
60 forum posts

There is a pallet truck available that will lift 500kg from about 80mm and lift to about a metre, they are safe and controllable you can hire them from Brandon tool hire etc

Nicholas Farr21/06/2021 12:43:50
3360 forum posts
1542 photos

Hi, I don't envy anyone who have to use engine cranes or pallet transfer trucks, to move their machines. I have had to use such things during my working life and found them not user friendly for such work and I'm pleased that I put provisions into my garage during building to do lifting.

test lift.jpg

I'm confident that this will life half a tonne without any problem and will travel over most of the area sideways and all of the area from front to back of my garage.

I have work in progress for lifting in a side area and although I will be able to life in virtually all the area of it, it will have the lifting beam manually put in place along this area and the lifting blocks appropriately positioned along the lifting beam sideways, so whatever I lift, will have to be in right place on my four wheel trolley for a straight up and down lift.

My shed size area has lifting rails for a beam, but there isn't the height to get a strong enough beam across without supporting it close to / or each side of heavy machines, the G clamps used, are just to stop the beam from sliding along during lifting and bear no lifting weight.

test lift.jpg

Regards Nick.

Edited By Nicholas Farr on 21/06/2021 12:49:12

Daggers21/06/2021 13:16:50
32 forum posts


As a model engineer and a vintage car restorer i have both the lift as shown and a clarke folding engine hoist. Both have there place.

As a model engineer the lift works for me, when my machines were delivered they were placed straight on the lift from the truck and held with ratchet straps. I do have a wide door so the machines can go in sideways, the lift is always set at its lowest whilst it is moving, raising only to slide machine on to bench. I have drilled the sides of the top of the lifting truck and fitted eye bolts to secure loads. It does a great job of moving my 5” loco from bench to bench and bench to car. It also is used as an extra build table and can be rolled outside for steam tests. If you load overhangs the table pad the load overhang on the underside with secured wood blocks so if it does tilt it can only tilt a couple of inches whilst moving.

To be safe you need to carefully balance the load, strap it down, and have a smooth floor surface. And lastly stay clear of the load whilst moving

Henry Brown21/06/2021 13:35:33
552 forum posts
117 photos

I used a 2T engine hoist to lift my SX4 mill (400kg) into place, it worked fine. I also used it to do some initial moves of my GH1220 lathe (500kg) and then made a floor standing lifting beam to put it in its final position. I say final, because I'm a bit limited on space I have to lift the lathe out if I need to access the electrics box on the rear. That stays in place above the lathe with one leg removed so it isn't in the way.

I picked up a second hand sling from ebay, 1 tonne rated which was plenty good enough for what I wanted and I didn't have to rely on unknown bits rope.

I'd go for a 2nd hand or hired engine crane as a a starter for your machines, making sure the bench you drop them on has room for the forward facing legs on the crane.

It might be worth mentioning where you are, someone on here might have something suitable you could borrow, hope it all goes well.

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