How do I move a Bridgeport Milling Machine? Well, this is how a bunch of old croakers do it…………..
At long last my buddy Dave Bluett pulled the trigger on buying Robert Vogel’s Bridgeport mill. I wasn’t present for the negotiations, but judging by the amount of time they took, it must have been excruciating. Finally, moving day arrived, and a tow truck was hired to do the grunt work. I wasn’t present for the 1st half of the load, but was told it went very smooth. On hand were Mr Vogel, Dave, Eric Hoffmeyer, Sharon, Kenneth (Sharon’s son), and myself (at least at the offload).
**New** added 9 pictures for “Loading” mill, Thanks to CAMS member Mark Long, who was kind enough to allow their use here. Mark was part of the crew that loaded out at Robert Vogel’s house and provided the pics and descriptions. A story without a beginning isn’t complete, so Thank you Mark, for filling in the blanks.
1. Sitting in the basement stripped down ready for load out…
2. Moved outside and staged to be lifted out by chain-fall…
3. Upward lift begins…
4. Everybody needs a chain-fall attached to their home…
5. Just about out of the basement…
6. Rolling on pipes across the stones toward the truck…
7. Ready to come-along up the ramps into the truck…
8. Rolling up the ramps into the truck…
9. Tied down, ready for the drive to Dave’s home. No free beer, but there was a free lunch courtesy of Robert and his wife Helena…
**Back to Mick’s Pictures…
Heres Dave (on the left), and Eric (on the right) rigging the ram with some strapping. The rigging strap is pulled in on the rams ways when the load is lifted, binding the strap stationary (at least that is the theory in a static universe).
There is Eric hooking the wrecker up to the mill as Kenneth looks on. We took a few minutes to get the Mill set squarely on the wreckers wheel dolly, because we were headed down an off camber hill, in a fairly rain soaked back yard, and wanted the base pretty secure.
This is the point I started to get nervous, the ground was VERY soft, and the wheel dolly was flexing more than I wanted to see. As it tuned out, the dolly acted more to just keep the base steady (stationary) during the trek across the sloping back yard. Eric was quick to put us all at ease by repeating the phrase: “Don’t worry; I’m an Aviator!”, and shouting out Gyro readings during the move. It had a great calming effect. Eric proved to be an expert loadmaster, all kidding aside.
Here we are at the basement stairs (it took about a half hour to get lined up). I started to get nervous again, because the rigging straps had shifted a little, putting the knee side of the mill a little low. I was kicking myself for not bringing my eye hook to screw in the top of the ram, as this would have given us a hard point to snatch the load, and allowed us to level the load by moving the ram, but I forgot it, so…………
That’s Eric and myself wrestling the base into position, to rotate it, and drop it down the stairwell. The tow truck driver waited till we had 1500 pounds hanging 6 feet over the stairwell to ask us if we got that strap at the Dollar Store. Thankfully, Eric knows a bit or two about rigging, and bought the good stuff.
Kenneth has the base on some rollers, and Eric is on the inside with his Johnson bar. I’m on the camera, trying to get my legs to stop shaking, and Dave and Sharon are handing over some shekels to the tow truck driver. I have to give credit to the driver, I don’t know if I would have attempted to do this move, given the rain soaked ground, and the motley crew we had on hand, but he did a great job of getting the mill in place.
Eric and Kenneth move the base on rollers with Eric’s Johnson bar, to get it to its final resting place.
Here it is in place after some other equipment was shifted slightly, so that the drawbar could be raised between the floor joists. A minor point, but a good thing to get straightened out before you fix the tool in place. At this point everyone was pretty whooped, and the decision was to quit work for the day, and finish assembling the mill tomorrow.
Here is the old Chicken thief hisself, and his willing accomplice, Sharon, happy to have the mill in the basement. Time to call it a night, and get back to it tomorrow……………..
……….Continuing on day two:
Here’s some of the hoard of parts that awaited us on Sunday morning (there were lots more).
Here’s the spindle head installed. I can laugh about it now, the two of us were huffing and puffing while Sharon tried to keep the four long bolts aligned in the spindle head (that thing got heavy!). In hind sight I would nod the ram head so that the four long bolts faced downward, laid the spindle head on the table, and raised it up to the ram head. It woulda been easier on the arms, for sure.
Dave inspects the pulley head, much lighter, and a one man job.
The motor is next. Two nuts, and your done. Dave found a couple of really nice quick change nuts in the loose parts box, that will make for fast belt adjustments. They didn’t show up till after the pics.
With the VFD Hobb-Knobbed together (temporarily), we couldn’t resist a little test run. Dave fills the oil points before we fire it up.
With the head complete, we installed the table. It seemed to make sense to get the overhead stuff done before we were tripping over the table. Here’s a shot of the table gib in its proper orientation, which is installed AFTER the table is partially installed.
While Dave slides the table in, I slide the gib in from the other side. The gib screw fits into a slot on the gib that slides it into a taper between the table and the saddle. this takes up the slop in the table. Proper adjustment here will make the table slide like its on glass with no sideplay.
Dave has to “jiggle” the table as I feed the gib in, to get it seated all the way.
And me adjusting the set screw for the gib.
Time to oil the table screw, and install it.
We temporarily installed the handle to run the screw through the saddle nut, and the installed the end cap for the screw bearings. (Get a load of Dave’s “steel toed sandals”!).
Next is the power feed, pretty straightforward, its keyed to the screw with a woodruff key (as are the handles).
Dave tries out the power feed. The table feed is as smooth as it gets.
We installed the DROs next, and tried them out. This was a little nit-picky, but a bit of patience goes a long way here. The scales are very delicate and deserve kit glove treatment. As it turns out, one of the scales was damaged and we got an error code on the X axis when we turned on the display. This was the low point of the day.
With all the fiddly work done, it was time to plug the thing in and try it out. After adjusting the belts again, and checking the oil, Dave sat down to play with his new toy. Aside from the DRO problem, He was very happy to have the mill in place, and running. It was another long day, but very satisfying.
All things considered, what seems like a monumental task to anyone that’s never done it before was not really that bad. Most everyone involved had moved something heavy before, so a 2000 pound mill was not that big a stretch for us. This was the first time I had dropped one down into a basement, and would advise anyone doing this to use a eye hook in the ram head, for sure. It allows you to balance the load PERFECTLY while moving. This is the way shown in the factory manual (along with a forklift). I moved my mill with an eye hook (off my trailer), and the seller, Fred Eisner (another CAMS member and recommended dealer) loaded the mill on my trailer without incident. Above all, we moved slowly, and carefully. No-one was in a hurry to get hurt. Nobody ever got “confident”; I think everyone had a queasy feeling in their stomachs when we had the mill hanging off the back of a tow truck over a narrow stairwell. I know I did. We double-checked everything, and SAFETY was job one. Everyone went home happy, and in one piece. At the end of the day Dave had a VERY NICE (undamaged) mill in his shop, for much less than it would have cost to have professional riggers to do the job. I would say that this move is within the capabilities of most people, if they can employ the help of enough friends that have tackled the task before. Just be patient, and above all; be careful.