Monday, November 03, 2008

2300 Pounds of Good Karma

I keep hearing it… “tools are good karma.” Ok, damnit, I need some good karma.

To that end, I brought home a whole big pile of karma yesterday. Actually I made a deal on it on October 22nd, but wasn’t able to get it moved till yesterday. Man was the waiting hard. All the while Deker reminding me that “with a mill you could be dangerous…” (note: I can be dangerous with a dull spoon, but I know what you mean).

Anyway, here she is sitting in her orginal home, a Bridgport J-head, with a DRO, power feed on the X and Z, and a bunch of little stuff added in:

The original owner, John seemed like a really decent guy that had a good thing going, those pictures are taken in his home shop, he’s a CNC machinist for a defense contractor but makes those brackets that hold street signs to the cables over the tops of intersections out of his home shop. I always thought that there was some big company somewhere that did that, but as far as I can tell he supplies most of the mid atlantic/east coast.

I was in a weird position trying to negotiate a deal. First he started at a really decent price, after a little bit of discussion he immediately came down $25, that was it, but the longer we talked the more little bits of tooling… he added to the pile (the stack of stuff on the table was where we started, he ended up adding a few things). He finally added a cool but worn, modular shell/face mill to the assembly and Deker sort of sealed the deal by saying something like “well even I’ll have to say that that’s worth more then whatever difference we were talking about.”

Anyway, when I showed up to pick it up, what I thought was John’s negotiating technique (instead of going down in price, adding goodies to sweeten the deal), well I’m not sure what it was. Part of it was clearly that his new CNC setup used a different collet size so he had no use for anything with a standard R8 collet, so he kept adding whatever R8 stuff that he found, including a few drill chuck collets and other goodies. Some of it was he was cleaning stuff out and figured he could get rid of it and I might find it useful (along those lines was a big, relatively heavy steel cabinet with shelves in it, similar but slightly heavier to one that I already had in the basement from when a friend of mine got me in to help liquidate some of the equipment from a bank’s server room), and some of it seemed to be him just helping out someone just getting into machining (a few things that he added like an indicator set and holders…).

The cool thing about it is all the goodies were that they were mostly good, old school, American made stuff by the major players, with the only exceptions being the Sandvik Modumill (the shell/face mill, they’re made in Sweeden), the enco hold down set, and the vice was a knockoff of a Kurt type vice.

Deker hooked me up with a friend of his, Tige, who is also a knifemaker/blacksmith that works as an equipment rigger, and we made arrangements for him to meet me with his truck and equipment (and wife, I could only guess that she was bored) to move it.

Loading it was basically the opposite of unloading it with the exception that John had a John Deere with a set of forks and had already gotten it out of the shop.

Anyway, here’s the mill in the truck with Tige. A couple of interesting things here, first, those little dolly’s/lifts are really cool, a 2 piece steel frame that slides over itself with a bottle jack that lifts the claw half of the frame. Once you strap the 2 of them on there you can roll it around fairly easily. The second thing is check out the strap holding the 2 together, as well as the rails in the side of the truck… all of his straps had some quick snaps that snapped into those long rectangular holes in the sides of the dollies and truck rails. I think that I’ve seen those in moving vans, but I’ve never seen the straps that match them:

Here’s me acting as a counter weight… my fairly steep driveway was actually the biggest problem we had. It doesn’t look like it, but I’m pulling pretty hard just to keep it in place on the liftgate. In the truck we tried muscling it around and with Tige pushing and me pulling we weren’t able to move it at all, but he could prevent it from rolling. With me pushing and him pulling we could move it a few inches at a time, but after getting it to move a few inches I couldn’t stop it from rolling back to take a break. Part of the problem was that one of the 2 dollies had a wonky caster that didn’t want to straighten out, but in the end we finally gave in and had Christina grab the come-a-long out of the truck and we hooked that to a strap around the mill and around the end of the tailgate. Once we got it moving we were able to yank it back onto the liftgate (you can see where I kicked the strap/cable puller over to the side/of the liftgate):

A note for anyone that gets stuck doing this sometime: A bridgport looks like it’s going to be back heavy with the big cast iron base on the back of it. Turns out it’s actually very front heavy since the base is hollow, but the knee, table and head are big, solid pieces all hanging off the front. Every time we shifted, lifted it, bumped it over something… it tried to flip over frontwards, and I’d bet that if it went more than a couple of inches before you caught it there’d be no catching 2300# or so of top and front heavy cast iron from flipping over. If you’re thinking “simple, crank the knee down and table back against the column, you can even crank the head back or flip it to lower the center of gravity…” Well, that would work if you were lifting it with some forks under the head assembly, but the dollies and levers we were using we had everything as far in those directions as we could get away with. The plumbing for the one shot oiler and the rails for the DRO were in the way.

A couple of pictures of it in place… since I’m putting a deck on the back of the house I gave up on trying to wedge it into the basement, not that it couldn’t go in there, but I don’t think that I could get it back out with a deck over the basement door. I also don’t think that the basement floor would support it. I kept having people tell me that the normal pour, roughly 4” slab down there would be fine… well, the slab in the garage is something on the order of 8-12”, reinforced with a fairly tight mesh of rebar and I swear you could hear it move and shake as we levered it off the wood that we set it on to get the dollies out. Finally setting it down felt a lot like what I imagine a shock from an earthquake would feel.

Another note for those out there moving/acquiring a bridgport… they list them somewhere north of 2200#, I’m guessing that with all the options this one is around 2300-2400#. The other thing is that they take up a lot of space, you need roughly 6x6’ worth of floor space and most sites list them at 82-83” tall… that is for the standard motor models… ones with a pancake motor like mine has is much shorter, right around 76-77”.

Anyway, anything this big probably needs a name, but I don't really have any good ideas yet...


Phy6 said...

congrats mark! That's one nice machine, and a big step up from your old drill press. =)

Christina said...

Who suggested the come-along?

Mark said...

You suggested a chain fall... close enough I guess, at that point I was just done with trying to manhandle it till we got it moving with all the casters pointing the same direction.

Phy6 said...

Mark, you should give Christina more credit, if you want to bring more toys home. =)

Bernie said...

I just got a chance to look at it on a computer, and that looks EXACTLY like the one we had in the formula lab, if you got a chance to take a look at it. I ran it quite a few times and loved it.

Congrats on the new mill! loved the comment about being dangerous with a dull spoon!