Yes, you read that right; down a hill!
I bought a Colchester Student/Master MK ’1.5′ lathe on eBay, because I wanted to upgrade from my teeny-tiny Myford ML10. It just wasn’t big enough anymore for what I was doing with it.
So I won the auction and then it dawned on me what kind of challenge I had gotten myself into. Sound familiar? The lathe was stored in a shed, at the top of a steep garden. The shed itself had 3x concrete (cracked and unsafe) steps leading onto a concrete path. So I had a week to figure out how to get that lathe safely out of the shed and down the garden.
Here’s the trailer I rented locally. £55 per day. VERY cheap! I can only recommend http://www.lovelltrailers.co.uk/ if you’re in the Reading area. Small family run business and a pleasure to deal with. =)
My mate Simon agreed to give me a hand. I think he also likes random (and insane…) challenges! We arrived in Redditch (near Birmingham) after a 2 hr drive. This is the view of the inside of the shed at the top of the garden. The lathe owner had sadly passed away last year, and left all these nice tools to his daughter. He had owned the lathe for the previous 30 years, and had obviously taken good care of it. It’s the MK ’1.5′ model, short-bed, with the gap in the bed. So it can turn up to 18″ in diameter and turn both Metric and Imperial threads. It even had a taper turning attachment! =)
This nice chap is the best friend of the previous owner of the lathe. He was EXTREMELY helpful and a pleasure to have around. It would’ve been a lot more difficult without him and the rest of the family all helping us moving the lathe.
I’ve managed to get a 7/8″ Whitworth Eyebolt on Amazon, for around £10. Not bad! Rated for 2 tons. We cleaned 30 years of swarf and God knows what out the threaded hole and then screwed the eyebolt in. If you’re not aware of this, Colchester located the eyebolt precisely where the lathe can balance when you lift it. As long as you move the tailstock and saddle to the rear of the bed.
We then used a heavy wall box section to which I had welded some loops, so that we could suspend it between the 2x engine cranes. We then rigged the lathe onto the box section bar and lifted it again.
We then used a chain hoist to slowly draw the lathe out of the shed, along the bar. We took things VERY slowly, ensuring the the lathe never started swinging, as once it starts gaining momentum, it’s very difficult to stop.
By the time we had secured it all and covered the lathe, it was 20:10pm! =/
I dropped off Simon on the way home and eventually made it back by 23:10pm. Bloody long day if you ask me! I obviously couldn’t unload the lathe that late at night, so I just left it all on the trailer. This is a picture taken this morning. In case you’re wondering: the Citroen C3 had very few problems towing the trailer. We were still within the towing limit for this car (which is 1100kg for the 1.4 engine). It struggled a little up the hills, but it was otherwise quite happy to maintain 55-60mph.
Next: stick a bar across the inside of the garage door, and use that to secure the chain hoist and pull the lathe towards the garage. I was unable to push it by hand, because the punny little wheels on the engine crane had started to dig into the asphalt!
Not without the engine crane giving me grief though! We had damaged this wheel yesterday, and it had now locked itself into an awkward position, when I tried to pull the crane backwards with the chain hoist!
I then lowered the lathe onto the engine crane again and put down the ply sheets again (sorry forgot to take photos!) My neighbor then helped me to push the lathe into the garage. Once I had the ply down, it was relatively easy to push the lathe along on the level surface.
We got it into the garage and off the engine crane and then simply sat it on 2x sturdy pipes. Because the contact patch between the lathe and the floor was now soooo small, we were able to maneuver the lathe into it’s location in a matter of minutes.