Heavy duty leveling casters on small VMC? Stupid idea?
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  1. #1
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    Default Heavy duty leveling casters on small VMC? Stupid idea?

    Hey guys!
    I am looking at a new workshop space (yes I just moved in April, long story ) and I have found one I like, but the access to get my two Fadal VMCs in is a little tight. No problem getting a forklift to the entrance door for the unit, but turning to place the machines inside will be *very* tight if not impossible due to the width of the corridor outside.

    One thing I have been thinking about is that McMaster sells very nice 'leveling casters' that are rated for 1,650lb each, 4 of these should be rated for the weight of my machines plus a generous margin. Machines are 5,500lb.

    McMaster-Carr

    These casters have a leveling foot that can be raised out of the way so a heavy duty swivel wheel takes the weight, then when the machine is moved the leveling foot is lowered to make stable contact with the floor...

    Would equipping my machines with these casters make it possible to move the machines by hand the last 10ft or so into the unit? Concrete in the building is smooth and the approach looks perfectly level...

    I know machine skates are an option here too, but if equipping the machines with casters makes life easier in the future then it seems like a good option.

    Any thoughts welcomed!
    -A

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    You never know unless you try, but I would be hesitant. It says that you raise or lower the leveling pad with a thumbwheel, which means it probably won't be very stiff.

    If you go the machinery skates route, Vestil makes good, inexpensive skates. Temco makes good quality, inexpensive floor jacks.

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    I can't speak for a true VMC but I have a little 20taper 2nd op CNC mill which I put onto casters a few months ago so I could move it around my fairly small and increasingly cramped workshop space without my pallet truck, that machine is something like 400kg/880lbs so effectivly a toy and while it works and can be pushed around by hand it's not as easy as a pallet truck, by a long way.

    Worst part is actually getting it moving, which is mainly an issue of getting all the wheels running in the same direction, I manage it on my own but for a real machine you may need two or three people to get it moving and help steer it around, if it works at all.

    One thing I would note, the caster supplier I used said to make sure that 3 casters in a setup of 4 would take the load of the machine plus a margin so if one were to end up lifting off the floor the remaining 3 aren't overloaded, if it were me I'd look for something with a slightly higher load rating.

    All in though being able to spin my machine by hand within it's footprint and reposition it where I want is a big bonus, I wish moving my two CNC lathes was as easy.

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    I have lower-load-rated versions of those casters on a Nichols hand miller (about 1,200 lbs) and a floor-standing 12T arbor press (about 1,800 lbs). I'm quite happy with them, using four casters in each case.

    However! Those 1,650lb-rated casters will not suffice for a 5,500lb machine, at least when trying to move it. If there are any ridges in the floor, you could take the whole weight of the machine on two casters. And if there are any irregularities in the floor at all, the whole weight of the machine will fall on three casters.

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    My experience with high loads on casters suggests those wheels are on the narrow side.

    The four on my shop made heavy duty dolly are around 2 1/2" diameter and perhaps 3" wide. (Unfortunately I'm stuck in a hotel in Aberdeen this week so can't go and measure them.) Dunno what the official load ratings are but I've had over a ton and half on that dolly with no moving issues. If anything it rolls too easily on any half decent surface. Safe procedure is one pusher and two brakesmen. Wide wheels do make it harder to start if the casters aren't pre-aligned in the right direction.

    I've seen similarly low profile, high capacity casters with two or three narrower wheels on the same axle, sometimes iwith an intermediate support. Seems like that would swing round easier.

    I have some rated at a ton each having 6" diameter by 1 1/4" wide ball bearing wheels which are pretty much pants in comparison. Hard to start, hard to roll and less than manoeuvrable. Only saving grace was the long column mount with central jacking screw. Really, really glad I obtained them rather than paying for them!

    Clive
    Last edited by Clive603; 11-14-2019 at 09:48 AM.

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    Aaron,
    I see they make 6600 lb pallet jacks that lower to 3". They cost about the same as these casters and then you'd have a useful tool for moving other stuff. The larger wheels and steering bar will make it much easier to move. When you set it down you can set it something better than the pads on those caster. A CNC mill has a lot of weight jumping around inside.

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    Just rent a set of hillman rollers. Most rental shops will have them for a decent price.

    I moved a 6500lb cnc lathe a short distance with a pallet jack one time. Id be nervous doing it with a Fadal though, pretty narrow base and top heavy. Be careful no matter what you do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mmurray70 View Post
    Just rent a set of hillman rollers. Most rental shops will have them for a decent price.
    I second the notion of renting Hillmans. That and two buddies who get taken to lunch afterwards for anything they wanted. Bring a pallet jack or two if you have them as they work great for getting under lowish height castings. A basic 5000 pounder will handle picking up one side of your machine without a problem.

    Like another said you have to consider that at some point you can easily end up on two or three feet instead of 4. In fact my machine mover guy has suggested moving things on three feet as the norm and not by happenstance. And use the rubber pads, as they'll help ride out some unevenness in the floor.

    BTW - you realize the attachment bolts on those rollers you're after are only 1 1/4" long without a nut on them. Won't even fit through on a lot of machine bases. I guess you could still ride them but you might not be bolted to them.

    Dave

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    Quote Originally Posted by sfriedberg View Post
    I have lower-load-rated versions of those casters on a Nichols hand miller (about 1,200 lbs) and a floor-standing 12T arbor press (about 1,800 lbs). I'm quite happy with them, using four casters in each case.

    However! Those 1,650lb-rated casters will not suffice for a 5,500lb machine, at least when trying to move it. If there are any ridges in the floor, you could take the whole weight of the machine on two casters. And if there are any irregularities in the floor at all, the whole weight of the machine will fall on three casters.

    That's the point that came to my mind.
    With a 4 caster set-up, there will always be 2 taking the lions share of the weight , and the opposite 2 just keeping it upright.
    So - might want to consider heavier tools.

    As for the machine it'self, it's really small footprint aint it?
    If so - I'd guess that it's rigid enough in it's own skin to handle the unprofessional approach.


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    Quote Originally Posted by 13engines View Post
    In fact my machine mover guy has suggested moving things on three feet as the norm and not by happenstance.
    This is good advice. First time I ever saw hillman rollers being used on a machine they were using all 4 and just as you said, all the weight ended up one 2, and one popped out while moving. Somehow the machine stayed on the other three rollers, but certainly wouldn't want to be in this situation with a top heavy machine.

    After seeing that, I only use 3. Go slow and make sure they point the same direction, keep checking them and adjust if needed.

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    I'm with the people who suggest several helpers. If the space is very tight there could be a possibility of a hand crunch happening. It would be a bitch to get your hand crunched against a door frame and not be able to free yourself. Getting something that heavy moving along is not so hard. Getting it to stop is.
    I have some heavy machines on castor bases that use a fairly tall HD castor. Easy to move. I made welded frames with the castors on outriggers and the machine base is only an inch off the floor. Frame itself is easy enough to shim solid once in place.

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    I'll just note that Trak sells a cute little "2nd op" VMC which is so small it comes with a pallet jack to move it around - but it is NOT on casters....

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    Thanks for all the responses guys! I did not realize that caster load limits did not scales linearly with the number of casters, but it totally makes sense now that it's been said!

    As suggested I will look into machine skates instead. Not a bad investment anyway as I'm sure I will use them many times over the years! I know my rigger has a set, but they are old and rusted and are not steerable, not sure I want him using those on the nice clean floor in the new shop

    Thanks again!
    -A

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    When are you going to move the shop to Hamilton and cut your shop rent by 75% Aaron? It amazes me what Toronto rates are like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pattnmaker View Post
    When are you going to move the shop to Hamilton and cut your shop rent by 75% Aaron? It amazes me what Toronto rates are like.
    Yeah rent here is pretty crazy sometimes. Right now I'm paying $12.50/sq ft but I'm actually looking at a smaller space that is *much* closer to home, like easy walking distance. It is more per square foot but because it's smaller the cost is actually a lot more manageable...

    After moving to the larger space earlier this year I pretty quickly realized that a lot of it was going to waste and would keep going to waste for a long time to come, and the shop is in an area that's a pain for me to get to which is making daily life less pleasant. Poor planning on my end I guess but it's a good lesson learned that I won't soon forget, and I'm lucky that I get the chance to rectify the situation without too much penalty.

    Funny I never thought I would miss my old shop being 'cozy' but I honestly do! Current shop feels like a big house no-one lives in.

    Long term plan is definitely to get outside the city and just build my own shop on my own property. I don't need much space, only 1,000 sq ft or so at most long term so putting together a really nice small shop on a property with a house shouldn't be a big deal. Fingers crossed!

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    Arron
    I moved mine with 6 pieces of 3/4" water pipe about 3 feet long and a come-a-long. Cheap and fairly easy to do by yourself. I had to rotate it 180 and then straight back about 25 feet back.

    J.

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    I have moved smaller VMCs on solid round bar and it works ok, you can just use a crowbar to move it, and with two bars under it you roll until it tips, and then its normally so close to the tipping point you can rock it back by hand and put the released rear bar to the front. It's slow and feels sketchy, but actually works well in a pinch.

    If it's not a rushed "I didn't know I need to do that today" type of job, then machine skates are what you need for a one off easy move. I rented a tow jack and machine skates from a local hire company, and would definitely do it again.

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    I move small VMCs and similarly sized and weighted other machines with an 8k pallet jack all the time.

    ULINE - Shipping Boxes, Shipping Supplies, Packaging Materials, Packing Supplies

    Way easier than tight maneuvering with the forklift, and much faster than skates if the footprint cooperates.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mmurray70 View Post
    This is good advice. First time I ever saw hillman rollers being used on a machine they were using all 4 and just as you said, all the weight ended up one 2, and one popped out while moving. Somehow the machine stayed on the other three rollers, but certainly wouldn't want to be in this situation with a top heavy machine.

    After seeing that, I only use 3. Go slow and make sure they point the same direction, keep checking them and adjust if needed.
    3 is nice. If you have to go four, use electrical tape to hold them in place. Then the unloaded skate gets dragged along with the part and when the floor shifts again it's in the correct place.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Comatose View Post
    I move small VMCs and similarly sized and weighted other machines with an 8k pallet jack all the time.

    ULINE - Shipping Boxes, Shipping Supplies, Packaging Materials, Packing Supplies

    Way easier than tight maneuvering with the forklift, and much faster than skates if the footprint cooperates.
    Yep,
    That was my recommendation. Lower height than the skates, all wheels tied together so one doesn't walk away, steering is much easier and you can use it for what it was intended moving pallets. I hate single use tools of any kind.


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