Moving a biggish lathe

by John

My friend Jason asked me to help him move his lathe out of the shipping container which had housed it for 10 years, unused, into his newly constructed workshop.

I suspect that he was less impressed by my moving qualifications than my Landcruiser ute with its 8000lb Warn winch.

The lathe was an old English behemoth, with 2 meters between centers and weighing 2 tonnes.  It was bolted to 2 bits of U channel, which were to act as skids.

The lathe had to be pulled out of the container, turn 90 degrees, then down a gravel slope for about 15 meters, then another 90 degree turn and up into the shed.  Once inside the shed with its smooth concrete floor we figured the final positioning would be easier.

The winch pulled the lathe out of of the container without too much fuss.  But when the lathe encountered the gravel and ploughed in, the winch really struggled.  I had stupidly forgotten to bring a snatch block, which would have doubled the pulling power and halved the speed.

So, I used the 4WD’s engine, in low ratio reverse, to pull the lathe around and down to the shed door.  Even with that power , and downhill, it was a struggle.  And it really made a mess of Jason’s nice gravel paving.

Then a repositioning of the 4WD into the shed, to pull the lathe up a bit of a slope and onto the shed concrete slab.  Some judicious jacking with a very large crowbar, and insertion of wooden slides and steel rollers, and serious pulling by the cruiser, and the lathe was almost in the shed.  Fortunately there was enough room to drive past it and outside.  Then I repositioned the 4WD into a pushing position, using a large piece of wood between the lathe and the bullbar and pushed it inside.

Some more heaving with the crowbar, and use of steel pipe rollers, and 3 adults and 2 teenagers pushing, and the lathe was in position.

Jasons lathe - 1.jpg

Jason, John and lathe.  All smiles with the lathe running after 10 years of storage.

After a quick check to make sure that the chuck was attached, and nothing loose ready to fly off, Jason switched on his lathe….. and it ran!   As smooth and sweet as the day it was made.  Very satisfying.

The day was already hot, so we cracked a few beers to celebrate the move.