How to Move a Surface Plate..(up some steps)..

So after I’d finally bagged myself a large workshop in a factory nearer to my home, a few weeks back I needed to move my cast iron surface plate off the island on the River Thames, which involved negotiating 17 steps up onto the footbridge that leads to the road.

This time I knew how to do it.

I’d need:

A “Euro 3” sized pallet

Some OSB to strengthen the pallet for winching

Some timber offcuts to screw into the pallet around the plate to prevent it from sliding

Some pieces of wood to stand the pallet on (I’ll explain)

4 Ratchet straps

2 Lifting slings

An engine hoist (Ebay bargain)

A pallet jack (found in a skip by a friend)

A Tirfor winch with anchoring straps (borrowed from my dad’s tree surgery business)

2 sheets of plywood

Use of the mahoosive crane in the building site over the bridge

To put the surface plate on the pallet, I had to lift it off the stand with the engine hoist and slings. The hoist is only rated up to 500kg, and I calculated that the 4ftx3ft plate is more like 650kg, with a 2 inch thick solid plate and all the strengthening cast webs and edging below that to complete the plate structure.

I hoped that the hoist makers had allowed some safety margin..

Now the hoist legs would sort of fit underneath the stand’s cross members at a certain angle, so getting it off the stand wasn’t too difficult. I was very careful not to sway the load much.

Because the hoist legs and wheels wouldn’t fit into the pallet slots, I had to put the pallet width-ways on top of the hoist legs, and then lower the plate onto it.

Next, I put the pallet jack underneath the pallet and jacked it up off the legs, after strengthening the pallet a bit by jamming some wooden blocks into the fork slots.

I now had to lower the pallet onto 4 small stacks of plywood, one under each corner. This gave me just enough room to pull out the pallet jack, and then re-insert the forks into the slots of the pallet. I could then jack it up, remove the plywood from underneath the pallet, and finally lower the pallet to the ground.

I placed the wooden cover on the plate and ratchet strapped it to the pallet. I used some wood offcuts (handy being in a woodworking shop sometimes) to screw around the plate to further secure it.

Now the fun began!

Firstly I had to protect the steps and provide a smooth ramp to drag the plate over. I moved the last sheet to the front and repeated, Stonehenge style.

Firstly I had to protect the steps and provide a smooth ramp to drag the plate over. I moved the last sheet to the front and repeated, Stonehenge style.

The view from the quayside.

The view from the quayside.

Setting up the winch cable, and anchoring it to the top bridge member.

Setting up the winch cable, and anchoring it to the top bridge member.

Here I've lined up the pallet with the plywood ramp.

Here I’ve lined up the pallet with the plywood ramp.

Now it was time to unleash the power cannons.  Ahem.

Now it was time to unleash the power cannons. Ahem.

With a bit of a groan, she started to move.

With a bit of a groan, she started to move.

It really went pretty easily.  Lots of lessons were learnt when I brought it down to the island, so I knew how to do it with as little fuss as possible.

It really went pretty easily. Lots of lessons were learnt when I brought it down to the island, so I knew how to do it with as little fuss as possible.

The anchoring straps were spaced evenly, which helped the pallet move in a straight line.

The anchoring straps were spaced evenly, which helped the pallet move in a straight line.

Almost there..

Almost there..

There we go, job done.  The pallet jack will roll this across the bridge now with very little effort.

There we go, job done. The pallet jack will roll this across the bridge now with very little effort.

I stand heroically before my triumphant victory.!

I stand heroically before my triumphant victory.!

At the other side of the bridge, the building site crane driver did me a favour and lifted it over the fence so that the pallet courier could collect it easily and take it to the new workshop:

"ere mate, gizza lift wiv yer crane!"

“ere mate, gizza lift wiv yer crane!”

Work smart, not hard!

Work smart, not hard!

Cheers fella!

Cheers fella!

The new place is nearly ready for frame building work to begin.  A frame jig is on order from Sputnik Tool, the gas cylinders are set up, and I’ve been making benches with lots of help from the wifey.  There’s a fully equipped machine shop on site at my disposal, and John, the factory owner is giving me lots of great training in machining and toolmaking.

Bye for now,

Matt

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