Moving a Bridgeport mill

Looking at a getting a Bridgport mill, '73 vintage with 42" table and variable speed head. Unit it sitting in a garage with easy access, need to transport it 20 miles, then get it down 3 steps into the shop. I presume this thing weighs in at about 2000 pounds with a ugly top heavy weight distribtion.

Plan is to lower table, tilt head upside down to get some clearance and to lower the center of gravity. Then jack it up and bolt it to a 4'x6' skid made of 4x4 posts 6' long and 2x12 cross pieces. With some beveled ends, I can easily skid it out of the garage and up onto a low trailer. (9000 pound winch on the Jeep is handy)

To get it into the shop with a 36" wide doorway I need to pull the table. Unbolt the power feed and cranks, unscrew the lead screw, and slide it out sideways. (??? Am I missing something here?)

How bad is it to unbolt the head and handle that seperately? I have a hoist to make it easy to grab and lift it off. Getting it back on would be a bit more challenging. How much does the head weigh? Does it lower the top heavy weight enough to make it safer to do the 3 steps down?

I have plenty of ropes, chains, straps, 3 come alongs, timbers, planks,

1-1/2" pipe rollers, 1/2" pipe rollers, etc plus a healty respect for heavy objects so I'm just looking for comments specific to a Bridgeport.


Reply to
Loading thread data ...


I just moved a smaller Bridgeport weighing about 1500# into my garage. I picked it up in my pick up truck. I transported it by lowering the knee all the way down and removing the entire ram with the head attached. I used an engine hoist to reassemble it and it worked well. Once the ram was removed the mill is no longer top heavy at all and transporting it in my Dodge Dakota.

Once back on the ground, I moved it around using 3/4" black pipe.

Good Luck.


Reply to

First make sure you have to take the table off. Can you run the table out to the end of the knee and work it around the corner first and then go forward with the mill? If not then your table removal scheme sounds correct. Perhaps add some timber (cribbing) to the floor at the bottom of the steps so you only go down 1 or 2 (or less?) steps and onto rollers (wooden rollers are best here) and then down to the floor in several stages from there, removing cribbing as you go forward. If you can get a good holdback on it to control the forward movement and one or two husky helpers you can do it easily without the skid. I would suggest not bothering to take off the head or overarm unless you're without help. If you're anywhere in my neck of the woods I'd be happy to lend a hand (100 mi. N of Sac.) I hope this helps. Dennis in nca

Reply to

Reply to
David Billington

No such luck, doorway is at the top of the 3 steps. It has to go through and down in one motion. I'd plan to timber and plank the steps to make a solid ramp. I have help but they are not savy about levers and weight. I'd like to set it up so it could be done alone, then ask for some assistance for the expected. I'll leave it on a skid.

Why wooden rollers rather than pipe? I do have a dozen or so birch rolling pin blanks, they would roll as easy as could be, jsut would get chewed up on the concrete.

Thanks for the offer to help but I doubt if you want to drive 1500 miles. :)

rigger wrote:

Reply to

Have a tow truck company come over and lift it on whatever. Then unload it the same way. Or if you have a low trailer than unload it with skids and pipes/roller etc. Bob AZ

Reply to
Bob AZ

I've moved a Bridgeport and a ~1 ton lathe down a flight of steps into my basement,

formatting link
I used a forklift for the Bridgeport and by hand with levers and chainhoists for the ATW lathe. Much, much easier with the forklift.

The forklift rental cost me about $350, the rental place delivered it and picked it up. If you run into a situation like I did where you discover the turret has to come off, then the forklift will make all the difference in the world. Its nice to not spend the money on an equipment rental, but doing so will save you a lot of time and wear and tear on yourself.

The 1 HP J head weighs something close to 150 lbs, so its not hard to handle it with one of those "2 ton" shop cranes. Also, watch out for the weight of the table, its unexpectedly heavy. I used the trashcan method- have a sturdy trashcan upside down with some plywood on the top beside the table with the knee adjusted so the trash can takes the weight of the table as it slides off the knee. Remove the gib strip first, much easier to move the table with it out.

If you want to use the 2 ton shop crane to actually lift & move the Bridgeport, you should first upgrade the hook and chain to something lift-rated- mcmaster carr is your friend. DO NOT use a regular eyebolt in the threaded hole on the top of the ram, spend the money on a lift rated, swiveling hoisting ring.

Avoid use of pressure treated lumber for anything which needs to slide or have stuff slid on it- PT lumber presents a lot of friction even if you lube the surface. I imagine you could slather enough grease to make things slide, but all that grease will also end up on you & the floor, etc...

Don't bother with the wood rollers, get some lengths of iron pipe from Home Despot/BLowes- get at least 5 or 6, 3/4" is OK- at least 32" long, nothing wrong with longer except they get a little clumsy, might be a good idea to get some 2' ones for when the long ones won't fit. As you haul the machine around the pipes will often try to group, move around, skew their way out the side, etc.. its helpful to have enough that you can keep feeding in fresh ones without having to pry them out past the back edge.

There is nothing like messing about with this kind of stuff as therapy for being in the office all day! :)


RoyJ writes:

Reply to
Greg Menke

First thing is holding the mill back, either with a come-along or winch. You mentioned you have this type of equipment so the trick is figuring out how to get it in place and lined-up with the stairs; if you do this you can do it all yourself (I like to have my wife spot the rollers for me when I do this). I'd put 1xs on the floor leading to the stairs and have 1" or so steel rollers under the machine. If I was going to leave the table on I'd have the rollers under it at an angle so as I rolled forward the machine would be at the angle which would allow the leading end of the table to enter the doorway first, go forward a little, then straighten the machine to match the rollers. You can jockey the machine around a little by running the table one way or another. If there isn't enough room on the other side of the doorway to straighten the mill out I'd suggest taking the table off as you should have done this type of move before before you attempt to keep the machine at an angle as you go down the stairs/ramp by yourself. Sometimes you can get away with just removing the handles or the lead screw as an alternate to taking off the entire table.

The reason for wood is twofold: First it won't tear up your floor so you don't need anything underneath such as 1xs (hard floor that is). Second, and most important, is when your coming down on an angle the tendency of the roller you place, on the front of the machine or skid, is to try to scoot back under the machine; wood rollers grip better. We would sometimes consider them expendable. Wish I had $1 for each time I took a Bridgeport up or down stairs; I think I could buy us BOTH lunch (at least at McDonald's.) Sometimes we'd get lucky and could run the wagon planks from the truck right up to the edge of the stairs.

Dennis in nca p.s. You're right about the 1500 mile drive but send me an airline ticket and we can talk. ;)

Reply to

That's how it's done. You can levitate it with your shop crane, sling, and two eyebolts into T-nuts from your clamping kit.

I would judge the riskiest part of your plan to be the jacking onto a skid. A single slip or error tips the whole works over.

My experience:

formatting link

Reply to
Richard J Kinch

The current owner said he would get it up in the air, I'd just bolt the skid together underneath it. Current location is in a low headroom tuck under garage. I doubt that a shop hoist will work very well. Ditto on the recieving end so it really nixes using a hoist.

Reply to

You shouldn't need to do this. I have moved a Bridgeport through several different standard doors without much trouble. I generally DID need to remove the handle on one end of the table. What I did was crank the table all the way to one end, work it into the doorway at an angle, until the short end of the table was aimed into the side of the doorway you are moving into. Then, you can crank the table to the other end, now the table is inside. Then, you can continue the move.

Not a big deal. The 1J (step pulley) comes apart very easily. The 2J (varispeed) is just a little more complicated. With a shop crane, engine hoist, etc. you might just remove it in one piece. Otherwise, it has to be broken down at least into the belt hosuing & motor, and the main casting section. And, it will still be pretty heavy. I have a

Putting the head back on is not a big deal, as long as you have something to suspend it with. The 4 bolts will tend to drop down in the round T-slot, but you just get the head close and wiggle the bolts into the holes in the main head casting. Yes, removing the head substantially lowers the center of gravity. If any tilting is needed, you REALLY want to get the head, and maybe the ram and turret, off the machine. The Varispeed 2J head probably weighs 200 Lbs.

Oh, yeah, lower the KNEE, too! That weighs even more than the head, ram and turret.


Reply to
Jon Elson

Very nice and careful work. However one thing I'd like to point out is Bridgeport (unless they've changed their machines and policy) says NOT to use the threaded hole in the top of the ram to move the machine. We were told this is only used to lift the ram. Instead use a strap under the ram (they used to balance perfectly at that point) on the side nearest the table and your forks over head. Heck, if you've got a nice fork lift like that, why not flaunt it.

Dennis in nca

Reply to

PolyTech Forum website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.