Walk Like an Egyptian

We left the story (and the milling machine) sitting in the middle of the hallway, about 100 feet from the shop.

Wednesday, I got impatient with that, and decided to solo-move it. The door to the shop is a standard 36″ door and the machine was about 42″ wide, so something had to go. Fortunately, removing the table end and the feed drive was pretty simple:

The seller said that the feed drive was “making a smoky smell” last time he tried it, so I am going to look into replacing the drive with a new one (about $250) and selling the original part on ebay; there are people who want gear in original condition who are willing to pay extra for old stuff. I can get an end-plate for the table for about $20 and not have a feed drive at all; that’s also fine.

It’s surprisingly easy to move a 2,300lb machine once it’s up on steel pipes; you just shove it along and occasionally pry with a pry-bar, stopping every foot or so to put the next roller in place. It took about a half an hour to cover the entire distance to the shop. Another thing that’s interesting – the roller method goes over door-sills and missing floor-tiles very efficiently. The roller stops rolling and you just slide the machine forward onto the next roller and continue. It’s remarkable and I had lots of time to think about it and realize that Egyptian pyramid-builders probably figured out all the nuances of roller-moving large objects. There’s a certain amount you can spin an object when it’s up on the rollers, and a certain amount you can change its direction by adjusting the rollers’ angle.

I managed to navigate the doorway amazingly smoothly with 1/2″ to spare on both sides, then did a sort of 3-point maneuver to put the machine in place and get all but the last roller out from underneath of it. To get the last roller out, I had to tie a string around the end of the roller, loop it around the neck of the surface grinder, put another roller behind the machine as a fulcrum, and then stand on the pry-bar to lift the machine so I could tug the remaining roller out with the string. I get very happy when I am able to do difficult things effortlessly thanks to the creaky and sputtering thing I call my brain.

I spent a lot of time walking around everything, making sure I could get to outlets and whatnot without getting too close to the nasty bits of a machine or the burning bits of a forge.

Next up, the machine will get a good scrub-down with oil and solvent, and I’ll put the table controls back. I’m super relieved that I did not need to remove the table; they are delicate for something that’s made of 300lbs of steel.

The electrical system looks like it could be improved. I don’t like reaching up over the mill to turn it on, and that old toggle forward/reverse switch is pretty gnarly-looking, as is the utility outlet bolted to the side of the neck. Yes, that’s an aluminum baking tray on the top of the machine – the original cover doesn’t fit on the 110volt motor set-up.

After that I rounded off my day by returning the engine hoist (for a full refund!) and buying 500lbs of sand for the sand tray. So, that means:

  1. load 500# of sand onto the shopping cart at the supply store
  2. unload 500# of sand from the shopping cart into my truck
  3. unload 500# of sand from my truck onto my dolly at the shop
  4. unload 500# of sand from the dolly into the sand tray

So, Wednesday, I “pounded sand” – it’s OK I need the exercise, it keeps me mean and angry.

Before I put the sand in the tray I carefully and repeatedly checked the ergonomics of the work-space. They’re just about perfect – I can work with the press or hammer at the anvil, and I’m a nice distance from the mouth of the forge, and I can easily move from one to the other. There’s nothing behind where I’ll be standing unless I step back 15 feet to admire my handiwork (and step into the milling machine, which will not be running).

I have had several people ask me “WTF?” about the sand tray. I have to be honest: I’ve never heard of anyone doing that, before, but it seemed like a good idea so I did it. I dropped one piece of steel I was pulling from the forge and it bounced in my direction and that got me thinking that it would be nice if there was something non-flammable, non-valuable, bounce-dampening, disposable, and easy to renew, between the forge and my work-zone. Besides, I can make one of those little zen rakes and put some rocks in it and make a little zen garden to noodle around in if I get bored. Plus, maybe I can just claim it’s a great big 4’x8′ incense burner.

The remaining bit that I don’t like is the routing of the propane hose; I’m going to replace the stock hoses with braided stainless, and run a longer hose along the wall (in brackets) under the blackboard chalk-holder. with an additional cutoff ball-valve just to the side of the press.


  1. Johnny Vector says

    Be careful not to accidentally rake any occult designs into the sand. With that chalkboard in the room, I’m already worried there might be a hellmouth in the basement.

  2. chigau (違う) says

    YOB #3
    I, too, thought of Daleks.
    But more something that had been excavated by an archaeologist, after centuries under ground.

  3. says

    I’ve been a wee bit concerned about your propane line since it went in. The best place for the emergency control valve for the whole installation is beside the door through which you exit in an emergency. Also, if you alter the pipework, please have it properly pressure-tested for gas-tightness so you don’t fire up in an explosive atmosphere.

  4. says

    Thank you. And, I really mean that.

    I explored having them put the tank on the opposite side of the building but they did not want to run 100′ of line (or presumably drive that far!) As it is, it’s at least sheltered by a concrete wall and some distance.

    I agree it would be better to have a cut-off that was near the door. To do that, I’d need to run a long loop over to the door to install a cutoff. I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to have more, or less, line.

  5. says

    But more something that had been excavated by an archaeologist, after centuries under ground.

    I suppose, at this point, that I am supposed to insist the machine like me, and wants to help me?

  6. Raucous Indignation says

    Umm, Marcus, does the pirate flag live there full time and is it made of a flame retardant material? Just wondering …

  7. says

    Raucous Indignation@#9:
    Umm, Marcus, does the pirate flag live there full time and is it made of a flame retardant material? Just wondering …

    It’s not flame-retardant but it’s pretty far from anything hot. The photo flattens out the space of my shop – the flag is almost 20 feet from the forge and the press.

    On the other hand, it’s not very attractive and I ought to put it somewhere else. The lifting/lowering cord for the flag-pole is seriously decroded and I don’t have a tall enough ladder (also: hate heights) and don’t want to go up there and run a stainless steel cable)

  8. Raucous Indignation says

    “Pretty far from anything hot.” That’s something at least. You take off your necktie before you go to the workshop, right?

  9. says

    Raucous Indignation@#11:
    You take off your necktie before you go to the workshop, right?

    Working with machines, bare arms, nothing around the neck, nothing loose
    Working with the forge or MIG welder, leather welding jacket and gloves
    Usually wearing nomex pants, sometimes a nomex shirt instead of the welding jacket

    I’m not using the mill or the surface grinder yet, so it’s mostly my belt sander that I am worried about.
    Today, one of the sander belts caught and tore, and I got to see why I am happy that I have the sander on a foot-switch. I stepped back from it and it stopped. A lot of knife-makers use a flip switch, which means they’d have had to reach over toward a machine that was waving around bits of 80-grit shredded belt trying to catch hold of some meat.

    If I’m using an angle grinder I am usually wearing a face shield and almost always earmuffs. I need to get a shield that has the integrated muffs. Ditto if I am using a chopsaw. (Edit: ordered)