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Machining center move saga

Discussion in 'Carothers Performance Knives' started by Nathan the Machinist, May 5, 2017.

  1. Nathan the Machinist

    Nathan the Machinist KnifeMaker / Machinist / Evil Genius Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 13, 2007
    Some of you may have noticed I've been somewhat absent from the forum these last few days. We've been making some upgrades to the shop. It's not an interesting story but I'll tell it for those who are interested anyways:

    We're expanding and streamlining our layout to be better suited to knife making and this includes another machining center to increase capacity and reduce repeated setup change overs between steps. We already had three machining centers but the small one, a three ton Romi D400 mini mill, lacks the balls to do well in 3V. It's difficult to justify a new high-end machining center for knifemaking and a new inexpensive linear way machine like a Haas isn't built right to do 3V the way we want to, so I was eyeing some older but low hour heavy Japanese iron such as Makino, Kitamura and Mori Seiki. After some false starts, Jo and I eventually found a low hour Mori in Alabama that was coming out of a medical device manufacturer with very good measurements and wear comps and a Fanuc OM-C control which is one of my favorite controllers (this is my 3rd in that particular flavor).

    The Mori MV40 is a 16X30 machine, which is a mid size mill, but it's heavy for its size. This particular specimen weighed 14,200 pounds without the sumps which is more weight than I've ever lifted. Complicating things, we need an off-road fork lift. The 10,000 pound rated off-road lifts are pretty common but a 15,000 pound rating is the largest Sunbelt has and harder to come by. Coordinating the truck and the lift on the same day got a little dicey.

    Since we're expanding we added another vibratory tumbler, some tool boxes and now have four vertical machining centers (yay) so we're spreading production into a building in the back we'd been using for storage, so I bought a used shipping container to stick behind that building to use for storage. So, last Friday morning we had this large lift delivered and started out by sitting that container on a foundation then moving the Kia VMC and a Gorton tracer mill into the rear building, though this required moving the Romi out of the way by sitting it in the yard (next to the kid's pop-up pool, lol). The truck with the Mori arrived at lunch time and early Friday afternoon we unloaded it.

    This is where things got sketchy. I lifted the Mori up off the flatbed and the driver drove out from under it, leaving me holding the Mori up high in the air. I'd carefully reviewed the lift truck specifications and capacities documents before renting it and was well within its capabilities, but it had a problem with its hydraulic system (I'm guessing a leaking check valve or cylinder seal) where the forward tilt wouldn't hold weight and couldn't lift while fully loaded which cause it to droop forward while the Mori was in the air. I had to sit the mill on the road to reset the tilt then drive a little ways and finally sat it down in my driveway. I locked the forward tilt with a chain, but the chain developed a lot of tension and I got a little nervous so we went to town and got a heavier chain with a 5,400 pound working load. At this point it was getting late so we tarped it and went to bed.

    On Saturday, with the tilt chained, I picked the Mori up again and started backing up the drive when the CV joint (the drive axle) on the lift truck broke, leaving bits of bearings and chunks of cast iron laying in the road. The four wheel drive was now a three wheel drive so I drove it back into the drive way and set it down and called Sunbelt to tell them their lift was broke. Due to the relative rarity of the large lift they had to truck one in from out of town so it took a while, but we did get another lift on Saturday. When it arrived and was in place I went ahead and chained that forward tilt to reduce risk of a screw up. I lifted the Mori again and backed up the drive without incident, made the turn onto the road, backed up to the turn and as I was backing off the road that damn chain broke. I'm here to tell you folks, that's a frightening thing when a big chain breaks. It's my own fault. Doing the math on the load and the leverage I may have been into the safety factor on that chain a little, but the way I had it wrapped through a hole was bending a link, and I hadn't considered the inertial loads (driving across a ditch isn't exactly static). So, we went to town again and got the biggest chain with a working load around 6,400 pounds and got two of them and put a chain on each side of the tilt. Between that and the fact the new lift was working properly so I could keep adding tilt when I'd see tension start to come up on the chain we were reasonably safe.

    It's worth noting here that I try and stay under the radar and I don't want neighbors to be aware of what I have coming in and going out. So, it was about this time when we were ready to pick the mill up off the goddamn road and drive it to the shop that a new neighbor building in the field across the street walked over to see what we were up to when one of those freak afternoon thunderstorms popped up above us and started to hammer us with heavy rain and lightening. We threw a tarp over the mill and I got to meet my new neighbor while under a tarp leaning against the mill I didn't want him to be aware of.

    The storm passed but with all the rain on the freshly chewed up surfaces and a combined weight of 47,000 pounds, we got to do some interesting slow motion mud bogging setting the mill. By the time it was in and safely on the floor it was late so we called it a day. On Sunday we learned how much it sucks to roll around and position such a heavy machine by hand so it was pretty late by the time we had things mostly in place where we could put the Romi back in.

    We've spent the last week positioning, jacking, leveling and installing the machines and reassembling the shop. Joy. It has been a long week. Jo and Mark have been super cool about it. I'm about two shades more gray.
    Last edited: May 5, 2017
  2. Lorien

    Lorien Moderator Moderator

    Dec 5, 2005
    geez louise!
    Standard78 likes this.
  3. greatscoot

    greatscoot DON'T DELAY! ACT NOW!! SUPPLIES ARE RUNNING OUT!! Platinum Member

    Jul 21, 2012
    Sounds like it was quite an undertaking. Glad things are settled.
  4. TommyGun56

    TommyGun56 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 29, 2014
    Hope everything turns out the way you envisioned Nathan! Sounds like a Royal Pain in the Butt!
  5. on_the_edge

    on_the_edge Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 31, 2006
    I swear I will never complain about having to do the dusting around the house again after hearing that story. Glad everything is coming together without someone getting hurt or things being even harder.
  6. gusbuster

    gusbuster Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 30, 2011
    Wow! That's a lot of work! Thanks for the update, carry on! Can't wait to see the new NASK.:thumbsup::D
  7. stjones

    stjones Gold Member Platinum Member Gold Member

    Feb 23, 2010
    All this to get US more knives!!!

    Thanks for the update Nathan. Glad it all went "smoothly".
  8. folder geek

    folder geek Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 28, 2012
    Holy mackerel that sounds like quite the project.
    Glad you didn't drop the mill. Thought that's were the story was going.
    Hope everything works the way you want it to.
  9. betzner

    betzner Best of the West Platinum Member

    Jan 23, 2007
    That story of the move sounds even CRAZIER here in print. Lucky no one got hurt by flying steel. Hearing about it and reading about it could only be topped by having a video to memorialize it, but somehow I doubt you were anywhere near considering that when the thunderstorm hit.
  10. Lorien

    Lorien Moderator Moderator

    Dec 5, 2005
  11. cold one

    cold one Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 23, 2009
    Sounds like one hell of a weekend, glad no one got injured and the mill got set withoutdamage.
    Hopefully the effort was worth it and it pays out handsomely down the road.
    Take a break and have a cerveza, you sure earned it.
  12. ExtraBaconPlease


    Mar 8, 2016
    Should of gave me a call mate i coulda moved it for you no worries
  13. T. Erdelyi

    T. Erdelyi Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 3, 2001
    Sounds like a few of the job I've done as a millwright, movin' huge centrifuges and hydraulic bed presses at the chemical plant or foundry. I worked as a subcontractor so I got to work some interesting places. The movin' and settin' into place usually goes way faster than levelin' and hookin' up the services.

    I feel for you and your guys Nathan, did you buy dinner and beer after it was set? ;) :) Now comes the fun part, usin' the new equipment and figurin' the best way to incorporate it into the flow of work. Lookin' forward to a few pics. :)
    Standard78 likes this.
  14. Hard Knocks

    Hard Knocks Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 1, 2012
    Having moved my share of heavy mill equipment, these statements literally made my stomach drop while sitting here reading it Nathan. I'm very glad that everyone is okay, and that your new milling center didn't become 14000 pounds of scrap iron as can happen in a heartbeat with equipment failure. My experience has been that if your machinery goes in without broken handles or controls, and nobody has any crushed or missing body parts, it's time for celebration, so cheers to you and yours!

    ETA: We have been using some of the big Grad-All's for rough ground moving, the boom lifts with the extendable forks. Although I'm not sure the load capacity on the big ones, so 7 tons might be over capacity. Most of our equipment runs between 1 ton and 5 ton. Not that you need it now, but if there's one of those around that are big enough, they work slicker than heck for setting equipment.

    ETA II: Looks like 10000-lb capacity machines are easy enough to come by, which would have done you no good. The biggest is 20,000-lb apparently, and not available on every street corner.
    Last edited: May 5, 2017
    Standard78 likes this.
  15. ManOfSteel89

    ManOfSteel89 Gold Member Gold Member

    May 20, 2012
    Good stuff Nate. I do a lot of rigging at work at deal with Lull's (off-road forklifts) all the time and they're not my favorite as stuff always goes wrong with them and they're generally sketchy. I'm glad you didn't destroy your new equipment.
    Standard78 likes this.
  16. donscpoo

    donscpoo Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 11, 2013
    I hope it is smooth sailing from now onwards
  17. rodriguez7

    rodriguez7 KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 1, 2009
    I would really like to see a couple pics of the shop when it's all done!
  18. TRfromMT

    TRfromMT Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 4, 2016
    Someday you will laugh about it... "Remember that time we got that little mill stuck in the mud with that POS forklift!?" You'll laugh and shake your head about the good ol days
    JJ_Colt45 and Hard Knocks like this.
  19. Casinostocks

    Casinostocks Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 20, 2016
    Very heartening to read that both you and yours persevered through although it all but now the secret is out, both figuratively and also literally with those curious neighbors.

    Greyer you say, huh? I don't know what happened with me exactly when I turned 50 a few years ago but I looked at myself one day in the mirror and all of a sudden it seemed to me that I may have been shampooing my darn head of hair with a bag of flour for sometime! Be glad you're not there... Yet!
  20. JustinFournier

    JustinFournier Gold Member Gold Member

    May 7, 2012
    Thanks for story time Uncle Nathan!

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