HOW I MOVED A HEIDELBERG WINDMILL
Heidi is my business partner and the newest member of the Liontail Press family! Weighing in at 2800 lbs., she is a solid, gorgeous 1954 Heidelberg Windmill press in beautiful condition. I found her in a garage print shop in Plattsburgh, NY, where she had been babied by her operators while producing decades of beautiful work until the shop closed its doors. It was love at first sight for Heidi and me, and I quickly decided that I wanted to bring her with me to my new studio just outside of beautiful Ithaca, NY. All I had to do was figure out how to get her there.
After collecting some pretty disheartening price quotes from different machinery movers and rigging companies, seeking counsel from many colleagues, friends, and fellow printers, and reading just about every blog post and internet article I could find on the subject of moving a 3000 lb. press, I made a solidly stubborn decision: I would take on the task myself. Enlisting the help of my super smart and handy friend Dan, as well as a few other amazingly generous and trusted pals, I devised a strategy and gathered up my tools. After lots of planning, revising, rolling with the punches, re-planning, and LOTS of "smart-not-strong" hands-on work, WE DID IT. (And saved about $2000 in the process.) Here's how.
- 2 1.5” diameter, 4-ft solid steel rods
- hydraulic pallet jack
- 2 floor jacks
- truck with a lift gate (adequate capacity)
- many 4x4’s and 2x4’s
- many wood blocks of various thicknesses and lengths
- 4 lag bolts with washers, 10-15 heavy duty, 6” wood screws
- electric drill
- 6-8 strong tie down straps
- work gloves
- 16' truck with a lift gate (capacity of 3500 lbs.)
- "can do" attitude
- 4-6 pairs of helping hands
- We began by threading the steel rods through the two pairs of holes in the base of the press.
- Then, we placed both floor jacks underneath the steel rods on one side of the press. A 2x4 was positioned between the jacks and the rods to act as a lifting block. (**Side note: a 2x4 that spans the distance between the two rods will provide more stability than two separate wood blocks.)
- With one person at each jack, we slowly lifted the press no more than 2” and placed a 2x4 block under each corner of the base. Then, we slowly lowered the press down onto the blocks.
- We moved the jacks and lifting block to the other side of the base and repeated steps 2 & 3. This time, the press was lifted until there was clearance for two 2x4s or one 4x4. We placed the block(s), and then slowly lowered the press down onto them. (**Always making sure not to tilt the press more than 2” at a time in either direction. Take your time! Safety first, folks.)
- We continued this process until the press was level and at least 4” off the ground.
- Then, we placed one jack on each side of the press to lift the front bar, still using our trusty lifting blocks (the 2x4 between the bar and the floor jack). The front of the press was lifted just enough to remove the front blocks from underneath the base; we then slid a 4x4 laterally under the front of the base, making sure that the downward facing holes aligned with the middle of the 4x4.
- After gently lowering the press down, we used 2 lag bolts and washers to secure the front of the base to the 4x4.
- This process was repeated at the back of the press, placing another 4x4 underneath the back of the base and securing it with lag bolts. The first half of our skid was complete!
- Next, we measured the widest point of the forks on our pallet jack to figure out how far apart we would need to place the two 4x4s that would make up the second half of our skid. We marked this width (ours happened to be 27"), plus 1/2” (1/4” on each side), centered on each 4x4 on which the press had already been bolted.
- Then, we repeated the process of lifting the press front to back, shimming up with wood blocks as we worked, until we were able to slide in our second set of 4x4s. These were placed front to back. (We made sure to screw these into place - with wood screws - outside of our marks.) We had completed our skid! Hooray!
- Once we secured Heidi to the skid, she was ready to move.
- We slid the pallet jack under the press, lifted it up carefully, and Dan steered the jack as the rest of us pushed! (**Note: I would recommend removing the steel rods first; less weight to move, and they are no longer needed for lifting.) The press was brought into position in front of the lift gate (which we had backed up to the edge of the garage floor).
- Then, we steered and pushed the press onto the lift gate sideways (so that we could fit the press and pallet jack on together).
- Once the gate was slowly lifted until it was flush with the floor of the truck, we moved the press to the very front of the cabin.
- To keep Heidi safe and secure during the long drive ahead, we placed 4x4s between the front wall of the cabin and the skid to act as a barrier in case the press moved forward. Then, we used our tie down straps to secure the skid and pallet jack handle to the walls of the cabin. (**Important note: do NOT attach straps to the press itself!)
- We finished up by drilling a few wood screws through the skid into the floor of the truck for good measure. Heidi was then buckled up and ready to ride!
Start to finish, the whole process took us about 4 hours.
We drove as slowly and carefully as possible on the 5-hour trip to Ithaca. Once we arrived at the new space, unloading was a breeze!
We backed the lift gate up to the loading dock, removed the straps, unscrewed the skid from the floor, and guided/pushed the press (still on the pallet jack) off the truck and onto the studio floor. Phew! Many celebratory high 5s and hugs followed. I was incredibly thrilled and relieved to warmly welcome home the newest member of the LP family. Here’s to Ms. Heidi Berg! I know we'll do great things together.