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I Forge Iron

Removable Casters for Heavy Machinery


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My shop is in a two-car garage that I share with my wife's car. This means that when I'm not forging, everything has to be packed into as small a space as possible, and that means that a whole lot of my gear (gas forge, welding table, torch cutting table, oxypropane rig, hydraulic press, horizontal bandsaw, 2x90 grinder, tool chest, hardy rack, hammer rack, etc) is on casters. I recently acquired a smallish fly press, which presented a challenge: I need it to be mobile so I can pack it away, but I also need it to be as solid on the floor as possible without actually getting bolted down. The solution is removable casters. This, however, presents an additional challenge: how to make them solid enough to do the job while still easy to put on and take off a machine that weighs about 415 lbs (~190 kilos).

The solution is a two-part frame with casters in the corners, paired with a lever that allows me to raise and lower each side while installing and removing the frame halves.

The frame is in two parts, one half for each end. Each corner has two brackets made of heavy angle iron: one to go under the foot (with a little bullet-shaped peg to register on the mounting hole) and one for mounting the caster. These are connected to each other and to the other corner with some heavy 1” square tube. 

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Because the casters are outside the feet of the stand, the latter’s weight tends to push the frame halves in and down, which means that the undersides of the foot brackets can scrape on the floor. To counteract this, there is a length of angle iron (bed rail) that pivots on a caster bracket at one end of one frame half and rests on the opposite caster bracket on the other. This is a simple way to keep the frame halves from rolling inward.

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The press is lifted up with a simple lever made from pipe (currently welded onto the handle of one of my bending wrenches, but I'm planning to remake it with a longer handle for the sake of my back). The bottom is flat and thus self-supporting, which makes it much easier to roll the frame halves in and out without having to juggle the lever at the same time.

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Here’s a video of putting the press onto the frame and taking it off again:

I think that this could be adapted fairly easily to other heavy objects that need to alternate between easily moveable and rock solid.

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  That's rather ingenious.  The only thing I would change is to put steel wheel casters on unless you take the caster assembleys off in storage.  I found heavey stuff flattens plastic ones over time.  I know your press might not be that heavey, just in case others decide to adopt this idea.  Do you have a copy of 507 Mechanical Movements...:)

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Steel wheels would definitely be a good idea for anything significantly heavier or that would need to be moved more than a couple of yards at a time.

These casters are off a half-ton-rated piano dolly.

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  Those should do nicely.  Watch concrete expansion joints when wheeling machinery around too.  Haste makes waste.... I had a friend hurt badly moving an engine on a hoist because the wheels got caught in a crack.  Just a be safe reminder.

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