Moving a Vandercook
- Hi David-
Having moved half a dozen Vandercooks, from an SP-15 to a
232, and several Uni's in the middle, I'd recommend-
Don't do it by yourself. I'm sure someone on the list would
be willing to help if they are within a reasonable distance.
I'm in Utah for two more weeks, then driving to Connecticut.
If you're on the way, I'm available.
Use 2x6's for skids. Get some at least six to twelve inches
longer than the holes in the feet of the press are apart.
(Lengthwise) It might work to have the lumberyard cut a ten
or twelve footer in half. Get a good one with out any big
knots, you might have to spring for a number one grade.
Get four 3/8 inch diameter carriage bolts two and a half
inches long, with nuts and washers.
Buy a 10' piece of 1 1/4" pvc pipe. Don't use some you might
have had laying around a long time, because it gets brittle.
Use your crowbar, tanker bar, Johnson bar or hand truck to
tip the press up enough to slide one of the boards under-
neath the legs on one side. Make sure your helpers are
holding the other side to keep it from going over. (I did
this routine by myself once, but it was pretty tense-not
Repeat the process on the other side, so the press is sit-
ting level on the boards. Now take a pencil or pen or nail
or whatever and mark the board through holes in the feet.
Make some more marks around the feet on the skids, and write
"Up" and "left" or "right" on them, so you get them back in
the same place.
If I am going to truck the press very far, usually I slide
the skids more to the outside so the stance is wider and more
stable, but since you aren't going far, just centering the
bolt holes in the boards should be good.
Now carefully tip the press enough to take the boards out.
Get a drill bit larger than the 3/8 bolt, say 7/16 or 1/2
inch, and drill through marks you made. Now turn the
boards over, and with a wood chisel, claw hammer or a larger
drill bit, cut a clearance on the bottom of the boards so
the head of the carriage bolt will not stick out below the
surface of the bottom. This is so the pipes will not hit
the bolt heads as you roll the press.
You might want to take a big rasp, belt sander, radial arm
saw or whatever, and put a 45 degree chamfer on the ends of
the skids on the bottom, so they will roll up onto the pipes
Put two of the bolts into one skid, heads down, carefully
tip one side of the press up, and slide the board under,
lining up the bolts with the holes in the feet. Be care-
ful, use a screwdriver or hammer handle, or pliers, or such
to get the bolts into the holes-if something slips, your
fingers can get squashed--we don't want this to happen.
(This is why you should drill the holes a bit bigger than
the bolts, it gives some wiggle room if things aren't just
exactly the right length.)
Drop the washers onto the bolts, screw on the nuts, tighten
them and repeat the whole sequence for the other side.
Now get your hacksaw or crosscut saw out, and cut that PVC
pipe into ten pieces of approximately equal length.
Have one of the helpers pry up the front or back end of
the press, and drop a pipe under each skid. Now push
the machine along, and keep dropping pipes in front of
it until they're all used up.
Aim it in the direction you want to go, and keep pushing.
When one of the pipes rolls out, carry it to the front of
the skid, and set it down to be rolled along again. You
can turn the machine by tapping the ends of the pipes to
change the angle they roll in relation to the axis of
The secret to using PVC rollers is to make sure you have
plenty of them, and spread the pressure across a wide area,
thus the 2x6's. You can't horse a flat base Intertype along
with them, unless it's on skids.
Some of the advantages--they are cheap, remarkably strong,
easy to cut, and they won't mark floors. They also flex
enough to roll over small obstructions, like floor joints,
or from a hard floor to carpet. You might, though want to
lay some plywood down if the carpet is very thick. Carpet
can be hard to roll on.
You can also use lag screws to hold the press to the skids,
since you are not going far. In that case, you would mark
the skids as above, and then drill about a 1/4 inch (for a
3/8" lagscrew)hole inthe boards, and screw the lag into the
skid from the top of the press foot. (Lag screws are like
big wood screws with a hexagon head, the threads screw into
the wood, not a nut.)
I have been in on equipment moves where we almost lost the
machines, in one case a 12x 18 Craftsman, and the other a
a Ludlow when a lagscrew pulled out of the skid. We were
moving them on the skids that were already on the machine.
That's why if there is forklifting involved, I like make
sure the skids are going to stay on.
The Vandercook 232, which I think weighs over 3000 pounds
went quite well with PVC rollers. I used 2x8 skids, and
had to brace the center of them to the bed of the machine
with 2x6 pillars, so they wouldn't push up in the middle.
It also took some creative rigging with a hydraulic jack
and miscellaneous blocking to get it up and down on the
skids, but it went well. I also used 20' of pipe, and cut
the pieces about 15" long.
Big prybars, chisel pointed and about five feet long are
usually available for $18 to $25 at farm supply stores or
good hardware stores like OSH in California. They are
really great to have when moving equipment, and if you are
going to do much of it, it's well worth it to have one or
You can lift one end of a press to get blocking under the
feet by putting a short length of 2x4 under the cabinet on
the end, and prying up to lift it. You might have to put
another piece of wood on the floor for a fulcrum, a lot
depends on how your bar is built. The wood under the press
to pry against preserves the finish, and spreads the weight
to not dent the cabinet. You can also use a stout 2x4 to
lift the end of the press, a piece of straight grained fir
or oak, not a 79 cent econo-stud!
I hope this is helpful. Usually it's better to have bit
more information than not enough, and if this all seems
elementary, it's for that reason. Everything here described
I have done several times, and I know it works. Just go
slowly and carefully, and you should be fine.
Success to you!
Date: Sun, 04 Jan 2004 13:37:37 -0500
From: Nancy and or David <gettinby.1@...>
Subject: Moving Vandercook
Soon I will be attempting to move a Vandercook Universal 1 proof press. It
not be far; one room to another, (garage to basement), all on one level on a
concrete floor. I plan on placing two 2"x6"s under it, to serve as a skid,
try to move it on 1" iron pipes. It will not matter if I can only move it an
inch at a time. I will be attempting this on my own.
I would appreciate any and all sound advise members would like to offer.
My brother tried to move a similar press a few years ago: with disastrous
results. As a result of his experience I will be very cautious.
- A PPL member has notified me that there is a long thread on how to
move a Vandercook press on the Letpress listserv; trials and
I think the URL here is correct, so if you are not a member you might
want to sign up to take a look.