Moving and Refurbishing Antique Heavy Machinery

An incomplete overview of my experiences with heavy machinery.

Over the years I have worked closely with my friend Rob Reeve to collect and refurbish heavy machinery. And through this journey I have met fantastic and interesting people, went to interesting places, experienced time-capsules of America's industrial history, and learned so many things. And all of this was only possible through my friends enthusiasm for industrial history and machining. So lets dive in to what this is all about!

At last count (2018), a total of 41 machines have been acquired ranging from a small drill press and a watch making mill to a 5200lbs Reed-Prentice Lathe and a 6800lbs Fellows No. 6 Gear Shaper. Through the years, while we have both lived in and around Boston, we have moved, disassembed, and refurbished various machines and devices which we have collected. This work has taken place on the hottest days of summer to the coldest days of the New England winter, from New Jersey to the white mountains after a snow storm. The one constant is that we always seem to find insane deals on older machinery through various contacts and craigslist posts.

Though many days and nights have been spent in this endeavor, I have only managed to take pictures of a fraction of it. This is due to us being so focused on not (A) dropping the machine and cracking the cast iron, (B) hurting ourselves, or (C) too tired and greasy to pull out our phones to take pictures, so the pictures I do have are limited in scope and quantity. But I hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy looking back, bewildered at what we have moved and the quantity of stuff we have moved.

And at this point in our journey, after review, I hope you will agree that both Rob and I can consider ourselves experienced riggers and well versed in heavy machinery. Enjoy!

Equipment Moving

A selection of equipment moves we have done.

Cylindrical Grinder indirectly from Princeton

When you want to make precision gear-boxes for fun, a cylindrical grinder is a must! Nothing beats the ability to grind large shafts to precise dimensions, easily. This machine move was from a former Bell labs employee who acquired the machine from Princeton years ago. Half the move was just talking about interesting history with the sellers.

A Marathon of Fellows: Gear Shapers

This move comprised of multiple fellows #7's and one fellows #6. All extremely robust and heavy pieces of machinery used primarily for shaping gears. Took many trips over many weekends between Springfield, MA and Boston.

Turret Lathe during a NE Heatwave

I don't know how, but Rob and I are masters of picking up machines during weather extremes, first screw-machines in the dead of one of the coldest winters - and now a large turret lathe in the sweltering heat (Upper 90's - no wind).

4 Screw Machines in the Dead of Winter

If there is one thing that is not fun, it is moving cast-iron in the dead of winter. Cast Iron pulls the heat out of your hands and anything it touches. So why you might ask did we move 4 separate screw machines in the dead of winter... because the price and quality was too hard to pass up!

First Screw Machine: From a Yo-yo factory

This was the first screw machine Rob had come across that was in good condition and cheap. It came from a small yoyo company Larry Sayco YoYo Company This was probably the luckiest we have ever been in the middle of a move.

Buy one, Get one Free (Lathe)

This move was in the middle of winter and located up in the white mountains of New Hampshire on the north side, right after a recent blizzard had swept through the region the week before.


A selection of the factories we were able to explore

Philips Screw Machine Products: an ACME-Gridley Factory

This was an a factory building where all the machinery was up for auction. Rob and I bid on some smaller items, the primary piece of hardware we picked up was a hardness tester. But the real gem of this auction was being able to see a dozen or so ACME-Gridleys, now that is a machine to behold. These machines are the work-horse of any reproducable part production line, and the sheer volume this factory had was jaw dropping. Enjoy!

Auction down by the Harbor

This was an old shop down by the harbor in an old commerical marina, we are un-sure what the shops use-case was but it had a interesting collection of machinery.

100 year-old Dial Indicator Shop - Waltham, MA

This was one of the most astounding shops we have ever come across. This was a dial indicator factory/shop that was built in the families backyard two generations ago. The factory building was a 3 story + basement simple timber frame construction, but contained a lot of character within. We were able to tour the place before the family, unfortunately, sold the contents off to a collector/re-seller, and then eventually sell the property itself.


A brief selection of pictures from various Refurb projects

1938 Clark Carloader: A Forklift WIP

When your friend tells you he wants to refurbish a forklift, you wonder "What is he thinking?"... When your friend asks you to help him refurbish a 1938 Forklift that still runs and it will only take a year... He isn't joking, but also isn't the best on time estimates.

[06.2020]$40 for Precision: A Bandsaw of class

A bandsaw for $40?!? what kind of crappy harbor freight piece of equipment are you about to show me? One of the best bandsaws Rob and I have ever had the pleasure of using - from an auction!

Cincinnati Monaset Cutter Grinder: WIP

A Cincinnati Monaset Grinder is a extremely useful and pricey tool, even on the used market. So when you find someone selling one for scrap metal prices - you snatch it up as fast as you can.

Electric Chainfall: Rewiring

After years of using old hand-actuated chainfalls you start to laugh at the prices of the electric models, but when you come across a free 'broken' one - well why not fix it up? It still a useful tool!