Chandler & Price Platen Press
Moving a
Chandler & Price
Platen Press

~ Easily & Safely

Report on our move from Fieldston School

First of all, moving a 1500-pound platen press is Serious Business.

It can be done safely, but it can also be dangerous both to the movers and to the press. Most of the presses we find these days were made many years ago, and the cast-iron can be brittle - and can break if shocked by falling over or something like that. And, belive me, it does happen... but it has never happened to me.

The second thing is that these presses are heavy - figure 1050 pounds for an 8x12, 1500 pounds for a 10x15 and 2500 pounds for a 12x18. Those are C&P New Style weights. Goldings, Craftsmen & others could be quite bit heavier.

I will not presume to tell you how to move your press - and I don't want to be held responsible if you screw up - but I will tell you how I have safely and successfully moved these presses in the past. I have never lost a press - and I've moved quite a few of these from Pearls to Windmills - and all arrived safely at their destinations.

I have moved these presses on a variety of trailers and a few times using lift-gate trucks.
I do NOT recommend using a lift-gate truck if it can be avoided. It simply is not safe - no matter what your refrigerator mover guy tells you. Keep the press as low to the ground as you can. Avoid using forklifts, dollies and common cargo pallets.

You might get lucky, but then again, you might get hurt - or, worse yet, hurt your press...

I have had lift-gates fail on me twice - both times with a press on the gate. Once I was lucky and it simply went to the ground slowly. The other time, we had to prop it up with a clumsy set of jacks and 6x6's and very carefully lower the backward-tilting lift-gate to the ground while slowing releasing the cargo straps that kept the press from falling off the tilting gate. Both times I had been told that the lift gates had a 2500 pound capacity. Both times, the were wrong.

One lift-gate/forklift move that did go well was with a 4000-pound
lift gate on a large, expensive, relatively new truck. But use of the truck cost over $250 for the day. I prefer to spend $30 and stay close to the ground.

Lift gates and forklifts are not safe - for you or for the press.

All but the best-maintained small forklifts stutter and rock - do not move smoothly. Sure, they can pick up the press, but then they rock back and forth and bounce over rough ground. Instead of using a forklift to move your press, use a small trailer and back right up to the door or driveway you will unload to.

center the weight into a small area and can lead to tipping over. Terribly unsafe. Common cargo pallets (wooden skids) cannot safely handle the weight. I  have seen presses fall through cargo pallets on at least 4 occasions - none of which were moves I was in charge of or involved in.

A low, 5x8 trailer is my chosen mode of transport for these presses. Safe, secure, inexpensive and low to the ground. I recommend a low trailer for every press move.

This report is about moving a New Series 10x15 Chandler & Price from the Fieldston School in The Bronx, NY. photo by Carl Smith, manager of Fieldston Press
Loading a 10x15 Chandler
                          & Price Platen Press

This photo shows the press on a pallet jack (2x4 & 4x4 dunnage - not a skid), about to be rolled onto 2" steel pipes which will ease its loading onto the ramp of the $30/day 5x8 heavy-duty U-Haul trailer. These pipes can be purchased - cut to size - at Home Depot for about $6.00 each - a good investment.

We also used two 4' sections of new 4x4 and two 3' pieces of 2x4 and a variety of short 2x4s for blocking as needed. The fresh-wood 2x4 rails under the press are firmly affixed with lag bolts.

Note: Old wooden rails mounted under these presses for many years are often oil-soaked or rotten and should not be trusted. First step in our moving process is to inspect and/or replace the lower wooden rails with 2x4s or 2x6s bolted firmly using lag bolts or nuts and bolts - both with large washers. See changing press rails below to learn how I do this.

In this case, we had to remove the flywheel to fit through narrow doors and hallways. Removing the flywheel is not difficult, but is also not always required. If you need to remove the flywheel to get through a narrow doorway, see my notes below.

The press is kept closed with a cargo strap. This is important. You don't want the flywheel to turn at all - that would let the press open and would change its center of gravity. Cargo straps are also available at Home Depot - buy the better ones; you'll also want at least four to hold the press in place on the trailer.

Next, note that the press is about to be rolled onto the wide cargo ramp - by hand. We don't use forklifts or any other expensive equipment. We did use the pallet jack to move the press through the halls of the school - but only because we had to bring it a long way to get it outside. For short runs, we always roll our presses on pipes. It's cheap and easy, and most of all, safe.

I was able to pull the press onto the ramp by myself. As it got onto the ramp, we jacked up the ramp to level using an inexpensive automotive floor jack - a handy tool to have with you for such a move. We also laid a 4' 2x6 across the top of the jack to spread the load and avoid any damage to the ramp.

Once the ramp was level, I was able to pull the press onto the trailer - again, by myself. I used an automotive tow strap wrapped about the press to get a good grip, moved back a few feet and pulled. The press rolls easily. We kept pipes under the lower 2x4 rails to make moving it easy.

And, by using the pipes, the press cannot run away from you - ever. If it rolls more than a foot or so, it rolls off of the pipe and stops - an automatic brake. Simple and Safe. I like it that way.

As the press moves forward and rolls off of one pipe, I simply removed the freed pipe from the back, tilt the naturally balanced press back easily, insert the pipe under the press on my side, and pull it forward another foot or two until the other pipe is free, then continued the process until the press is where I want it. I have moved a 2500-pound Heidelberg Windmill across 100' of level floor - working alone - using this technique and highly recommend it.

This technique does not require strength or heavy equipment. It requires only logic and planning.
It is also the safest way to move a heavy item, because it can never run away from you. The system has it's own failsafe brake built in. Once the press rolls off of the pipe, it stops within inches. Dead stop.

Once the press was in position on the trailer, I used the small automotive floor jack again to raise the press - less than 1"  - just enough to remove the pipe(s) that were still under it.

The press was positioned 3-6" forward of the trailer axle to balance the load and keep 100-200  pounds of the weight on the trailer hitch for safety. Then it was strapped down to prevent any forward moving during braking, or any lateral movement in the turns.

We tied it down, loaded up our tools and headed home... Unloading was even easier than loading, and was essentially the same procedure in reverse.

additional notes:
Removing the flywheel is generally pretty easy. Essentially, you need only remove the main drive gear on the right and three large screws which hold a collar in place on the left. Once the gear is removed and the collar is free, the entire flywheel and shaft can be removed to the left. If the press has a straight shaft; it comes right out. If the press has a crank shaft (good for mounting a treadle) you'll have to rotate the flywheel a bit to align the crank with the slotted hole on the left frame.

Removing the main drive gear is sometimes very easy, other times more complicated. Some presses have a shield covering the drive gear. When we encounter a press which has such a shield, we  remove the right side-arm and a few bolts to get the cover off. If this is the case, it is very important that the press stays still; we replace the right side-arm immediately. It is a very tight fit with almost no clearance or tolerance. I slip it back on and bolt it back in place right away. Do not force the side arm back on. Wiggle the press until it slips back into place easily and smoothly.

Once the gear is visible, we use a 3-pound hammer and a short piece of 2x4 to drive the gear about 1/2" towards the frame. This frees up the shaft locking key, so that it can be removed and allows the gear to be drawn back to the end of the crankshaft for removal. Sometimes we have to file down the end of the shaft to remove burrs so that the gear comes off easily. We almost always finish the end of the shaft with a long strip of coarse emery paper to make sure it's nice and smooth all the way to the end.

Once we had to remove a gear that had been improperly installed - fifty years ago. In this case the gear had been driven onto the key- backards! Don't do that! It took days of hammering a 5' solid steel rod against the gear from the other side of the press, and finally a Volvo strut removal tool to pull that f*)*! gear free.

Changing press rails - To replace old oiled or rotten press rails, remove any nails, lag bolts or scews holding the press to the rail. I begin by positioning my new rail next to the old one.

  1. I take one of the two 3' 2x4s in my kit and lay it from one side to the other, and under the press frame - going from left to right as you view the press from the front, and roughly centered from front to back. Position this plank pretty much under the center of gravity.

  2. With one end on the floor and the other end on my floor jack,  I raise the jack - carefully, and one side of the press comes up. All I need to do is raise one side 1/2" to give me the clearance so that I can slide out the old rail and slide in the new one.

  3. Then I lower my jack, fasten the press to the rail using lag bolts with large washers, and repeat the process on the other side. It takes only a few minutes to do this very safely.

Once the press is on solid rails, it's easy to raise it up a little and slip a pipe beneath the rails. When on a set of pipes, these presses move very easily over smooth flat surfaces. And, if you are on a slope, the press can never "run away from you" as it could on a dolly. The press can only roll a few feet before it rolls off the pipes and "hits the brakes", so to speak.

See how we partially disassembled and moved an 8x12 C&P out of a basement in 2002.


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page last updated June 4, 2011 July 27, 2012 Oct 9, 2012