How to move/transport a Chandler & Price style letterpress on ground floor.
First, a disclaimer: Moving a 1000lb+ object is inherently dangerous. You should hire a professional moving company to move your press. Simply Letterpressed is not responsible for any damages or injuries caused by following these suggestions.
Now that the disclaimer is out there and you still want to move your letterpress yourself, here is the one way to do it (How we do it). This is assuming your letterpress is bolted to a wood base (not on a pallet) and on ground floor. ALWAYS have people on either side in case the press starts tilting, but if it’s about to fall, just let it fall. There’s no way one person can lift the press once it’s about to go down and this can cause serious bodily injuries. You can always find another press, you won’t find another limb.
1. Truck with a tow hitch with a rating of at least 1,000lbs.
2. Flatbed Trailer – Rent it from Uhaul for $24.95/day. Make sure to get the 5’x9′ trailer with the ramp. If they say your truck’s not good enough, it probably isn’t. Find another truck.
3. Pallet Jack – You can purchase a used pallet jack on ebay for <$100. We bought ours for $80.
4. Car Jack – A small car jack that you raise your car with to change your tires.
5. 4″x4″ lumber – get one 4″x4″x8′ and cut it in half.
6. 2″x4″ lumber – get one 2″x4″x8′ and cut it in half. Take one 4′ piece and cut off a pice that is about 6-8″ long.
7. Tie-downs – have at least 8 tie downs (with a few ratchet type).
8. Few scrap pieces of plywood
9. Three Men
How to load the press onto the pallet jack:
Close the platen on your press first. Take your small car jack and a 6″-8″ 2×4. The 2×4 is to protect the jack from scratching/damaging the press. Place the jack directly under one end of the letterpress frame and put the 2×4 on the head of the jack. Start lifting the press so that one end is high enough to put the 4′ 4×4 under, near the legs of the press (You will want to reserve the space directly below the legs for the arms of the pallet jack). Then slowly lower the jack so the press is sitting on the 4×4. Do the same on the other side of the press, and now, your press should be standing on two pieces of 4×4 and your pallet jack should slide easily under the press. Make sure you have people supporting either side of the press just in case it starts to tilt. Take 4 or more tie downs and secure the press to the pallet jack.
How to situate and load your trailer:
If you have a driveway to work with, that will be the easiest way to load the press. See the diagram below. Most driveways slope down from the driveway and the street and that is the most ideal situation. If you have that, put the trailer tires at the lowest point and when you open your ramp, your ramp will be almost parallel to the ground making it very easy to load the press into the trailer. Once you have your trailer where you want it, set the truck’s parking brakes and open the ramp. Take a few pieces of 2×4 and plywood to fill the gap between the floor and ramp. This will make it easier to get the pallet jack to roll onto the trailer. Start pulling the pallet jack with the press towards the ramp, but stop before it hits the ramp. You want to do this part very slowly because if you hit the ramp with some speed, you can potentially tip the jack and press.
With one person pulling and two pushing from the back, you should be able to get the press loaded very easily into the back of the trailer. The hardest part would be to get the wheels of the pallet jack to climb onto the ramp, and that’s what the scrap wood’s for. We didn’t have an option and had to load our presses on level ground and did not have any difficulty loading the press onto the trailer. Once the press is in the trailer, the safest way to transport would be to lower the press back onto the trailer bed, but if you have the uhaul like us, you’ll want to lower the press onto 2×4’s where the weight is distributed so 90% of the press is in front of the wheel, and 10% is directly over the wheels of the trailer. Then move the pallet jack slightly so that you can lift the press again, and put the 4×4’s directly under the legs of the press. Then lower the pallet jack. Tie down the press to the trailer securing as many points as possible to keep the press from moving. Secure the pallet jack so it does not hit and damage the press during transport.
Drive carefully, and BEFORE you get on the freeway, find a place to pull over to double check to make sure the press has not moved, and that all your tie downs are still tight.
Unloading your press:
Again, situate your trailer in the ideal situation as shown in the diagram if possible. Open the ramp and place scrap wood to fill the gap between the ramp and ground. Undo all the tie downs. Lift the press with the pallet jack, remove the 4×4’s and set it back down on the 2×4’s. Place the arms of the jack directly under the press then lift. Make sure you have at least 4 tie downs securing the press to the pallet jack. With one person operating the jack, and two supporting the press, slowly unload the press.
Next time we purchase/move our press, we will add pictures on how we do it. Hopefully this was helpful! Again, be careful and good luck!