Moving an Iron Hand Press
Bob Oldham, Ad Lib Press, Doswell, Virginia

Showing the move of the J. J. Lankes press from Hampton, VA to Tampa, FL.

The Victim

The basic equipment needed:
  • 5x8 enclosed U-Haul van trailer,
  • 1-ton hydraulic floor crane,
  • 2-wheeled hand truck with pneumatic wheels,
  • 4-wheeled cradle dolly for frame
  • Tow chain and nylon strap,
  • Tie-down equipment,
  • Penetrating oil, de-greaser, pressure washer, wrenches, rubber mallet, hammer, etc.



These pictures show re-assembly, but dis-assembly is the reverse. In most cases the bolts and other parts will be loose enough to be easily removed. Application of a little oil and care with rusted parts will usually get the job done.

Begin by removing the toggle, bar, and rounce with girts. Next, using the crane lift the bed off the rails and set it aside. Then remove the platen, using the crane to hold it up while removing the spring nuts, then lower it off the bolts and set it aside. Remove the bed rails. Finally, using chain lift the frame with the crane and remove the legs, then lay the frame down. Move the chain to one side column and pick it up horizontally and set it on the cradle dolly and secure it.

You are now ready to load the press parts into the trailer. The U-Haul van trailer was chosen for its low floor, making loading much easier. Start with the frame on the dolly, lifting it in with the crane, and secure it to the tie-rails of the trailer. Place the platen and bed where they will block the dolly in place, and put the other pieces where they won"t slide around

When loading, put in the smaller and lighter parts last. Always use the crane to move any part that weighs more than about 40-50 pounds - a few minutes spent rigging may save hours of back pain. Unloading should be in the reverse order of loading.

Check the area carefully to be sure all parts, including small ones like bolts (which will be very difficult to replace if lost) and pins, have been loaded and secured. Don"t forget to load the crane and other tools!


All loaded in the trailer


Unloading the platen


Unloading the bed


The press frame is unloaded but can't be set down because dolly wheels don't allow clearance for crane legs!


Here's the solution - if it is available. Or you can set the dolly wheels on blocks and then lift it off the blocks one end at a time with the crane.


On the floor and ready for clean-up and re-assembly


It's best to remove the legs when dis-assembling, but they wouldn't come off then. Soaking with penetrating oil did it.


This is a good time to clean and paint the parts. Degreaser followed by a pressure washer is an effective way to clean it


Carefully lift the frame off the dolly by the head, securing the strap around the toggle bearing to prevent slippage. When it is hanging vertically, slip the legs in place and carefully lower it to the floor. It helps if you can pin the legs in place with the original wedges or some form of substitute.


Next, hang the platen, guiding it carefully onto the spring bolts so it doesn't jam.


After the platen is on, install the bed rails and forestay leg and oil the rails generously. Then set the bed on them, being sure to get the tympan hinge at the right end.


Now you can install the bar and toggle. I use a Crescent wrench for leverage on the toggle to make engaging the hook easier.


Nail the girts to the rounce barrel with large-headed galvanized roofing nails or reproduction hand-made nails with large heads. We obtained 1-1/2 inch wide, 1/8 inch thick, 50 inch long leather straps from Tandy Leather.


Be sure the girts feed off the top of the rounce barrel, two to the hinge end of the bed and one to the other end.


Slide the bed to the outer end of the rails, pull the 2 girts out while someone holds the rounce with their nails just past top center opposite that end, and clamp them. Then crank the bed to the other end and repeat with the single girt


The press is ready to test. Oil all moving parts. Use type-high corner bearer blocks to level the platen. Adjust the impression with the platen wedge.


It works! Congratulations, you've done it!