To move a press

To move a press

Peter B tells us about the journey of a press, from its old quarters at Mayer&Toye on College street to the premises of Wellington Vintage Machinery Inc. in Mangaroa.

In mid March Russell, Ken A, and Peter B set out on a mission to recover the big Taylor & Challen badge press from the old premises of Mayer and Toye in College St. The whole process of acquiring the big press started in March 2019 when I received an email from Sarah Mayer asking if Wellington Vintage machinery would be interested in re-homing this machine. As we all know our Club does not turn down any good offers. The machine was purchased in 1939 for the purpose of making military badges and buttons during World War II. It was also used to press the medals for the 1950 British Empire Games but had been sitting idle at the back of the factory in College St, Wellington, for more than 25 years.

First encounter

May 2019 Russell and Peter B went into College St to have a look at the press. I had been told it was big and heavy and sure enough it is very big and very very heavy. The walls of the building were stacked with racks and racks of dies for the machine – decades of history sitting along the walls. We came away very impressed with the size of the machine but seriously pondering how we would ever get it out from the back of the factory – partition walls, work benches and machines, and mezzanine floor and storage areas all between the press and the front roller door.

The factory changes hands

The whole process then went quiet for 18 months until August 2020, when a Dominion Post article was published providing some history of the Mayer and Toye business, as it was passing out of the family hands and into new ownership. In December 2020 we managed to make contact with the new owners and arranged to go and agree on what machinery was available to come to WVMC.

Then it was all on – Russell, Ken A, and Peter B were in at College St late on 23 Dec to begin disconnecting and dismantling some of the smaller bench machines and we were back there 29 and 30 Dec to remove the smaller machines – the lease on the building was termination end Dec.

All quiet again until 24 Feb 2021 when Russell, Ken A, and Peter B met with the building owners – Moore Wilson, to arrange for the removal of the remaining 3 machines – the big press and two drop presses plus a slightly more modern hydraulic press. By this time a demolition crew had been in to dismantle the interior of the building so by the end of the day it would be a clear empty building.

The next task was to sort out a day with our friendly truckie - Richard Hammond to come and transport the machines. Wed 10 March Russell was at College St to accept delivery of a forklift that Richard was kindly providing to shift the machines out to the front door because the truck with the HiAb was too high to get into the building. Thurs and Fri 11 and 12 March Russell, Ken, and Peter were there to dismantle and move all the bits of equipment out to near the front door. First move was the hydraulic press – it turned out to be a bit heavier than the 2500kg we were advised of but I will not go into any details on this one.\

Bigger than it looks

The base unit and the motor unit of the larger of the two drop presses. A significant bit of cast iron in the base. The motor unit had been taken off the top of the tower and the tower removed before shifting the heavy cast iron base. The motor unit turned out to be bigger and heavier than what it looked like sitting at the top of the tower. Now to the main part of the whole exercise -the big press.

The first task was to remove the shaft and disks off the top – this part alone is quite heavy as I discovered when re-assembling at Mangaroa – right on the lifting capacity of our forklift to get it back on top of the machine. Next the whole press with base timbers was jacked up enough to get blocks inserted. Then the end brackets had to come off.

The next tricky part was the removal of the big wheel and screw – the whole piece had to be lifted and turned to screw it out of the base unit – the limits of the chain hoist was tested for this operation but fortunately it had a reasonable length of plain shaft still in the mounting when completely unscrewed so some additional chain was used for the final lift.

Now for the real test of the forklift’s capabilities.

Managed to lift up each end of the press to allow Ken to cut off the holding bolts with his sabre saw but the task became too much on the last bolt with smoke coming out of the saw. A big disk grinder finished the task, and then ready to move the press off the concrete base.

The weight was just a bit much for the forklift to do a straight lift – some careful manipulation of the lift and tilt was required but on the first attempt the unit was a little bit forward on the forks and the forks were still resting on the concrete block. The fork lift would have tipped forward if the forks had come off the concrete block so some repositioning was required the get right back on the forks. Some very slow manoeuvring was required to get the base unit up to the front door – forklift very light on the rear steering but the front tyres flattened a bit.

Back of the building now cleared and all the machines up front ready for moving out and loading onto the truck. Sat 13 March Richard Hammond arrived with big truck and trailer. A few motorbikes had to be moved out of their parking spot and onto the footpath to park the truck and trailer along front of the building. The loading begins while trying to control the fitness people doing their press ups in the Gym next door then running up and down the street. A lot of faith put in those flexible strops!! With all the equipment loaded or out on the footpath, it is time to load the forklift onto the trailer.
Out to Mangaroa by midday – big shed cleared of tractors and Standard engine and Richard’s truck managed to back in thru the door with about an inch to spare at the top.

The base area prepared -and with some very skilled manipulation of the HiAb by Richard dodging the door runners, light and roof beams, the big press base was put in position, then the big wheel and screw, and finally the two end brackets lifted for us to bold back into position.

By 2.15pm – mission accomplished – time for Richard to get to a family appointment and time for some lunch. A very big thank you to Richard Hammond leading up to his retirement from the Transport Company at end of March. The top shaft was put onto the machine during our work Sunday 21 March – as I said earlier our forklift was at its limits for the lifting task. On Easter Monday we had a couple of visitors come to Mangaroa, and as it was also Club night Ken and Peter decided to stay and work on the big press. It was bolted securely to the floor with some steel brackets that had been made up, and the electric motor bolted in place. Now needs some 3 phase power and the machine will be all set to go. A challenging task well done. Peter B.

Recent post