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Bringing Home a Sheldon 12" Shaper

Sheldon 12" Shaper 2

Sheldon 12" Shaper 3

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Sheldon 12" Shaper 9

Way Alignment Tool



Email Jim


Bringing Home a Sheldon 12" Shaper
May 31, 2015

Sometimes I am fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time. This was one of those times.

A week and a half ago a Sheldon 12" metal shaper was offered for sale on the CAMS group email list. The current owner had purchased the shaper about six years ago from another member of the group and now found himself working on projects that the shaper wasn't suited for. It was time for him to free up some space in his shop and let the shaper be enjoyed by someone else.

This is the picture I received when I wrote to ask about the shaper. It is the 12" model and is a good size for my home shop.

I happened to be the first one to contact him with a request for pictures. Charles responded with some photos of the shaper and a little later with some photos of the location it needed to be moved from. Within an email or two, I replied that I would enjoy being the shaper's new custodian.  With the commitment made, I switched into rigging mode. There would be lots to do before I could pick the shaper up and bring it home.

I was sent this image of the entrance to the park. The driveway runs along side his shop. Notice the black lines on the driveway and street near where they meet. They're trailer scrape marks.
This is a shot of his shop. The area just past the fence is where I could park my trailer. Not a lot of room for my long trailer, and even less if my truck was still attached to it.

Moving the shaper was going to be a bit tricky. The workshop where the shaper was located had no access to the street unless one panel of a stockade fence was removed. The street outside the fence was actually the driveway entrance to a park and about as wide as a double residential driveway. The driveway to the park was also in constant use, so I couldn't block it. There was some grass outside the fence where I could park my trailer or truck, but not both at the same time. On the plus side, his workshop has big barn doors on the end for easy access, however outside the workshop is his lawn. There was no way to back my trailer up to the shop and winch the shaper on to the trailer. We'd need to pull the shaper outside the fence before loading.  There was also a small hill that needed to be negotiated to get the shaper past the fence. We had our work cut out for us.

Over the course of the next couple days, Charles and I exchanged a few email. He sent me some pictures of the lay of the land and gave me the measurements of the machine. Sheldon lists the length and width as 44.5" X 29". The four holes in the base that I would use to attach a wooden sled were 22" apart, centered on the length and 27.5" across the width. The weight is alleged to be around 1600 pounds. Not terribly large or heavy and not overly top heavy, but still a fairly substantial piece of equipment to transport across grass and up a hill.
The shaper is in the air. Excuse the crummy job of lightening the center of the picture to show detail.
Not that far of a move from the shop to the trailer, but there were a few challenges.

We set the pick-up date to be on the 27th - one week away - and I got started figuring out what I needed to perform the move. We both knew that we'd want to use pipes as rollers and put down some 4'X8' sheets of plywood or OSB to give us something smooth to roll on. My first concern was the best way to lift the shaper so that we could bolt on the skids/sled. I have an engine hoist but there wasn't a lot of room in his shop to set it up. It is also a real pain to drag across grass. I suppose that I could have laid down the boards and dragged the hoist across those, but that still gave us the space issue once the hoist was in the shop. Charles suggested lifting the shaper with a Johnson bar and using wood blocks to get the base high enough to slip the sled under the shaper's base. This is a tried and true method and would have worked well, but introduced an issue we'd have to work around. I wanted to make a sled with three 2"X10" boards which would give me only about 4" between the boards where the cribbing could reside. This would mean that the placement of the 2"x4" blocks (3.5" wide) would need to be perfectly aligned in order to slip the sled under the base. This didn't leave much room for error.

The sled is under the base and it's time to lower the shaper back down.
With the help of the two small boards, we got the shaper out far enough to turn it.

After some more thought, I decided that the under car stands (I call them transmission jacks - Harbor Freight item #60759) that I use to create a poor man's version of a gantry crane, might be just the ticket. I've modified the stands with a piece of all-thread extending from the top of each stand to keep a couple 4"X4"X8' boards centered. The stands are rated for 2000 pounds each and I figure that the two 4 by 4s will support at least a couple thousand pounds with five feet between the tops of the stands. The stands have the added feature of being adjustable in height. This is accomplished with an Acme screw jack at the top of the stand. Turning the screw jack will increase the height by about five inches. Once the decision was made to use the gantry, I stripped down the tops of the stands and lubed the Acme screws, bearings and nuts to make sure that they were as easy to turn as possible.

I built the sled later that day. I made sure that the carriage bolts I counter-sunk into the bottom of the sled would extend through the four holes in the shaper base with enough room to add a couple washers and nuts. Charles told me that the thickness of the base was about 3/4". I also tried to make sure that the bolts were accurately positioned to the measurements I had received from him. I packed up a drill and some spade bits just in case I had made an error in measuring. I also packed longer bolts and extra washers. I was going to be two hours from home and there wouldn't be time to get more tools or parts if I forgot something. I tried to make sure that wouldn't happen. I packed up every tool I thought might come in handy - just in case.

I have a winch on my trailer that will also attach to the truck's rear tow receiver. There are two 25' long 2/0 gauge power cables that extend from the winch to the bolt-on connectors on one of the batteries in the truck. I also brought along a set of jumper cables in case I needed a few more feet of length. These helped out when it was discovered that his Mini fit next to the trailer better than my truck on the small piece of real estate outside the fence. We used his Mini's battery to power the winch. I had guessed that I had pretty close to enough cable on the winch to get to the shop, but brought along a couple tow straps to make sure that I had enough reach. I had my snatch block, chains, chain binders, cinch straps and tarps in case of rain. I figured that I was ready for the move.

The shaper is safely on the trailer. We're now in the process of centering it for the ride home.
The shaper arrives at my shop. The brush pile on the left was in the trailer the day before.

My wife Susie decided that she'd like to come along and took the day off of work. I was happy for the company and I knew that she could operate the winch while Charles and I attended to steering the shaper. We got to Charles' home around 10:30 AM and was impressed to see that he was ready for us. He had removed the section of fence and had already laid out a block and tackle to guide the shaper out of the shop. Backing the trailer up to the fence was no easy feat. Between the length of the truck and the trailer, there wasn't much room to get a good angle to back the trailer in. I decided that we'd unhook the trailer and guide it into place using a tow strap between the truck and trailer. We got it situated, but I think the gods of old iron were on our side. With the trailer in place and held steady with some wheel chocks, we began unloading the tools.

To get the move started, we used the Johnson bar along with the winch, which was hooked into the the block and tackle, to drag the shaper closer to the doors. This would allow us enough room to set up the improvised gantry. Things were a little tight as we worked next to his good looking Van Norman #12 milling machine. I didn't want be the cause of anything happen to this machine, or anything else, so we took each step of the move with some thought and discussion.

Lifting the shaper with the gantry as easier than even I expected. Turning the Acme screws lifted the shaper easily and within a couple minutes we had the shaper base high enough that we could slide the sled under and secure it. Time for a photo. My wife was put in charge of snapping photos and we got one of the two of us with the shaper in the air.  The next step was attaching the sled. It turned out that the bolts in the sled were close enough and there was no need to do any drilling to reposition the bolts and soon we had the shaper on the sled with some pipe rollers under it.

The chain binders have been removed and I'm about ready to off-load.
Using a snatch block at the end of the trailer, I could pull the shaper far enough to tilt the trailer.

I had brought a few 3/4" ID cast iron pipes and had also brought a 2" and 3" pipe for helping with uneven transitions. We put the large pipes at the end of the shop's concrete floor and eased the shaper on to the 4 by 8 OSB panel on the lawn. With the pipes under the sled, the shaper moved quite easily. We pulled it out to the end of the first board and contemplated the next step. The shaper needed to be turned a little more than 90 degrees to line up with the trailer. Charles suggested that we add a couple more short boards and pull out a bit farther before we tried the turn. That did the trick. We unhooked the block and tackle and hooked directly to the winch cable and made the turn. We now had a straight shot at the small hill and the trailer beyond.

The two of us worked very well together. We discussed each step of the move with our safety as the most important consideration. I would have hated for the shaper to tip over, but it was understood that if it starts to topple, get out of the way and let it go. Fortunately, between the two of us discussing and planning each step, loading the shaper on the trailer was as smooth of a move as I have been a part of. It took a while, almost four and a half hours, but we got the job done and the worst part of the move was that I was a bit sore the next day.

I've reversed the location of the strap and will pay out line as I pry the shaper off the trailer.
Off the trailer and on to a large pipe to make the transition from trailer to shop floor.

Getting the shaper up the small hill was uneventful. The winch wasn't even getting warm. When we arrived at the base of the tilt trailer, it took us a couple tries to make the transition from the OSB on the grass to the steel ramp of the trailer. Once we got the front of the sled on the trailer, Charles made the suggestion to tie off the top of the shaper so that there would be little chance of it tipping. I hadn't considered that possibility, but he was thinking safety and I was all for it. Another couple pulls from the winch and we had the shaper almost far enough on to the trailer to cross the balance point and level out the tilt trailer. The shaper was a bit too far to the right side of the trailer, so we spent the next half hour or so getting it centered before we pulled it over the pivot point.

With the shaper centered on the trailer, we cinched it down with chains and chain binders and a couple of heavy straps for good measure. The shaper got a tarp over it and it was time to put the tools back into the truck.

The last item to be attended to was hooking up the trailer to the truck. Charles had the great idea to use the tow strap to pivot the trailer so that we would be facing down the driveway rather than having to back down the driveway on to the street. He was also concerned that the trailer would bottom out and scrape on the steep transition where the driveway met the street. (See the previous gouges in the street and driveway above.) We were able to pivot the trailer, but I am afraid that I put some pretty big divots in the grass while doing so. We got the truck hooked back up to the trailer and took a walk down to take a look at the intersection of the driveway and street. There were some pretty deep scrape marks where others had tried to negotiate this transition.

To help me get past the incline, Charles grabbed a couple smaller pieces of plywood and followed the trailer as I got ready to enter the street. I think he shoved the plywood under the rear of the trailer as we hit the steepest part of the incline to give the trailer something to slide on, but I was too busy watching for traffic and negotiating the driveway to see what he did. All I know is that there was a slight scrape and I was now safely on to the road. I stopped for long enough to thank him and we were on our way home. The first part of the move was complete.

The shaper is now unhooked from the winch and is free to be moved in the shop.
The end of a successful move. Time to do some clean up and figure out where to put the shaper.

The drive home was uneventful. I stopped a couple times to make sure that the chain binders were still good and tight. They were. When we arrived home, I spent the evening putting away my tools and putting a second tarp over the shaper. I would off-load it tomorrow.

Getting the shaper off the trailer was a lot easier than putting it on. I can back up to my shop and the ramp of the trailer fits through the garage door of the shop. I used a snatch block attached to the end of the trailer to pull the shaper far enough to cause the trailer to tilt, then reattached the cable to the high side of the shaper to prevent it from sliding too quickly down the inclined ramp. I used a Johnson bar to work the sled down the trailer and on to a 3" pipe to make the transition to the shop floor. Once it was on the pipes, it rolled easily and I added the smaller pipes to get it into the shop.

I now have a shaper. I am looking forward to getting to know it and learning to use it.

Shaper 2
Shaper 3
Shaper 4
Shaper 5
Shaper 6
Shaper 7
Shaper 8
Shaper 9

© Fager May 31, 2015