A Barth Journal

Oct. 10-14: Moving the 60pt Barth

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The machine is the only surviving 60 point Barth caster. It is, I think, the third-largest surviving Barth. Rehak says that they were made in four sizes (Nos. 1 through 4), with the size No. 3 for 36 to 72 point bodies and No. 4 for anything larger. There were also fractional sizes. ( {Rehak 1993}, pp. 43-44) This particular machine is stamped with size "No. 3 1/2". A 72 point machine and a 120 point machine also survive. Size is of course relevant to moving a machine, and came into play here: the machine was much bigger than I was really expecting (not that I mind this at all!) Mentally I'd been thinking in terms of an "ordinary" No. 1 Barth, which while a substantial machine isn't really all that big. Rehak calls the Barth "superbly overengineered," but a No. 3 1/2, 60 point, Barth is a great beast of a machine. Nobody knows exactly how much it weighs. We estimated "3 to 4 thousand pounds," but, having now moved it, I'd guess it to be a little over 4,000.

(Mold changing on a Barth is "non-trivial," so once a machine was equipped with a mold typically it was kept in that configuration. This machine has a metal tag attached to it indicating "6003" - that it was equipped with a 60 point mold of style "03", which works out to a B-4 mold associated with the practices of ATF's constituent foundry B (also called foundry No. 3), the New York type foundry of James Conner's Sons.)

Here it is, in October 2014 in Ohio on its pallet from the 1993 ATF auction.

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The machine was in Ohio. I'm in southwestern Wisconsin (quite a bit further west in Wisconsin than people tend to think). Previously I've moved machinery with ordinary "box trucks" (up to 26,000 pounds gross weight) and smaller trailers (up to 3,000 pounds, behind my little pickup truck). Doing so requires some method of getting the machine loaded. (I prefer a forklift. I hate liftgates, and have had bad experiences with them. Dragging a machine up the relatively steep tailgate of my smaller trailer is possible, but difficult.) Here we adopted a different method that I'd never used before: a lift-deck (aka dro-bed) trailer. This worked very well... perhaps too well, as now I know how to get heavier machines home without forklifts :-)

The trailer was a Bil-Jax ET5000W, which has a capacity of 5,000 pounds. Two axles, with surge brakes. In the photo below it's shown with the deck in the full-down position. The bed descends at a 45 degree angle, and is lowered and hauled back up by a hydraulic cylinder at the front of the trailer. (Aside: This is a "lift deck" trailer (sometimes called a "drop-bed" trailer, often with "hydraulic" prepended: "hydraulic lift-deck," "hydraulic drop-bed.") A "drop-deck" trailer is something entirely different: one of the very large semi trailers with a low deck between the wheels used by professional heavy-hauling truckers.)

I rented the trailer in Ohio ($89/day, but they didn't charge for Sunday so it ended up being a single-day rental). I couldn't find one local to me in Wisconsin. I could probably have found one for rent in Milwaukee, but that would have meant having Rollande drive two round-trips to Milwaukee to drop me off and pick me up - about 14 hours of driving. She'd have done it, but it is wise to pick the favors one asks for carefully. The upshot is that I drove to Ohio (Friday), I rented the trailer and a big pickup truck to pull it and then we loaded it and I drove to Wisconsin (Saturday), we unloaded and I drove back to Ohio (Sunday), and then I drove back home. Greg's help on both ends of the move was invaluable, and greatly appreciated (thanks!) We arrived back in Ohio at 4:30 AM on Monday morning, in time to get the equipment returned within a 48 hour period, but not to get much sleep. I then took two days to drive home at a leisurely pace. So a 500 mile move actually took something over 2,000 miles of driving.

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We had to complete the Ohio-Wisconsin-Ohio part of the move within the weekend, so we had to work relatively efficiently. I didn't get as many photos of the rigging process as I normally do. Here the Barth is shown loaded, strapped down, and nearly ready to go. The deck is in the full-up position. These trailers don't come with tailgates. That's not a problem, as you'd darned well better have secured the machine to the bed - but I kept thinking I'd forgotten to put the tailgate up.

One other very nice thing about these trailers is that they have good tie-down points at deck-level in the trailer. I used seven two-inch ratchet straps each looped around some part of the machine itself (and returning back to the same deck-level tie-down point). This way the machine cannot slip underneath a strap, as it could if you strapped from one point to another. Then one more over the top of the machine for luck and because I hadn't run out of straps yet. I used lightweight 1-inch straps to secure smaller bits from moving, and stretch-wrapped the top. Anything small which might rattle off was photographed in place, removed, and carried inside the truck.

It's hard to see in the photos below, but we had an issue with width. The trailer is 60 inches wide (internal capacity). The machine is 64 inches wide. So we had to position the flywheel and one drive pulley outside of the trailer rail. This worked, but made lining things up tricky. We got the machine on to the trailer using a pallet jack assisted by a come-along (the machine is far too heavy to go over even the tiniest bump by hand).

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This trailer is far too big for my little old pickup truck (I have a now-vintage Dodge Dakota from 1987). So I rented a truck from Enterprise Commercial Truck Rental in Dayton. They were very helpful, and it wasn't really that expensive ($85/day plus $0.19/mile for miles over 200). The truck we ended up with was a Chevrolet 2500 - this is normally a "1/2 ton" truck, but this one was equipped with "3/4 ton" suspension. The trailer was well within the rated towing capacity of this vehicle, but to be honest I was not really that impressed with its power or size relative to the trailer. A "real" 3/4 ton pickup would have been much better.

(Aside for European readers: American consumer pickup trucks are often spoken of in terms of "tons": 1/2 ton, 3/4 ton, 1 ton. These are really categories, not actual capacities. I've read that at one time they did actually indicate the in-bed carrying capacity of the vehicle, but the manufacturers have been increasing the capacities of the trucks in each of these classes for years. The upshot is that a 1/2 ton truck can carry much more than 1/2 ton in its bed, and the same is true with the others. According to the Chevrolet website, the 2500HD model, while nominally a "1/2 ton" truck, has an in-bed payload capacity of 3,560 pounds. It has a towing capcity of 13,000 pounds.)

(And as I know there is at least one European reader of this material: an American "ton" is the "short ton" of 2,000 pounds (907 kilograms). In round terms this Barth caster probably weighs about 1,800 kilograms. The trailer's rated capacity is 2,267 kilograms. The truck was rated to tow almost 5,900 kilograms. And yet a bigger truck would have worked better. The 500 mile one-way trip was about 800 kilometers; I drove it four times, for something over 3,200 kilometers.)

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The drive back to Wisconsin was uneventful, although skirting the south of Chicago always involves more traffic than I'd like. It was an interesting experience driving a trailer with "surge brakes." The way these work is that the trailer's tongue has a unit on it which can slide forward just slightly when you slow the truck. When it does, this applies the trailer's brakes. This means that if you have to stop suddenly (which happened twice) that there is this exciting couple of seconds before the trailer's brakes kick in where you're not entirely sure you're going to stop at all. (It also means that when you back the trailer up a hill, the trailer brakes can come on - I hadn't thought of this until it happened.)

We were remarkably lucky in terms of weather - the entire drive under load, and the unloading, were done in perfect weather: dry, mostly sunny during the day, cool but not cold. I know that this was just luck, because at 5 pm the day of unloading ( after unloading) it started to rain. It continued to rain for the next three days.

Anyway, here we are back home (for me) in Wisconsin, with the trailer backed up to the shop.

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Some background: As several of you know, I have been renovating my old hay barn into a type/printing shop. The Type Foundry occupies the long, narrow space which used to be the milking parlor of the barn. The main section (where the hay went) is a single large room (plus lofts) which will be used primarily as a hot metal Composing Room (Linotypes, Ludlow), plus a Printing Shop and the Best-Equipped Office of 1939. It has a very high ceiling - 24 feet to the inside of the ridge of the roof.

Until the Barth actually arrived, I'd been planning to put it in the Type Foundry. This has access through double-doors on the left (long, low) side of the building, with a concrete pad outside. It isn't done yet, but I'd spent a fair bit of time getting it cleaned up and ready.

Here is the Type Foundry, with two Thompson Type-Casters in place. I'll be adding a small pivotal caster, a Lanston Monotype display caster (aka "Orphan Annie," though I dislike that term), and an Elrod. My plan had been to put the Barth just to the right of the white door in the photo below. The photo was taken while standing in the internal door from the Mud Room to the Type Foundry, but because of the camera lens it shows only about 2/3 of the space (the Monotype display caster would be to the left of the white doors, out of view in this photo).

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Here's a more general view showing the terrain involved. We have a beautiful little farm, but not much of it is flat. The main space (Composing Room and Printing Shop) is to the right, through the large (unfinished) open door with the row of windows running along it. The Type Foundry runs along the left (lower) side; there's a small "Mud Room" just through the regular door, and the building extends another twelve feet or so to the back on this side. The double doors of the Type Foundry, and the pad outside them, are not visible in this photo. There isn't much room to navigate a truck-and-trailer around that side of the building.

Four-wheel-drive is essential for us; it isn't a yuppie luxury. (Each of our vehicles has it, including my tractor.) We were unable to get the loaded trailer up the driveway (not shown here, but steeper) in two-wheel drive.

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Here's the slope up to the doors of the Type Foundry itself. The camera hides it, but the first part near the driveway is too steep for even a 4wd truck - you'd have to come around from the uphill side and make a sharp backwards turn with the trailer. I'm pretty good backing up a trailer, but not that good.

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The other problem presented by a larger-than-expected casting machine is that it is taller than expected. This puts the pot much higher up - too close to the wooden ceiling for my comfort. The upshot of this is that I decided to change plans and put the Barth in the main section of the building. This part of the building is even less finished, but it presents no issues in terms of space/height. I'd been planning to put a Monotype composition caster (not yet acquired) in this part, along with the Linotypes. When acquired, the Comp. Caster now will go into the Type Foundry where the Barth was supposed to go. (Aside: No, the doors to the main section aren't finished. But it's big enough that I can keep the Barth well protected inside, far away from the doors, while I finish building them.)

Here's a snapshot that gives some idea of the overall space and the Barth in it. No height issues here. Winter heating issues, yes. Vertical clearance, no.

The loft on the left will be Rollande's space. We're going to put a Hammond C-3 church organ up there. Above and behind me as I take this photo is the regular Hay Loft, which will become the Office. The table saw will obviously go into the Wood Shop (which will be in the garage) when things are done, and the space you see here will be full of Linotypes, a Ludlow, and the Barth.

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So, five days, 4,000 pounds, 2,200 miles, and there's now a Barth in Wisconsin. It is - need I say? - utterly amazing.

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And for scale; I'm 5' 6" tall (168 cm), which is standard-issue 19th century height. I'm taller than a Thompson Type-Caster, but even after I take it off the pallet I'll be shorter than this Barth.

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For more photographs of the machine, see the set of photographs of The 60 pt Barth as Acquired in the Galleries of [Barth] Photographs.