Moving a Vandercook Universal

I am in the fortunate position of getting a Vandercook Universal press. I will need to move it and so I am looking for information on how to do it. I have moved several C&Ps, but since they were on runners I was able to use rollers and a low height trailer.
A friend told me that it had been moved into place in an vertical position. Essentially on end, like a refrigerator. Can this be done with a heavy duty hand-truck? What has worked for you?
Steve V

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That’s great news, Steve! Is it a Universal I or a Universal III? Does it have an adjustable bed? I would not suggest tilting a Uni with the adjustable bed- it is essentially held in by gravity.

Does it have to go around a tight corner or something?


Steve, I just posted on the discussion about the Albion, about the hydraulic shop floor crane I used to move Washingtons. It can lift about 2 tons, so should be able to pick up the Universal entire. Unless you have to go up or down steps you could probably lift it up, set it on two heavy-duty four-wheel dollies you can buy at Lowes, and roll it out to a low open or closed trailer (U-Haul). You can then pick it up with the crane, back the trailer under it, and set it down. Strap it down securely and haul away. Reverse the process when you arrive at your destination. The main consideration is how to rig the press so it doesn’t shift when you lift it. I used truckers’ wide nylon load tie-down straps I found scattered along the shoulders of the interstate highways. If they’re not too frayed they’re very strong and you can simply tie square knots to make slings out of them. Ugly but quite serviceable. I also used tow chain but it’s harder on the machinery you’re moving.


When I moved my Uni-1 I mounted it on two 2” x 6” timbers and rolled it on pipes. If you choose to move it this way you will have to block the center of the timbers under the cabinet, so the timbers don’t bow. Only an insane person would tip a Vandercook on end and try to move it. It is incredibly dangerous because of the weight distribution of the bed and the end-frames. When it was put in the truck, we put heavy-duty ratchet straps around the press and timbers, then lag-bolted the whole thing to the wooden bed of the truck. We also used a tilt-bed truck to pick it up, then rolled it into the truck used for moving, and reversed the process on the other end.

Remember that Vandercooks are top heavy and tip over rather easily. It is best to remove the feed table and if hand operated, absolutely remove the operating handle. The cabinet work between the two end legs of the press should not be used to lift the press, like when using a fork lift or pallet jack. The back panel has an expensive tendency to crumple and that could cause the press to tip over. Putting a press on end is only used for cramped quarters like an elevator and as Paul states, is otherwise an incredibly dumb move. Taking the cylinder off is another dumb action and can cause untold grief if not done properly. I don’t mind selling replacement parts, but simple things like a new feed table for a Universal I runs $750 (unpainted). Back panels about $500, and we have no replacement handles.


Thank you for your advice. I have not had a chance to see the press up close yet so was not aware of some of these issues. I was told it was brought “down” into the space by tipping it up to put on an elevator. I may have to do this again. So I think my plan will include a initial trip to scope out the logistics and a second trip to pick up the press.
If anyone else has additional ideas I love to hear them.

If I had to tip a Vandercook on end, I would crate it first, securely bolted to bottom skids, and secure the sides and ends of the crate to the bottom skids so all stress was transferred to the legs of the press. Also secure the cylinder so it can’t move. But even so it is a greater load than a single person with a handtruck can move safely. Seriously!
The worst accident I ever witnessed was moving a Vandercook on two heavy four-wheel dollies: press went over onto a leg. Press came out far better than the leg did.
You want to keep the press as close to the ground as possible, and have very stable points of support. Pipe rollers are very safe on flat ground, and also on a slope with safeties such as cable winches (comealongs). If dollies are used, they should be low.

Hey Folks,
Update on the Vandercook. The move took place yesterday.
It was a bear getting the press up on to the a new set of runners and then moving into position to load on the truck.
However we were able to rig up some ramps covered in plywood and use a come-along to pull it on to the truck.
Taking it off was a bit easier. It is now on very heavy dollies awaiting a loving reconditioning. I’m told it will print without any work, but I won’t attempt that until it is cleaned up and in place in my shop. will follow up with more pix soon.
thx for the help and advice.

image: P1090004.JPG


Hi Folks,

For anyone that is interested the Vandy is in place and in my shop. I printed the first piece on it a few weeks ago, taking advantage of it’s size, and ran a sheet that was 15 x 24. The press printed beautifully. I want to publicly thank friends and experts that helped. Raleigh D’Adamo, Matthew J. Karl for their time, logistical skill and muscle. Vandercook expert Paul Moxon, and Fritz Klinke of NA Graphics for their advice and instruction.
Here is a link to some pix.
Steve V.

Hi Steve,
Congratulations on the press. I am sure you’re going to have a lot of fun with it!


You have done a very nice job on cleaning up the press—did we look up your serial number?


Yes, Paul had it on his site