The Mystery of Shearing Machine Mounting

Shearing machine motor on top of a black garbage bin with metal L-shaped hook bracket welded to machine

Still life with shearing machine, welded bracket, tape measure, garbage bin and welcoming sign.

There’s a funny thing about shearing machines, not the portable shears like these but the full sized motor-and-drop rigs comprised of a motor, a hand piece, and a drop (a long skinny thing that connects the hand piece to the motor). Shearing machine motors must be mounted onto something high (a beam, a tall piece of plywood fencing, part of a barn wall) so that the drop and hand piece can hang. This means that something (a hook or bracket) must be attached to the motor with which to mount it to other, higher things.

Shearing equipment image found on Flickr.

Red motors mounted to plywood beams with long, metal drops hanging vertically from the motors. Hand pieces are attached to drops at the bottom and lay on the floor when not in use.

And yet… shearing motors are sold with no such thing. They’re not even sold with a suggested such thing. Really.

I suppose this is so picky shearers can have our equipment exactly as we want it, but it’s always seemed odd to me that — since shearing equipment isn’t really usable without being mounted — it’s not sold with at least a simple, cheap, default mounting thing. This means that a shearer not only needs to know that the shearing machine needs some sort of mounting material in the first place, but also how to design it for myriad possible shearing contexts, many of which s/he won’t have encountered yet, and know how to fabricate it (or know someone who does).

Recently, I sprang for a three-speed Lister motor, a flexible drive (“flexi drop”) and a new hand piece from McWilliams Shearing Supply. (You should buy all of your shearing equipment from Ralph McWilliams.) Ralph patiently explained the need for a mounting bracket and set up over the phone, but it’s a difficult thing for an inexperienced person to envision from words alone. I knew I needed a bracket, but not how to design or make it. I’m a woodworker but metal is not part of my wheelhouse.

So I figured I’d share what I’ve learned about all of this. Yes, one of the chicken-and-egg secrets of the shearing world is being revealed here for every beginner shearer out there. Hark and hear ye, y’all!

When I told Matt, a friend and fellow shearer, that I’d bought a grown-up shearing machine, he immediately asked “Want me to weld your bracket?” like it was the most normal, commonly understood thing in the world and the obvious next question to ask. He just knew! I gratefully accepted. Here is a picture of Matt’s machine; mine is the same one:

Shearing machine motor on top of a black garbage bin with metal L-shaped hook bracket welded to machine

Still life with shearing machine, welded bracket, tape measure, garbage bin and welcoming sign.

I could have been a bit more selective about the photo setting here, but you can clearly see the difference between the bracket and the motor, yes? The welded bracket could hang over any right angle or the end of a 2’x4′.

Matt bought a long (at least eight feet) piece of L-shaped metal. He used a torch to cut the metal into smaller pieces like those shown above. Matt welded them to one another. Then, he drilled holes into the machine and the bracket, so that I can remove the bracket from the shearing machine. This is important because the machine speed is adjusted by removing the top of the motor and moving the bands inside around to different settings. My motor is now set to the slowest setting (which is still very fast, and the factory default setting was the fastest one, FYI) but, if I ever want to change that, I’ll need to be able to unscrew the bracket, remove the motor cover, move the bands, replace the cover, and screw the bracket back on.

Now I need to make sure my skills are worthy of this fine equipment!

I realize this is hardly a detailed how-to or a step-by-step video tutorial, but I figured it might help someone else feel a little less lost and frustrated by not magically knowing to do all of this.

I am working on another post on pre-fab brackets that might be appropriate and ready-made for attachment to shearing motors, so look for that in the future. Feel free to ask me anything about this process. I’m happy to help.

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