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Workbench Creations

Workbench Creations is the place for conversation and discussion about do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. This DIY blog will feature projects completed by its owner as well as projects completed by other do-it-yourselfers. Workbench Creations is the place where DIYers can discuss ideas, learn about what others have done, and share their expertise.

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24 comments

Build your own crane

Posted October 16, 2007 10:56 AM by frankd20
Pathfinder Tags: crane DIY DIY blog gantry crane
User-tagged by 1 user

How do you get a 500 lb boiler and two 200 lb generators down a short flight of very steep, wet, dirty, and uneven concrete stairs with rounded edges? This is the question I've been contemplating for a while, as my only basement access is through a trap door in the sidewalk.

The thought of trying to use a hand truck to carry heavy stuff downstairs gives me chills, as I can barely move the boiler with a hand truck on flat ground. The second problem is getting anything heavy up the stairs, including lots of pieces of concrete from an old walk-in fridge that used to be in my basement. I'd thought briefly of getting rid of the stairs and putting in an elevator, but I need something I could do and afford now. For me, the answer was to make a gantry crane. I looked into buying one but they were overkill for what I needed and the cheapest I could find was almost $600. Not to mention, I would still need a hoist. My solution, of course, was to make my own for about $250 including the electric hoist.

At the hardware store I purchased three 2x6 boards, a couple of 2x4's, some casters, steel plumbing pipe and fittings, threaded rods, and steel straps. I also splurged and purchased an AC-powered electric hoist capable of lifting 1300 lbs.

The assembly process required me to screw the three 2x6 boards together into one and mount the plumbing parts onto the wood. The legs of the crane were made in a similar way, except that I connected the casters on the ends. To strengthen the frame, I welded the threaded rods onto the pipe and used a turn buckle to tighten them up. I also drilled holes and inserted threaded rod into the main beam for additional support.

After about 2 hrs of assembly I had something that looked like a gantry crane. I made it about seven feet tall and seven feet wide so that it can be used to load stuff into a truck and perhaps even lift a small engine. My design also allows the legs to be removed for easy storage and moving.

To test my gantry crane, I first connected one of the generators to the hoist hook and pressed the up button. In about 2 seconds the generator was lifted from the floor to eye-level; all I had to do was use my thumb.

Once I knew that my crane was operational, I brought it outside and set it up on the sidewalk. In less than thirty seconds I had lowered the engine down. The second generator was lowered just as easily. For the next task, I tied some very heavy-duty rope around the boiler and brought it to the sidewalk. I connected the hook and pressed the button; in seconds the boiler was floating until a few moments later it was safely at the bottom of the stairs. The next test for my gantry crane was lifting. I attached a bucket, which I'd hastily made from a keg tub, and filled it with pieces of concrete slap. When I connected the hook the bucket was lifted without any problem at all.

So far I am very happy with this setup. Using the gantry crane makes my basement much more useable and work down there much easier. I can't wait to use this crane for other projects.

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#1

Re: Build your own crane

10/17/2007 7:49 AM

I applaud your innovation as years ago I might have done the same thing .

But as I have learned sometimes bringing in the right equipment makes better sense .

I might have solicited a tow truck and happily paid the 100$ for several reasons .

Primarily the possibility that a wood based crane could easily break and someone could get hurt and if nothing else the equipment you were lowering would be damaged aside from the labor in making and storage of the crane .

I've learned it sometimes is smarter to apply myself to other pursuits and concede where safety counts .

NOT TO RAIN ON YOUR PARADE but to make what I consider a valid point worth stating .

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Build your own crane

10/17/2007 10:36 AM

You make some valid points about safety, but as with everything, things can go wrong, even with a tow truck. As with anything general safety precautions should be observed.

The weight that wood can hold can be calculated, if that wasn't the case they wouldn't build houses out of wood. I can tell you I was well with in the limits. Calculations show my crane should hold more than 1500 lbs, way more then I ever plan on putting on it. Lifting even the boiler showed no observable flex or other over stresses. I did consider making the crane out of metal, but decided it was overkill for my needs. At no time in the operation of this crane has anybody ever been underneath it, and it has performed flawlessly every time. For me the time, effort and money was well spent. The convenience allows me to get anything I want in and out of my basement in about 10 mins including setting up time for the crane.

I built this not so much for one job but for many. I have already used this crane on 3 occasions. That $100 tow truck would have already cost me $300 and it hasn't even been a week since I built it. In the long run the time and money saved made this project well worth it for me.

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#3

Re: Build your own crane

10/17/2007 12:02 PM

I would have probably used wooden 2"X planks sufficient to cover the width of the stairs and long enough to provide at least a 30 degree slope. Some blocking under the planks where needed. Add in some fiberglass slings, an anchor point (car or truck) and a come-along.

I used this method sucessfully for off-loading my boiler from my truck. The boiler was an Essex Thermodynamic Boiler which had to weigh at least 1000 lbs.

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#4

Re: Build your own crane

10/17/2007 3:48 PM

Great idea! I am thinking of doing something similar to make maintenance jobs at the plants of my customers. I have to lift some very heavy pieces of machinery while disassemblying equipment.

Mine would be a little different: all made of pipes and just bolted so I can mount it on any site.

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#5

Re: Build your own crane

10/17/2007 11:13 PM

What if the crane was so new, no one knew they needed it yet?

A technology beyond most peoples comprehension?

A vision system...

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#6

Re: Build your own crane

10/17/2007 11:14 PM

Fire and Electrical resistant.

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#7

Re: Build your own crane

10/18/2007 4:39 AM

Nice

Wood is good... don't let none of them metal bashin' fellas tell ya different.

A rousing chorus of 'hearts of oak' all round....cue for a fovourite wood thread???

Oak and Yew for me! (We don't see much cedar in the UK)

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: Build your own crane

10/18/2007 8:44 AM

I'm with yew, oak rules!

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: Build your own crane

10/18/2007 8:46 AM

I think box wood is better for rules...

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: Build your own crane

10/18/2007 8:51 AM

There are those whose only skill with wood is how to set fire to it. A pox on them!

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#11
In reply to #7

Re: Build your own crane

10/18/2007 9:07 AM

I'm all for wood as I run a sawmill so I would be it's biggest supporter but some things are better left to steel .

I used to get stuck in the course of business putting trucks into back yards and would inevitably get stuck .I would use other trucks with chains and ropes shovels and the works .One time I had 3 trucks in tandem to get out .I thought I was pretty clever .

One time while rocking a loaded truck for traction as the smell of clutch and the wear and tear on all parts concerned ,I snapped an axle .

It proved a very difficult and expensive job to fix that, in place and I finally got the truck out ,but I realized I could have simply conceded and gotten a tow truck in the first place and saved myself allot of trouble .

Thereafter I stopped that approach and simply called a tow truck when the situation developed and realised I was saving money in the long run in wear and tear and while waiting I could go back to work and not get aggravated .

I took that lesson to other aspects of my business and realized there was a time for innovation and a time to just get the right equipment.

This does not say that the original poster is wrong in any way to do what he thinks is appropriate but I think the idea of building your own crane is not a safe message and although he may have the knowledge to do it safely, others may get killed taking that advise and with todays tool rental market and readily available services I would hope people consider better ways to save a buck .

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#12
In reply to #11

Re: Build your own crane

10/18/2007 9:27 AM

I do take your point about both safety and 'horses for courses'... but aren't we all big boys here?

'Every man is his own safety officer'.

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#13
In reply to #11

Re: Build your own crane

10/18/2007 9:51 AM

In my case, I work almost in the country side. Sometimes actually in the countryside. Renting a truck with crane would be freaking expensive, and because I would have to order it from one of the major cities, such truck would have to travel about 300 km in order to get where I am.

Even considering the risks, it isn't a valid option.

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#14
In reply to #13

Re: Build your own crane

10/18/2007 11:01 AM

I would do the same thing out of necessity but the caption "build your own crane" suggests it's a great idea not something to do if there is no other way.

I have personally done much worse ,or dangerous things but I never suggested for anyone else to try it.

Again I'm sure the original poster did a fine job and was smart enough to realise the risks but not everyone is as adept .

Sure we are all big boy's but if you ever saw the aftermath of some mistakes as I have seen ,you might consider leaving it to the pro's and doing whatever it is that people do for a living and still have all there fingers attached

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#20
In reply to #11

Re: Build your own crane

12/15/2009 7:46 PM

Cmon...we are talking about 500 lbs.....most of us work on vehicles and 5 times the weight doing simple projects...I think we can certainly handle this one. Just use common sense and be careful

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#15
In reply to #7

Re: Build your own crane

10/22/2007 3:21 AM

Around your house Del... we can always guess what yew is doing...

Bill

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Anonymous Poster
#16

Re: Build your own crane

10/30/2007 9:30 AM

I recently watched a Helicopter lift air conditioning unit to the roof of a new Wal Mart store. The cycle between lifts was 3 minutes and I am sure they were located exactly on the final location rather than using a crane and then having to roll them to location. Try to use the best method relative to cost.

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#17

Re: Build your own crane

09/24/2008 11:59 AM

Back when I was a kid, we used old swing set a-frames (we used regular schedule 40 pipe for the legs, and the old swing sets were stouter than they are today) and welded/bolted the legs to a piece of channel and mounted casters on the channel. we used these for engine/transmission lifts. If you scrounge around you could probably find a decent A-frame in a junkyard/landfill.

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#18

Re: Build your own crane

11/10/2008 10:46 PM

i AM INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE ABOUT HOW YOU MADE THIS GANTRY CRANE. WE ARE LOOKING TO BUILD ONE FOR OUR HUNTING CABIN WHERE HANG WILD GAME AND THIS SOUNDS LIKE WE COULD EASILY TRANSPORT IT BACK AND FORTH WITH US. COULD PLEASE EMAIL MORE INFORMATION AND PICTURES? PLEASE EMAIL TO olson_8@hotmail.com. Thanks

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#19
In reply to #18

Re: Build your own crane

11/14/2008 10:30 AM

Guest

Why don't you sign up for CR4 and send me whatever questions you have and I will do my best to help you, although for this project the design was quite simple.

The device still serves me well and was used just the other day to help lift the roof off a van that had been cut off. So far some of the more notable projects I have used it for are lifting a boiler out of a basement, a metal lathe our of a truck bed, a diesel motor out of a lawn tractor, and soon a boat off the trailer.

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#21

Re: Build your own crane

04/08/2010 7:35 PM

Any quick picture of some of the details might be helpful.

I am working on a project with a friend and lifting/moving 200 lb or so blocks of cast concrete is 'common' (building a concrete geodesic dome, casting triangles in his garage, about 120 lbs each. But we need to make a bit over 100 of them, so lifting/moving them is getting tiring!)

Anyway, a pix or so might give me some more inspiration.

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Anonymous Poster
#22

Re: Build your own crane

05/07/2010 5:41 AM

Is it not dangerous to build your own crane? There are so many risks. Isn't it better to contact professionals? I've doubts.

And I would say I know what I am talking about. (http://www.altmann-foerdertechnik.de)

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#23
In reply to #22

Re: Build your own crane

05/12/2010 1:48 PM

Building for your own personal use, you get to decide. If it is for commercial use, you probably are right.

I can agree if it is not within your realm of knowlege, but that is the case in many fields of endeavor.

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Anonymous Poster
#24
In reply to #22

Re: Build your own crane

05/21/2010 5:51 AM

@altmann

Please don't use site for spam!

Advertise your webpage somewhere else

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