A Crane Fit For Any Workshop

Sometimes we will encounter items in our workshops that are a little bigger than we bargained for. An engine block, an anvil, or a particularly substantial machine tool. Lifting these things may be possible, but doing so risks injury, perhaps a hernia or worse. For these moments a particularly well-appointed workshop will include a small crane, and [Workshop from scratch] has posted a video that we’ve placed below the break showing the construction of a particularly nice model.

The fabrication of a crane is not in itself a difficult task, in that most metalwork-minded readers could probably make one. What’s appealing about this video is the sense of gratification at watching metalwork being done well, and that while he does use a bandsaw and a drill press there’s not a lot in the video that couldn’t be done with more basic tools. The result is a handsome item that is probably better than many commercial offerings, though the gut feeling here is that the pivot points would have been better made with a sleeve and pin rather than a threaded bolt. The lifting effort comes from an off-the-shelf hydraulic ram.

Cranes feature here surprisingly rarely, but at least we’ve brought you a balcony crane.

18 thoughts on “A Crane Fit For Any Workshop

    1. Except it can extend far away from the front roller which is nice and a big no-no together. At least a counterweight should be installed behind for this kind of task.
      And another nice feature to have is movable front legs to allow lifting from euro palette for example.

  1. If you’re going to use these type of lifts, You need to take some time and plan your movements with a lot of care and forethought.

    Without guy lines( that usually interfere with accessing the lifting & landing points) to prevent the load swinging past the wheel line and tipping the whole rig over.
    The main problem with these lifts is having the load center of gravity so close to the wheels.
    Really poor triangulation.

    The Problem rears its ugly head When you make that hard push to get the (by necessity) small castors across that little rough spot or they hit a seam in the floor.
    A good broom is always your friend!
    Anyone notice the black cord in the photo?
    Anyone ever notice the Craigslist ads with drop damaged items (engine parts) and ask yourself why?
    Insufficient or poor rigging, undersized/damaged lifting chains, sharp spots cut straps or the tippover trick.

    Accidental (inverted) quasiTrebuchet anyone? Damaged work piece when it hits the floor.
    The entire rig and load flips forward and kicks to the rear, in a remarkably fast fashion.

    On a paying job, I flat out refused to use them anymore after the 2nd time it happened.
    IF you think you’ll just reach out and grab the tumbling rig?
    Then I’d advise filling out the “Missing Fingers Club” membership card, before your dominate hand is in the dressing.

    A forklift with overwhelming mass or an “A” frame, if no overhead trolley system, if at all possible.

    Just move the bench out from the wall and you can roll an A frame behind it.
    A few boards and bolts makes a simple & movable gap filler for the void behind the bench while you perform the repairs.
    As for the car? Unbolt the bonnet/hood and roll the A frame astraddle of the car.
    Too narrow of a work zone or hard floor to roll an A frame across, you say?
    Then park the car, cross ways, of the drive and leave room to roll frame past the front.

    Not that I’m meaning to be the safety nanny here, I just don’t like giving the statisticians any more reasons to ban our DIY culture.

    1. When I use mine I take great attention to drop the load as low as possible, even using a solid beam between legs to take some of the load and avoid balancing issues.
      And never move the crane to move the load, this is the best way to swing it into the floor.

    2. A second hand forklift costs less than an emergency room visit*.

      Not that you can’t hurt yourself being an idiot with a forklift. It’s just a lot easier not to. Plus they’re much nicer to use.

      *At least that’s what I told my wife when I came home from an auction with a forklift!

  2. My first shop crane was simply a 14 foot long H beam secured to the garage rafter, adding two vertical supports at each end.
    Chain hoist supplied the motive force, (up/down) and all was golden. (Storage never an issue)
    Today, I would use an electric hoist.

  3. Many auto parts stores will loan you one of these for free. They also loan lots of other tools for free and some are open long hours. Torque wrenches and (cheap) multimeters, for instance, either of which can be really useful when you’re fixing something away from home at an inconvenient hour.

  4. Is it just me or do the legs and main beam look a bit undersized?
    The trouble with designing lifts is people always underestimate the forces involved or outright ignore weight limits.

  5. The trouble with cranes is that people usually talk of capacity in terms of weight/mass to be lifted. You need to be thinking in terms of the moment capacity needed i.e. weight x reach.
    I have just been talking with a client about lifting 15tonne concrete beams at up to 30m reach – that will need around what is usually referred to as a 500tonne crane. It is actually a 500 tonne.metre crane, needed to lift a 15tonne load in that particular situation.

    1. True. Cranes here in the US ship with a Lift Chart on the side of the crane.
      Shows lift capacity vs distance vs boom angle.
      Anyone operating a crane that does not know this should be fired.

  6. I’ve been thinking about making something like the upper boom of this into the read side bed of the truck behind the wheel well so to lift items into the bed easier and to lift to work under them. A few days back I watched his I think 5 ton hydraulic vice video which at the cost of larger vices… I’m tempted to make a larger vice from scrap and salvaged material in the future also.

  7. Would be far better to copy a BlueBird KD 1500 knockdown engine lift. Those have a massive crossbeam at the back. The front legs insert into the ends of the rear beam and extend forward at right angles. The column drops into a socket on the center rear of the rear beam. The 1500 means it’s rated to lift 1500 pounds all the way out at the end of its non-telescoping 50 inch boom.

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