Custom-Fit Small Shop Crane Lightens The Load

On the shortlist of workshop luxuries, we’d bet a lot of hackers would include an overhead crane. Having the ability to lift heavy loads safely and easily opens up a world of new projects, and puts the shop into an entirely different class of capabilities.

As with many of us, [Jornt] works in a shop with significant space constraints, so the jib crane he built had to be a custom job. Fabricated completely from steel tube, the build started with fabricating a mast to support the crane and squeezing it into a small slot in some existing shelves in the shop, which somehow didn’t catch on fire despite being welded in situ. A lot of custom parts went into the slewing gear that mounts the jib, itself a stick-built space frame that had to accommodate a pitched ceiling. A double row of tubing along the bottom of the jib allows a trolley carrying a 500 kg electric winch to run along it, providing a work envelope that looks like it covers the majority of the shop. And hats off for the safety yellow and black paint job — very industrial.

From the look of the tests in the video below, the crane is more than up to the task of lifting engines and other heavy loads in the shop. That should prove handy if [Jornt] tackles another build like his no-compromises DIY lathe again.

13 thoughts on “Custom-Fit Small Shop Crane Lightens The Load

  1. Seems less versatile than an old fashioned, cheap, cherry picker (aka Engine Hoist).

    I bet even the A frame hoist from HF is less cost, to say nothing of time and effort.

    Also why would you build this and not have the reach to put things into the lathe?

    Hackaday is great, but someone needs to speak for ‘off the shelf’ solutions. What’s next? Hackaday reader reinvents wheel with chainsaw and log?

      1. About 2 ton-meters of torque on that wall at full extension and 500kg load. How is that toe board secured to the slab?

        I’ll just continue to get by with the cherry picker.
        It’s not perfect, but it’s very flexible and won’t bring down the roof.

        If I was to upgrade (say to pull a diesel engine) it would be to the HF A-frame gantry crane. Which could be modified into an overhead shop gantry by cutting the A-frames short.

        Bet the truck bumper type wench is also rated much more than 500kg (they’re typically built to pull a 4×4 out of mud). Accident waiting to happen if so.

        Cranes are serious business. Danger Will Robinson (Dan Maloney)! That machine is capable of self disassembly.

        1. I had some of the same concerns (I’ve done the numbers more times than I can count for lifting gear, fixed and mobile, though it isn’t my primary job by any means), and my biggest concern wasn’t torque to the wall (the pullout will be about 10KN at the top, estimating the arm length to be the column height, and a fudge factor of two), which is significant, but not huge. The lateral wind load on my garage roof exceeds this in 50Km/hr wind (not including the sides of the structure), and that is pre-WW-II and wasn’t the best structure to start with. Over time, there are likely concerns, even with the load distribution due to the shelves.

          My concern was the out-of-plane load to the vertical frame when the jib is rotated parallel to the wall (which puts the wall in shear, and should be fine). It is tied to the ceiling (hopefully structure, not drywall or beaver barf) and the 2X lumber at the fore edge of the shelf, leaving them to resist maybe 20KN or more loading against the twist. The material size isn’t given, making analysis impossible, and I can’t tell from the video if there is any movement with the jib swung over, but I would absolutely want steel diagonal to the floor from the upper and lower pin mounts here, and maybe diagonals at the top tie on the ceiling to the wall top plate.

          1. Yes, shop/garage/outbuilding structures vary widely by age and region, some areas, under a certain square foot, building codes might not have been applied, and that shrank some over the years, might be 150 now, but 2 or 3 decades ago was 300. Then you’ve got the pre-war finished size lumber vs postwar kiln dried “dimensional” undersized lumber, certified to do good enough of course, but then into the 60s, more “just good enough” figuring going into the structure, which improved the inadequate, but also reduced the “that oughta do it for sure” overbuilds. Then you have some parts of the structure oversized for other reasons, like 2×8 ridge beams here, which are overspecced because 2x6s while having enough strength, sag over a decade or two, so a 2×8 goes in there to be more sag resistant… but the rafters probably didn’t get upgraded too, so you’re not gonna be carrying a ful 2×8 capable load on it, just 2×6 worth. Yay fun, reverse structural engineering every time. So now I’m all “In theory, that holds that load, but I’m nailing/bolting an extra member each side anyway, I can’t be wrong by a factor of three” :-D

  2. Nice, just until something serious will happen. Crane should be designed by licensed engineers and manufactured by certified manufacturer otherwise can be deadly dangerous…

  3. nice, as a small crane builder I can attest that its fun to build one
    and very handy to be able to move 150kg~800 lb stuff by myself
    The modular crane I built for my truck is excellent for moving
    things around ,like full size drafting tables and random heavy
    motors,anvils and such,oh and putting a stop on my I beam shop
    crane is part of every lift,set the stops for where the load needs to stay.

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