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Thread: Pallet straddling engine hoist?
04-05-2012, 12:20 PM #1
Pallet straddling engine hoist?
I've been placing some of my machines after moving my shop, and been trying to use an engine hoist to lift them off the pallets, but of course the hoist won't straddle a pallet. We can rig a chain fall from a ceiling joist, but the engine lift is so much more convenient, and could do it right in place, if only it could fit the pallet. Those hoists are so cheap, anyone can afford one, so why doesn't anyone make one to straddle pallets? Seems like it would be very useful in all sorts of situations.
I don't weld, but is there any reason I couldn't have someone modify one to get the straddle?
edit: I'm talking mostly woodworking machines under 1 ton, which are top heavy and often don't have good bases for using pipe rollers (thin sheet metal)
04-05-2012, 12:31 PM #2
If it could straddle a pallet it wouldn't serve its original function: lifting engines in and out of cars. The straddled legs would interfere with the front wheels.
What's needed is a hoist with an adjustable straddle. Lots of room for improvement on the typical engine hoist. Make it fold up compact for storage. Toolless erection and adjustment. Higher lift. Better casters. Remote steering of the fron casters. Powered lift. The list goes on but can it be made affordable?
04-05-2012, 12:44 PM #3
I'd make new pallets that the engine hoist would fit under.
You can also shorten the legs up as much as they will go, extend the boom and counterweight the hell out of it. OR.. one long leg, one short leg and
more counterweight. Options of last resort of course.
04-05-2012, 12:50 PM #4
For the price of modification, I'm sure you could get a good used pallet jack.
If you do this often, with the same pallets, you could also modify the pallets to be a little higher so you could get the engine crane beneath them.
If "I" is really a corporate "we" with employees, beware of modifying an existing crane, for a variety of reasons.
The "L" segments required for modifying a standard crane will need to be welded well, and likely a thicker section than the existing legs, because the applied load is a lot different than the original design. To perform at full rated capacity, some calculations should be performed and the results incorporated.
04-05-2012, 01:01 PM #5
Some nice thought provoking responses, thanks.
The "I" is just me, not much "we" here.
Modifying the pallets is an interesting idea, but it seems more efficient to alter just one hoist, and use the free pallets that we can get easily around here. Plus the next time I have to move (the horror!!) I'll be all set. I probably won't do anything, I'm managing, but just thinking out loud here.
04-05-2012, 01:31 PM #6
When i moved, i used several 24" x 48" platform dollies to move the machines around. I have a gantry crane I used for loading the truck at the old shop. I have an engine hoist I used for unloading the truck at the new shop. I got into trouble only one time, trying to get a heavy lathe off the dolly with the engine hoist inside the new shop. The hoist had the usual splayed legs and would not straddle the 22" width of the lathe cabinet deep enough to center the hook over the CG of the lathe. It was a small wreck with little damage other than the hoist base getting bent.
So I then made an entirely new base for the engine hoist with parallel legs 24.4" apart. Problem solved. I would not want a hoist that straddled a standard pallet because it would be too wide to pass through the 33" clearance of my shop doors.
04-05-2012, 01:33 PM #7
There are hoists that feature front legs that splay, must have positive lock. There are powered types with cantlevered boom and heavy counter-balance, with out-riggers that swing in the horizontal plane, so with welding skills, it could be done.
Something that I do might help, I commonly transport machines on a piece of 1-1/4" plywood that spans the legs. Kind of a pallet jack combined with pallet and hoist. Slight lift, pull the plywood and lower. It comes off of my truck or low trailer with the hoist, just seemed natural to leave it there to move.
Doesn't steer quite as well as the pallet jack but sometimes shoving a bit side ways to steer is easier than trying to find the room to swing the pallet jack handle, which has the frequently additional awkwardness of non-steering front wheels, if your shop is tight like mine. My technique is to push the machine the way I want it to go and the hoist swings it's casters to accomodate.
For this to work well, as Forrest mentioned, "Better casters". But let's face it, if the hoist can lift the load while it's swinging, it can safely carry it while the load is fixed low on it's frame.
04-05-2012, 02:10 PM #8
04-05-2012, 02:23 PM #9
No need to modify anything. I just loaded 3 mills on skids last week to move them.
Lift the mill, put pallet under it onto the hoists own leg sections, lower mill. Use pallet jack to lift skid from underneath (use blocking if necessary), remove engine hoist, use pallet jack and blocking alternatively to crib the skid down to the ground.
If you place the pallet originally on blocks over the legs so you can just sneak out the hoist, it can all be done w/o a pallet jack. Just use a big pry/johnson bar and crib it down.
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04-05-2012, 02:45 PM #10
Beat me to it.....
JUST BUY A JOHNSON BAR and be done with it.... thats ALL you need
04-05-2012, 03:20 PM #11
04-05-2012, 03:40 PM #12
Adjustable-straddle engine hoists are available, but they're not cheap. The limited reach of the cantilevered arm makes it so that you may as well purchase an A-frame gantry crane.
04-05-2012, 03:48 PM #13
Many will say this is dangerous - but I have done it many times for your exact situation: If you are careful - you can often lift machines with one leg of the engine hoist folded up in its storage position and so out of the way, and a single leg will slide in practically anywhere. Lift just a little to feel out how much it wants to fall towards the 'up leg" and use common sense (understanding of a little physics, and center of gravity, etc..) and you might be surprised how often it works with one leg folded up - esp if only needing to lift up little enough to pull out a pallet. And yes - it is easy to modify hoist - In the past I simply drilled some holes in hoist base and bolted C channel as a leg splayed far out from the one folded up - again to lift things that with both 'normal' legs down hoist couldn't straddle - with that splayed-out leg hoist no longer rolls - but worked for lifting items up to pull out whatever it was on - sold that hoist though in last move or would include a pic
04-05-2012, 03:53 PM #14
There is no use in over engineering the lift. I too had the issue with an engine hoist not clearing certian obsticles, so I made a new base for my hoist which has an inside base width ( Approx. 42 Inches) sized to clear a standard skid. It is very stable. It can be used to straddle machines, skids, enter an auto/truck engine compartment from the front or side (straddling the tire). You could if desired, place 2x wood stock across the leggs and rest the load while moving it. Pallet jacks fit between the leggs to remove or place loads, etc. Johnson bars, wedges, blocking, etc. all have their place, so use them to your advantage. Listen to these guys, they have good ideas. Paul
04-06-2012, 08:52 AM #15
The friggin axles were basically destroyed! If you read the (nearly worthless) manual when you buy your hoist, it will tell you do not roll it around with a load. The wheels are to maneuver the hoist to pick your load up, they are way WAY underrated for any kind of serious load.
To the OP: the old (i.e. non-folding-legs) hoists could straddle a little more than the newer ones with folding legs. Also, as many guys have already pointed out these were designed to remove car or truck engines, not as a general purpose shop crane. If you search for "shop crane" you will often find used industrial shop cranes with parallel legs.
I recently picked up an engine hoist for $20. It is really funky but it rolls really really well. It is quite different from the basic engine hoist design. The seller told me it was made from a WWII bomb hoist. As is it won't straddle hardly anything but unlike the OP I am a welder so I plan to remake the base someday keeping the nice casters. And it isn't some vague future project either 'cuz I have a lathe that really needs a pick at each end to pick it up stably and lower it onto a prepared pad with bolt-downs.
04-06-2012, 10:05 AM #16
Good castors aren't cheap but they make all the difference. On the common import, you'd only need to replace four, 2 @ leg tips and 2 for the intermediate set, the third set of castors in back only come into play when the legs are folded, very lightly loaded.
Good score on the G.I. lift, got pic's?
04-06-2012, 11:09 AM #17
Guy bought my old Bridgeport style mill recently. I have a 2-ton Harbor Freight shop crane. But, the splayed legs will not fit a standard pallet between them, or under it because of the wheel height. So, he took off the crane wheels, we positioned the crane over the mill. We then lifted the crane base up on blocks, slightly higher than a pallet. Two at the post end of the crane and one at the end of each leg. After we hoisted the mill, there was room to slide a pallet under the raised crane legs. After lowering the mill onto the pallet we (3 of us) lifted the crane off the blocks and moved it out of the way.
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04-06-2012, 11:10 AM #18
I think most of you guys are guilty of a serious case of overcomplicating, assuming that the OP's machinery moving exploits are at most an occasional thing. He's got the simplest solution implied in his post. Lift the machine off the pallet with the chain fall, which I will assume is at a fixed location. Set the machine on the ground. Now use the engine hoist to spot the machine in its final location. Yes, it's two steps not one, but NO modifications or re-engineering of machines is needed, and NO unsafe or questionable practices are needed. To move a dozen or so machines, I doubt the extra steps will add one hour to tne entire project time, whereas rejiggering the hoist will consume several times that.
Johnson bars are great and have their place, but I can't quite see how it will help if you have a machine set well within the perimieter of the pallet. Also, the OP mentions top heavy. Johnson bars tip things, and that could be unpleasant if the machine is tipped the wrong way.
In one instance I had a machine on a pallet and I wanted to leave it on the pallet for a while. The pallet was too big, and the machine didn't occupy the entire area. I was able to take a Sawzall to the pallet and give it a haircut until the size suited my needs. Basically, I cut it down from a three-stringer pallet to a two-stringer pallet. OP, you may be able to chop up some pallets, too, to allow clearance for your hoist.
I have several heavy machines that see only occasional use, and require quite a bit of acreage when in use. I store these machines on the sidelines, on pieces of 4x4's, until they are needed, then I use the pallet jack to move them around, and spot them on more 4 x 4's while in use (not top heavy). I suppose if I were more organized, I would tie the 4x4's to the machines with lag screws, so I don't have to repositon them every time, but this works and it's simple.
Pallet jacks are a cure for world hunger. For fifty bucks you can easily and safely move two and a half tons. Everybody should have at least one!
btw, re: shop cranes with legs that splay: I have two of these, a two ton and a three ton, both Rugers, and I seriously doubt that the legs on the three ton will splay wide enough to clear a standard 42" pallet. I'm certain the two ton won't.
nalambright liked this post
04-06-2012, 06:53 PM #19
05-12-2012, 11:08 AM #20
versatle counterbalanced hoist
check out, american engine hoist, on facebook, legs do not have to be extended in order to make lifts