My gantry crane build
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  1. #1
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    Default My gantry crane build

    Hi-

    How are you? My name is Jerry. I would like to introduce myself and my upcoming project on the practical machinist forum. First thing's first. I am impressed by the technical content y'all have here regarding machinist related topics! Although not a machinist myself, I do some light fabrication and so a quick read of a few threads has been educational. Thanks. So who am I then? Well by day I sling software for a living. However my hobbies trend toward automotive based projects. On occasion therein I find the need to lift stuff. Heavy stuff, well "heavy" in this context anyway. Probably not so heavy in the machinist's world. Anyway, I'm getting off in the weeds a bit here, as I tend to do sometimes. The point being that my outbuilding isn't tall enough for a lift and the doors are neither tall nor wide enough to pull my trucks inside of it to boot, so I decided that I should just build a gantry crane. And actually I didn't even know the proper name for a gantry when the idea struck me. I think I referred to it as "that lifting mechanism ... you know, the one that they have in manufacturing shops and ship yards ... yeah that thing." And having made that admission, I can hear y'all now: "oh boy, here we go again!"

    But rest assured, I took my time, did some research and thought things through rather carefully. My guesstimate was that I spent about 2 months in that process. Ok fine, so why am I here on Practical Machinist bothering y'all? It is that research that brought me here actually. I found more technical information regarding gantry cranes and their construction (as well as other information) on this forum in one "concentrated" area than I did anywhere else on the Internet. Believe it or not. Do a Google and see what you turn up if you are skeptical. And I particularly enjoyed the one thread that illustrated several poorly designed and/or executed gantry builds ... now that was funny! That was a good read.

    And in case you were wondering, yes, there was a particular, specific event/task that led to my decision to build a gantry. I have a 2000 F-350 DRW and my current endeavor is to rust proof its frame. To do that right you gotta lift the cab. And how are you gonna do that exactly without a lift, no access to one, no space for one and limited time? My solution was a gantry build. I have other projects that I'd like to get to at some point in the future that also will require heavy lifting, I enjoy metal fabrication as a secondary hobby and so for these reasons a gantry seemed like the right solution. For me anyway.

    All that said, I decided that as a thank you to both the Practical Machinist forum and its members for the research data that I obtained here that I would share my build experience as its own thread in your General forum category, which is where I found the bulk of gantry-related threads. I realize that it'll be old-hat for most, but my primary objective is to provide a detailed build delineation so that others who might seek such information in the future can have yet one more build data point to reference. Ergo, I'd like to help by passing on what I have learned, even though I consider myself a novice at the whole gantry thing.

    So. That's the background. That's why I am here. I hope it's ok with all of y'all to create such a thread. Again, my intent is to help, that is it.

    "Yeah sure, sure, what precisely are you building?" you might ask. Well the first and foremost element regarding this process that I gleaned at the very outset of my research was to find an existing gantry design that you like and copy it. Ergo build that. Sage advice I thought, so I proceeded along that route. I found a gantry build that appealed to me...it was an inverted-T design, 2-ton, 4000 lb crane that was constructed by folk out on the left coast. Cal Poly IIRC...yeah that was it. For reference, this is a link to that summary report, for however long the link remains valid naturally. My suspicion is that many of you are likely familiar with it, but who knows. That said, I also decided that I wanted a telescoping crane - and I first learned of that concept on THIS forum BTW - so in the end the aforementioned build was only the straw man of what I wanted to do. Still, the basic concept was the same, just telescoping. Ok so that makes it quite different, yes I realize that. I did find plans for a telescoping crane here, BTW. Although the telescoping aspect of this design was what I was searching for, essentially, I decided that I didn't like some aspects of this design, primarily the materials list. Nope, my crane will be a son of these two fathers. Admittedly, by not replicating a design in a precise manner, I kinda feel like I eschewed the very advice (as stated above) that I garnered an appreciation for so early on. However, I want what I want and so I plan to continue down this road. In the end, my device will look a bit like both of these, yet distinct in its own right. Still, I feel that what I've decided on is similar enough that safety won't be a huge concern for me - in the sense of building something from scratch without reference to any existing designs. I definitely didn't want to do that. In the end, I surfaced "somewhere in the middle" and I'm ok with that; this is my meaning, I hope it is at least somewhat understandable.

    "Hmmmmmmmm...so how does yours vary" I am certain a few of you are thinking, assuming you are still reading this novel. Well, in microcosm, I chose 1/4" wall thickness for my legs and supports, whereas both of the above designs used 3/16". I just liked the idea of a little extra heft that the slightly-more thickness yields. Also, both of those designs used I-beams for either the leg gussets or the legs themselves. I wasn't a fan of that - for whatever reason - and chose to just use the 5x5x1/4 SST for most all of the support components: the uprights (verticals), the legs and the gussets. Just for the sake of completion, a few more details regarding my design choices:

    1) I'll use 4x4x1/4 with 3/16" flat bar welded to the sides for the telescoping portion
    2) Then I'll use 4x4x1/4 again for the beam gussets. Both the top of the 4x4x1/4 verticals and their gussets will have 1/2" plate welded to them and that plate will bolt to the bottom of the I-beam
    3) I chose a W10x30 I-beam at 15' length, though I plan to use it at the 10' mark most of the time. I went with the W-beam and the 15' in length primarily because the local steel supplier had that lying around and made me a hell of a deal on it. My research indicates that a W-beam should be ok for a gantry build, though I noticed that most are S-beams. Does anyone have any feedback on that issue?
    4) I'll use large, heavy-duty casters for the mobility and am considering the quad approach that was illustrated on THIS forum, though I can't find the thread to link in for the life of me...
    5) I do plan on making the width adjustable, though with "set positions" so that the supports (verticals) are bolted in place when the time comes to actually use the crane.
    6) I'm toying with the notion of making the gantry crane a one-man configuration and teardown affair, but we'll see where that goes.

    And that's it for now. Whew! Thank you for reading the long initial post. My progress will be steady, albeit rather slow due to family duties, which always come first. I have a 3-year old son who likes to be around daddy and sometimes he just wants to play with the frogs, so...I put my tools down and play with the frogs.

    The steel was delivered this morning, BTW, which is why I decided to post today. Now that the actual material is here, the project feels like it has some momentum! Yeah. I'll enjoy that illusion while it lasts. A picture of what was delivered is attached. Somehow pictures in build threads just make things seem more real, more tangible than just a bunch of text, so I'm including one. I had to rent a forklift to offload that stuff, as the I-beam weighs ~450 lbs on its own.

    Ok I'm gonna stop typing now. Thanks again!
    Jerry
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails gantry-material.jpg  

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    After weather delays and the need to finish a related project first, I finally got around to making a start on the gantry crane tonight. Not much of a start really, but a start nonetheless.

    I decided to make a video series out of it and post it on YouTube. I'll include a link to the first video in which I describe what I am attempting to do, then make a start on prepping the material. I hope such a link is ok to post; it's not an advert of any type, but rather a chronological story of how I built my gantry.

    Thanks,
    Jerry

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    Jerry, are you sure you're not short on caffeine? :-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by metalmagpie View Post
    Jerry, are you sure you're not short on caffeine? :-)
    No, but long on SPAMMING.

    Please look around, before posting please.

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    No, but long on SPAMMING.

    Please look around, before posting please.
    Could you provide addtl info on the alleged spamming? I checked the links in his posts, and his profile, for his posts, and find no spam?

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    Jerry
    Some of us have AADD. Too much to read and want my click back for that video.

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    Jerry, welcome to the forum. As you can already see, this place "heats up" quickly - lots of rough and gruff responses, especially to newbies. But also lots of amazingly helpful and patient responses, also to newbies. As you have noted, there is an unequalled wealth of information here. You just have to learn to sift the wheat from the chaff.

    One bit of advice - myself being someone who tends to write way too long - keep your posts as short and concise as possible. Otherwise, folks will move on quickly, and/or mark you down as a spammer (even if undeserved), and/or ... well, keep it short.

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    In addition to what awake just said above is to post pictures and videos in your post here, not linked to somewhere else. Spammers try to get people to go to other sites.

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    Tldr.............

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    No, but long on SPAMMING.

    Please look around, before posting please.
    Yes, I think it was an ad for diamond plate,

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    Wow, I wasn't expecting all of that. Kinda surprised really, practical machinist didn't seem like that kinda place to me when I did my research here. 'Seemed more supportive and friendly, even to forum newcomers. Hmmmm...interesting.

    Oh well, 'tis what it is.

    Keep my posts short and don't include video links. I can do that.

    And just to give grief of my own back to those who have chided, I have no idea what was meant by the "look around" comment, save possibly that you think I should have been able to glean that folk here prefer short posts ... which wasn't obvious to me. I read a good number of posts in this forum and didn't draw that conclusion. As a member of I-don't-know-how-many forums and moderator/admin of some of them, this is the first I've heard of the keep-posts-short business. Interesting...

    And HELL NO there was NO SPAM in my post nor in my video. If you equate a long post to spam, you need to revisit the concept of spam. And don't start with me about that either, I'm not a machinist by profession, but a computer engineer. I was on "the Internet" long before there WAS an Internet (and Al Gore DID NOT INVENT IT) and so I know SPAM when I see it. And a long post it ain't.

    Eh whichever, no big thing. I'm done.

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    I have no idea what the point of welding flat bar to the 4x4 telescoping verticals is. Also no mention of the fixed vertical size.
    I do not see one person attaching the cross beam(450 pounds) overhead without a way to lift and hold it up before assembly.
    make sure you have enough extra length down inside the fixed vertical tube at maximum lift. I have no idea how much that overlap should be but I would guess one or two feet? This may of course increase the minimum height it can be dropped down to.
    Bill D.

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    Hi Bill-
    If you are referring to the flat bar that will be located at the top of the 4x4 inner verticals and that is/are mounted to the bottom of the beam, they are there so that the verticals can be bolted to the beam rather than welded. This way, the gantry can be disassembled without having to grind off the welds that hold the verticals to the beam.
    Fixed vertical size? Not sure what this refers to. The hydraulic ram jacks that I have purchased for this build have about 19" of travel, so if I recall correctly, the minimum height will be 8' 3/8" while the maximum height will be 10'.
    Yeah, getting the crane on its feet is something I've put a few cycles towards. Have two basic approaches, will not discuss here/yet for reasons of brevity (read "keep it short").
    Regarding the vertical travel in regard to the inner/outer vertical supports, because the travel length is limited to 19", there will be 4' 3/8" of the inner support that will remain within the outer support at max height. At that max height there will be 4' of inner support extending upward and out of the outer support. Thus there will always be more of that inner support "inside" than out, which is a good thing and which is by design.
    Most importantly, I'd like to ask: can you Bill or anyone tell me whether or not gantry cranes can and/or should be built with an H-beam as opposed to an I-beam? I realize that the latter (I-beam) is the normal choice and therefore the beam traditionally chosen begins with an 'S' as in "S8x18.4". Mine is an H-beam and its designation begins with a 'W', as in "W10x30". Now that the time is drawing closer to mount the thing, I'm wondering if I should just chuck the H-beam and bite the bullet to purchase an I-beam since that is what is typically used.
    Anyway thanks,
    Jerry

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    Ok I've found enough references to the h-beam versus i-beam that point in favor of the i-beam for building a gantry, so I've decided to eat the cost of the h-beam and go with the other. I've decided to go with a S10x25.4, and one thing I didn't mention in my previous post is that I have also decided to fix the width (originally I intended that to be adjustable too, but I don't forsee the need). To get 10' from vertical-to-vertical (or almost, 9' 10" to be exact), I've decided to go with 11' for the i-beam. I sent an email to the steel supplier requesting a quote and lead time. I suspect it'll be a couple of weeks before it's ready.
    Thanks,
    Jerry

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    IMHO,gantry s should be built trussed.....this is the best construction possible for weight of material........If you are an old railroad type,you can include a turnbuckle in the truss......no ,I havent bothered to read any of this thread....but I have made a few gantrys ,and cut up some very big ones for scrap.

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    Most trolley's come with sloped wheels designed for I-beams. They have to be replaced with flat wheels to use H-beams. I think the I-beam wheels are more self centering side to side.
    The H beam flanges tend to be thinner, and thus less trolley support, for a given height or width. So to get the same trolley capacity you have to pay for a bigger H-beam size.
    If you are using a top running bridge crane the H-beam should be equal in cost?
    Bill D

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    I have built a gantry. I have a definite opinion as to how to put one together safely with one guy.

    Rent a Genie Superlift. Center the beam on its forks and crank it up to height. Stand up a leg and roll it into place. While holding it vertical, climb a stepladder and then bolt it to the beam. Then the other side. Take the Genie back to the rental store, done.

    metalmagpie

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    Quote Originally Posted by av8or1 View Post

    I have no idea what was meant by the "look around" comment...
    Doug is like that occasionally. In time, you'll get used to him. He does know a lotta stuff.

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    I do not use the search function for practical machinist. It works poorly. Better to use google and include "practical machinist" in quotes. You will get more results and they will be closer to the topic.
    Bill D

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    In the interest of keeping things short, I will reply separately...
    John-
    Yeah trussed gantry cranes appear on face value to be stronger. That said, I have over-engineered this thing like no one's business. I mean, from the calculations I've made it should support 2 tons (4,000 lb) with no problem, ergo it should still have a decent safety margin. However I don't intend on using it for anything heavier than a few hundred pounds. Perhaps up to a thousand at-max.
    Anyway thank you for the feedback, all is welcome.
    FWIW, I am gusseting my crane with the same 4x4x1/4 SST that the inner vertical supports are composed of. The original plans called for a plate gusset, but I wanted something more substantial, so I went with the 4x4 thing. Just welded, grinded and primed those two last night AAMOF. Picture attached (for fun, kind of an update too I suppose).
    20190217_183328.jpg


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