How can I lift a 38kg hang-glider wing on to my van's roof-rack (without help) without breaking my back?

Hi, I fly a microlight, the trike of which fits nicely in my van (see link). The wing folds into a sausage shaped, zip-up bag, which can be carried on a roof-rack made by bolting a ladder to the roof of the van....but getting it up there is an issue. I can get help from a neighbour when I set out, but I am on my own at the airfield, when it comes to getting the wing down....and later putting it back up.

I have wondered about a pulley system, a stepped system, a winch, etc

anyone got any suggestions?

all help very much appreciated

Picture of How can I lift a 38kg hang-glider wing on to my van's roof-rack (without help) without breaking my back?
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Re-design8 years ago
Make the back of your rack a roller, like a roller on a trailer or better yet add and extra roller at the very back of the roof. Then you can roll it to a point where one end will rest on the ground. That way you are only lifting approximately half at a time. I'd be more worried about breaking my back landing, taking off, crashing etc. the way I used to ride dirt bikes. Good luck.
Tinworm (author)  Re-design8 years ago
Thanks Re-design. As a matter of fact, I have been working on a roller solution based on something I saw online about a method for lifting a canoe by placing it parallel to the van, lift one end first and put it down on an outrigger, then lift the other end, then push both across from outriggers on to the main load carrier. I even have the rollers from a dumpster (aka skip). I thought of mounting one roller on a frame welded to a wheel lock of the type used to immobilise an illegally parked car. By making the pivot a roller, I'd be able to lift more easily, rather in the way you suggest
That's exactly what he was suggesting! roller not even necessary! Simply lift one end of the bag up and place at the back of the van gate, then go to the back end and lift, sliding it forward until it's all the way on. At most you only have to lift half at a time.
Tinworm (author)  frollard8 years ago
Thanks, I know that is what he meant, but it isn't exactly what I meant, which is that the action happens parallel to the van, not at its rear. I am kind of uncomfortable with the idea of the whole bag sliding over a single pivot point; not sure it wouldn't damage the wing.
Tinworm (author) 8 years ago
I have got to say, guys, that deciding which was the best of the suggestions was incredibly difficult. Fact is that all of them are pretty great and yet none of them is the one I am going for, for various reasons to do with teh construction of my car.<br /><br />In the end I decided on a simple solution suggested by a flying buddy (simpler than the roller I had been working on), which is just an you lift the front first, then the rear.<a href=""></a> I tried it out just by sticking a metal stake through one of the rung holes in the side of the ladder, which is bolted to my roof-rack....and it works. I'm not sure it halves the load, as would have been the case if I had done it re-design's way, but it makes things much more controllable (and it is as good as having a second person, almost.<br /><br />so many thanks everyone. the process really helped<br />
kenyer Tinworm6 years ago
Wow, this idea sounds really simple and effective. I am going to try that with my glider. The only thing is that I stuffed the holes in the ladder to prevent irritating sounds on the high-way.
Until now I've got hurt with hang gliding only once and that was not with landing or flying or anything, but with putting my glider on the van. therefor this idea is worth to try.
The season is almost ended, but when I made something, I will post it.
Tinworm (author)  kenyer6 years ago

I don't use this anymore because I keep my aircraft fully trigged in the hangar. But it is a nice simple solution which worked really well, solo.

And same here, Kenyer...only lifting has ever done me any damage when I have gone flying.
frollard8 years ago
Winch line goes from tail (somewhere at back) to pulley at front to roller at back to load. Winch lifts the load up to the edge. Might take slight lift to get it up over the rear roller, but then the winch will pull the load onto the roof - no work :D Why the winch at the back? if it's a hand winch, you want to be near where the action is while you're lifting to make sure everything's lined up.
Tinworm (author)  frollard8 years ago
cool drawing, frollard, thanks. As I say below, I worry that sliding the whole bag over the top of that rear roller will put a strain on the length of the weight (too much of a moment point, with too much weight in front and behind that point) and might damage the wing, which after all is just aluminium and fabric.
Okay, then make a sled (out of an extension ladder) that mounts on the load and the slide on top - thus all the moment force is not placed on such a delicate wing.
Tinworm (author)  frollard8 years ago
that is actually a very cool idea
kelseymh8 years ago
Researching something entirely different, I came across a car-top kayak carrier from Thule that might be adaptable to your purpose. The thing uses armatures with pneumatic pistons to provide "lift assistance" of up to 75 lbs (30+ kg). It's pretty expensive (US$550), but might inspire a DIY design.
Tinworm (author)  kelseymh8 years ago
Thanks kelseymh, that is an exciting proposition. Something like that might be the thing, though my wing is a lot heavier than the kayak and there would have to be a rolling element to move the wing forward as the carrier part of my van is to the rear.