I googled for several months to find an above ground pool lift, but only found in-the-ground pool lifts. Only after I built this did I find anything, but even then they were over $4000 and didn't go as high as this one does. I had no idea if this was actually going to work until after I built it -- but it does work !!! And for around $300. The idea is simple. A pole is cemented into the ground. A wooden crane was built to pivot around the pole. Then a winch was used to raise and lower a chair that could swivel over the pool.
Step 1: Build Crane
Build the piece that slides over the pole and rotates around it. This was made to be 4' in length all out of pressure treated lumber. Start with a back piece (2x8) and screw 1x6's into it to make the sides.
Step 2: Cut Pole Support Pieces
Cut a 2x4 into 4-inch squares. Actually, cut it so that it matches the square area of a 4x4 post (which isn't exactly 4 inches). Then using a jig saw, cut out a circle the same size as the pole (really just a tinge bigger). I used a 2-inch diameter pole.
Step 3: Add Square Support Pieces to Frame
I think I added about 4 of these squares to the frame using L-brackets and wood glue.
Step 4: Complete the Frame
Add a 2x4 to the frame to finish it. Note that you have to leave room at the top for the 4x4 boom to fit in.
Step 5: Prepare 4x4 Boom
The boom of the crane will rest on the pole. The boom is made out of a 4x4 piece. In our case, the boom was made to be 4' long.
I was worried that the pole would dig in to the wood and then the crane wouldn't turn around the pole. So, I cut a thin piece of metal (I bought a door protector kick plate and cut it to size (4x4) ). Then I screwed it onto the boom before bolting the boom to the frame.
Step 6: Add Boom to the Frame
Used two large bolts to fasten the boom to the frame. I don't remember the size of the bolts that I used. Also used a couple L-brackets for extra support.
Then screwed in a support piece to complete the crane.
At this point, we slid the crane onto the pole just to see if it seemed to be working so far.
Step 7: Add Winch
I made a platform at the base of the crane for the winch to sit on. Then I used down spout connector pipe to string the cable through and protect the wood of the crane.
Step 8: Build Chair
I used a baby swing set chair for the chair. Our son still fits into this chair at six, although, I'm sure he'll outgrow it and I'll have to figure out something different.
I needed a steel bar, and repurposed one from a shelving system. I cut it to size, then drilled a couple holes in it. I bolted swing set hangers into it and this is what the chair fastens onto.
In the middle of the steel bar I put a U-bolt. The cable from the winch hooks onto this U-bolt.
It took a little bit of playing around to get the chair all balanced.
Step 9: Put It Together
Dig a deep hole into the ground and cement a 2-inch pipe into it. Our pipe is buried about 4 feet into the ground and is 10 feet above the ground. We assembled the crane onto the pole before we cemented it because we weren't sure how to put the crane on a 10 foot high pole.
We used quick drying cement. One person held the pole up with a level while the other poured in the cement and water. Let it dry for two days and ta-dah -- done.
When we want to use the lift, we bring out a battery with all the winch wires hanging off of it and attach it to the winch. When we're done, we put the battery away to protect it from the water.
I was worried that the crane might not turn around the pole, but after using it several times now, it seems to turn just fine. Today I got our son in the pool by myself and I didn't even have to grunt!
Thanks for reading. If you're interested, visit jenmadeit.com for other accessible builds.