Instructables
When the town we live in told me I couldn't replace an old shed with a new, larger one because they had increased our property's setbacks to 20' along the sides and 50' from the water, I was forced to place a much smaller one, closer to our house (It's OK, since the old shed is still in place, outside the setbacks and "grandfathered" in... I'll make that bigger too... By going up... Revenge can be sweet:)

Still, I wish it had more room in the new shed.  The kind of shed I purchased was the "lofted barn" type.  It didn't take me long to change the "loft" part into a "floor" part, nearly doubling the inside storage space.

After I completed the new floor, and within an hour of struggling to get a heavy box up the ladder, I was busy designing and making an elevator... All the while nursing a sore back that lasted a week.
 
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Step 1: Preparation:

After drawing up a number of ideas, I settled on one that took up the least amount of space.  The ladder was already in place and I had left additional space in the overhead to fit bulky materials, so I decided that would be the best place to locate the elevator as well.

In order to keep the platform as level as possible, without having to handle multiple lifting lines, I settled on a rig that "ancient" drawing boards used.  If you went to school before the 90s, chances are you've seen one.  The drawing board rig keeps the platform perfectly level in one direction.  I could have placed another just like it facing the opposite direction, but opted instead for a simple bridle that keeps things steady as long as the load is somewhat balanced.

I purchased all the parts I needed at our local hardware store.  I chose 2 sizes of line, which is a bit of overkill.  One for the hoist, (3/4") and a lighter line for the stabilizer (5/8").  Using 5/8" for everything may have made things a bit easier and less expensive.
bfk (author) 7 months ago

Thank you very much. This project is still working great. 3/4" line was a bit of overkill. 1/2" would be more than strong enough and create less friction. Placing the stabilizing lines against a wall would work well in a garage. Why not motorize it?

caarntedd7 months ago

Awesome. I have a large storage area above my garage. Guess how I'll be moving heavy or awkward stuff up and down from now on? Thanks for the ideas. Nice work.

bfk (author) 1 year ago
Hey jott 1. Thanks for the comment. The entire instructble should be available in PDF format. If it doesn't work for you, let me know and I'll pm it to you.
jott_1 bfk1 year ago
I've got the pdf format. I'm looking for autocad or sketchup format.
jott_11 year ago
Nice project. I'm thinking about adding a garage door opener to automatic it a bit. Although I'm not sure how much it can lift. Are the drawings available for down loading. That would give me a good start on a gambrel style garage.
bfk (author) 1 year ago
Oh... And one more thing: About the friction thing, if you can eliminate pulleys from your design, you'll be better off with the friction thing and make it easier to haul heavy loads.

On mine, I wanted to get the line over to the opposite side of the ladder, but paid for it by needing 2 additional pulleys (I've reduced it to 1 since publishing the Instructable).

The fewer pulleys, the more efficient it'll be.

Good luck and enjoy your summer.
DeanAshby1 year ago
From Sydney here! This is a brilliant idea for a storage shed! I can just imagine this elevator being used to move items from one level to another and the best thing about this idea is that you don’t need any electrical power. Would you recommend this at a storage shed that stores heavier items like lawnmowers and all?
bfk (author)  DeanAshby1 year ago
Hey Dean! It's winter here, so lawnmowers aren't even an issue... Just kidding:)

Thanks for your compliment. That was kind.
You only have to remember that the heavier the load, the more pulleys will be needed and the more friction will build up, overtaking any advantage of the pulleys. On mine, It's good for about 100 lbs if I get all the twists out of the line, but it still takes a fair amount of energy to haul that much weight up. Probably less than pushing that much weight up the ladder ahead of me though, but also less awkward and dangerous.

I don't bother using the winch on the lighter loads, but you'll need some form of additional purchase for heavier ones for sure.
MR.Geo2 years ago
If I were to make this rig, I would have the pulleys on one side slightly offset to reduce wear on the line at the crossover point.
bfk (author)  MR.Geo2 years ago
That certainly sounds like a good idea. My lines aren't all that snug, so they pass by each other rather politely. If they were tight, I could see how they might get worn.

Another point is, this rig has been used on the underside of drawing boards (albeit, quite a bit smaller in size) for as long as I can remember, and then some. I don't ever remember seeing wear at the crossing point.

Offsetting certainly wouldn't hurt, but it would be 2 of the diagonals that are offset. If the pulleys on one side were offset, the lines would still meet at the center (unless you're offsetting them in opposite directions, which would be correct).

Thanks for your logical suggestion and if you ever set it up, please let us know how it works. I'm not against adjusting things to make them better:)
Awesome! In my opinion, most people, or most Americans at least, are horribly inefficient at utilizing vertical space.

How well does the stabilizing rig work? It's an elegant solution, but it seems like it might be prone to jamming.
bfk (author)  DeusXMachina2 years ago
Thank you for your comment... When I first decided I'd experienced enough pain and started laying the project out, I was thinking the entire exercise was a joke... But when I got into it, I recognized what you state in your comment about "utilizing horizontal space" and thought it not so funny.

As far as jamming goes, the stabilizing rig is very stable. If you use braided line and make sure it's untwisted (the pattern in the braid helps greatly with that), it will work reliably forever. It may need adjusting once in a while, but there isn't any stress on the line that would make it jam. It simply rolls back and forth. You can make a small prototype by putting 4 nails in a rectangle to represent the pulleys and loop a string with a single twist in it around them. You'll be able to see how the parallel sides move the same distance and direction as each other and how difficult it would be to make them jam. As a matter-of-fact, they really don't have to be snugged very tight at all. The line will still move the same distance, no-matter how loose or tight it is. The looser it is, will only allow the platform to swing further away from a completely vertical direction, so if that's not an issue, you can leave them pretty slack and it will still keep the platform level.

There's more chance for the hoisting rig to jam, since the bitter end (the end you pull on) is able to twist, which makes the line "lumpy", for lack of a better word.

When you coil line to hang it, do NOT use the method of twisting it around your arm. Coil it in your hand, putting a half-twist in every loop to take twist out. The best way to reduce the chances of jamming is to remove pulleys. For me, it was a choice among pulleys, ease of construction and space. I'll eventually be taking at least one and hopefully three out of the system if I can figure out how to rig the thing without having to fix them to the roof proper. That will also reduce friction.

Whew! Am I long winded or not?
I appreciate your long-winded response!
bfk (author)  DeusXMachina2 years ago
I'm an engineer. I think having to go into detail is in my genes:)
WPee2 years ago
We all like this very much.
I would like to SUGGEST adding some type of POSITIVE LOCK to the pallet when in the up position.

I can see me stepping off the ladder and onto the pallet and going for a ride.

Again it is a great idea for a lot of us, I am constantly going UP & DOWN the narrow ladder with simple loads.
bfk (author)  WPee2 years ago
My plan was to drill holes through the 2x8 platform frame and through the corresponding floor joists where a 3/8" or 1/2" bolt could be slid, but after I'd gotten it all together, winched tightly in the up position and cleated off (ya'll do know how to cleat a line off, right?), I figured locking it in place wasn't all that necessary.

Terrible Pictures, I know, but the last one shows the proper "nautical" way to tie a cleat. This is guaranteed to hold any load on the line (Non't use drywall screws to mount the cleat).
P1070288.JPGP1070289.JPGP1070290.JPGP1070291.JPG
bfk (author)  bfk2 years ago
Oh, and if you decide a positive lock is the wisest thing to do, and using bolts-through-holes is the way to go, consider tying the bolts to short strings that allow you to pull them out of the holes, but won't let them drop to the floor and roll under something where the'll get lost. That way, they'll always be hanging near the hole they belong in when it's up.

Good luck making something to carry your loads for you. I'll be modifying my Instructable as I modify my setup, so I'll be learning along with everyone else.

Thanks, all
bfk
WPee bfk2 years ago
Here is a suggestion for a self locking that will open on the up stroke but lock on the down motion unless the latch is help open...usually by a string on the counter weight.
Pallet lock.JPG
bfk (author)  WPee2 years ago
An automatic lock that holds the platform in place... That looks good. It reminds me of the type of lock some aluminum windows use.

I wonder if you could modify it to unlatch if you were to pull on the rope. That way, you wouldn't have to unlatch it with one hand while holding the rope with the other to inch the platform down.
WPee bfk2 years ago
Next you will ask for an automatic unloader :-) :-)
Pallet lock.JPG
bfk (author)  WPee2 years ago
Man, you're good...

Your assignment, should you decide to accept it :-)
Screen shot 2012-02-18 at 6.59.56 PM.jpg
heathbar642 years ago
I wonder why you used the snatch block at the top of the bridle, and doubled the lifting line. Yes, it gives you mechanical advantage, but you eliminated the trailer winch because it was more advantage than needed. You could have just run a single line from each end of the platform over a pulley and wyed them together and to the winch Fewer pulleys, Less of the expensive 3/4 line to buy and less to wind up on the winch.
bfk (author)  heathbar642 years ago
What your suggesting sounds like a good idea. If I were to do it again I'd certainly consider it. As it is, I'm glad I had the boat winch as the boxes I've stored (about a dozen so far) have all been around 50lbs. or less. I've been slipping the line off the winch and hauling things up hand over hand. Much faster. I couldn't do that with a trailer winch. That's also where the oversized 2/4" line comes in handy. Anything smaller would be brutal on my hands. If it weren't for the boat winch, your suggestion, even tying 4 lines together, may be the way to go.

btw, those weren't snatch blocks, but that's a great idea as well. That would certainly make loading the thing easier.

Thanks for your comments.
sarah051482 years ago
I am also a great lover of pulleys. right now mine are rigged to lift 2 4x8 foamcore panels for an easel that I can lift and lower for bigger paintings. My main problem has been friction on the line. Any suggestions? I have tried different lines, now I just have cotton sash cord because the foamcore is so light, but other setups have had more problems when I have had more weight on the line. Even using more pulleys for more advantage doesn't seem to help much.

I'm working on a design to cut a hole in the floor of my kitchen corner cabinet that goes to our cool and dry crawlspace then to make a small box for things that don't need to be in the fridge but do need to be kept cooler than my regular shelving. it's only about 5' down. ....
bfk (author)  sarah051482 years ago
Hi sara05148. I don't know if I can say I "love" pulleys, but I certainly have had a close relationship with them while I was cruising and living aboard a sailboat. I've added another step to my instructable that addresses some of your issues.

Pulleys are machines and are subject to mechanical friction. If it's possible to reduce the number of pulleys in your system as I did in mine, friction is also reduced. The pulleys I removed had nothing to do with mechanical advantage, so I lost nothing there.

The line you use is also another area where you can get into trouble. If the line is too large for your pulleys, it will bind. If it's too small, it will jam. Your pulleys are designed to be used with a specific size line.

Finally, not all pulleys are designed alike. Mine are simple, inexpensive devices made to be used in situations like my storage shed. It sounds like your situation is a bit more "refined". Most low-cost pulleys rely on a simple axle. The more weight that's applied, the more difficult it is to turn. Like any other man-made machine, pulleys come in both low and high quality versions. There are some that use bearings, either low quality plastic, or high quality ball or roller. If your system is as simple as it can be, the line you're using is a quality, soft braid and you're still having trouble, it may be the quality of your pulleys. I know yacht quality is as good as it gets, so if you're in an area where there's a marine store nearby, see if you can purchase what you need with the stipulation that if they don't help, you can return them... btw, on boats, don't call them "pulleys"... Call them "blocks".

Good luck... And I like the way you think about using the coolness of your crawlspace.

bfk
kmartin-12 years ago
I love your "stabilizing rig." Beautiful.
bfk (author)  kmartin-12 years ago
Thanks... It helps to steal ideas:)
onemoroni12 years ago
Your instructable caught my eye because I worked on and installed passenger and freight elevators. Although I would call this a material hoisting device it is well thought out and nicely done to provide convenience.
bfk (author)  onemoroni12 years ago
Thank you very much. I was struggling with what term to use. I thought "lift" sounded too British, (not that there's anything wrong with that) and "hoist" implies a single line, even though the term may be correct. Dumbwaiter was the closest term I could think of that wasn't too pretentious, but other than a personal dislike for the word, the dictionary stated a dumbwaiter is a "small elevator".

I settled on "elevator" mostly because it would draw interest...
It's only a 10' x 12' shed... And an ELEVATOR? Ya gotta look:)
just curious what is the maximum load this "elevator" can handle ?
a great instructable by the way...
bfk (author)  netrunner383012 years ago
Oops... I put down 3/16" steel screw eyes to tie the line to the platform in my response below... FAIL I meant 3/8". Sorry.
bfk (author)  netrunner383012 years ago
Good question and thank you. 3/4" Nylon line has a safe working load of 1,000lbs. or there abouts. Because each line is only carrying half the load, that makes the maximum safe load 2,000lbs.... I did mention my setup was "overkill", didn't I?

The actual reason I used 3/4" line was the pulleys I had were sized for 3/4"

There, you dragged the truth out of me:)

Of course, line strength isn't the whole story. My pulleys are held in by 3 drywall screws (each) and the lines are attached by 3/16" steel screw-in eyes and the best way to mount hardware is in shear, not tensile which is how mine is attached, but the heaviest thing I can imagine being on my platform would be me. Plenty of margin and if I'm using it as a seat, no big concern.

Oh... I don't stand under it when I'm putting things up.
blackslax2 years ago
Extremely awesome Instructable! I might be constructing this in my son's garage this spring.
bfk (author)  blackslax2 years ago
Thanks... Let us know how it goes and improvements. Mine was spur of the moment and not as well thought out as it could have been. I'd be curious how it works with more planning and thought behind it
farna2 years ago
The only "problem" I see is that the stabilizing lines stay in place. Inside a house that wouldn't work, you'd need a four point lift instead. That could be rigged with just one hoist point, just takes different rigging.

I'm actually thinking about something like this onside my folding attic stairs. I think I can just fold the lower portion of the folding stairs (the lower 2' or so) and the door will go down more vertical (though not by much). Then I could rig a platform to lower from the same hole, and just pull up close to the ceiling when not in use. It wouldn't lower all the way to the floor, but lifting a heavy box 3' and placing on the platform is easier than sliding it up the ladder. Most of the items I store up there are more bulk than weight anyway.
bfk (author)  farna2 years ago
I've seen a device sold at Sears that's designed to hoist things up to garage ceilings. They work on the same principle as threaded shaft garage door openers only instead of a threaded rod, lines wind up on the shaft, hauling the load up and holding it there. I seem to recall they were pretty reasonable, don't take up any floor space and operate with a crank or electric drill.

I suppose you could cut a hole in the ceiling and mount the device above it so the load ends up where you need it to be.

You're right about hoisting a box 3'. When I had the trailer hitch connected, the line was too heavy to completely fit, so I shortened it so the platform only came down that far. That was OK with me, but cranking the winch took forever and got me more exhausted than shoving the load up the ladder (no back issues though:).
knife1412 years ago
Very nice idea. Well done! Thanks for posting this.
bfk (author)  knife1412 years ago
Thank you. This was one of those spur-of-the-moment projects that turned out pretty well. Glad I did it, even though it seems like over-kill for such a small shed.
rimar20002 years ago
Thanks for sharing, this is very good. Maybe I would make one like this.
bfk (author)  rimar20002 years ago
Gracias ... Sabiendo que, sería de auto-carga y la potencia. :-)


Thank you... Knowing you, it would be self-loading and powered. :-)