Instructables
Picture of Boom Crane Pulley
Moving into a new house with nice new hardwood floors is hard enough. But if you need to climb not, one but two skinny staircases to get to the living room, moving in is simply a nightmare. Grills, couches, TVs, fridges, etc. are a pain to lift as it is, let alone attempting to traverse stairs. So instead of performing move-in gymnastics while breaking our backs, i decided to simplify things by building our own boom-crane pully system.
This project took about 2 - 3 hours from start to finish (not including buying the stuff).
I hope you enjoy my very first Instructable!

So the basic idea is that this is a 3-story house with roof deck. The living room is on the third floor, and has a balcony. The crane is mounted to the floor of the roof deck (the 'fourth' floor). This will allow us to pull things from the street level up to the third floor balcony. So the boom crane is saving us from having to bring things up two flights of stairs.

 
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Step 1: Materials

I guess we'll start off with a list of items needed for the crane itself, along with some tools.

Materials for the crane:

2 1/2" x 10' diameter rigid conduit
2" x 10' diameter rigid conduit
two 1/2" x 5" bolts
a bunch of 1/2" washers & nuts
1/2" x 3" eye bolt
2 1/2" pipe brackets
flat head deck screws
60 grit sand paper

I got all my stuff from Home Depot. The two pipes are surprisingly expensive, and will run you about $100. Since this will stay outdoors, make sure that everything you buy is galvanized. This will prevent any of the metal parts from rusting.

Materials for the pulley:

Double wheel pulley
Single wheel pulley with second mounting point.
carabineer
100' of strong climbing rope
40' of regular rope

I got the pulleys off of eBay for about $20 a pop. Just do a search for 'wood pulley.'
The rope was purchased from REI. This is definitely the most expensive part of the setup. Once again i wasn't sure what i would need, so i went with the sure thing. I got 11cm rope that could lift 29 kilo-Newtons. I'm not sure exactly how much that is, but the guy at the store told me it would lift a car, so it's good enough for me!

Tools:

power drill
1/2" drill bit (for metal)
compound power saw
7" cutoff blade (for metal)
safety goggles

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catmanduud2 years ago
cool
heathbar642 years ago
that's called using your head! Work smart not hard. I personnally would have opted for a winch of some sort. perhaps an inexpensive boat winch. that way you don't have to be down below in the crush zone and also a winch is self locking so if you let go for an instant, the load won't come crashing down.
In response to the concerns by the engineers, the rest of us are not nessesarily idiots! I have lifted 1000 pound steel beams into place with wooden derricks and a couple come alongs without incident. simple knowledge about leverage and common sense are all I have to work with.
cambigfoot4 years ago
you look like rick from pawnstars! :) lol
jongscx5 years ago
I'm looking to do something similar, only it needs to be detachable and I plan on using a remotely operated ATV winch... any ideas?
alexhalford6 years ago
Is it possible to use a miter saw (for wood) for cutting metal i.e. is it just a question of changing the blade or are there other differences between the machines??? Thanks
captain Jack (author)  alexhalford6 years ago
You can use a standard miter saw, with a chop saw blade instead of a regular wood blade. Don't forget gloves, long sleeves, & safety glasses - lots of sparks! Look for something like this:
metal_cutting_blade.JPG
However, if something happens, chopping metal with a non metal-rated miter saw Automatically Voids the warranty... Not that many of us haven't done that already, but just warning for anyone interested...
well we have a saw blade with DIAMOND ends which are capped for conversion of the blade to a clock the picture comes when we go to the house with that
thanks, good instructable btw.
carolw046 years ago
Where do you get a pulley like that?? Is there somewhere that isn't online (cuz I need it soon....)?
captain Jack (author)  carolw046 years ago
go to eBAY and type in "wooden pulley." I did it just now & there are over 30 results.
captain Jack (author) 6 years ago
I'm posting an update as to the condition of this 'most dangerous contraption' (as some people below chose to call it) after one year of constant use. We have used the pulley system for some most arduous tasks, including lifting very heavy and unwieldy objects. Some examples are: - 4 Burner Heavy Duty Outdoor Gas Grill > 200lbs - 9' extra deep single-piece designer couch - 36" Panasonic CRT TV > 150 lbs - Full sized fridge All of these items would have been near impossible to bring up (and down) the 2 flight narrow stairwell. This was a rental house, and upon move out (which went quite smoothly, i might add), i was required to dismantle the crane. This gave me the unique opportunity to observe the 'damage' left to the house. The first thing that was immediately noticeable was a little bit of rust on some of the bolts. The rust was only on the outside. Being so close to the beach causes metal items to rust much quicker, but even i was surprised by the speedy advancement of the elements. The nuts were galvanized, so in the future, perhaps a quick coat of Rust-o-leum would prevent this from happening. The railing, which many posters feared would be ripped out and come crashing down in one horribly cataclysmic event, remains completely intact. Other than a little but of rust and chipped pain where the crane was mounted to the railing, all that remains is a single 1/2" hole. There are no stress fractures or cracks of any kind around the hole, and the railing in general is in excellent condition. In the future, i would definitely take the suggestion to use a right-angle scaffolding clamp. It would be much easier to install & no hole would remain. The deck of the roof has 6 small holes where the screws had attached the boom. These were in good shape, and easily filled in with caulking. Now, you can't even tell they ever existed. I don't know of any method to prevent the holes here, as any sort of crane would have to be mounted to the roof in some manner. So, would i do this again in the future? In a heartbeat. My back, the stairs, the inside walls, and my roommates thank me for the destruction and chaos that was avoided by this contraption. I hope you all enjoyed this post!
tradergordo7 years ago
I'm building something similar. Can you elaborate on what kind of bit you used to drill the metal? I'm stuck on this step - but maybe its because my pipe is too thick (1/4 inch metal). Last night I spent a LOT of time drilling (titanium nitride bit) and barely made a dent - didn't seem to matter how much pressure I applied. Next I tried a dremel with grinding stone type bit - this worked better than the drill, but after a real long time, I just barely got through the metal (still haven't even finished one hole) and the thing isn't big enough to do a 1/2 inch hole either. Not sure what tool can do this job... Maybe I need to use a smaller pipe - I got this one for free though, and its the perfect length, and super strong.
Good Stuff May I suggest You will need to drill at least 2 pilot holes in the pipes before you try and drill 1/2" straight thru into steel Pipe! You should use a "Centre Punch" first" so the Drill doesn't slide all over the place! So start off with say a 3/16" Pilot hole then go to 3/8" then drill your 1/2".I would also use a Drilling compound to help keep the friction down You must also use a Power Electric Drill at High speed. Great Idea enjoy the Beer Eh!! Don't let anyone Ride up on it if you must use a politicion they will do anything to get to high places and above everyone else. Dasha
captain Jack (author)  tradergordo7 years ago
Your pipe isn't SOLID, is it? I used a hollow conduit pipe. As for the bit, i just went to home depot, and told the guy i needed a good quality 1/2" drill bit to drill through metal conduit. He pointed me to a few of them, and i chose one in the middle price range ($17). It's a lot of money to spend on a drill bit, but it will last forever. I don't remember off the top of my head. I used a cordless drill, but it's pretty high speed. Make sure your drill spins fast! It did take about 5 minutes per hole. You shouldn't use a dremel for this; drilling is the only way to go. Other than that, i don't really know what to tell you. let me know how your project works out!
No, its not soild. I just went to Lowes today, I saw what you are talking about, it was also $17, the key is getting a cobalt bit. It looked good, and packageing specifically said it was for stainless steel and hard metals. I guess I'll go back and buy it. My boom is like yours only rotated 90 degrees so it looks like hangman's gallows. I also bought an eyebolt rated for 2000 lbs (tractor supply co sells them for pretty cheap). Also bought an electric hoist ($70 from harbor freight, can lift 880 lbs. which is more than adaquate for what I'm doing).
captain Jack (author)  tradergordo7 years ago
awesome! take some pictures when you're done!
boocat7 years ago
I have a "come-along" hand operated rachet winch-thingee I used to shift fallen tree limbs. It's rated to move 1200 lbs. But I long ago decided to not purchase anything that was so heavy I couldn't move it myself. No one-piece conventional sofas, king-sized beds, etc. Our speakers, furniture, everything weighs 70 lbs. or less. Period. Bigger stuff like fridges get donated to the Goodwill. Then workmen deliver and install a new model in the new place. But they manufacture small appliances now.
Great idea and excellent instructable.... Next, you'll have to construct a stationary but turnable and extending manual crane bolted to the 3rd floor. You could even have the winch at the top (manual or motorized) with a seat for you to sit in. It'd be like fishing..... without the fish :)
BTW... How much weight do you think this thing will hold before going ka-splat?
captain Jack (author)  FrenchCrawler7 years ago
honestly, i think it would probably take about half a ton...
That turned eye will never safely take a thousand pounds. If you read the sticker that came on it it said not for over head lifting. Good thought though. My suggestions are: use rated hardware, The tension brace idea was a good one(less pipe involved and you get more flexibility in your application. Also the pipe clamp suggestion... your neighborhood staging, lighting, or scaffolding company will let you borrow one.
captain Jack (author)  a rigger7 years ago
you're totally right. Throughout the whole design, i was always worried about the eye being the 'weak spot' in the whole contraption. I actually thought that the threads would give out due to shear forces, but either way. I think this is probably the best (& cheapest) way to improve the design. BTW - i checked at the store - the eyebolt is only rated for 300 lbs.
Nice.... that should just about cover anything you need to hoist.... unless you wanted to use the balcony as a parking space :P
chayzer7 years ago
Bottom line is it worked! An excellent example of using some materials on hand to make a task easier. Other than mounting the horizontal boom a little differently, it held up fine! These guys were confident enough to ride the crane. As for the hole in the railing.. trying to move all that stuff up a crappy set of stairs almost always results in scratches and holes in the wall. And honestly, it's 2" tubing they used on it. Drag racers are only required to have 1 5/8" tubing for roll cages... they're dealing with a bit more force (yes i realize you can get different thickness in walls, DOM, and so on). Safety nowadays is so blown out of proportion by guys sitting behind desks in some office somewhere dictating what they believe to be safe. Ever consider trying to haul all that stuff by hand up a narrow staircase? Looking at quite possible if not probable back injury! There's an obvious risk with hoisting large objects up a few floors. As long as you're willing to accept that, take a chance. Riding the crane would be a bit of a rush. Would be much more fun then being the captain super safety tightwad.
lucanos7 years ago
This was an interesting project, and certainly does answer a problem which alot of people in mid-low rise apartments have to deal with. However I think there are certainly some aspects of the plan and design which do need to be looked at before I would be comfortable encouraging others to use this rig. 1. The drilling of the pipes, both as part of the handrail and as the boom arm. As mentioned above, this does create a weak point in the rig, and can also exert some very strong, and rather difficult to detect forces within the joint. Some hardware shop level bolts might actually snap under some loads when used in the fashion (especially if, like most people, you built this boom and then keep it bolted together, but detached from the handrail, until next time it's needed). 2. The general rigging is pretty good, but some considerations some into play when using this kernmantle rope. Some knots cannot or should not be used in it, and there are some special ones which work incredibly well with it. 3. General safety precautions regarding the raising and lowering of gear, such as keeping people clear of underneath, along with safety gear for the ground crew (hardhats), would also need to be considered. 4. Hauling an actual person with a rig like this, whilst physically possible, should not be encouraged unless there is a secondary, and separately rigged safety line, the person is in an approved harness, and they are also wearing safety goggles, gloves, a hardhat. 5. The anchoring of the bottom bar of the boom is a little questionable, too. Shear forces on metal screws in that kind of situation can add up pretty quickly, as can the leverage force caused by the load pulling down on the end of the boom and being levered over the edge of the concrete slab would also be something too look at. As I said, an interesting idea, although there are parts which need some attention.
lucanos7 years ago
Whilst a bowline will certainly do the job, a knot which is more widely used with this kind of rope is the Figure of 8. In the case of tying a knot around a fixed anchor (like through a ring or eyelet), a rethreaded figure of 8 can be used - http://www.chockstone.org/TechTips/F8Knots.htm
lucanos7 years ago
29 Kilonewtons is a measure of force. It is equal to the force exerted by a static weight of 2,900 kilograms (roughly). It should be noted that if the weight is moved up or down, then the force will fluctuate. The normal recommendation, when dealing with roping kits is that you should have a rope which has a minimum breaking strain which is 8 times the expected load - so this rope would be good for about 360 kilograms or around 800 pounds. Also, the rope should be "static" or "low stretch". They sell another kind of rope called "dynamic", but it is made to be very stretchy as it acts as a shock-absorber when rock-climbing, and is not suitable for hauling. Oh, and if you are going to spend a few hundred dollars on the rope, go that little bit further and get a proper pulley for the rope - it will be worth your while.
Lemon7 years ago
Guys... Why criticise someones efforts to make an amazing AND incredibly useful addition to an apartment (where furniture relocation IS such a darn *#$@#*) when you could be encouraging him with suggestions to improve the safety of his idea and helping him to further investigate this potential best-seller? Like JWilly48519 said, try rated hardware, and to eliminate damage to lifting personnel, buy an electric winch. Also, for anything structurallly (and permanent, I guess) metal (generally; sometimes fasteners are better in some cases) a welder is a lot easier and much fun! Keep in mind people that this is captain Jack's first instructable, and I think an admirable attempt to say the least. It was well set out with lots of pictures, easily readable and the (great) idea was original (don't quote me, I haven't gone through all instructables). I like it.
captain Jack (author)  Lemon7 years ago
thanks! :)
codeguy97 years ago
Nice idea. Something like this can really save your back. I would not be too concerned using this to lift anything 500lbs or less. I like the others did not like the idea of drilling through that pipe on the gaurd rail. I think your holes on the store bought pipe were fine. I would have used clamps made with 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick 2-3 inch wide flat stock metal and large 3/4 threaded rods or bolts. The hole will still be there when the lift is removed. With clamps you would just need to retouch up the paint when removed. The block system you used was nice to reduce the lifting effort. Overall I like the idea. Just don't stand under any load being lifted.
stib7 years ago
Oh, please, use dynabolts at least! Wood screws into masonry? Think of the children!
bethehammer7 years ago
Aside from all of the safety concerns and potential issues with the landlord... Great Idea. Also, you may want to check out Harbor Freight Tools for cheaper rope alternatives. Climbing rope is really expensive and is designed to stretch to absorb the shock of a fall. since you are lifting objects rather than people, you dont need the extra cost of climbing rope. You can find all kinds of pulleys, rope, and other hoists and stuff at cheap prices at harbor freight.
JWilly485197 years ago
The whole concept of Instructables isn't compatible with wet-blanket sucky negative posts, so I recognize that this probably is inappropriate. In case anybody cares, though, from an engineering perspective this one is really borderline in terms of potential to hurt somebody bad and/or get the user in fairly serious trouble.

1. Drilling a hole in a steel tube dramatically weakens it against bending failure at the hole location...right away, and even more so after a little rain and weathering. That particularly applies to the building's safety railing. If during a later party, some beefy guy leans or bumps into that railing and it fails for some stupid reason, you can bet that the fault will be assigned to that drilled hole, and whoever was responsible for drilling the hole will be up for involuntary manslaughter. Yikes.

A vastly stronger and more reliable structural approach for impromptu steel tube structures is to use swivel scaffolding clamps. They don't require any holes, they attach with included high strength fasteners, they're galvanized for fairly long outdoors life, and they're engineered for fairly high safe loads. Often you can get them from industrial supply places.

The "Kee Klamp" type of fitting is much less structurally reliable, is harder to use because the common versions require cutting the pipe/tubing, and isn't significantly cheaper.

2. The load-support eyebolt should go through a clamp as well...not through a drilled hole.

3. The load-support eyebolt should be *forged*...not a bent-steel cheapie. You can get forged eyebolts from McMaster and many other industrial hardware suppliers.

4. The lifting line should be either wire rope (with wire rope blocks) or polyester (with fiber rope blocks). Other kinds of plastic rope are designed to stretch during use, to take up shock...and you don't want *any* stretch in a lifting application, because it compromises strengh. High-flexibility wire rope plus matched-type blocks is far and away the superior way to do this job.

5. Keep everyone well away from under the load and from the upper structure. If anything breaks, not only will the load come down, but the rope will recoil upward or downward like a whip, maybe with a piece of sharp hardware on the end of it. There's plenty of history of workers having limbs cut off by whipping structural ropes/lines.

When you're doing structural-load stuff, Be Careful, and ***know what you're doing***.
It's good you point out the safety aspect but you're way over the top with your concerns about the hole, the the lack of a clamp and the eyebolt. The bending moment at the tip of the tube is near zero in both tubes. Hence your comment about the "bending failure" does not apply. And the eyebolt in that hole will probably hold a higher load than you would want to pull up anyway. BTW whole aircrafts, and most hang gliders are built that way.
Have you taken into consideration the structural strength of the connection of the handrail to the building? How about the load bearing capacity of the balcony? With all due respect, you don't know what you're talking about.
My comment wasn't an overall evaluation of the project but a response to the points made by JWilly. And yes, I have well founded knowledge about the background of the statements I made. What makes you think I would not? Anything factual in my original posting you can correct?
Hmmm, it appeared to me that you were endorsing this project. Let me ask you this hypothetical question: if the load caused the bolts holding the rail in place to fail, and the rail was "jerked" off of its footing, will the hole tolerate the resulting forces?
Got it, it was a misunderstanding. Which hole are we looking at after the rail fails? Personally, I probably wouldn't have fixed anything at the rail, due to its unknown stability. Or maybe I'd have run a steel cable from the one end of the rod to the other and over the rail. That would reduce the load onto the rail to a vertical one, and the rail makes the impression as if it could take quite a bit of that (at least near a post). The whole setup doesn't alarm me all that much. There would probably be a fair amount of warning signs (deformations) visible before the structure fails. If it is used to haul up some furniture and people don't stand right beneath it, it may inflict some damages to the house front, but what else? If the beer drinking bloke is pulled up on it he's just keeping Darwin's natural selection process going, by engaging actively in it. I'll join him tomorrow when I go hang gliding in a similar contraption.
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