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Seeking engineering advice on mounting heavy weight in concrete ceiling Answered

Hi all,

I am designing/building a prop ceiling-mounted surgical arm (see reference photos attached) into a 15" concrete slab ceiling for a hospital room set for a tv show. I'm also attaching two sketches of the two different arms I plan on making and I'm hoping some of you clever engineering-types may be able to identify flaws in my schematics before I go too far with the design. If you see something that could pose a danger to the actors or have and alternative suggestion I would be grateful!!!

Here are my concerns:

1) what are acceptable stresses on all joints due to weight distribution and actors moving the parts around?
2) the heavy duty industrial casters that tapcon into the ceiling: would they get pried apart as weight is applied gravitationally?
3) can the concrete ceiling handle the live stresses of actors moving the arms?
4) can the horizontal PVC arms handle the weight or do they require a welded metal skeleton?


Any feedback would be greatly appreciated; I'm in my research phase of this build now so please let me know your thoughts!!!



5 Replies

RedneckEngineer (author)2013-01-28

I agree with Steveastrouk. Depending on if your wanting something for a few shots never to be used again vs something that needs to be used more and sturdy, instead of the casters try looking at some of the TV wall mounting systems. I know I've seen them with movable arms and this would be a good base to start with, mounted on the ceiling of course.

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My son was in hospital here in the UK a couple of weeks ago, and we gave his ceiling mounted TV monitor a very good looking over ! You could have hoisted an automobile on it, I'd swear ;-)

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damianzuch (author)steveastrouk2013-04-01

We ended up buying a MIG welder(!) and learning how to do some basic welding. We made 12"x12" base plate of 1/8" sheet steel, cut 6" gussets for them and welded 2" round steel tube; these were mounted to the ceiling with tapcons. On the other end we simply cut steel tube with an inner diameter slightly larger than the OD of the 2" and basically made super gigantic hinges. It seems to have worked!!!

Thanks y'all for the feedback, it's always appreciated!

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steveastrouk (author)2013-01-28

If a 15" concrete ceiling can't handle the imposed load, pray noone ever stands on the floor above.....

1.) There is NO way you can impose stresses on the roof from the structure you propose that can be an issue
2.) build it, hang it from something, and see if the thing wobbles acceptably or not.
3.) What's your budget ?
4.) How heavy is it going to be ?

Castors will work, but I suspect they'll wobble too much to be convincing.

If you have the budget, BUY a medical monitor support - designed for the load, and the right amount of lack of wobble.....


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damianzuch (author)steveastrouk2013-01-29

Hi, thanks for your reply! Ha ha, this is CANADIAN television; we don't have the budget to buy a real one :) The wobble is troubling; I've been experimenting with PVC and, while it does show some promise it also wobbles a lot.. I've been told to look at "kingpinless casters" as well as industrial lazy suzies; going to look into that today. OK, thanks again,


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