Southern California Home Shop Machinists
By Charles Goebel
Overhead Shop Crane
I designed and built this crane because I found that as I got older, everything seemed to get heavier, and it got to the point that changing the chuck on my 14” Logan lathe, or handling the 6” Kurt vise for my vertical mill was too much for me.
Several years ago, during several reviews of Harbor Freight’s numerous catalogs, I noticed that the price on the 880# capacity electric hoisting unit varied considerably from one catalog to another. Prices were as high as $150, and at times as low as $75, so when I had a chance I went to the Retail store and got one of the 880# hoisting units for $75. I was surprised to see how well it was made, but because I didn’t have any place to mount it, it sat on the floor for a couple of years.
Time passed and the need became greater, so I got out the Steel Construction Handbook and designed a bridge crane that would travel about 18 feet over the length of the runway rails, and a bridge and trolley that would provide about 8 feet of travel across the machine shop. I designed the bridge to safely handle 1500 # at any point over its length, and I designed the runway rails to handle a concentrated load of 1500# at any point of the bridge travel.
The runway rails are made of 2”x 2”x1/4” square steel tubing, with a ¾”x3/4”x1/8” steel angle tack welded to the top of the rail to provide a guide for the 4” diameter, cast iron V-grooved wheels mounted on the rolling bridge. The rails are supported at 4 foot intervals by steel brackets attached to a stud wall on the east side and a masonry wall on the west side. The bridge is made of a piece of 3”x3”x1/4” square steel tubing, with one wheel mounted on the west end, and two wheels mounted on a “T” made of 2”x3”x1/4” rectangular steel tubing on the east end. This “T” keeps the bridge at a right angle to the runway rails. The support brackets were made with provisions for a lateral adjustment to align the rails if there was any deviation of the walls from a straight line, and, because it is very difficult to drill 5/8” diameter holes accurately through a 6 inch masonry wall when they are close to the ceiling, a means of adjusting the height with shims under the rails was provided.
The trolley that supports the hoisting unit under the bridge rolls on two flanged rollers on the top of the bridge beam. Electrical power for the hoisting unit is provided by a long cord along the west wall. Operation is simple and easy. I use the hoisting line in a two-part configuration with a fall block and hook. The single line pulling capacity is 440 pounds with a line speed of 13 feet per minute. With the line doubled, the lifting speed is 6-½ feet per minute, and the load capacity 880 pounds, which is easier to use in handling any load.