View Full Version : gantry rig

12-05-2002, 02:21 PM
I have been looking for gantry rigs on the internet and there isn't much out there. SO i have decided to build one myself. Has anyone else done this? I am picturing an XY rig with a 2.5 ton chain hoist. Using I-beams as track and attaching them to the rafters in my shop. Any thoughts?

12-05-2002, 03:14 PM
Try Bushman Equipment, makers of all kinds of cranes. I have one of their small catalogs that shows the models, dimensions, capacities, etc. if you want to build one. My plan is to do that sometime. The local steel recycler here has a couple of used jib cranes for about $250, you might want to check out your area too. Try www.bushman.com (http://www.bushman.com)

Uncle Dunc
12-05-2002, 05:02 PM
I'd probably put the rails on the walls, myself. Most walls are massively overengineered for compressive loads, and I'm not nearly as sure how much margin there is for loading the rafters.

12-05-2002, 05:15 PM
I built a free standing rolling gantry a couple of years ago. I would post pics here if I knew how. I think you need to have the pics on the web already? I could email pics as an attachment if you'd like.
I also built a crude free standing crane sort of like an 11' tall engine crane, (got the idea from a "Roustabout" I bought for a previous boss at an auction)that uses a worm gear hand winch for lifting.
Most of my stuff is made of scrap (or made into scrap, depends on your perspective http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif)
but serves me well.

12-05-2002, 10:25 PM

Uncle Dunc has the right idea - most of the gantry cranes have the rails mounted on top of concrete or structural steel walls. A free standing unit will cost considerably more. Another alternative is a Gib crane - see lots of those up here for loading machines. Some of the Haas VMC's have Gib crane attachments.

For the x-y arrangement you seek you would most likely require an a/c drive to move the overhead beam due to weights of the beams, but the chain hoist could be moved by hand. I have a friend with an such an arrangement in his garage (4 bay) with the beam spanning the shortest span (24') and it required 4 guys to move a motor hoisted. The end result was that a/c drive had to be installed for ease of movement. It was justified in his case as he restores vehicles.

12-05-2002, 11:41 PM
I've been thinking about building one too.

Find plans for a gantry crane at http://www.synthx.com/btw/crane.htm.

Sounds like you are wanting to build what I call a rolling bridge crane. I've been watching for these to show up on ebay (link shows new today only)


then looking at the pictures for ideas.

See also


12-06-2002, 12:01 AM
The gantry I built looks just like this
except I built an ajustable clamp that holds the "I" beam to be able to change span quickly and also to substitute beams for different jobs.
I also made outriggers with built in jackscrews with swivel feet that slip into the base to level and stabilize it. They remove easily and the whole thing can be knocked down and transported.

Also mine is not as pretty http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

[This message has been edited by yf (edited 12-06-2002).]

12-06-2002, 12:08 AM

Thrud is right you will need to support the main parallel beams on something very substantial. To move the bridge you will need some type of gear reduction. We had a 10 Ton bridge crane that was moved through a gearbox that was operated manually by a chain pulled by hand. The gearbox was connected to one set of wheels. Electric drives are expensive and you have to have some type of festoon system or hot rails to supply the power to the motor.


12-06-2002, 09:36 AM
To move the load along the rails you may be able to use an old chain type garage door opener. It could be mounted stationary at one end of the rails and then you wouldn't need a moveable power source.

Cliff Lawson
12-06-2002, 10:47 AM
Hi Guys:

While most of us are pretty well versed in "what looks strone enough", it would be wise in each of these cases to do a structural check.

These checks are not that hard to do, if you take a little time to run through the figures. There is pretty good information in the machinist handbook.

However, if in doubt, most structural engineers that I know could do this in a short time for what you are planning.

Another way to check out your [project of course is to carefully overload it and have some supplemental supports there in case of failure.

Most failures probalby will be in the form of some kind of buckling, not straght downward plunging.

Look for the arrangement to fall sideways, not straght down.

Hope a little of this advice from me might not be taken wrong, because ther is not point in getting hurt in the process of having fun.


12-06-2002, 03:03 PM
Thanks for all your input. My experience was in an auomotive machine shop where there was an electric chain hoist suspended from an x-y track. I was able to lift just about anything and move it with ease just by pushing on the object or pulling on the chain. 90% of the time I would use it for and engine or the front clip of a car. But it would be nice when I want to move the milling machine that I could kook it up and move it.

12-06-2002, 04:47 PM
I am not sure of the weight capacity, but I have used one of those engine hoists that's on wheels. They are not that expensive and do need bigger wheels if you have uneven floors, but I have move some major equipment with one.


12-09-2002, 11:39 AM
Pallet jacks are really great for just moving stuff around. You can get used ones pretty cheap.
I had my twin head Leland-Gifford monster twin head drillpress setup at my former employers shop.
I bolted short pieces of wide flange beam under it to allow the pallet jack to slide under and allow one man to safely move it.
It weighs app. 1300 #, and it seemed like we had to move it all the time.
With solid timber blocking on the forks it becomes easy to move a lathe also, so long as you have enough room to pass.

When jerks would block the exit in the parking lot we used the same pallet jacks and blocking to move the cars.
(Then we would put cars that were in storage in front of them! http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif)
That was a pretty good job, too bad its gone forever. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//frown.gif

[This message has been edited by yf (edited 12-09-2002).]

01-19-2003, 11:49 PM
I built a gantry crane in my shop last year. So far I have tested to 1-ton,with 1/2"of deflection. First of all I would use an S-beam. These are similar to I-beams, but instead of being flat on top/bottom it's wedge shaped, which gives tolly wheels more surface to roll on. My shop is 24x30 OD with 2x6 walls. I used 8" beam, not sure what weight per foot is, but a 23' long piece was about 450#. You mentioned hanging from rafters, bad idea. I suggest schedule 80 pipe,I use 4" with a peice of 1/2 plate, on bottom cut to fit inside studs, on top of sill plate, bolted down with lag bolts. On top cut more plate to make a landing pad for the beam, with a triangle piece to support it. This way you don't have to lay thick pads in the floor,or waste floor space. I had a buddy with a bobcat spot it on the upper pads,then leveled and paralleled and welded in place. I got 2-ton tollys from HarborFreight for like $80 each. It works like a dream,if I run and grab the chainfall hoist,I can coast to any spot in the shop.If you would like more information or photos,please e-mail

m myers
02-27-2006, 10:21 PM
Mr. Honda

Could you please e-mail me photos and more information on your overhead crane, seems to be just what I'm looking for.

02-27-2006, 10:45 PM
If you're getting 1/2" deflection, you are flirting with death! The beam is overloaded! Deflection on my beam is about .030 when lifting the front of a truck. It's rated for 2 tons.

Don't suspend anything from roof rafters unless you know the load design. Most are in tension and adding weight could pull the roof down.

02-27-2006, 11:09 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by m myers:
Mr. Honda

Could you please e-mail me photos and more information on your overhead crane, seems to be just what I'm looking for.</font>
m myers....guess you didn't notice. This was Mr Hondas ONLY post...from 2003.
Don't be too suprised if he doesn't answer you http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

02-27-2006, 11:39 PM
Glad to see I'm not the only boob. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

02-28-2006, 12:46 AM
Whoever started this, a Gantry crane is an independent floor mounted crane, whether riding on tracks or on rubber or steel wheels. Wheel it anywhere you want.

Them who want to wall mount, or suspend them are making an Overhead crane.

If you have a set of wheels on the floor, and a second set on the wall, it is a "half gantry".

Them who want to move them in any direction by muscle power, it is a Tram Rail Crane, just a powered hoist on a manual X-Y axis, pull your butt off, if it's heavy.

Work out tour cross span for the weight you want to lift, too much deflection, you not only stand a chance of pulling it down on your head, you will probably not get it out of the "dip" from the weight if it is slightly within the tolerance the rail will withstand.

Better in this case to go too heavy than too light.

Most heavy OET cranes are built with a camber to them, a definite crown, which will disappear under load, possibly even negative camber, under too heavy a load or after years of service. Not uncommon to see a crane with a box section girder 3 foot by 10 foot crack near the middle of the girder from an overload and fatigue.

Make your cross beam, your bridge, the heaviest you can support in your building. Beef up your bridge idlers/drivers to the most you think you will ever lift. Get an engineer to spec out the max your columns, or your 2 X 4 walls will support.

You might learn that it is foolish to even try such a thing.

If you are not lifting too much, do as suggested above, buy an engine cherry picker.

I've been repairing cranes for a good while, they will do all that I have said above, break, sag, roll to midpoint, from sagging, break wire rope, and the load, and the block fall, jump their tracks, you name it.



02-28-2006, 01:15 AM
What you lookin to spend ???
My wife's uncle has one that has been laying out in my pasture for the last ten years.
This one is a floor mount on 10+ foot pillars, should be able to convert for ceiling mount.
Think it's a XY hoist tram rail system, extremely heavy duty.
Send me your E-mail address to piggsfly@winco.net and I'll see if he's interested in selling it and send you some pic's and mesaure for length/height.

02-28-2006, 07:06 AM

And then the polar crane in the ceiling of nuclear containment towers. What is wild about steering one? You flag the load and not the crane.. direction of travel depends upon center of rotation, once you cross center travel reverses. Ironworkers get confused all the time. things don't work right for them.

I looked at the ceiling at Sequoah, they had removed wheels from JLG's, bolted them to the tracke on the polar crane, was swiveling it, was working on the jlgs, THey had cut a hole in the roof and had one of the worlds largest derrick cranes with a sheave of twelve pairs of cables coming down to a pulley, (a foreign operator with translator in the mix) the cable was over two inches of wire rope, a six foot piece would kill you dead.
Then my foreman told me to go under a 250 ton suspended load and work. I looked up at all that **** and told him to go to hell.

my gantry crane.. I got it engineered for only a few hundred. I can swing my 300 with no deflection on the end.. it needs paint..

Mr engi-neer had to clean the pipes outa the ceiling because of "as built" mods.. the triangulated brace on top reinforces the butt weld joint.

This is cheap paintline track. They sell it at farm supplies. It swivels, it hangs the chuck and the indexer. It is designed for 200lbs max and tested to 300.

The machinist manual has span loadings for ibeams, this will explain that you can't weld a two inch pipe to them as a leg and expect them to hold. They must be supported in a manner where they can't twist.

Overbuild anything you make that lifts things that will kill you.

02-28-2006, 07:15 AM
Check out a company called Vestil, they sell some models, up to 2 tons, thought Northern Tool. Prices are pretty decent. A 15ft wide adjustable height (8 to 12 ft under beam) unit good for 8000lbs lists for $1846. The unit weighs 1230lbs so you are only talking about $1.50 a pound. Going to be hard to build one for that price.


03-01-2006, 12:56 AM

We had a 500 ton at my last place of employ, well actually the place before that 6 month stint. 24 falls of 1 3/8 wire. The load was 500 plus, the 500 plus 2 200s took the load with a 139 ton beam to spread the load.

MY last place of employ, from '90 on, our biggest were 350 ton, also lots of wire, as the metal was pretty damned hot.

People try to make crane beams from rails, "Well, they're pretty damned thick and strong, aren't they?" Well, yeah, they are, but they are also brittle, they can snap and come down on your head.

For containment vessels, I don't know what is the largest and heaviest.

I do know if you take a 500 ton stator, a 200 ton rotor, and try to install it in a nuclear power plant, you had best have a crane that can handle the load, without going up and screwing with the brakes. These things have collapsed the railbeds along the canals in Florida, plunked down into the water, and I think the injuneers they trained down there were sure as God sure the canal banks would hold it. Well, we might have underengineered it a bit but we were SURE it would take it.

Goombye. Or, maybe, a promotion is in store for you, you selfless state servant that you are.



03-01-2006, 01:14 AM

I have looked at your pics, above, where does it become a "gantry crane"?

Have you not shot those pics, yet?

If those are the pics of your crane, they are a pedestal crane, if it is free standing, a column crane if it is attached to bearings top and bottom. A jib crane, if you will, in either case.

On the left hand cormer of the pic, it looks to be a 3/4 to 1 inch pivot. Rather insufficient, even for your 300 pound load.

A long arm for that sheetmetal beam. How much can you lift at the extreme end of it without collapsing the beam?

Had you some ceiling clearance, you could add a tierod to double your capacity.



03-01-2006, 05:34 AM
I stand corrected.. Jib crane it is.

I guess that is why I am a electrician by trade. ANd I ran the jib crane crew in containment for a bit. (preheat equip to lower floors)

The older I get, the less accurrate my memory is.

Re: the triangulation on top, to reinforce the 1/8" thick paint line rail, and back up my butt weld joint.
I am down here to using six foot pieces and welding it together. I bought a 200' paint line for $100. I still got I think about 160' of roller chain. It only takes a foot or so to make a decent track trolley. The wheels are every six inches or so..

Yeah, perhaps that 1" cold roll pin will fail someday.. not lifting the 100lbs thou. It will deform long before it shears by rotational wear. A cherry picker has a 3/4" cross bolt, rotational force is non-axial like this load. It lifts two tons at the end of a four foot section of 2.5 thin wall tube.
I think this will hold. We shall see.

where people get into trouble is not knowing when they make a lift, being generally stupid. Lifting things with equipment not designed to do so. I have heard the foreman holler more than once at the crane operator, "GET UP ON IT I SAID".. Who gets fired? the poor old operator. Someone should drop things on foremen like that. Nothing large, just a two pound item to drive thier hard hat down over thier ears. Or break thier collar bone, or..

I got a two ton capable GANTRY sitting outside, it weighs about a ton or so. Used to change batteries out in a carpet mill in the electric hysters. It was gave to me. Ain't that cool? The Ibeam I took off it? it is a twenty four inch one. It has hydraulic motors as wheel drives, I keep going to rob them off.

[This message has been edited by David E Cofer (edited 03-01-2006).]