View Full Version : I need some ideas for a 'vehicle lifter'.

The Artful Bodger
10-24-2012, 03:37 PM
Please, I need some ideas for our aviation museum where we are frequently lifting aircraft and jostling them around as exhibits are changed and (hopefully) new exhibits are added to our collection.

It is really hard (darn near impossible) to move some of the aircraft sideways as they dont all have convenient places where we can put a pallet lifter or trolley jack under the wheels. We do not have any large aircraft (biggest is a Harrier jump jet).

The need is to get the tires clear of the floor and be able to move push the aircraft in any position and we need to be safe to about 3 tons. i.e. some sort castered jack cum trolley.

I have a few ideas of things we could make for the job but maybe there is something out there already?

All suggestions will be much appreciated and carefully considered.


10-24-2012, 03:50 PM
Be careful the Safety Police will be all over your ass. :)

What's the weight of a Harrier Jump Jet? Just so we have an idea of the mass.

Are the floors all smooth concrete?
Will the landing gear handle a side load?

How many people would be available to move an aircraft?

10-24-2012, 03:57 PM
Something like these: http://www.sjdiscounttools.com/gj6200.html You'd have to re-design them to raise their individual capacity. Heavier construction, better casters, etc. Make the one for the nose whee steerable via a T-bar. Something along the lines of a machinery moving dolly, but with a cradle for the wheels instead of a pad.

10-24-2012, 04:01 PM
I agree with Rosco. Wheel jacks or modified pallet jacks on each wheel.


10-24-2012, 04:18 PM
Any reason the aircraft can't be moved on their own wheels? Towed and steered by an electric tug or pallet jack? How do they move aircraft around in a maintenance shop or aboard an aircraft carrier when the plane is not under power?

10-24-2012, 05:25 PM
If you could build something like this cheaply enough but strong enough, make enough to leave the planes on them at all times.


uncle pete
10-24-2012, 05:26 PM
After visiting a few aircraft museums and seeing how they usually shoehorn the aircraft in, probably all 3 points would need to be steerable. I can see where moving a plane sideways would be needed. But Rosco has an excellent point. Aircraft carriers would need to do the same in their confined spaces.


10-24-2012, 05:41 PM
Contact these guys and ask them how they do it. I worked on their computers when I was in that business in San Diego and was always amazed ath their ability to cram 4 planes in a three plane space. The guys in the shop were always willing to talk about thisthat'n'nother.



The Artful Bodger
10-24-2012, 08:17 PM
To answer the questions...

The Harrier weighs about 6 tons, there is probably 4 tons on the two (close together) main wheels.

The hangar floors are all smooth concrete but painted so we do not like to scuff them up.

We would like to move the aircraft in any direction including sideways and turn them around etc so really we need castors on every wheel. Pallet lifters and trolley jacks (that we have) cannot be moved sideways.

Plane moving days we usually have a dozen or so people (plus aircraft tug and a forklift).

Safety is always a concern but in this case the aircraft tires will never be more an inch or so above the floor, not entirely without hazard but at least nothing is going to tumble over or crush anyone.

Browne92, we have considered something like that but it would require lifting each wheel up on to it and we could not leave them on or the castors would get flat sides on their tires (besides we have 30 or so aircraft). Nonetheless it is a good idea for some of the lighter aircraft, Beech Skipper, Porterfield etc, thanks.

Rosco, we looked at those devices, they would do the trick if we could get one strong enough.

Regarding the aircraft shops and carriers, we have a tug (which I think came from a carrier) which is essential when moving between hangars or outside on display days but not really the answer for making the best use of floor space in the exhibition areas.

Thanks for the contributions..

P.S. One of our exhibits in the "small hangar"


10-24-2012, 10:48 PM
I don't know how they would work, but we used 'air pucks' to move heavy equipment over flat floors.


It's kind of like a hovercraft for equipment. If you think they wouldn't lift your plane, one 12" diameter sled at 50 psi would exert 5600 pounds of lift.

The only problem is moving heavy equipment combined with a rapid air loss can lead to a large pile of tile gouged up in front of the sled :) (the chiller we moved weighed about 10 tons... no friction but inertia don't care about that). We didn't move fast, but it sure was easy.


10-24-2012, 10:55 PM
Check out an auto restoration business or a rigging company. I think that I've seen larger versions of the dollies that are used for moving grand pianos. Only raises the piano or auto several cm. off the deck.

The Artful Bodger
10-25-2012, 12:46 AM
Yes, air sleds would be exciting. If I thought I could make wooden sleds to leave under the wheels of the heavier aircraft.....!

10-25-2012, 02:09 AM
Look at how they move grand pianos.

They are ordinary dollies that are connected with a T style frame. You can push it any way you want and the T keeps everybody going the same direction. It cost a lot of money to repair a leg if it does not follow the other two.!!!

10-25-2012, 02:26 AM
On an Aircraft Carrier, the 'Chockheads' working the hangar deck used to use a small amount of washing up liquid squirted under the wheel to allow it to be pushed sideways. This was obviously a smooth steel deck painted with a particular sort of paint which had a smooth finish unlike the flight deck which was coated in non-skid; I dunno how this would work on your painted concrete or if it would damage it.

Failing this you could look for race car skates which would be suitable for your weight.


As most of the weight of a Harrier is on the double wheel under the engine you might be better off positioning this traditionally and moving the other exhibits around it.

edit- just found these:


The Artful Bodger
10-25-2012, 05:09 AM
Thanks DD40, those skates are good but we are looking for some clever scheme that will not require jacking the aircraft (they all have different jacking arrangements and we cant just push a garage jack under one and lift).

10-25-2012, 07:48 AM
Sounds like what your looking for is something you can position around the tire(s) with a roller across the front and castors under the bottom. As you draw the front and rear frames together the roller allows the tire(s) climb up onto the roller and raise the tire(s) off the floor. Then you can roll the plane around at will on the castors. A simple acme screw on each side could be used to draw the two ends together to lift the plane.

10-25-2012, 07:56 AM
Check Grays http://www.grayusa.com/wheel_lift.asp

10-25-2012, 10:36 AM
Think outside the box!

Refrigerate the concrete pad and spray a thin mist of water sufficient to ice the surface. Then you should be able to slide it anywhere you want.

If you call it a sport, then you should be able to recruit free help. Give some of the "player" brooms/brushes to sweep the path, while you stand there marking the target destination and shouting "Harder, harder".

What the heck it worked in Scotland.

10-25-2012, 01:56 PM
How about a couple of pallet jacks, with something that will slip under the wheels and over the arms of the pallet jack. There are all different kinds of palet jacks here:


The Artful Bodger
10-25-2012, 03:05 PM
BJT, thats pretty much what we have in mind although we are considering a bottle jack to push the tire onto a plate. I am really here looking for alternative and maybe better ideas that might be out there. Thanks.

Flylo, please send us some of those for evaluation!:rolleyes: I fear there would not be clearance under some of the aircraft however. Nonetheless it is an excellent principle for consideration and might have more potential than what we have been considering so far. Thanks to you too.

Bob_s, now that certainly is an interesting idea and no doubt we would not be short of helpers in the winter (such as we have here) when there would be free rations of the appropriate internal combustion liquid!;)

Paulsv, you have given me an idea! We have pallet lifters but discounted them as unable to move in all directions but never considered putting castors under the ends {thinks} "Lift aircraft, place castors under end of pallet jack, lower jack until weight is on castors, push aircraft into position...." Thanks very much!