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Anybody ever made a home-made elevator or cargo hoist ??

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  • Anybody ever made a home-made elevator or cargo hoist ??

    As age progresses I find myself less enamored of lugging heavy boxes up the stairs in the house and to the loft in the shop. I have been looking at websites showing the home made elevators and/or cargo hoists that people have built. Most are relatively simple contraptions using a truck winch for lifting power, cables, and perhaps some wheels in guide rails.

    Some of them run straight up and down. Others use rails on the existing stairs (such as a unistrut U channel) and then fit wheels into them to make a sort of cable car arrangment.

    Does anyone here have any experience with this sort of thing? Any hints, tips, etc?

  • #2
    I seem to recall that sort of thing used to be normal in high end houses, boarding houses, and maybe some hotels in an age gone by. Look up "dumb waiter." I bet you will find lots of ideas.
    *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.


    • #3
      I built a bunch of parts for a couple guys building their own for their fish camps(houses built on top of 15' wooden poles to accommodate flood season ) these were dead simple.Picture two 2-1/2 x 2-1/2 x 11 gauge steel tubes for the verticals.Anchored to the floor at the bottom and joined together at the top with a couple sections of 3" C-channel so it looks like a really tall shop press frame.The top of the frame was anchored to the roof rafters in the attic.

      The car was a simple wooden box about 3'x3' and maybe 16" deep with a tube steel frame down the sides and underneath.To each side of the box fame they had a 1/8" thick steel plate with four skate board wheels to act as guides and a couple strips of plastic cutting board material between the rollers for rub rails between the uprights.

      Power was from a harbor freight electric cable hoist.

      Where I came in,is we used the gearmotor and electrical from the hoist and discarded the rest.At the top we mounted two 1" pillow block bearings to each side the frame.Sent a 1" keyed shaft across both and mounted two #40 15 tooth chain sprockets just inside each bearing.Two loops of #40 stainless steel roller chain went over the sprockets,down the rails and back up around two plastic idler wheels at the bottom.Each end of the chains fastened to the car.

      The hoist motor was connected to the shaft via a 3:1 chain reduction.For the electrical,the hoist comes with a safety limit switch that limits it's travel up,so it doesn't single block and snap the cable.We needed something that would give us a bottom limit as well.So we added chain master links with welded on stops that would actuate a limit switch to give us an up and down limit.This allowed all of the electrical to be mounted up in the ceiling and well away from any water.

      They also wanted dual control,one downstairs and one upstairs,but still keeping the electrical up top.So we ran a piece of 1/4" rod down one of the vertical tubes,supported by a spring to counterbalance it's weight.At the bottom we cut a slot and used a short piece of 1/4" welded on for a lever along with a couple hook shaped pieces to keep the rod centered in the tube.We did similar for the top control and the rod passed through a piece of plastic to keep it centered at the top by the hoist switch.The switch was mounted in a cradle and the rod actuated a simple bell crank which would actuate the rocker switches on the hoist.

      The neat thing about the hoist motor is,it includes it's own brake,so it will hold the load no matter where it stops.The hoist capacity from the factory is 880#lbs,but given the chain reduction the capacity of the hoists as built is probably more.In any rate they had no problem moving a 300lb load at all.All these hoists were going to do is move things like ice chests,grocery hauls and the like,so more than enough. IIRC they had about $650-700 all said and done not counting their time in 2006 dollars.

      There are hundreds of ways to build dumbwaiters,but I can recommend the HF hoists for a power supply,the things are pretty darn tough.
      I just need one more tool,just one!


      • #4
        I'm in the process of making one for my son to lift firewood. It consists of a 3'x3' steel tube platform with full length teflon runners 3/4" thick that will ride in slots cut in 4x4's. An electric cable hoist will do the lifting. It's only lifting 5' so I kept it as simple as I could. Stu


        • #5
          There's also lots of Youtube videos about them but I suspect you've already checked. For their price, using a ready made hoist is kind of a no-brainer considering they have a built in brake.

          Location: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada


          • #6
            I made one when we had a 3 level house on the lake. Made it just like the pontoon boat lift i made just on a smaller scale. A motor and two pulleys and a pipe and some steel cable-really simple and easy to build and use.


            • #7
              One we had at work used a 110 vac winch to haul a cage up to a second floor. It was self-holding but slow. Twice the magnets in the motors came loose, and there wasn't going to be a third escapade like this, so we mated an ac motor to a worm gear box using a V belt and ran the cable through a snatch block. We made the drum length and diameter so that only one layer of cable was required to be played out to lower the cage fully. This was faster and quieter, and the only issue was that it would tend to auto-turn backwards if you had a full load on. The worm gear was not self-locking- not to 100% anyway. It would stop at the top, then slowly start to creep downwards. The cage was about 4 ft by 6 ft, and many times I'm sure we had it overloaded.

              Also, we neglected to lube the cable, so it only lasted 4 or 5 years before it started popping strands.
              I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-


              • #8
                Would a shingle lift ladder be of any use? Ideas, parts, or in it's entirety?

                No experience with one, just a thought.


                • #9
                  I have seen pictures of an elevator made from a used order picker truck,the drive and wheels where removed. A hydraulic power unit and a railing installed, looked like a real nice setup. It dose take some room, used trucks usually end up in the scrap yard.



                  • #10
                    I’ve thought about building one for our 2 story Bi-level. My thinking is to cut a nice hole in the hardwood floor of the second floor. Then build a telescopic lift with a clear plexiglass box. When it rises through the 2nd floor the cutout in the floor rises with it. A simple sensor will prevent it from lifting if there is any more weigh than just the floor section. When you go back down the panel closes off the opening. In our house it would be located in the front of the family room next to the stairs and would be in the front corner of the living room when raised. So very unobtrusive.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Dan_the_Chemist View Post
                      I find myself less enamored of lugging heavy boxes up the stairs in the house and to the loft in the shop... Any hints, tips, etc?
                      Have you considered a small Trebuchet?


                      • #12
                        I've designed a number of marine railways for a customer. Marine railways are generally not very steep. They are fairly short, used to pull your boat up out of the water for winter. One of the things I found, was that on any lifting device that has a shallow incline, you can't depend on gravity to return the carriage to the bottom of the railway. I ended up using a pulley at the bottom end and the motor/gearbox/winch drum at the high end, with the cable running in a continuous loop. When the winch drum was turning, it wound cable on from one side of the drum and paid it out from the other side. That way the carriage was pulled up the incline under power and returned to the bottom under power as well. Another aspect is the guidance for the carriage. Found that v-groove wheels running in a pair of inverted angles worked well. There has to be a bit of clearance, as the wheel rotates and can't be in contact with the upper and lower angle at the same time. If you don't want to spend the money on v-groove wheels, they can be turned quite nicely from a piece of oak.
                        Brian Rupnow
                        Design engineer
                        Barrie, Ontario, Canada


                        • #13
                          You can buy used forklift masts pretty cheap. For a lift in the shop it would be really easy to use one to make a lift to a second floor. Or you could look at one and get lots of ideas. They could easily be adapted to use a winch instead of hydraulics. I would use hydraulics and have it be rock solid.
                          Location: The Black Forest in Germany

                          How to become a millionaire: Start out with 10 million and take up machining as a hobby!


                          • #14
                            If you intend to build this into a house in an urban area, you had better check building codes.


                            • #15
                              If you need a lift for a straight run of steps inside the house, you could look a home/invalid stair lift being re-sold. Often see these at estate sales going for pennies after the homeowner has either passed or moved to assisted living home. Strip it to it's bare bones, so it doesn't"t eat up as much space, perhaps modify it fold up against the wall when not used.