I'm a bit of a Harbor Freight junkie, I must admit. Sometimes when I'm at that store, I see what looks like I good deal, and it inspires me to build something. In this case, they had a pretty high capacity electric hoist (well 880 lbs anyway) on sale for what seemed like a real bargain, plus I had a 15% off coupon burning a hole in my pocket, the rest is history :)
No, but seriously, I had been thinking about this for a while. My initial inspiration came from a website called "instructibles.com". If you've never heard of the instructibles website, I HIGHLY recommend it, its just a place where anyone can submit project ideas, I've gotten LOTS of inspiration from that site and I highly recommend you sign up for their newsletter if you like building things. In the very least, you may get a glimpse of something that leads you to learn more or come up with your own ideas. Some of the instructibles I've used recently include building a home carbonation system, learning how to MIG weld (just got a MIG welder), and of course how to build a Boom Crane Pulley.
THE PROBLEM:I've got a wood pile out back, but its down a bit of a hill. I've got a deck. What's the best way to get the wood to my stove? Last year I hauled it around to the front or carried it up the steps. Then through the house, and over to the stove. First of all, this is a LOT of work. Second, if there is snow on the ground, its really easy to slip and fall on the hill. Third, its impossible to keep all the wood junk from getting all over the house.
The basic idea is pretty simple really. Stick a crane on the deck, and hoist the wood straight up to the window next to the stove!
Wasn't sure how well it would work, but it turned out just great! As you can see, the wood is conveniently parked, OUTSIDE, and right next to the stove. Its a simple matter of opening the window and grabbing the wood as needed. The hoist can be controlled from inside the house at the window, or from out on the deck.
No more wood mess being tracked though the house! Look how happy the wife is! :)
OK - I still need a couple finishing touches, like a nicer way to wire up the hoist, get the ugly orange extension cord out of the way, and hang the hoist control box a little better. But its mostly done. I used a double layer of thick wood boards bolted to the deck to give it more stability, but not seen in the series of photos is that I also built a wooden box around the base of the metal pole, between the studs of the deck, and filled it with concrete. The pole and concrete block sit directly on top of a huge wooden deck support post (which you can see in a picture below). That thing is NOT going anywhere. No idea what capacity it could handle, but I bet it could easily do the hoist's max capacity of 880 lbs. The metal pole does have some minor dents, if anything, that is the weak link in the system. I could have filled it with concrete, but really its not necessary. That pole is very heavy duty. Its dented because I pulled it out of a dumpster after it was cleared from a construction area by bulldozers. All of the metal poles/beams for this project were trashed picked, but you can buy them at Home Depot as well. The square metal beam is like the stuff from a stop sign, not as heavy duty as the round pole, but still very strong, and the "pop out" circles were useful for bolting purposes.
As mentioned, the hoist came from Harbor Freight. I ended up paying $67 for it. The wood 4x4 post seen in these pics was put there originally just to prop everything up and keep it level while I poured the concrete base. It is not actually required to be there, but I figured why not keep it there as extra support just for the heck of it since it was there already, so I painted it and left it.
Yes, those are 20 year warranty asphalt shingles on the roof. Probably overkill I know, but it was another case of a too good to pass up deal -- the local home depot had an entire pallet of "reject" (ripped packaging, or SOME damage) shingles for ONE DOLLAR. Yes, an entire pallet for a dollar. I could not resist. It took me three trips just to get them all home. I gave enough away to a friend to shingle his woodshed, and I've still got a ton left over for future projects... concrete was actually the same thing, damaged packages in plastic bags, for pennies. I'd look out for stuff like this when you go to the big box stores.
A closer look at the hoist and its simple water proof control box. I had to buy longer bolts and the metal plates to mount the hoist to the steel beam, the small blocks of wood keep it from sliding side to side on one end, the other end has a bolt though the middle (with a nut INSIDE the square metal beam) keeping it in place.
Those arched roof supports were actually scrap wood left over from the poker table project. If you build something like this you certainly wouldn't have to use arches, you could make typical roof trusses. One thing I would recommend is making your roof big enough to protect the entire cart and its contents from rain and snow. My roof leaves a small part (far end where the handle is on the cart) unprotected. This was definitely a mistake.
As you can see, the cart is basically the perfect size, it just fits. I used two tow straps from Harbor Freight ($6) to attach the cart to the pulley. These hooks quickly and easily disconnect and reconnect to the pulley.
I could have used the pulley that came with the hoist, but its hook was a little small. I found this other pulley at a garage sale years ago. I looked up its patent, it is rated to hold something like 2000 lbs, so I used it instead, but even that hook is only big enough to accommodate two of the tow strap hooks, the other two go though two different rings. It would be better to have some kind of big steel hoop that all four hooks could attach to. I'll be on the lookout for something like that, but its very important that anything used here is rated to the capacity of the hoist. You certainly would not want to use a hoop with an unwelded break/cut in it.
The cart came from Tractor Supply Co. Can't find a link to it on their website, but it was $60 after a $10 off coupon they had sent me in the mail. Its called a "Gorilla Cart" and its rated to hold 1000 lbs (more specifics can be found on the manufacturer's website). The handle can actually flip around so you can tow the cart with a lawn tractor. The sides can also flip down. It has 13 inch pneumatic tires. Overall for the money I'd say it was a pretty good deal. Oh, and it can probably hold about four times the amount of wood shown in this picture.
One last shot looking up from under the wood crane. Why are the roof supports unevenly spaced? Ha, I know it looks silly, but there was a reason, didn't want to cut them down further and the diagonal metal support beam was in the way :) The roof has more than enough support.