How to Build a Homemade Crane out of an Engine Hoist

    Work Smarter and Recycle

    Idioms abound. They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and while that may be true, being a cheap bastard also sometimes helps you build stuff inexpensively that might just work(?) As a rule we don't like throwing things away unless they are really and truly used up. Take for example the old engine hoist we had sitting around the shop for years collecting dust because it was slightly broken. Specifically, one of the heavy-duty metal wheels was broken. While we'd tried to get a replacement, those attempts proved fruitless. The result was about 95 percent of a folding engine hoist—not enough to use as intended, but enough to cause much pause when it came to the thought of its disposal.

    Then, as luck would have it, we needed an engine hoist on short notice, so we replaced said nearly perfect engine hoist with its boogered wheel with a nearly identical replica of itself. Still, we couldn't get rid of the first hoist, thinking that if nothing else, its parts may one day be useful. Psychologists, pay attention. This may be the way hoarding problems get started.

    Hoarders, rejoice! With an idea, a welder, some scrap steel, and a saw, we have followed through on a dream of anyone who has ever stubbornly retained something in hopes that it may one day become useful again. Here's how we turned a broken 2-ton engine hoist into a 1 1/2-ton yard crane (we are derating it slightly for safety's sake) for moving heavy items (of our hoard) around the yard.

    Our focus group for testing out the idea of our version of the yard crane was Hank the dog, a 2-year-old mixed breed mutt who is a genuine good boy (most of the time). One thing is for sure: Hank's front feet are always ready to make a turn, right or left, and he is always happy. We think this crane thing might actually work. Our plan was to take this length of 2x2-inch square, 0.250-wall tubing and make it one with the main beam of the crane. Sometimes clamping things together helps determine whether an idea will or will not work.
    First, we disassembled the hoist to make some cuts. For the hoarders amongst us, don't worry—we'll keep all the extra parts for spares for our other engine hoist. Our plan was to keep the main beam at about the same angle as it was while it was an engine hoist. We also wanted to trim down the base because it would only add weight and not help with usefulness of the tool.
    After a couple of cuts we started to have something that, at least in our minds, resembled the crane we were going for. We decided that the two bar straps that ran down each side of the main beam of the engine hoist were important for lateral (side to side) stability, so we added some square tube and reinstalled them. The extra pieces of these straps were repurposed into gussets to make triangles, which our engineer buddies tell us are strong.
    Here you can see all the 2x0.188 strap gussets we added to the base of the crane. We think it's prudent to derate the unit from 2 tons to 1 1/2. Aw, heck, maybe even 1 ton. Truly though, our plan is to use it to move axles, engines, transmissions, and transfer cases around the yard and off our trailer.
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