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Hoisting methods for roof top box

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
I figure this belongs in Ski Gear Discussion as well as anywhere; mods should feel free to move it if somewhere else is better.

The season is over, and for various reasons I won't be traveling soon, so it's time to get the roof top box off the car, and the little garage I rent is the logical storage spot. I've got other storage plans for the small area left behind the car when I park, so the only direction to go is up. I've been reading about hoists and pulley systems, and thought just for kicks and giggles I'd see if you guys have any ideas or suggestions.

Here are the criteria for hanging the box from the rafters:
  • I need to get the box on and off the car by myself, which means some kind of pulley system holding the box over the back of the car (e.g. back of the garage) and tied off to a cleat or whatever I end up with.
  • The box is something like 30 pounds, so with friction I need at least a 2:1 mechanical advantage, preferably 3:1. 4:1 is a bit of overkill and probably results in a lot of extra rope to pull and coil. OTOH, the rafters are pretty low, which means less rope.
  • The hoist needs to raise both ends of the box evenly. Most commercial products don't.
  • Price is an issue, getting bigger every day. I don't want to pay more than $50 for a commercial product, because I could build something that works for well under that and install it in about the same amount of time.

There are plenty of commercial bike and canoe hoists under $50 that could easily handle the weight of a cargo box, but most are made out of cheesy materials or are poorly designed, and almost all arrange the pulleys in a way that raises the near end of whatever you're lifting before the far end, which could cause slippage and probably makes lifting more difficult, all of which are negatives if I'm doing this myself. The most promising-sounding hoists are made by Harken, which also makes marine fittings, but it's hard to find reviews that specify that they lift evenly, and they're pricey new, though there are some used ones out there.

OTOH, considering how interesting this whole mechanical advantage thing is, putting a pulley system together myself sounds awfully easy. If I were to go DIY, it'd probably be something like the 3:1 version at the bottom of this picture:

(Here's the website if anyone's interested)

I'd tie 1" or 3/4" webbing around the box, wind it a few times around the clamps to create enough friction to keep it from rotating in the webbing, and tie a knot on top of each to clip pulleys to. I may or may not use a prusik knot; it may be slick if you're a knot nut, but it just seems like there might be something smoother than having to fiddle with the knot while raising or lowering the box.

So whaddaya think? Has anyone used a commercial version that's cheap but works well and lifts the bike/boat/box evenly? Or a simpler solution I haven't even thought of?
post #2 of 27
I have a homemade rig for my canoes. Will try to get some pics this weekend. Not perfect but it works. Decent line was the expensive part, as I recall.
post #3 of 27

If your box is 30 lbs. and you can drive directly under the spot you want to suspend it from, you don't really need anything fancy.  What I do with my box, of which I don't know the exact weight but it's close to yours, is just hang it from two straps hooked to big nails in the rafters.  The box is light enough to lift up through one strap while it's in position.  On the other end I hold it up with one hand and run the strap under it, then let the box down, attach the strap, and tighten it up to the right height.  While it isn't as elegant as a rig with pulleys and cool hardware, it has worked for the last 7 years for me without a hitch.  Very easy.  In summer I put the crossbars between the straps when I'm not using them for bikes, so the whole thing is up above.

post #4 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Posaune View Post

If your box is 30 lbs. and you can drive directly under the spot you want to suspend it from, you don't really need anything fancy.  What I do with my box, of which I don't know the exact weight but it's close to yours, is just hang it from two straps hooked to big nails in the rafters.  The box is light enough to lift up through one strap while it's in position.  On the other end I hold it up with one hand and run the strap under it, then let the box down, attach the strap, and tighten it up to the right height.  While it isn't as elegant as a rig with pulleys and cool hardware, it has worked for the last 7 years for me without a hitch.  Very easy.  In summer I put the crossbars between the straps when I'm not using them for bikes, so the whole thing is up above.
I could in theory maneuver the box with my hands; certainly I could do that with a 35# moving box of whatever, but I'm 5'3" and the box is at least 6 1/2 feet long and much too big to get my arms around it enough to get a grip even just carrying it on level ground. Trying to keep it balanced overhead with arms outstretched wouldn't just be dramatic; it'd be a very bad bet for the missing and torn cartilage in my shoulders, even if I did have the upper body strength to easily lift it, and then there's the probability that at some point I'd just drop it on my head. eek.gif That's why I'm looking for a no pain, no strain, no-awkward-positions way to get the thing there and back.

But there is a way to do something almost that simple: buy two or three very, very long pieces of webbing, probably 12-15 feet (need to measure the distance from roof rack to beams first), at Kirkhams, have them sew some spring release buckles on, screw some eye bolts into the beams, loop the straps around the box and through the eye bolts, move the car away, get on a ladder, tighten each strap a few inches at a time until it's as high as it'll go, and tie off the excess strap. Much more work to lift the weight than a hoist, but certainly simple, cheap, and stable, with almost zero possibility of dropping the box on my head or tearing up the shoulder that got rehab instead of surgery. icon14.gif
post #5 of 27

a tensioned strap is going to be hard to tighten to hoist; unless you have something like a ratchet strap, which is the nomenclature of the item that you find at the hardware store exactly in long lengths versus "webbing" which is what you find at the outdoors store in the rockclimbing dept.

 

Just throwing it out there.

post #6 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by raytseng View Post

a tensioned strap is going to be hard to tighten to hoist; unless you have something like a ratchet strap, which is the nomenclature of the item that you find at the hardware store exactly in long lengths versus "webbing" which is what you find at the outdoors store in the rockclimbing dept.

Just throwing it out there.
I confess to having more experience using webbing, static line, and carabiners to tie things up, down, or together than anything found in a hardware store. But yeah, my 'simple' method would be about the hardest way to lift anything. A ratcheting strap would be a modest improvement, but just running a line through three or four single pulleys with something like a prusik knot hooked to an anchor to act as a brake would give me a smoother, more controlled setup. I'm looking forward to a pic of qcanoe's rig, though, because there are probably a hundred different ways to do this.
post #7 of 27
Here is what I have to hang windsurfers from the rafters. Purchased as a tie down system. (I think the package showed a motorcycle on a trailer. )

The loop does give some advantage. The board is light enough that I leave the far end tight, maneuver the near end strap around and then tighten it. For your application you could just alternative small pulls on each end so the load stays level.





post #8 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by litterbug View Post
 
 I'm looking forward to a pic of qcanoe's rig, though, because there are probably a hundred different ways to do this.

 

Well, don't get too excited. It's nothing special. The "3x" setup in your drawing above is clearly better than what I have, especially from the perspective of the "one end tends to go up and down first" problem that you say you want to avoid. (In my case having the tie-off at one end of the arrangement is a big advantage, rather than in the center, simply due to the layout of my garage, etc.)

post #9 of 27

I have my box hanging upside down by the grips that hold the box to the cross bars. If you have room, you could move your box onto 1 or 2 step ladders next to your car, flip it over and somehow use the grips. Then you would have a secure mounting point instead of balancing the box on some type of sling. I hang mine on hooks, but it is low enough for me to do this with another person or a step ladder.  

 

post #10 of 27

My ski box holds lawn chairs and fishing gear over the summer.  That said, it really isn't a chore to lift on and off when empty.  It probably weighs less than a bag of dog food.

post #11 of 27

I bought, but never actually gotten around to installing, two bicycle hoist, like these

 

http://www.mec.ca/product/5014-599/delta-el-greco-ceiling-hoist/

 

Even though they are independent, I figured it wouldn't be too hard to rig a single cord system.

post #12 of 27
post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdf View Post

Here is what I have to hang windsurfers from the rafters. Purchased as a tie down system. (I think the package showed a motorcycle on a trailer. )

The loop does give some advantage. The board is light enough that I leave the far end tight, maneuver the near end strap around and then tighten it. For your application you could just alternative small pulls on each end so the load stays level.





I do a similar thing with my boats. Eye bolts and webbing with the spring grippers. A little tough to just pull on the straps to lift, but one hand pushing up on the boat and the other pulling on the strap makes it very easy. If you can drive your car under the storage spot then you could just throw the straps under the box, thread them through the buckles and pull.

 

I have some experience with pulley setups also. One thing to consider is that you will need more vertical space than I am guessing you are anticipating to get a good easy to use pulley system. If you try to cram it into too little space you will end up losing your mechanical advantage as your box reaches the top of the lift and your lines approach horizontal. Keeping them vertical enough to maintain an easy pull requires vertical clearance.

post #14 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by H2OnSnow View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by mdf View Post

Here is what I have to hang windsurfers from the rafters. Purchased as a tie down system. (I think the package showed a motorcycle on a trailer. )


The loop does give some advantage. The board is light enough that I leave the far end tight, maneuver the near end strap around and then tighten it. For your application you could just alternative small pulls on each end so the load stays level.








I do a similar thing with my boats. Eye bolts and webbing with the spring grippers. A little tough to just pull on the straps to lift, but one hand pushing up on the boat and the other pulling on the strap makes it very easy. If you can drive your car under the storage spot then you could just throw the straps under the box, thread them through the buckles and pull.

I have some experience with pulley setups also. One thing to consider is that you will need more vertical space than I am guessing you are anticipating to get a good easy to use pulley system. If you try to cram it into too little space you will end up losing your mechanical advantage as your box reaches the top of the lift and your lines approach horizontal. Keeping them vertical enough to maintain an easy pull requires vertical clearance.
The good thing about the garage is that backing the car in lines the box up perfectly with where I'd put the rig. It's a low ceiling, but I thought I'd get past that by running the line(s) through an eye bolt or pulley next to the wall above the final tie off. I'm leaning toward a center pull system anyway, so the final path would bring the ropes together before coming down to the cleat/bolt/tie-off.
Edited by litterbug - 5/30/14 at 1:55pm
post #15 of 27

I have one of these: http://www.amazon.com/Racor-PBH-1R-Ceiling-Mounted-Bike-Lift/dp/B00006JBL3

it's cheesy, but we've used it for bikes and kayaks for years without problems. Yes it lifts one end before the other, but it's easy enough to push the low end up while hoisting. At your height you might need to use a pole to do the pushing, depending on how high you want to get it. I'm sure you can rig something that hoists both ends evenly, but if you have better things to do with your time here's an option.

post #16 of 27

Okay, @litterbug, here's what I'm using, for what it's worth. It's been up there ten years or more and I still keep threatening to replace the screw hooks with something that bolts through the joists. Ultimately it's probably not safe to have everything hanging by the threads on those hooks. The pulleys, hooks, and biners are strictly hardware-store material. The line is real Dacron marine stuff, though; I will not touch that horrendous polypropylene crap.

 

From a convenience point of view a center pull setup would be better, as you have noted. I do have to push and pull the ends of the boat to get everything level. It's not hard to do, though, and probably adds a grand total of 45 seconds to the process of putting a boat up or down.

 

 

 

 

 

post #17 of 27

You need mechanical help to load a 30lb roof box?  Unless you were in a horrible farm machinery accident when you were younger, I'd suggest just using your arms.

 

I can load/unload my canoe off of my pickup solo, and my canoe weighs around 100lbs.

post #18 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caucasian Asian View Post
 

You need mechanical help to load a 30lb roof box?  Unless you were in a horrible farm machinery accident when you were younger, I'd suggest just using your arms.

 

I can load/unload my canoe off of my pickup solo, and my canoe weighs around 100lbs.


I have no trouble managing to install and uninstall ski boxes manually either.  I think this is actually more about having a way to store your ski box hanging right above your car in the garage when you're not using it.  Look at my rig, ain't it cool?  :DThumbs Up  I can see that utility aspect of this way more than needing an engine crane to mange a ski box hahahaha. 

post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caucasian Asian View Post

You need mechanical help to load a 30lb roof box?  Unless you were in a horrible farm machinery accident when you were younger, I'd suggest just using your arms.

I can load/unload my canoe off of my pickup solo, and my canoe weighs around 100lbs.
And I was always fine putting a moderately heavy sit-on-top kayak on and off the roof of the car alone, till one got away and put a dent in the fender. Sometimes it makes sense to have a fixture.
post #20 of 27
Thread Starter 
@qcanoe, those are great pictures, and quite the fleet of boats you've got. I like the use of double pulleys; I hadn't thought about them at all. It looks like you've got a 2:1 advantage--does that sound right?

Unless you've got cracks around those hooks, I don't know that you need to worry about them. You don't have a lot of lateral movement, which is what I'd guess would be most likely to weaken their hold.

BTW, after realizing that I've only got about four feet between the top of my car and the ceiling, I'm less concerned about keeping the box level. I just get so distracted by pictures of nice spacious garages that I forget I'm working in miniature. redface.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caucasian Asian View Post

You need mechanical help to load a 30lb roof box?  Unless you were in a horrible farm machinery accident when you were younger, I'd suggest just using your arms.

Funny thing about that; it wasn't horrible and involved no machinery, but the original injury happened in 1981 while working as a field hand at a farm market in Red Hook NY. The high school boys loved hurling boxes of veggies around (when the boss wasn't looking) while loading/unloading crates of veggies, and catching flying vegetables plus stacking wooden crates of apples and potatoes to the cooler's ceiling was a little too much for shoulders that had never done that kind of labor before. After decades of reinjury and recovery, the last straw that lost me the use of my right arm was loading small suitcases onto a roof rack. Knee-buckling pain when my biceps tendon caught on inflamed shreds of cartilage, surgery on one side, PT on the other, and I never ever want to go there again. nonono2.gif My PT said I am never to lift anything heavy above shoulder level, but I'll cheat and lean backwards to lift compact items weighing 20-25 pounds up to a high shelf. But a box that's longer than I am with uneven weight distribution and no good handholds? Can you say stoooopid?
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post

I have no trouble managing to install and uninstall ski boxes manually either.  I think this is actually more about having a way to store your ski box hanging right above your car in the garage when you're not using it.  Look at my rig, ain't it cool?  biggrin.gificon14.gif   I can see that utility aspect of this way more than needing an engine crane to mange a ski box hahahaha.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdf View Post

And I was always fine putting a moderately heavy sit-on-top kayak on and off the roof of the car alone, till one got away and put a dent in the fender. Sometimes it makes sense to have a fixture.

That's exactly it. I can carry the box to the car just fine, but to get it above shoulder level I do a typical adaptive move: bring it to the rear of the hatchback, lift the back to slide it over the hatch, lever the nose up to get the clamps past the rear bar of the rack, and use my tall step stool to get it in place. Reversing the process doesn't have to be so precise, of course, so long as I don't just drop it on its head straight from the roof. Sure, I've got some scrapes in the paint, but that's what cars are for, right? wink.gif

So yeah, the issue is getting the box out of the way. The garage is so tiny that "out of the way" means overhead, which means using a lift of some kind, and what the heck, why not make it easy and learn to make a basic pulley system while I'm at it?

Of course, I went back to the garage yesterday and realized there's only about four feet between the top of the car and the ceiling, so to be honest I could get away with simple slings, two eyebolts above the box, and two running horizontally to where the ceiling and wall come together (otherwise I couldn't get the box right up to the ceiling).

It'd still be cool to use pulleys, though.biggrin.gif
post #21 of 27

We got these for our kayaks and will be getting a 3rd for our box. Found them at Meijer's for $19.99. They were really easy to install and I can get my yak up and down all by myself. They have parts to be mounted on the joists or from a finished ceiling. It took us about 1/2 hr for each boat to install them. No problem with lowering and raining it evenly, either.

 

post #22 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by volklgirl View Post

We got these for our kayaks and will be getting a 3rd for our box. Found them at Meijer's for $19.99. They were really easy to install and I can get my yak up and down all by myself. They have parts to be mounted on the joists or from a finished ceiling. It took us about 1/2 hr for each boat to install them. No problem with lowering and raining it evenly, either.
Cool--thanks.
post #23 of 27

I have had the Thule lift in the garage since 2004. 

 

The box comes off the car WITH THE CROSS BARS. It weighs a lot more than 30 lbs. and would be awkward to handle without the lift.  . I loosen the feet from the car roof rails place the ropes under the box (one in front one in rear and crank the box up far enough to move the car out. Box stays stored on lift!

post #24 of 27
I made the attached hoist for $20, inspired by the other posts in this thread. Works very well and looks good
post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by qcanoe View Post
 

Okay, @litterbug, here's what I'm using, for what it's worth. It's been up there ten years or more and I still keep threatening to replace the screw hooks with something that bolts through the joists. Ultimately it's probably not safe to have everything hanging by the threads on those hooks. The pulleys, hooks, and biners are strictly hardware-store material. The line is real Dacron marine stuff, though; I will not touch that horrendous polypropylene crap.

 

From a convenience point of view a center pull setup would be better, as you have noted. I do have to push and pull the ends of the boat to get everything level. It's not hard to do, though, and probably adds a grand total of 45 seconds to the process of putting a boat up or down.

 

 

 

 

 

That's quite a rig--salvaged from the HMS Bounty? (yes, I know it's an old thread).

post #26 of 27

Prostor Bike Lift

 

50lb capacity

 

 

 

end thread/

post #27 of 27

Just pick up a Harken. They are bullet proof. I've been using for years w/o issue. Buy it and forget about it........http://www.hoister.com/

The Canoe and Kayak hoist would work and go up evenly and tight against the ceiling. Not hanging down like in their pic.

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