diy gantry crane

DIY Gantry Crane: Fixed, Adjustable, Telescoping

After being in the welding and fabrication business for many years, with experience building and designing all types of fabrication equipment including gantry cranes, we have put together all of the information needed for making the decision between building your own or purchasing a preassembled DIY gantry Crane kit.

How can I build my own DIY fixed, adjustable, or telescoping Gantry Crane? DIY fixed, adjustable, and telescoping gantry cranes can all be put together one of two ways: they can be assembled from a ready-to-use DIY kit, or welded and fabricated from scratch to carry out the desired lifting tasks. 

In this article we will be going over the following to help you make a decision on the right style of Gantry Crane for you.

  • Build from plans or DIY Kit?
  • Lifting capacity
  • Types of Gantry Cranes
  • Different types of hoists
  • Caster wheel options
  • Materials for construction
  • Purchased parts

Gantry cranes are a perfect fit for doing heavy lifting anywhere they are needed, from your shop workspace at home or business/commercial use. 

While we are all familiar with the versatility of these machines, you may be surprised and don’t want to look past the extra details that we will go over in this entire article on purchasing your own prebuilt or building your own.

We have designed and built all types of Gantry Cranes over the years and will be giving you all of the information you need for building a Gantry Crane that best fits your shops’ needs.

No matter what type of Gantry crane you will be attempting to put together or build on your own, you will need to first decide your desired load capacity.

These four capacities are the most common, and will do the job for most operations, depending on what you will be using the crane for. 

Four Common Load Capacities To Consider While Planning:

  • 500 pounds 
  • 1000 pounds
  • 1 ton 
  • 2 tons

Your Gantry Crane can be constructed to lift 500 lbs. up to two tons (or more). The decision you make will affect the durability levels your Gantry crane will need to possess before it is able to be used safely and correctly. 

Of course, the load capacity limit that you choose for your own Gantry crane will also have an affect on the price, which is something to keep in mind before you begin.

DIY Gantry Crane Styles: Fixed, Adjustable, Telescoping 

Whether you are a fabrication shop, warehouse, auto center, home shop or other business in need of heavy lifting a Portable Gantry Crane will more than likely get the job done for you.

Depending on your application you may be in need of some certain features that you initially may not think of.   In addition to the lifting capacity you will also want to give some thought on whether you go with a Fixed, Adjustable or Telescoping.

Build Your Own Gantry Crane vs. Pre-Built DIY Kit

A pre-built DIY kit will consist of purchasing the necessary parts that have already been built and conveniently packaged for you. The only thing you will need to do after that is to put the pieces together as instructed.

The alternative choice would be to completely start from scratch and custom build one on your own. This option will require some careful consideration before starting, but will also be more customizable than the latter.  Should you decide to build your own we have professionally designed Gantry Crane Plans available here for download.

Choosing Your Gantry Crane

When it comes to planning the stages of building your own gantry crane there are a few things to consider, let’s go over the different styles that will help you make a better decision.

Fixed Height Gantry Crane

  • Fixed beam height (not adjustable) 
  • Easier to build 
  • Less expensive to build or purchase a DIY kit.
  • Not as versatile 

Fixed height Gantry cranes, first of all, are almost exactly what they sound like. To be more clear, the beams are placed at a fixed height and are not adjustable at all. 

Fixed Height Uses & Examples

  • Perfect for small shops and garages with a fixed ceiling height
  • Still mobile for loading, unloading and moving

Adjustable Height Gantry Crane

  • Less expensive then telescoping
  • Able to be adjusted and fixed to a selected height 
  • No chance of load moving if cylinders go bad 
  • Cannot lower or raise beam while lifting an item 
  • Relatively simple Design

One of the advantages of an adjustable height Gantry crane is the fact that it is able to be adjusted and fixed to a selected height. So, if you need your crane to be able to reach a certain height, you can change the settings for added flexibility. 

Adjustable Height Gantry Crane Advantages:

  • Loading and unloading different types of trailers
  • Pulling engines out of trucks vs cars.
  • Adaptable for different ceiling heights that some shops may have.

Another advantage of adjustable Gantry cranes is the fact that there is no chance of the load lowering in the event that the cylinders go bad, as on a telescoping crane. 

However, these types of Gantry cranes are still not as versatile as they could be. To get more into detail, you will not be able to lower or raise the beam while lifting an item. 

So, even though you are able to adjust the height that this crane can reach, you will not be able to adjust it while it is under load (like a telescoping one.)

The final type of Gantry crane that we will be going over in this article is the Telescoping Gantry crane.

Telescoping Gantry Crane:

  • Ram hydraulic jacks or cable winch styles. 
  • More expensive to build.
  • More versatile of the 3.

Contrary to their counterparts, this type of crane will require more specific pieces of equipment, including long ram hydraulic jacks, or cable winch design.

While it is not very likely, it is possible for the load to begin to move out of place if the cylinders go bad. However, this can easily be prevented with proper maintenance and care. 

Gantry Crane Construction Material Options 

When making the decision of which materials to use, you will be faced with three options: Steel, Aluminum, and Wood. While each one of these materials will work for this purpose, they each have their own advantages and disadvantages. 

Steel Gantry Crane:

  • Most common.
  • Relatively easy to build.

Aluminum Gantry Crane:

  • Less popular option.
  • Harder to work with and build. 
  • more expensive. 

Wood Gantry Crane:

  • Least expensive.
  • Limited lift capacity.
  • Could deteriorate over time.
  • Possible warping as wood dries.

When it comes to building any type of Gantry crane, most people will prefer using steel. In fact, steel is the most common option for industrial projects in this specific category. 

This is due to the fact that it is the safest option to work with and since it is used very frequently for construction tasks of this caliber, it could be considered the most reliable as well. 

Aluminum, on the other hand, is obviously the less popular option when you compare it to steel. Building a structurally sound Aluminum Gantry crane requires a decent amount of experience.  For that reason, this kind of material is usually only used by professionals who have worked with aluminum in the past.

An Aluminum Gantry Crane is typically used on remote job sites because it is easier to handle and set up. If you are looking for a lightweight option that can be easily transported Aluminum may be for you.

A Wood Gantry Crane may work for you if you don’t plan on moving it around too much. Wood just isn’t going to hold up to steel and is more of a fixed option for lifting. If you are hoping to move things around your shop freely wood would not be a wise choice. Also, it would be rather hard to incorporate a trolley for side to side movement like you can have with steel or aluminum.

Gantry Crane Hoist Options 

Now that you have taken into consideration the type of Gantry crane that you might want to build, as well as the possible load capacities and materials you might construct it out of, you must now acknowledge the hoist options for your DIY project. 

There are three main hoist options for Gantry cranes, as outlined below. Take a quick look at this convenient list, and keep reading for a more detailed explanation on how to go about this process. 

Gantry Crane Hoist Options:

  • Chain Hoist Manual
  • Chain Hoist Electric
  • Cable Hoist Electric

Depending on the specific hoist option that you choose, in combination with the lifting capacity and size of Gantry crane that you will be building, the prices will vary significantly. 

The chain style for the manual hoist is actually the easiest type out of these three options when it comes to actually use it on your Crane. 

In addition, it is also one of the most common styles that are used among most Gantry cranes that you will see in an industrial setting. They are economically priced and are great for performing a variety of operations. 

In other words, manual chain hoists are among the most user-friendly and versatile pieces of equipment that you could possibly select for your Gantry crane, whether you are building it on your own or purchasing it.

Electric chain hoists, on the other hand, can be considered the most durable options out of the three that have been listed above. These types of hoists are also relatively easy to use, just like the manual one but can speed up loading and unloading if you typically have a lot of things to load and unload. 

We have used both the manual and electric chain hoists over the years on not just our Gantry Cranes but our Overhead Shop Cranes like this one we designed here.

Lastly, electric cable hoists might be the most convenient choice. If you are looking for hands-free operation of your Crane.

The style of electric cable hoist that you will need for your Gantry crane will depend on the weight you will ultimately be lifting. 

Caster Wheel Types

Since the Gantry Crane, you decide to purchase or build will need to have a set of four caster wheels for mobility, you will also need to be informed of the various types of caster wheels that you can choose from.

There are two main types of caster wheels that are available for use, with subcategories underneath each one. These two main classifications are rigid and swivel caster wheels.  We go over all the details below.

Specific Types Of Caster Wheels:

  • Rigid.
  • Rigid with brake.
  • Swivel.
  • Swivel with brake.
  • Swivel (locking) prevents from swiveling.
  • Swivel (locking) with Brake.

Rigid Casters:

  • Rigid yoke and wheel assembly. 
  • Straight-line movement only.

Rigid caster wheels are built with a rigid yoke and wheel assembly. When attached to the lower area of a Gantry crane, they will allow the machine to be able to easily roll and move around. 

These types of caster wheels are not able to be rotated, meaning that you will not be able to completely spin your Gantry crane around in a circle when it is mounted on top of these types of caster wheels. 

They do, however, allow the Gantry crane to be able to carry out straight-line movements. As a result, they can move your crane either forward or backward but will not allow for much more mobility than that. 

Swivel Casters:

  • Swivel yoke and wheel assembly.
  • 360 degrees rotation.
  • Can move in any direction.

Swivel casters, on the other hand, are constructed with a. Swivel yoke and wheel assembly. In other words, these types of wheels will allow your Gantry crane to perform a complete 360 degree spin around from its original position. 

With much more added flexibility in movement, the Gantry crane will be able to be moved and turn around in any direction. 

Depending on where you will be using your Gantry crane and the specific purposes that it will be used for, you will need to consider how mobile your crane will be during use. 

Take a look at the list down below for a quick guide on how you should make your decision when it comes to combining caster wheel options to fulfill a certain purpose. 

Types of Caster Wheels Needed:

  • Mobile Gantry Crane – 2 rigid, 2 swivels.
  • Gantry Crane (smaller space, little movement) – 4 swivels.

For instance, if you have a large shop area and will frequently need to move your Gantry crane around, this should absolutely be kept in mind when making your decision before construction or purchase.

As mentioned in the list earlier in this section, mobile Gantry cranes should be constructed with 2 rigid caster wheels and 2 swivel casters in order to achieve this level of movement. 

With one set of wheels 2 rigid and 2 swivel you will be able to comfortably rotate your Gantry crane followed by a forward or backward movement to get it around your shop as needed. 

On the contrary, if you know that your Gantry crane will be left in a relatively confined space for the entire time you will be using it, 4 swivel casters probably would suffice.

If your not quite sure we usually recommend 2 ridged (with brake) on one end and 2 swivel casters on the other end, (locking.)

Locking caster wheels, also known as “lockable casters” are a type of caster wheel that is able to be locked into one place. With the use of a small lever on the side of the wheel that can be pushed down with the foot, all movement will be stopped and rolling will be prevented. 

These types of caster wheels are ideal for situations where you need your Gantry crane to be locked into one place. With one simple action, you will not have to worry about the wheels moving anywhere while completing a task or otherwise unsupervised. 

For Mobile Gantry cranes that will be in use especially in large shops and outdoor areas you will want to have some kind of control on when and how it will move. 

Aside from the different types of caster wheels that fall under the categories of rigid and swivel wheels, there are a few wheel materials to choose from as well. With three main choices to decide between, each of the items in the list below have their own list of benefits.

While making the decision on what type of material you will be looking for in your caster wheels, you should be considering what your Gantry crane will be doing on a day-to-day basis.

Caster Wheel Materials:

  • Steel
  • Hard Rubber
  • Polyurethane

Steel caster wheels are a great option if your Gantry Crane won’t be moving far and like mentioned before used in a relatively smaller space. This type of caster wheel is extremely strong and almost indestructible, you can count on the metal material to be able to hold up to heavy loads.

Hard Rubber caster wheels are great for indoor use for a variety of reasons. First of all, the soft rubber material will be able to take in vibrations and electric shock, absorbing it into the wheel itself. 

Polyurethane caster wheels are another very desirable option when it comes to assembling Gantry cranes. This material, a very soft kind of plastic, is able to carry very heavy loads while maintaining a high level of friction. 

With the use of a pair of these wheels, your Gantry crane will be able to quickly and efficiently move loads of material without slipping on any surface. If you will be using your crane on a garage floor, this might be one of the best options for you. 

The gentle properties of polyurethane will prevent the wheels on the bottom of your crane from scratching the floor or leaving any kind of scuffs or marks behind. Even better, these wheels are the least likely to become corroded, even in the most humid or chemically-exposed environments. 

When it comes to choosing the correct type of caster wheel for your Gantry crane, Polyurethane is definitely one of our top choices.

There are lots of decisions that need to be made before you can begin your Gantry Crane project. No worries as we have built and designed many of these over the years and have all your basis covered should you decide to build your own.  

Once you have determined whether you will be building your own Gantry Crane from the ground up or purchasing and assembling from pre-made components, the remainder of the task will be more of a streamlined process. 

We have a complete set of plans to Build Your Own 2 Ton Mobile Gantry Crane Here, the plans come with a complete material and suppliers list to help take out the guess work.

With the knowledge that we have provided to you in this article, you should be able to choose the options you will need. depending on your application, whether you are a hobbyist, small business, fabricator, or mechanical shop. 


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ABOUT GizmoPlans

Hey, this is Brian and Gene. Since the two of us have pretty much been self-employed our entire lives, we have a lot of experience designing and creating all sorts of DIY projects for businesses and homes—projects that have helped us make money or save money through the years!

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