Mother of Invention?

Do you believe the old saying  “Necessity is the Mother of Invention”?  Well, I have a need, but I don’t need an invention, just a quick solution.  So, maybe Necessity is really the Mother of Creative Solutions Some might be inventions too, but we’ll save that for another time.

The New Hanger Mounted Over an I-BeamWorking in the garage I often find myself with a simple need for something I don’t have.  Sound familiar?  In a hustle to just get a quick solution sometimes I find myself rummaging through boxes of parts or wood until an idea pops, then I start building.

With that concept of “in the moment problem solving“, we have a new Mechanic’s Post category for “Solutions!”  I’ll post a few to get things rolling, then I’m asking you to submit some “on the spot” creative solutions to share.

I’ll bet you also have some fun things that make life in the shop a little easier.  I will also bet many of our readers would love to see your creative solutions and learn from your creativity.

Please take some photos, then send a short story.  We’ll add your submission to our Solutions vault.

First, The Problem.

I need to use the wall space where the old Tandem bicycle hangs.  It is a fine hanging job with a couple pulleys and such, but I really want that wall space for something different.

A tandem (bicycle built for 2) is kind of big and takes a lot of space.  Well, I could sell the tandem. . . . . Nah, I really like it, and it is a bunch of fun when I can get my wife or one of the kids to come with me.

So, what can I do with the Tandem bicycle when it’s not in use?  It takes up way to much floor space to just park it.  Maybe hang it from the ceiling somewhere else — but where?  I’d love to put it in the basement, but it’s so hard to get up and down the stairs and around the corner!  It’s soooo long.  (And, it’s a beast to get back out.)

Maybe I should put it in my neighbor’s garage?

The Simple Creative Solutions.

When I finally realized there’s really not a truly elegant solution, and when the neighbor turned me down for storing it in his garage :), I decided a less than perfect solution would at least help.

The Gantry Crane in my garage is a wonderful tool.  So many times I use that thing to lift my life and save my back.  However, I don’t use it every day, and sometimes not even every month.  I have a nifty configuration where it spans my workspace up high so it doesn’t interfere.  So, why not have the crane hold the bicycle?  But how?

Well, it seems a little overkill to lift the tandem bicycle with a 3 ton chain fall (and I don’t want the chain against the paint).  The Winch Pole doesn’t really work because it’s made to counterbalance large loads — not a bicycle.  A rope over the beam could work, but that’s messy.

Quick I-Beam Hanger with a HookThen it hit me.  I need a sky hook — well, that’s imaginary, so how about a substitute.   How about a hook hanging off the crane that I can move easily and will hold the weight of the bike.  In fact, such a “Sky Hook” can be really helpful in lots of circumstances with the crane, like holding extension cords, or lights when I’m working under the crane.  It can conveniently hold lots of things, like a bucket for tools, the chain of a chain-fall hoist, and more.

A simple hook that can just slip ON or OFF the crane at any location along the I-beam would be super helpful in a lot of instances.

Eureka!  Sort of.

It seems a little silly talking about a short piece of bent metal with a hook in context of “Creative Solutions“, but that’s really all there is to it.  I just stuck one end of a short piece of scrap steel flat stock in the vise and started bending.   I found a hook in a bin of spare parts, then welded it on.

As you can see in the images, the result is simple, easy and it works awesome. I suppose that’s one part of an elegant solution.

Simple I-Beam Hook - Creative SolutionsIt simply hooks over the I-Beam, then wraps around the top flange, and extends the hook down. You can make one any length that seems right for your purpose. Or, make one with with adjustment for changing the length. Use it for all sorts of light duty things, and move it around easily to where it is most useful.

For a much stronger hanger, read about the multi-function I-Beam Clamp, then grab the Free Plans (while ‘Free” is still available).

These 2 ideas are similar in some ways, and can do some of the same things, but they are really not the same. The clamp can also hold things, but it’s may purpose is securing things to the I-Beam, and it does not move around so easily.

So, in full disclosure, I have not looked to see if this kind of thing already exists.  Please don’t ridicule me if you have something like this you found at Harbor Freight or somewhere.  I’m going to quietly (maybe ignorantly) bask in knowing that sometimes the simple things really are the creative solutions.  That said, please share in the comments below if you know of something that exists.  I’m sure other readers are also interested.

Now It’s Your Turn For Creative Solutions

So, there’s the first post in the new “Solutions!” category.  I’ll post more too, but really this category is for you to show creative solutions.  Post Your Nifty Ideas Here.  Mechanical Element is, after all, a DIY portal, and sharing info is what we’re all about.

By the way, if this is some sort of invention, you’re free to have it.  Make as many as you like, use them, sell them, whatever!  If you’re inclined, go for it.

Thank you, in advance, for sending your Creative Solutions stories!  I look forward to reading them and sharing them in short articles just like this.

Hanging the Tandem Bicycle on the I-Beam


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