Introducing a new product to the Mechanical Elements family of Do-It-Yourself Plans — the gantry crane I-Beam clamp. A simple product we give as Free Plans in our launch celebration! Well, is it really FREE Plans? Yes. Use the coupon code on the Beam Clamp Product Page to get the plans for FREE.
The I-Beam Clamp is a simple product to solve a couple things for owners of a Gantry Crane. For a lot of Do-It-Yourself enthusiasts, the garage is not quite big enough for everything you have (or want), so equipment flexibility is a big blessing. This new Beam Clamp magnifies versatility for our Line of Cranes. So, if have a Mechanical Elements crane, (or other I-Beam style crane), then check out this product. It may be the perfect enhancement as a solution for something you’re doing.
What is a “Gantry Crane I-Beam Connector Clamp”?
The main beam of a gantry crane attaches at each end to the legs or supporting elements. For many cranes, the main beam is an I-Beam which is known for its high strength to weight ratio. This image shows a main I-Beam attached to the crane legs using bolts through holes drilled in the I-Beam.
The bolting method is, of course, a very sturdy attachment, but it’s not very flexible. True, you can turn this leg around and bolt it with the top plate facing the opposite direction, but this only allows a leg adjustment of several inches.
The NEW beam clamp, does not require holes drilled in the main crane beam. It is not as strong a bolt connection, but for the right circumstances, it offers a unique way of attaching. This way, the main beam attaches in a flexible way, allowing the leg to position, then secure, anywhere along the I-Beam.
The I-Beam Connector Clamp is another fun Solution! from Mechanical Elements.
Made For The Do-It-Yourself Builder:
The NEW clamp design is simple, and the implementation is easy as well. The intent is to clamp a flat plate on the I-Beam without drilling holes. This gives infinitely variable positioning to clamp the legs anywhere along the length of the beam.
It also allows you to connect other items directly to the beam, securely, without drilling holes.
A frequent hiccup in connecting things to an I-Beam comes because the inside horizontal faces of the beam flanges are not parallel to the bottom face. While this is great for strength, bolting can create issues. There are special washers to compensate for the angle, but they still require a hole for the bolt.
To conquer the problem, the Beam Clamp side parts are cut from C-Channel or from a section of I-Beam. This makes the angles match perfectly.
I-Beam Connector Clamps & Gantry Crane:
Here are a number of really cool applications for the new I-Beam Connector Clamps. Here are a few ways we use it. You may find other great ways as well.
Gantry Cranes made with plans from Mechanical Elements are big, and the legs are bolted on at the beam ends. Sometimes it’s nice to change the distance between the legs just for storage or for working around other equipment.
With the I-Beam Connector Clamps, the gantry crane legs are no longer constrained at the beam ends. The legs can easily move to any spot along the beam you want. Pull them in a little to accommodate space, or a lot for greater lifting capacity. It also makes crane storage much easier.
For gantry crane leg connections, like in the image, use at least two clamps for stability. Make sure to use gussets or other stiffening as well for Gantry Crane Safety.
On a personal note, I love the extra long beam on my crane for many things. However, with the normal setup, it’s too long for convenient storage in my garage. At full length, it’s hard to fit around the car and workbenches. With these beam clamps, I just move one leg to fit perfect over my workspace, then put the beam high so it’s out of the way. It stores there, ready to lift. Just back the trailer in, lift the goods, pull it out, and set the goods on a cart. No crane moving needed. Then, when I’m ready for other crane duties, it’s super easy to re-configure the main beam length.
Strength and length of the I-Beam determines a gantry crane capacity. When a beam is long, say 15′, load capacity is lower than when the beam is shorter, like 8′. Using the I-Beam Connector Clamp to re-position the legs, the effective length of the top beam can shorten as needed, thus increasing capacity.
To illustrate this, we’ll use numbers from our Upsized Crane plans. With a 6″ steel I-Beam along the top, at 16′ length the crane capacity is 2200#. Shortening the top beam to 12′ increases capacity to 3200#. Shorten it again to 10′, and the capacity rises to 4000#. The I-Beam Connector Clamp makes all these configurations possible on the same gantry crane. Just mount the legs with proper spacing for the load you need.
A gantry crane is a wonderful piece of equipment for so many applications. One drawback is the load must be between the 2 legs. Sometimes that’s not convenient, so we have to use an engine hoist (or other style crane) to reach. Hoists also have limitations, so in certain situations, these new I-Beam Clamps can change a gantry crane into a cantilever. However, it is very important to understand the limitations and potential crane failure modes. Yet, with proper care, it is possible.
To hang something from an I-Beam in a non-permanent way, just fasten it to a plate, then clamp it to the beam. The I-Beam Connector Clamps will hold it in place, yet it is easy to move or remove the clamps and plate later.
You can mount it under the beam, or for more security, clamp it on top of the beam. These beam clamps don’t care about top or bottom.
Or, (side note), if your needs are for a light duty attachment or hanging items quickly from a beam, then try this fun little I-Beam skyhook. While it’s not a strong, it’s even simpler and easier to work with than the clamp. Check out that Solution! too.
Please Note: We recommend using the I-Beam Clamps in pairs, so make the plate long enough for one on each side of the load. Load capacity is a function of the material, so live within the limitations of your particular clamp system.
An I-Beam Connector Clamp makes a great trolley stop on your gantry crane. You may need a separate plate for the space, but when the clamps are not busy holding the crane leg, they can certainly limit motion of the trolley. Or, make several so they are ready when you need them!
Restricting motion of the trolley is a great way to add a little safety in some situations. Use the clamp when it helps, then take it off when you want full trolley movement.
How To Get Free Plans:
As mentioned above, Free Plans are available for the Gantry Crane I-Beam Connector Clamps. The product page shows a price, but use the Coupon Code on that page to get plans for free.
Free Plans are available for a limited introductory time, so get them now, while the getting is good!
Oh, and speaking of crane accessory plans, check out the crane lifter plans. It’s an add-on, or maybe more correctly, it’s a Gantry Leg Conversion to help lift and lower the upper main beam.
Enjoy the Beam Clamp Plans! — On ME — the Do-it-Yourself Mechanic.