I need to install a steel beam that is about 20' long. The beam is a
w10x30 so that make it 600 pounds. The beam will be supporting the
main floor (installed in the basement). How does one lift such a beam
in place? Obviously I cannot use a crane. Any suggestions?
Retrofitting an existing house? Building yourself with a beam you had
sitting around? More details, please. Why can't you use a crane?
This is why steel is often purchased delivered in place. If you are
retrofitting, you slide it in from the end through a hole punched in the
foundation, or if it is a pier house, opening up whatever encloses the crawl
space. Steel companies and house moving companies have neat little roller
pads to move the beam, and all sorts of jacks and levers, some hydraulically
assisted, to tuck it into place. A large rental place may have the tools
available, but the expertise is just as important. It is real easy to hurt
yourself with heavy stuff like this if you do something wrong with the
rigging, or do something in the wrong order. I've seen it done multiple
times, and I'd still hire it out. A house moving company is probably the
best bet for a small job, but a steel erection company might be able to tuck
you in between larger jobs if your schedule is flexible.
Of course, as a kid on the sites, I did see residential centerline beams
horsed into place by hand, using multiple scaffold racks and 2x10s as slider
rails, set down in the foundation hole, with lots of guys and maybe a
come-along providing the motive power. It went a lot faster when the local
steel company started using the trucks with the mini-gantry crane, and they
could get close to the foundation corner and provide most of the lift.
Lots of guys, one end at a time. We used a couple sets of scaffold
bucks to act as a fulcrum to get it started in the first pocket and
then to hold it up when we had it lined up at the other end. I used a
floor jack on the scaffolding to hold it at the right height while we
slid it in the second pocket. It took a couple hours but we were going
slow and keeping things blocked up as we went so nobody got killed.
If by chance you are in a rural area where there are farms, ask any
farmer that has a tractor with a loader and he can easily place the
beam for you, using the loader and a few log chains. Be sure you
provide some beer. Even my small Farmall H tractor loader can lift a
1200lb hay bale, so that beam is nothing if it's only 600 lbs. Using
a crane is overkill for a 600lb beam. Even if you have to rent a
tractor, it's far cheaper than a crane which might cost as much as
$2000. Of course, if you rent a tractor, I highly recommend you find
someone that knows how to use it safely.
A pair of duct lifts should be able to handle this as well. Like a
manual forklift using a manual winch and wireline. They are rentable
and come in several heights.
We placed a 30' glu-lam ridge beam for a small shed this way. Of
course, it was not in a basement so height was not a restriction.
You don't give many details on the how and why, but 600# is fairly
insignificant rigging wise.
The basement location and lack of crane access implies a retrofit
situation and relatively low headroom. You don't give an indication of a
need to slip the beam in horizontally to get it on top of a foundation
If it's just a matter of lifting the beam into position it's pretty
easy. Rent or borrow some pipe frame scaffolding, enough to setup two
independent units. Setup a unit at each end of the beam straddling it
with the X brace left out of one side for lifting clearance. At the 300#
each scaffold will hold, a single X brace on the other side is plenty.
Rest a good scaffold deck plank (like an Alumaplank) across the top of
each scaffold tower. Wrap a quality 4' lifting sling around the center
of each scaffold plank and hang an inexpensive ratchet "come-a-long"
underneath. The 300# load is well within the decking planks capacity as
this is equivalent to one big construction guy and some tools.
Attach the "come-a-longs" to the beam and hoist it as far as they will
go. Insert more scaffold planks on the next level below the beam height
that will give enough clearance for a small scissors type auto jack
(better bearing surface than a hydraulic jack) resting on a piece of
2x10 to spread the load. Setup a scissors type jack on the 2x scrap on
plank under the beam. Setup 2 foot long or so 2x10 cribbing sections
under the beam along side the jack and just a bit higher.
Lower the "come-a-longs" to place the beam on the cribbing. Remove the
"come-a-longs", slings and upper scaffold planks. Use the jacks to
slowly raise the beam the rest of the way into position adding cribbing
as you go for safety. Secure the beam in place and then remove the
jacks, cribbing, scaffolding, etc.
Or just get some pizza, beer and about 10 guys to just pick the thing up
at 60# per person.
We have a 40+ year old rental home in south central New Mexico. One
morning, I noticed a large Lull forklift illegally parked adjacent to
our North block retaining wall on the sidewalk adjacent to the wall
about 2 feet from the wall. I also noticed that opposite to where each
of the Lull wheels rested on the ground the wall is severely cracked
just above the sidewalk. I had inspected the area two days earlier for
weeds and debris and there was no wall cracking at that time and no
rain in between. And there is no wall cracking between the cracked
areas or on either side of the cracked areas. Later measurements by me
indicate that the sidewalk was sunken in about a 1/2" where the Lull
tires rested. My tests also indicate that the inner edge of the
sidewalk rests on the outer edge of the wall's foundation. I do not
know if the wall's foundation is damaged. I assume the wall has rebar
in it but I am not absolutely sure.
The land where the Lull was parked is pitched about 5 degrees up to the
wall. I estimate that the weight of the Lull to be about 8,000 lbs
(actual weight??), and that the shear force into the wall was therefore
about 700 lbs (8000 x sin[5 deg.]) plus there was likely considerably
greater downward force on the wall's foundation. It is clear to me that
the Lull cracked the wall. However, the insurance company of the Lull
owner (a contractor building a clinic adjacent to our property) has
refused to pay, claiming that the wall is "old" and probably has a
"defective foundation." Because of this refusal, we will probably have
to litigate this matter.
I have done some relevant Internet research with limited results. I
need to obtain definitive information on: (A) Government and industry
safe distance standards, regulations, etc. for driving and parking
heavy construction vehicles near walls and buildings. (B) Specific Lull
operating manual and other Lull documentation that addresses this
safety issue. (C) Websites, books, specific periodicals, etc. which
addresses these issues.
I am an older Disabled Veteran who knows little about repairing block
walls, so if you know someone reliable and modestly-priced contractor
in the south-central New Mexico area who can inspect my wall and/or
give me an estimate for free or low-cost, please also let me know.
Also, if you know of a reliable structural engineer in this area who
can evaluate the situation, please let me know.
Please respond. I need all the help I can get. Thanks. John J. Williams
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