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Low-Profile Mechanical Lift

Discussion in 'Scenery, Props, and Rigging' started by Joshua Warner, Feb 8, 2017.

  1. Joshua Warner

    Joshua Warner New Member

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    Hi All,

    I've seen a few threads on here about mechanical lifts and variable options but I'm wondering if anyone has any ideas for a low-profile mechanical lift that isn't an air caster.

    The ideal total height is less than a foot.

    The simplest solution seems to be a wedge but I'm wondering if anyone has any thoughts or experience otherwise.

    Thanks in advance!

    Josh
     
  2. soundman

    soundman Well-Known Member

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    Are you looking for an air castor replacement or something to lift a platform up a little bit?
     
  3. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Good old scissor lift ?
     
  4. Joshua Warner

    Joshua Warner New Member

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    A replacement to an air caster - allowing a platform that is, in total, 1'-0" high off the ground to be lifted onto casters and then lock. I guess it also pertains to having a locking mechanism to a wagon where wagon locks do not stick out.
     
  5. Joshua Warner

    Joshua Warner New Member

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    I suppose recessing the wagon locks could work too...

    My designer is pushing for pin and dowel locks and I really don't want to drill 24 hole positions in the floor so I'm trying to propose an alternative method that allows a wagon to pivot and lock but with the little to no notice.
     
  6. sk8rsdad

    sk8rsdad Well-Known Member Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Amiers likes this.
  7. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Have you seen the chain-mail encased air bags rescuers use to lift vehicles when victims are trapped underneath and the car needs to go straight up or be tilted up from one end, or side, and it needs to happen NOW!!? Rescuers hastily place these 'armored bags' wherever they need them, keep center of gravity and structure of bumpers (etcetera) in mind and lift amazing amounts of weight with pretty surprising precision and control using air under very low PSI from pressurized air tanks and / or compressors normally found on tow trucks for topping up tires.

    Here's a cheap trick I picked up from a touring show that may work for you.
    When you're only raising scenery, in this case it was a couple of large sets of approximately 30' x 12' each and not saving any trapped victims, you may be able to adapt this technique to work for you:
    The road carpenter brought in a number of solidly assembled 3/4" ply boxes. They were constructed and kept in matched pairs of varying sizes.
    One of a pair was placed on our house deck open side up.
    A standard rubber inner tube was placed inside with its filler tube extended.
    The mating box was inverted and slipped over its slightly smaller mate.
    When the boxes were mated, the inverted box also rested solidly on our house deck.
    A number of these mating pairs were placed in specific locations and the touring sets were built on top of the mated boxes.
    When the inner tubes were un-inflated everything was solidly held in place by the weight of the heavy sets complete with all furnishings, props, walls, windows, drapes and decor.
    When air was added each entire set lifted.
    READ THE FOLLOWING SLOWLY A COUPLE OF TIMES THEN SIMPLIFY TO MEET YOUR NEEDS as it shouldn't be difficult (or costly) to scale down to your needs and budgets.
    In this touring version, the first box down had four good quality 'triple swivels' on its bottom.
    When the inner tube was put in, its extended filler tube exited via a hole drilled in the box's side wall at the very bottom.
    When the matching inverted box came down over the top, it had a small 'mouse hole' straddling the filler extension and this box's depth was deeper, deep enough to come right down to the house deck even though the first box was spaced off the deck by the height of its 'triple swivels'.
    Now you've got inner tubes protected within double walled boxes and un-pinched air hoses.
    UN-INFLATED: SOLID SUPPORT.
    INFLATED: LIFTS AND ROLLS ON THE CASTERS.
    Realize you can't simply bung these boxes together with nails or pneumatic staples. If they're not put together extremely solidly with at least glue and cleats everywhere, they'll get torn apart by the tube when it's doing its best to raise the upper box.
    Here's some of the pricier finesse.
    This touring rig had all of its air lines coupled with quick-connects for convenience and to provide synchronization and pressure equalization. They had check-valves, tees and solenoid operated bleeder hoses equipped with porous foam mufflers to minimize noise when they were bleeding air to lower the units off their castors. This elegantly simple technology allowed deck hands to roll an entire set in from the wings and park it solidly on its spikes without having to modify our house deck in any way. Scene changes were usually in black with any noise covered by prerecorded music although I think they also played a smaller (3rd) scene down stage immediately behind the house curtain and in front of our flown #1 black traveller.
    Yeah, I'm THAT old. I remember a time before modern automation.
    No, I will not tell you how they built the pyramids. (I'll leave that to Derreck and @ruinexplorer.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     
  8. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I've posted, and used the method Ron suggests before. I'll dig and see if I can't find the drawings and posts. I's an excellent system and depending on your budget/theatre configuration, you can completely self-contain the air supply and controls on the wagon itself.
     
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  9. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I assume the classic tip jack is not acceptable? To boards or pieces steel with two hinges usually per pair of casters. It could be "automated" with a linear actuator if foot power was not acceptable. Just saying, sometimes the old tried and true methods have their place.

    This isn't really a lifting issue so much as a braking issue, correct? And the trouble with leaving the wagon on its casters - ala with dowels or slide bolt in holes in deck - is the rattle that often results from it being on casters, though rattle of a different kind is possible with casters pulled up.

    How fast and how silently do you have to move these, how heavy when moving, what is rolling surface, and how are the being moved, all play into this decision. Probably other factors.
     
  10. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member

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    Depending on the size you're looking for and how handy your fabricators are you might be able to re-purpose this idea:

    The video is about making a bandsaw stand but the flip down wheel system could be scaled and used elsewhere.
     
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  11. Joshua Warner

    Joshua Warner New Member

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    Thanks for this! This looks like a great solution but it won't work for me. The designer is looking for a 4'-0" x 8'-0" platform at 6"-1'-0" high in the middle of a thrust stage. And unfortunately, we just don't have the budget currently to get a smaller air compressor. But I'm definitely going to keep this handy for further projects.
     
  12. Joshua Warner

    Joshua Warner New Member

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    I'm hoping to create something like a tip jack just low-profile. The other challenge is that it has a pivot point so the rise of the "tip" needs to be fully vertical. Leaning more and more to wedges shoved into the framing to lock. The footprint + height doesn't allow us to have the use of air.

    Ideally, the tip jack is foot powered. It rotates for a scene change then drops to lock. However, the kick plate to lift needs to extend a far amount in order to work in such a low profile setup and that's where I'm looking for some help.
     
  13. Joshua Warner

    Joshua Warner New Member

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    Yeah! Something like this is ideal but it is on a pivot point and so I can't have any horizontal force.
     
  14. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Now that I know a little more, this might be the right application to use UMHW, since it will pivot but does not rattle or easily move. Best if you can use UMHW on UMHW - a track so to speak. I'm also not sure why you have to lift it instead of just a good brake.

    Here is an idea - 2by, hinges, casters, and carpentry. Some steel would help. It needs to be detailed better - this is concept. Basically stepping on lever (I assume two for 4 X 8, and could be tied together for a single
    step).

    TIP JACK.jpg
     
  15. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I'm not familiar with UMHW. Are you suggesting UHMW (Ultra High Molecular Weight) in essence Teflon or a similar product that's commonly available in black or white?
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard.
     
  16. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Yes.
     

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