Miniature Chain Hoist
© Frank Ford, 2005; Photos by FF

I need to remove my lathe tailstock frequently to install a turret in its place for batch production of small parts. It's pretty heavy, for me at least, and I've had to lean over to maneuver it as I take it off and put it back on. In order to avoid mashing the delicate way wipers, I decided I needed to have some reliable support, so I looked at various lifting options, finally settling on making my own miniature chain hoist.
I got some of this #4 link machine chain that's rated at 205 pounds working tension. That works out to 410 for two strands, so I'm sure that it's way stronger than I'll ever need for lifting stuff off and on the lathe. The twisted links are welded, so when I made the hoist, I simply cut one link and welded it back together to make a continuous loop of chain through the pulleys.
My differential pulley started out as this stubby hunk of 2-1/4" hexagonal brass. Rather than trying to calculate the diameters, I simply turned the pulley grooves so that one allowed ten links of chain to wrap around, and the other fit eleven links.
I drilled and reamed for a 1/2" shaft.
Turning the pulley around, I supported the end with a tailstock center, and parted off, cutting nearly all the way through and finishing the cut with a hacksaw off the lathe.
I mounted the pulley on my spin index using a piece of 1/2" threaded rod and drilled eleven holes equally spaced around the larger groove and ten on the smaller, drilling right through into the threaded rod.
With a piece of 1/2" drill rod in the hole, I drove a 1/8" dowel pin into each hole, right down to the rod.
Here's the finished pulley.
To glide the hoist along the one inch galvanized pipe "track" I made up an aluminum concave pulley, using the radius cutter I bought on eBay a year or so ago.
The frame is 2 x 1/2 aluminum, that I simply stacked up and drilled to fit some ball bearings I got on eBay from one of those outfits that sells that kind of thing really cheaply for use on skateboards.
I cut through each bearing housing with a slitting saw.
Well, almost all the way through. I didn't want to deal with parts flying around the shop, dontcha know.
The pulley and bearings pressed onto the 1/2" shaft.
It drops in place for easy assembly and disassembly.
Here's the hoist up by the ceiling. Because the chain can't slip on the pulleys, there's no tendency for the hoist to allow the load to fall and with such a high mechanical advantage, it's super easy to raise or lower it by simply pulling on the chain.
At the bottom end, I have a simple pulley and grab hook I found at the local Ace hardware.
The ceiling is nine feet high here, so there's a lot of clearance, and I can simply scoot the hoist and chain out of the way to the right.
  Update 2006:
I just added a second, parallel pipe rail, and made a cross bar to span the two.
Now, I can cover the entire area over and between my lathe and mill, so I can easily handle the heavy Kurt 6" vise, ten inch rotary table, and whatever else I need under about 150 pounds from the floor, overhead or in between.

Back to Machining Index