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Winches and Ramps; Move myself tips

Moving myself was an arduous task.  I hope these moving tips will save your back!  Also lots of time and money!  We used a winch and ramps to facilitate our move between homes.  This page was created to document the tools, methods, tips and tricks we created and discovered when we moved ourselves.

Please see the primary article "Move myself tips".  This page has several large photos and may take a while to completely load, please be patient.

Winches and ramps for moving yourself

My wife and I decided we would do it ourselves, moving from a 2700 sq ft. home to a 1500 sq ft. home.  It was a LOT of work, BUT, we facilitated the move with some custom made tools.

The concept, the hand truck trolley

Many typical hand trucks have a set of castors on the uprights so the hand truck can also be used as a dolly.  My goal was to get heavy "stuff" moved up or down stairs without all the heavy lifting and carrying.  Granted this is slower than moving using several people lugging "stuff" up stairs.  But I will say this is a lot easier on your back and legs and allowed two people to move a 2700 sq ft home's contents with virtually no outside help!  In some cases this hand truck trolley and winch setup may have been safer, BUT IT DOES HAVE RISKS!

If you use this information, you must use it at your own risk, you are the designer, you are the implementer, and facilitator.  You have decided you can do this yourself, safely!

I am sorry this is not a "How To", my How To documents are far more complete, but I do think there is enough information here to help anyone who wants to give it a whirl, it is some work!

A fully loaded file cabinet ready to be lifted by the trolleyThis is the hand truck dolly at the bottom of the stairs.  There are some protective sheets of plywood resting underneath a small file cabinet (fully loaded) sitting on the hand truck.

The hand truck is resting on two custom made ramps that fit nicely on the stairs.  I will go into more detail on the ramps in a bit.  The groves, or troughs, of the ramps are wide enough for the large lower wheels of the trolley, and the small upper castors of the trolley to easily allow the hand truck trolley to travel in a controlled fashion up the stairwell.  The ramps go from the floor of the basement in this case to the top of the stair where the end of the ramp is trimmed at an angle flush with the first floor, so when the hand truck reaches the top of the ramps or tracks it can just be easily rolled onto the first floor.

You would not believe what we loaded on this trolley, my very heavy table saw, my 3 inch thick solid maple work bench top, extremely heavy.  We also managed to manipulate a large sofa up the stairs using the trolley to hold the weight while we danced it around to fit through the door openings.

Finally I could easily stack 3 boxes full of books on the trolley.  A person could only carry one of these boxes without a lot of strain, and even risk of falling.

The ramps

This was really great.  I had enough scrap lumber around to make these ramps.  Each track of the ramps is constructed in two segments.  I created a long universal ramp segment, and then two shorter custom ramp segments to match the length of our two stairways.The ramps affixed to the stairway  The tracks of the ramps are constructed using 2 x 6's laid on their sides and then screwed to the sides are 1 x 3's or 1 x 4's forming a nice trough to retain the wheels of the hand truck trolley.  Each track of the ramp segments is tied to the opposite track at one end by a 4 x 4 using a single bolt recessed into the track and the 4 x 4.  There was a sheet of 1/2 plywood at the other end of each track again tied with one bolt through the 2 x 6, the location again aligning with another stair.  So each ramp segment had two cross connectors that nestled nicely between the stairway treads.  The long segment and short segment of track were tied together on the steps using the ends of the tracks bound with plywood.  If you look carefully in the photo about a third of the way down the stairs there is a 2 x 6 lying between the tracks.  This 2 x 6, is bolted using wing nuts to the two crossing sheets of plywood.  This makes a very sturdy ramp from the top to the bottom of the stairs.  Note the tops of the short segment of the ramps were trimmed on an angle so they were flush with the surface of the first floor.

Please note at the bottom of the stair is the hand truck resting on the ramps ready for its next load!  You can also see the secret to the whole system the cable running down the steps which is then clipped to the axle of the hand truck which in this case is very near the basement floor.  I also added some PVC pipe to the axle of the hand truck to provide a center recessed area to keep the cable hook centered on the axle.

The muscle or horsepower for the move myself ramp system.

The battery powered winch is the key to the whole system.  These winches are readily available in many configurations.  As you can see in the photo I bolted mine to a 4 x 4.  I really needed a 4 x 6, so I bolted a 2 x 4 to the 4 x 4 to ultimately mount the winch.

The power behind the lift, a winch

You can see the winch lying just above the surface of the carpet.  Everything in this photo is important for safety and efficiency of the setup.  The 4 x 4's leading to wall and door provide for a landing area for the hand truck when you ultimately winch it to the top of the stairs and slightly beyond.  I put a support board between the fully opened door and the wall, so the door and hinges would not carry any load, the load is passed through the door to the wall.  By keeping the winch at a large distance from the top of the stair the load pulls the winch toward the floor.  The winch cable winds and unwinds closest to the floor for maximum stability.  The 4 x 4's are not bolted together and in fact for each load or cycle up the stairs the closest 4 x 4 was removed so the hand truck could be rolled to the front door and down another short ramp with a mellow slope to outdoors.  A very important item is the tough plastic material underneath the winches' cable and over the threshold of the first step protecting the carpet at the head of the stairs.  This material was from a Denise Austin Glide Slide!  A car battery is required and you can purchase Wing Nut clamps to tie the battery to the winch.  Please be careful with the winch and cable, it can crush your hand or your foot, read the instructions!  There is a special tool to pull the cable from the winch initially, use it.  The winch has a cable in and out control.  I recharged the battery every night.  We were lucky we had a reasonable time to pack up.  We had a two car garage so we staged a lot of "stuff" there, ready to be carted into the truck on moving day.

This homemade winch moving system truly worked quite well

I moved many loads of things like boxes of books myself.  Load up the trolley, carefully, at the bottom of the stairs, hike up, fire up the winch, stabilize the hand truck as it arrived at the top of the stairs, unhook the cable, then out the front door with the hand truck up the ramp of the truck and boom another load is done with little hand carrying!

Remember this can be dangerous

But then carrying anything up or down a flight of stairs is dangerous!

I hope this tip helps when you move yourself!

Bob

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BHT Created: 17 Jul 2005

BHT Revised: 22 Oct 2016

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Copyright 2003-2016 Robert Matheson.  All rights reserved.  Email Bob at BobsHowTo.com - . 

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