Winch Boxes – Episode V

Winch Boxes – Episode V

Hey if George Lucas can have his second Star Wars movie be Episode V, why not me?

Back on task, with winch boxes. Most of you have Googled them overnight. I can hear you nodding your heads.

Thought you could Google anything and get an answer, didn’t you? Me too, but what you are looking for is a well-kept secret.

Every set (either two to lift a pair of trusses, or four to lift two pairs along with all purlins and bracing between) of winch boxes I have ever seen were fabricated by whoever was using them.

The most common version is a welded up steel box with 5-5/8” inside dimensions and no bottom. This open bottom will later allow a “box” to be slid over a 6×6 column top. Attached to this box top (welded or bolted), is a reduced drive hand crank winch designed for a boat trailer.

Most of these crank units seem to come from Harbor Freight – and a caution is to use ones with steel gears, as opposed to nylon gears. I’m told nylon gears just do not have the needed durability.

In most cases, steel cable is used for lifting, although straps could be an alternative. 

Regardless, winches and cables or straps need to be adequately rated for weight being picked up.

Have a column size other than 6×6? If 4×6, add a block of 2×6 to appropriate column side. 

Larger than 6×6, chainsaw a notch into the column top to fit the box.

Another variant of winch boxes (requires use of cables only and twice as long), places a pulley wheel on the column top, and the winch is attached to a flat steel plate affixed to the column outside. This method does afford the ability to do lifting from the ground, instead of having to crank off from ladders.

I’ve successfully lifted two sets of 80 foot span roof trusses, along with all roof purlins and truss bracing, using winch boxes.

Those who have built and used them, rave about time (and small financial investment) spent fabricating truss winch boxes as being well worth it.  And these days, so easy to resell on eBay.

I’ve suggested to several people for them to manufacture lots of these, and rent them out. Even though there is a market – no one has taken me up on it as of yet.

Please enjoy these photos.




10 thoughts on “Winch Boxes – Episode V

  1. Any chance of a video clip of getting the trusses off of the cables and then onto the posts with this setup?

    1. I don’t happen to have one, however it is very simple – crank the trusses up to notch height, secure them in place, then release the cables.

      1. you will want to release the cable a little once it hits the notch. that what before you nail, its sitting flush to the bottom. also make sure its flush to the back of the post.

        1. Good points Alex – thank you. These are covered in the Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual also 🙂

  2. This idea is excellent. And I just completed fabricating two sets of winches for my upcoming build. However, I did learn there are different types of winches used for different applications. Some are designed for horizontal loads and others are made for horizontal and vertical loads. Look at the details from the manufacture and for you application. I planed a weight load with a safety factor of 2X and used a vertical brake winch. Great idea!!

  3. I like the idea of these winch boxes, but I don’t think they would work with laminated (2 ply) trusses, which you recommend using. Am I missing something?

    1. In order to be stable, it does take raising two pairs at a time – including all purlins and bottom chord bracing.

  4. In this example they already have the girts up. I have a 48’ span with 2’ eaves at 21’ high, so I can’t have the purlins in place before lifting. Will I need bracing? Or are the posts strong enough by themselves?

    1. The posts should be strong enough by themselves. Start with an end truss and as you place trusses along the length of your building, from there, install purlins and bracing in each bay to prevent toppling.


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