Tag Archives: winch boxes

A Truss Raising Challenge

A Truss Raising Challenge

STEVE in ST. MARIES writes:

“My question is about raising my trusses. I bought my building package when prices were rapidly rising, not knowing how high they would go. I was only able to afford a third of the building I wanted, but I had the engineer design it so I could attach the other two thirds of the building (the shop portion) at a later date. So the gable end is a 40′ span and the eave sidewalls are 24′. To make it a sturdy freestanding structure, the center trusses on the 24′ sides are tripled, with single trusses on each end. Also, the purlins are hangered from the center triple truss and rest on top of the endwall trusses. With the tripled truss in the center having full bearing on the posts, i don’t see a way to use a winch box in the center. FYI, when i say center I’m looking from the eave wall side. What I’m thinking is building the whole system on the ground, using winch boxes at the four corners, and using two genie crank lifts under the triple truss to handle the weight. since the posts on the gable ends are notched to the outside, I was thinking I could use partially sunk nails on the top of one gable truss to keep the purlins from sliding down the pitch even though the other end will be in the hangars on the center truss, and using nails on the bottom side of the purlins to keep the truss from leaning in or out as I lift with the winch boxes. when the whole assembly gets up where it needs to be, the one gable side and triple truss will slide into the post notches, and the other gable truss bottom chord can be pushed into place and the nails removed on the bottom of the purlins that are resting on it to get everything on layout. Is this too convoluted? Will this work? Is there a better way other than renting a forklift or boom truck, which aren’t options for me?”

I have been through St. Maries many times. It made for a great stop on motorcycle rides around Coeur d’Alene Lake. Way back (early 1900’s) my great grandparents had a store there in town (I have an awesome panoramic photo on my wall – looking North from town showing billowing smoke from 1910’s Great Fire).

Temporarily attach short pieces of 4×6 to one side of your triple truss bearing columns opposite truss notch (using 8 inch long TimberLoks or similar) so you can winch up the center set of trusses. You can (should) attach purlins in end bays to tops of end trusses with Simpson H-1 brackets or equal and solid block on top of the truss, between purlins, to prevent rotation. On the end away from the triple truss notch, don’t attach lower few purlins, so truss ends remain flexible.

With six winch boxes, you can now crank up all of your roof at once.


Answers for Brian’s Barndominium Builder

Answers for Brian’s Barndominium Builder

Should you have missed yesterday’s episode, please click back to it using link at bottom of this page – it will make more sense as well as being more entertaining!

Hello Brian ~

My Father and his five brothers were all framing contractors, so I was raised in a world of trusses two foot on center and vertical stud walls. Even in my first few years of prefabricated roof trusses (as a truss designer/salesman/manager) – we used to laugh when builders would order trusses for pole barns. 40 years of experience has taught me they were right (post frame builders).

Having personally erected a plethora of buildings, both stick frame and post frame, it is far less time consuming to erect a post frame building with widely spaced trusses (and purlins and ceiling joists) than it is to stud wall frame. With a minor investment into building a set of four ‘winch boxes’ entire sections of roof framing can be assembled on the ground and cranked up into place. Not only is this fast, it is also far safer.

Learn about winch boxes here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/10/winch-boxes-a-post-frame-miracle/

Mindi’s quote does not include OSB sheathing or either 30# felt or ice and water shield to go between OSB and roof steel. These can be added, however there is really no structural reason to do so – it is going to add to both investment and labor. Should you opt to have your roof sheathed, OSB (or plywood) will run from fascia to ridge across purlins 24″ on center, so spans would be no greater than trusses every two feet.

If you do opt for roof sheeting, you might want to consider going to 5/8″ CDX plywood and a standing seam steel. It will be more expensive however it does eliminate any through fasteners.

When you create an encapsulated building (spray foam to all interior surfaces), you do not want to ventilate it, as you would then lose your air seal. With your OSB’s underside sealed by closed cell spray foam and upper side protected with 30# felt or ice and water shield, there is no way for your OSB to become moist. If this is still a concern, an upgrade to plywood could be done.

Certainly one could place scissor trusses every two feet – it would then require adding structural headers (truss carriers) between columns to support them – reducing ‘line of sight’ beneath them. In order to place two foot tall windows in your knee walls above wing roofs, your building height would need to increase to allow for their height. This entails a whole bunch of connections – trusses to headers, headers to trusses and connections are always a weak link of any structural system. It would also mean having to add 2×4 flat on top of either trusses or sheathing in order to have something to screw roof steel panels to (you cannot screw directly to OSB only). Single trusses also require added bracing not required with ganged (two ply) trusses.

You will find drywall installs far better over horizontal framing (wall girts) https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/11-reasons-post-frame-commercial-girted-walls-are-best-for-drywall/. By utilizing bookshelf girts your exterior walls only have to be framed one time – saving materials and labor over stud walls with horizontal nailers. Building Codes also do not allow for studwalls over 12′ tall, requiring added engineering.

We do have sample building plans available on our website for your builder to review and get a feel for https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/sample-building-plans/. You may also want to invest (in advance) in our Construction Manual (please contact Bonnie@HansenPoleBuildings.com) – you do get one included with your building purchase (plus you have access to an electronic version through your login).

Please keep in mind – not only have I been involved in design, provision and/or construction of roughly 20,000 post frame buildings, I also happen to live in one. As technology brings about better design solutions, we have always been quick to adopt them, as our goal is to provide structurally sound buildings where benefits outweigh investments.

Feel free to have your builder reach out to me directly at any time.

Dry Set Brackets, Snow Loads, and Winch Boxes

The Pole Barn Guru continues to be inundated with reader questions, so we will be adding some mid-week PBG responses. First off is a questions about attaching posts to a square footing with dry set brackets, whether or not a Hansen Building can withstand a 40lb snow load (they most certainly can), and the use of winch boxes to raise trusses.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can poles or square posts be attached to cement footings? 30 years ago we started working on a post and beam barn, cutting traditional joints, etc. Well that project was not completed you can guess why. Now we still have the footings that were going to have sills attached and the timber frame joined to that. My other half thinks we can essentially build a pole barn by bolting posts to footings. I have my doubts because as I understand it part of the stability of the pole barn depends on the integrity of the pole and its depth in the ground.


DEAR MIMI: There are dry set brackets designed for attaching post frame building columns to existing concrete, however our third party engineers will no longer certify them for use as they will not resist moment (bending) loads.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do your buildings support a snow load of 60+ lbs per square foot? JARED in BONE

DEAR JARED: Every Hansen Pole Building is designed and engineered specifically for loading (wind, snow and seismic) conditions at your particular site. We have provided buildings with ground snow loads in excess of 400 psf (pounds per square foot), so your snow load should not be a difficulty. A Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer will be reaching out to you for further information and to assist you with your new post frame building.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am working with Mindi on my quote. I found info on using hand crank winches to raise preconstructed sections of the trusses and purlins. In the different articles, the construct a steel box that the winch is attached to and the box/winch is placed on the top of the poles. If I use wet set brackets, how much extra length is provided on the column? Would I be able to use the winch method with columns bolted into brackets? If I have a 24 ft span and 3:12 pitch, about how much would one truss weigh?

DEAR LEE: Kudos for you to look to using winch boxes! Your savings in time (and safety) will more than pay to build a set of boxes. With wet set brackets you might want to have Mindi add two feet in length to your truss supporting columns, otherwise you will end up very tight for column above trusses. Cranking up trusses with purlins attached works equally well with either embedded or wet set brackets. Two pairs of trusses and all purlins for a bay will weigh somewhere under a thousand pounds.



DIY Post Frame Construction and Winch Boxes

Loyal reader and Hansen Pole Buildings’ client BOB in MOSINEE writes:

“Hello Mike,

This weekend I’m going to begin construction on my Hansen pole building. Very excited. You guys have been great to work with.

I had originally planned to have one built by one of the bigger named companies, but after seeing what they were quoting, I realized I could do this.

My question is around the use of hand winches to raise trusses or assembled truss / purlin sections. I really like the idea of building a section on the ground, from a safety aspect, then raising and attaching.

I read your blog post on the use of these and also did some digging online. As you stated, the amount of specific information is very limited.

Based on your past experience, have you heard of anyone mounting winches directly to a post using heavy screws / bolts (without any steel) box structure, or is that not a sufficient surface to attach to? I’ve got 30′ spans to lift, so maybe that would be pushing it?

Looking forward to your opinion!


Thank you for reaching out to me and for your kind words. I wish more people would realize they are capable of erecting their own beautiful post frame buildings. They would not only save rfa lot of money, but they would also gain satisfaction from having buildings assembled better than what they would pay most builders to do.


Because you will actually look at plans and follow instructions. When it comes down to it, your prerequisites are only you being physically capable and able to read and follow instructions in English!

I am all for building sections on terra firma and raising them up with winch boxes. I have done it more than once, with trusses spanning up to 80 feet.  Although probably not involving any new world order conspiracy, you are correct in this being a well-kept secret. While I have not personally tried mounting winches directly to columns without boxes, I know builders who have merely mounted a pulley wheel to column tops and then affixed winches directly to column faces and ground level with duplex nails, so your idea is not far-fetched. Each bay of your building weighs under 2000 pounds total (or less than 500 pounds per column) so it could be as simple as using say four or so of your five inch long Simpson screws for attachment as they will support over 250 pounds each and this would give a high degree of safety.

Now you have my opinion, I will be looking forward to your photos!

For extended reading on winch boxes: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/10/winch-boxes-a-post-frame-miracle/

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.




Winch Boxes- A Post Frame Miracle

Winch Boxes – a Post Frame Miracle

Back in my M & W Building Supply days we had provided a pole barn kit package to a client in Woodburn, Oregon. One of Jim Betonte’s Farmland Structures post frame building crews was doing erection in our client’s back yard. Our office received a hostile phone call from this client about lunch time. He had come home to get a bite to eat and found his new building’s roof all framed up. 

And on the ground.

And he was less than happy…..okay he was pissed off.

He was furious because he did not want heavy equipment, like a crane, run across his yard to lift his roof up. Luckily we were able to talk him down and assured him when he came home from work his roof would be up in place and there would be no tire tracks.

True to our word, when he came home, his roof was up, there were no tire tracks and he wanted to know how we did it.

Jim’s crew refused to tell him!

Our office wouldn’t either!

We were having way too much fun at our client’s expense. He was pretty sure we had used a helicopter, he even asked his neighbors if they had heard anything unusual.


In much of our country, post frame buildings are constructed with a truss or trusses aligned directly with building’s sidewall columns. Purlins (generally and hopefully) on edge span distances between trusses. 

I will share with you this miracle (in pictures) eventually. But first, a few words about my friend who has provided these photos.

Stay tuned to this station for our next exciting installment (and those promised photos).

On the Road with Post Frame Buildings

On The Road

Author’s Note: This is part 2 of a series of blogs written from a 6500+ motorcycle trip from WA to Ohio and back.  See Blog from Oct. 15th for the beginning…and hang on for the ride!

In yesterday’s post, I had mentioned all of the old barns I saw falling down. Not a single one of them had the appearance of being what I would term a modern post frame building.

I did happen to notice three new post frame buildings under construction.

Road TripThe first of these was seriously one of the largest post frame buildings I have ever seen being built. From the highway, it appeared to be well over 200 feet in length, with a center clearspan and large side sheds on each side.

The second was a smaller building, probably about 24 foot by 36 foot. I was impressed by it being very similar to what I would term as a Hansen Pole Buildings “Classic” pole building. By Classic, I mean it had main truss bearing columns every 12 feet, with double trusses aligned with the columns. Considering most of the area I was travelling would consider the “only” method of post frame construction to be columns every eight feet, with truss carriers (headers) spanning between the columns and single trusses placed every four feet – I was impressed by what would have been viewed as “outside of the box” construction.

The third building I saw had 40 foot span trusses and side sheds. The crew was working on the building as I rode by – placing trusses using a large all terrain forklift to raise the prefabricated roof trusses into place. I couldn’t help but think of all the money being spent on the equipment, the amount of extra work to do everything “in the air”, not to mention the safety risks involved.

I recently had a question posed as to where to get “winch boxes”:


By use of this method of lifting trusses into place, the trusses, their bracing, and all of the roof purlins can be lifted into place without the need for heavy equipment. All of the framing is done on the ground, other than the placement of every other bay of roof purlins.

Coming from the land of frequent safety inspections from OSHA (in the case of the State of Washington “WISHA”) – I was appalled to see the construction crew on the last building working 20 feet above the ground, without any type of safety harnesses, or scaffolding. Besides the huge potential for a debilitating (or fatal) fall, the contractor also was running the risk of a significant fine, should the crew be caught by the “safety police”.

See you tomorrow for Day 3 of viewing pole building construction across the U.S. & Canada from WA to Ohio…and back!