Project Advice:- Building steel trailer loading ramps!

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Shann Low
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Project Advice:- Building steel trailer loading ramps!

Unread post by Shann Low » July 27th, 2016, 2:51 am

Any engineer types on the forum care to chip in?
As title says - I'm looking for some advice from any sort of engineer types on the forum about what steel/construction to build a couple loading ramps about 2.5 meters long and say 400 mm wide... to load tracked and wheeled contractor machines up onto my "new" (to me) 3500kilo tandem trailer.

Total trailer payload capability is 2720 kilos. (3500GCM-780Tare). So a pair of 2.5 meter ramps that could take say ~1500 kilos each?
I have space under the tray where, I can store them and just slide them out when needed for loading small machines.
The storage space however is only a MAX of 90mm height.

I have found some Steel C Channel at my local steel place for the 4 x 2500 sides that's 75x40x5mm which would fit a treat!
I also have a stack of star pickets here I have cut up and will weld in as the treads with the 2 short sides facing up (for traction) and the longer stem of the "Y" facing down for strength. Probably put them spaced at 100mm centers

I am just worried a little about the over all weight of them, for manual lifting, with the combined length of 5.0 meters of 75x40x5mm "C" channel @ 5 mm thick. That's the lightest C channel they stock being construction steel!.

What I am wondering is if I could get away for stringers with say 40 x 40 angle iron maybe 4mm thick?, to cut down on weight a bit, or will that compromise the carrying capacity to well below the hoped for ~1500 kilos carrying capacity per side over 2.5 meters length?

Most of the small contractor machines these days (dingo's, mini excavators, etc) are well under the trailers rated 2720KG trailer payload capacity BUT I figure I might as well have ramps that can load up to near the trailers capacity, in case the need ever eventuates to shift something heavier.

Any one had any experience with making trailer loading ramps?

I see a few ally ones and some pressed galv sheet steel types on Dumbtree, for around the cost of buying the C Channel ($204 for a 12 meter length for my 4 x 2,5 meters length requirements), BUT they all seem to be cheap and nasty and made from cheap Chinese case hardened Plasticine steel, so I am a little leery of them.
Just not sure how you work out what load a steel structure like that will carry, (i.e. I am no engineer). I was only going to use the star picket sections as treads coz i saw some used on a hire trailer recently for their ramps (for loading a Kanga mini loader) and it looked like a good idea and I happen to have a stack of star pickets I pulled out of the garden yesterday begging to be re used so it would save me buying 25x25x3mm angle iron for treads +I have already cut them up to 400 mm length.
I don't know whether to use RHS, Angle or C Channel or I beam for the side stringers.
It would be NICE if I could keep each ramps total weight to say around 20 kilos each.
Thanks In Advance if anyone as any suggestions as to what stringer material to buy & use.
I've been looking thru my local steel suppliers catalogue of what they have in stock and what they can buy in with a couple days notice.
http://www.dicandilo.com.au/wp-content/ ... t-List.pdf
They don't seem to list smallish I beam!
I liked the idea of C Channel or I beam - because the treads can sit into the stringer and rest on either the bottom of the C Channel or the foot of an I beam for mechanical strength whereas they would totally rely on the strength of my welds if I use RHS and just butt the treads up to the side of it and weld them on.
Most of the 1500 kilo rates ramps I see on Dumbtree are made from aluminium and have RHS stringers... BUT they are a grand or so in price.
If can knock a pair out in black steel for ~ $200, I will consider I have done well.
Any engineer types or tradesmen Boilermaker / welders who have made this type of thing care to chip in with what steel type I should buy for stringers please?
As a welder & Engineer I make a bloody great carpenter! :lol:
Thanks in advance.

nilla60
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Re: Project Advice:- Building steel trailer loading ramps!

Unread post by nilla60 » August 7th, 2016, 11:02 am

It is just as easy to over engineer these things as it is to under engineer them. The consequence of over engineering is potentially safer, except you end up with ramps that are heavier than they need to be, and a pain to use each time you use them. When I don't really have a feel for engineering, I seek out a range of proven examples in the wild and use them to develop a feel for tolerances.

Keep in mind ramps also need to handle dynamic loads, not just the static weight of an excavator.

Here's some pics of a 1970s vintage trailer I helped tart up some time ago. The ramps had 2"x2" angle frames and were very solid indeed.
trailer_ramps.jpg
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Shann Low
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Re: Project Advice:- Building steel trailer loading ramps!

Unread post by Shann Low » August 9th, 2016, 12:37 am

They look very neat indeed Nilla. Thanks for the input!
Can I ask please - how long they were and if you have any rough idea what they weighed in at?
I assume it's chequer plate for the covering?
Good point about the static and dynamic loading's.
Do you have any idea whats the heaviest machine that's driven up those ramps?
I just don't have any real idea how to know whats the max weight 2 lengths of 2 x 2 angle 2.5M long will support is all.
I could guess but I might be out by a factor of 1 , 10 or 100 and no way to really know for sure unless the darn things fail in use.
Theres no point making them capable of much over 1500 kilos each coz the max payload of the trailer legally is 3500GCM - 780Tare so 2720kilos... or 1360 kilos each ramp.
How to work out which steel material to buy for the stringers is where I am stuck at the moment.
I am tossing up between the 2 x 2 angle or 75 x 40mm parallel flange channel!
where the flange is 6.1mm thick and web is 3.8mm thick and the 2 x 2.5meter lengths for each ramp will weigh 29.6 kilos + another 13 kilos for the star picket treads! 42.6 kilos total for each ramp is a lot of weight to hump around every time I use them... and MIGHT be overkill or much stronger engineered than what I really need for what the trailer can legally carry?
I have held off buying the steel for the stringers until i work out what is my best option/choice for steel?

nilla60
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Joined: May 13th, 2007, 12:09 am

Re: Project Advice:- Building steel trailer loading ramps!

Unread post by nilla60 » August 15th, 2016, 10:49 pm

The ramps also formed the front and back gates for the trailer which had a bed wide enough for a regular car, so around 2 metres at a guess. Certainly less that 2.5m as they are stored width-wise.

Plain old plate, a bit slick. They were hefty, but not overly so and not too much to lift into place. Here's another pic showing how the ramps are constructed.
ramp_detail.jpg
I have no idea what might have been driven over those ramps over the years, but that they are still straight on such an old trailer is an encouraging sign. Considering how high this trailer rides compared to newer trailers, I'd suggest the ramps would be a bit too short, especially for newer, lower vehicles.
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Shann Low
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Posts: 765
Joined: April 2nd, 2014, 3:14 am

Re: Project Advice:- Building steel trailer loading ramps!

Unread post by Shann Low » August 17th, 2016, 9:57 pm

Thanks Nilla, the dual use idea (ramp & tailgate) is awesome!.

I am still equivocating while I get stuck into other projects ATM.

I'll come back to these ramps in due course.

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