I haven't built mine yet, but I have a pile of 12 inch by 15 foot I-beams to play with along with one 15 inch by 18 footer that I think would make a pretty heavy duty crane/hoist.
For uprights, I have a pair of 6 inch square 3/8 wall thickness tubes with 8x10 1/2 inch thick mounting plates on one end that I bought from an old car dealership that closed down. The posts were from a car wash they had in one of the back rooms. I figure they should be plenty strong enough to support the weight, but I haven't decided yet whether to bolt the plates to the floor, or put them on a pair of cross bars with A-frame connections and put wheels under it. If I bolt it down.... sure enough, it will end up in the wrong location.
The I-beams were bought at salvage price when the old Burgess Battery plant was torn down in Freeport Illinois, and with two tiltbed truck loads purchased, I think it averaged out around $12.50 per beam by the time I got them all home. The Car Wash support posts I think I paid $10.00 or $20.00 for the pair.
I also have a pile of heavy duty 12 by 3 1/2 inch iron wheels with 1 1/2 inch roller bearings that should easily roll around with any load I'll ever put on them. I have a couple bucks each tied up in them.
So..... If I ever get around to it, I should be able to build a (or a couple/few) nice heavy duty hoists for very little money. Maybe a couple stationary and one portable?
Anyone know the load capacity for 15 foot long 12 inch I-beams with 1/2 inch web (I also have a couple with 5/8 webs) and an 18 foot 15 inch I-beam with 1/2 inch web ? I know there are charts out there somewhere, I just don't happen to have one of them.
I'll probably never come close to the load rating anyway, unless I use multiple hoists on a single beam. I have three 1/2 ton hoists, two 1 ton's, a 2 1/2 ton, and a 5 ton, but the 5 ton hoist I would need one of the smaller hoists just to get it up to the beam. I think I have 4 or 5 trolleys to pick from.
Hoarding is just so damn much fun
.... You never run out of things to play around with. Although I have run out ambition recently, so a lot of it may end up going into other peoples projects instead of my own.