Suggestions needed for overhead gantry

I was allotted the use of a 53’ moving trailer (like the Mayflower trailers) to set up as a fabrication unit at work (remote job sites). I already have my mill/lathe and plasma table in it, and moving over the band saw, press, drill press, and work tables from another trailer that is overloaded with this stuff, parts and hardware.

I would like to set up an overhead gantry that will be able to roll from one end of the trailer to the other, and also side to side.

Right now I am thinking of some brackets welded to the vertical E-Track rails every 18" and some .125 x 1.5 box tubing mounted on the brackets and 4 V-Groove rollers on a carriage with a 6" or 8" I-Beam going side to side and a beam trolley on that.

I should not need more than a 2k# capacity. Mostly it will be used to carry sheets of plate to the plasma table, with side use of machine moving and the occasional heavy part that needs repaired. Most of what I have to build stuff out of is minimum .250 up to .750. Even a .125 4x8 sheet is a lot heavy for one guy, let alone a 2’ x 4’ chunk of .500

This is what I have come up with so far…

The box tubing in the drawing is 2" I need to resize to the 1.5" since the V roller in that size is rated at 1k# per and there will be 4. Carriage is next. I want to get some suggestions before I go to far and have to start from scratch in case I run down the wrong rabbit hole.

I should note that I am a field service technician for a concrete paving company with the new specialty in fabrication being added to my duties.

I think I would back up and think about that load on E-track. I take it this is a semi-trailer?
I’m not sure what the side walls on those trailers are but I don’t think they are very thick.
If it were me I would look into some type of column to maybe add to it? I would be afraid of just using the track alone, but again maybe that would be just fine.
You do need to remember the gantry/carriage with a chain fall hanging there all day going down the road.
Keep us posted I love projects like this, good luck


The E-track is ~.125" and 6" wide in kind of a hat channel design, floor to ceiling. It’s pretty stiff. My mill/lathe weighs about 750# and I am able to lift it off my bench by running a chain from both sides then a lever hoist down to the machine. That puts a lot of inward pulling on the track and it stays put.

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If the trailer is the plate style walls will support what you are wanting to do, but if it is just post and plywood walls I wouldn’t attempt.

Ill take a closer look next week. The walls are plywood between the E-track posts, I am not sure what the skeleton of the trailer is.

I would think that if all the weight is distributed to no less than 2 posts (more like 3) on each side, and the load will be pushing down, not pulling or pushing in/out, it should be able to carry 500# per post.

If it is the post, it doesn’t take much to bow the walls.

looks like your design may pull the walls in at the top? Fusion can probably simulate that

Load is pushing down. Any lateral movement will be cancelled out by pushing against the opposite side. At that point if the opposite side starts pushing out at the top, I have bigger issues with the trailer in general. The E-track is tied in to the ceiling/roof corner rib, so it will be pretty stout at the ceiling. I can always add cross over gussets every 3rd post

Drawing only shows 1 roller. There will be 2 rollers per side about 24" apart with the crossover I-Beam centered.

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I agree with Knick 100%, I would not be comfortable putting that kind of load on E-track. Trailer walls are typically thin gauge aluminum sheet 16 and up is all I’ve ever seen and honestly I’m not sure I’ve seen any as thick as 16. I have mounted horizontal E-track in my trailer and put almost 1000 pounds load split between the two sides but that was a real gamble and I wouldn’t recommend it. Installing your own vertical columns is the route I would go. Trailer walls are like paper mache, they aren’t built for strength at all. I can’t wait to see this when you finish though whichever route you go, a 53’ mobile fabrication trailer would be awesome!

The E-track is not your standard flat track that are put in as an afterthought These are a hat channel with a 1.5" rise from the flange - basically a C-Channel with wings and .125 thick and 6-8" overall width. Then the trailer skeleton on top of (well behind) that.

I’ll post pics of what I have to work with next week when I get back to the job.

Seems like your talking about logistics posts that are part of the trailer frame.

I’d consider contacting the manufacture and checking with them and make sure their product will work for your application.

They are the only ones who will know the section properties of the posts and be able to give you a definitive answer.

Seems pretty easy to add some columns if they don’t work.


1/8" is definitely not regular E-track, 72Pony is right though you should get the load specs from the manufacturer. All E-track is basically hat channel, but not 1/8" or 8" wide. I can’t wait to see the pics!

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16" centers, pretty stout posts. The outer skin is riveted to the posts, and the plywood anchors are 6" on center, to the posts are likely 6.50 wide, if not wider.

2000# max is all I am worried about . The average use will be a 4x4 of 1/2" plate or sheet of 1/4 plus the weight of the carriage. 550# +/-?

Is the wall post center only buck riveted to outside wall panel or is the post edges as well? If edges of the post are buck riveted, then your idea will work. But make sure that top roof rails as well as bottom rails are one continuous piece have not been spliced due to repairs and that buck rivets are hardened (will have a small dot on head of buck rivet if hardened).


:grey_question::face_with_diagonal_mouth: :grey_question:

I think I got most of what you said, but still a bit confused. I may have to add more pictures

Some progress in getting it set up. Still working out the details for the overhead. I will likely be putting in some vertical posts with a cross brace along the roof every 6’.