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Telehandler for raising walls, anyone?

dieselpig's picture

Any framers out there use your telehandler for raising large walls and gable ends?

I know that a good deal of guys do and am considering it myself.  It seems the gables on these houses just keep getting bigger and bigger.  My 20' Proctors are becoming too small quickly.  In fact I just ordered an additional set of 23' ers for the house I'm framing now.  Gables span 36'6" and will stand close to 22' tall.  I'd like to continue to frame, sheath, and trim my gables on the deck and then raise them.

But I'm not looking to get anyone killed either.

So my question is, if you do use your telehandler, what do you use of accessories?  And more importantly how do you make the connection from machine to framing?

I've got a 3/8" x 20' chain to work with.  I don't know the rating on this tow chain, but most chains all warn "not for overhead lifting" anyway.  Why is that?

I've also got four 6' nylon webslings rated for 6400lbs each that I use for setting steel and monster lvls.  I'd also buy any other gear you recommend having to do this.

Any takers on this scary crap?

(post #98666, reply #1 of 14)

I prefer a boom truck or small mobile crane.  Site conditions kind of dictate what kind of machine to use (I'm in some fairly hilly country), but if there was reasonably level ground around the site, with adequate room a telehandler might work.

To me, the limitations of a telehandler are somewhat limited reach and elevation.

(post #98666, reply #8 of 14)


    There are several things you can't do with a crane or boom truck that you can do with a forklift..   For example with a crane you can't work off a work platform.   Well you could but it would sway around a lot and make things very difficult compared to doing it off a work platform on a forklift. Especially a forklift with the low profile foam filled tires that Ingersol Rand uses.  You can be 56 feet in the air and walk around on a 16 foot workplatform like you were still solidly on the ground.. 

       .. In addition a crane simply cannot access the same terrain that a forklift can..  I've actually seen customers drive forklifts into near swamp conditions,.... and drive them back out again (much muddier)    ;-)   Kinda fun seeing the dirt clods go flying  15-20 feet in the air..

   It used to be that a crane could swing trusses into place faster than you could put them in place with a forklift.. however with Ingersol Rands new swing boom that too is over. Now you can swing trusses as fast as a crane can..

     Most Boom trucks (properly called truck mounted cranes)  really have very little capacity.   Often they may start out with as little as 15 tons or in some cases as little as 7 1/2 tons..  Unlike true cranes truck mounted boom trucks have a 5 foot load rating which in some cases may not even get the crane in front of the truck before it's downrated.. depending on who made the crane portion of the boom truck   and where the crane is mounted  (front, mid, axle, or rear) the downrated  capacity could easily prevent you from doing the job at all.  True cranes (properly called truck cranes)  use a 10 foot radius before down rating and often start with capacity of 30 tons or more, however their wieght requires a much superior prepared surface to work off of. 

    As for reach.  It really depends. Ingersol Rand and several other manufactures sell 56 foot Telehandlers,  add the optional jib and you can reach 68 feet and still have a capacity of 2000 pounds!  

  One final point.. If you learned how to build using the full benefits of a telehandler you would find out that they really help you build the house faster.. For example you can pick up a whole cube of 3/4 subflooring  with one and by extending the boom simplyslide the sheet off the pile drop it into place align and nail.. Your back won't ache from making 40 trips back and forth to the plywood pile and jumping up onto the deck with a sheet of plywood.

  Same with putting the joists in place and well, actual experiance means you build a house about 25% faster with a telehandler than without one.. That means you will save enough to pay for the telehandler and a little to spare.. it takes about 5 years to pay for it and they last 25 years or so before expensive stuff needs work.

  most of my customers are referalls or repeat buyers they found it to be true.. 

  E-mail me if you'd like more details.   It doesn't sound like you're in my area so I probably can't sell you one but at least I can tell you about costs and payments and how not to get ripped off..


Hi Frenchy, I'm considering (post #98666, reply #13 of 14)

Hi Frenchy,

I'm considering purchasing a 42' or a 55'.  I think the 42' will work for everything we need except for hanging the trusses.  Do you think a 55' would work for hanging trusses?  (Assuming about 23-25' from grade level to top of 2nd floor wall).

Thank you,


Frenchie alter ego (post #98666, reply #14 of 14)

Frenchie alter ego here:

that will work only if you shellac the trusses first..... and if they are made from 22 cent BF oak or 36 cent BF black walnut. 


(post #98666, reply #2 of 14)


Have you tried stick framing one yet?

Put the wall up and then your end rafters, leave the next one in; out to give you some room.

Plank it across the span. Sheath it from the inside with 2 ft. strips..........

I'm sure you've thought about it.

You can do a bit of the trim from up above once you get the roof sheathed, maybe the rest standing on that facy #### machine ya got there.

You just moved up, and already you are out pacing yourself!


I Love A Hand That Meets My Own,

With A Hold That Causes Some Sensation.



"When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking." — Sherlock Holmes, 1896

(post #98666, reply #3 of 14)

We've stick framed quite a few gables that couldn't be built on the deck  due to size, shape or location.  I hate it.  Absolutely hate it.

I run all the exterior trim on our crew and do 99% of it solo.  Only time I grab a helper for a quick second is if I'm installing something like a 16' piece of solid 1x12 soffit.  So running rake trim (including 4"ish crown) solo, while the gable is up.....sounds like a nightmare to me.  I guess it's what you're used to.  This particular house has gables spanning almost 37' at a 9 pitch.  1x8 rakes, 12" gable overhang, crown, 1x6 frieze, and big ole hip roofed returns with crown.  That's a lot of time in the bucket and a lot of time paying someone to sit in the machine and move me around.  I can run all the trim myself comfortably on the deck with all the tools I need on hand... while that other guy is making us money somewhere else in the house.

Getting all that trim to its proper resting place once it's nailed together seems to be the only problem!  LOL.

I've also dropped down to a three man crew since I got the machine.  On the larger frames (like this one) I bring in a warm body a few times a week to give the frame a good cleaning and reorganize the lumber piles. 

Anyway, point I'm trying to make is that I'm trying to do more with less.  Less bodies and more tools that is.  By having the appropriate tools including wall jacks and the machine, I'm convinced there's nothing the three of us can't frame in a timely fashion.  So having a guy sitting in the machine for two or three days while I trim this thing out doesn't seem like great use of manpower to me given my system.

So while the houses get bigger and bigger, my crew gets smaller and smaller, and the trailer gets fuller and fuller!

Long time, no chat.  How've you been?

Edited 7/1/2005 8:51 pm ET by dieselpig

(post #98666, reply #4 of 14)


We use the forklift all the time to lift walls and beams.   We bought a strap through our lumberyard a couple of years ago similar to what they use to tighten their loads together with.  It has two eyelets, one on each end that are about the size of my two fists together.  It has been great.

We play around with the pick points on the walls and such, but we are getting better at it.  I can't recall how long the strap is, but it's about 20' +/-.

Here are a couple of pics from last Feb where we lifted a gable wall.  If they are small like this one, then we'll lift them completely off the deck a few inches and fly it in like a panel wall, but usually we have them anchored to the subfloor with lumber straps to keep the bottom from kicking out.

I'll try and take some pics the next time we do this. From Lot 30 Muirkirk                                     

(post #98666, reply #5 of 14)

Diesel, we use 20' straps, two of them, for tilting walls like that. On the taller walls, we put the 12 jib on. On normal walls, we just slip the straps onto the fork.

The jib is preferred if the bottom is anchored because it raises the wall and positions the tip of the jib properly as the wall is coming up.

It's actually easier to just let the bottom stay free to swing under the center of gravity, but care should be taken to extend the boom far enough into the house to prevent the wall from sliding off. After the entire wall is airborn (swinging), then the machine is retracted to the proper location and the wall is set down.

Your equipment will easily lift that wall if it is properly positioned. It's risky to have to drive it when the machine is extended and under load, so care should be taken to set it up properly before the lift is started.

Another alternative that I used to do quite often before I had equipment was to build the gable portion on top of the partitions. This reduces your 22' tall wall to a measly 14' or so. This isn't always possible when the room requires a ballon framed wall, but over the years, I've managed to effectively figure out a way to make one wall into two and make it easier to raise. I've had the wall jacks mounted up on top of many partitions and scaffold planks! Anything to make the wall rasing easier.

One thing I wouldn't consider, ever! Stick framing it and sheathing and papering and overhanging it from a scaffold. No way, no how, not ever! I'd quit the trade before doing that.




keep looking for customers who want to hire  YOU.. all the rest are looking for commodities.. are you  a commodity ?... if you get sucked into "free estimates" and  "soliciting bids"... then you are a commodity... if your operation is set up to compete as a commodity, then have at it..... but be prepared to keep your margins low and your overhead  high...."

From the best of TauntonU.

(post #98666, reply #9 of 14)

Hi Blue,

Is a jib the same as a 'truss boom'?  I never really paid attention to truss booms because we just about never work with trusses.  Didn't realize it had other good uses, if that is in fact what you're talking about.

Can you explain more to me about how it works?  I always thought it was just a 12' rigid extension with a hook on the end.  Don't really understand how they're used. 

You said, "The jib is preferred if the bottom is anchored because it raises the wall and positions the tip of the jib properly as the wall is coming up. "  Can you explain this a bit more to me?


(post #98666, reply #11 of 14)

Yes Diesel, most people refer to the jib as a boom. I used cranes since I was 18 and everyone had a jib on it, so I still call the boom a jib. I'm a creature of habit.

Heres a pic showing a wall set into place with the fork and boom.

The reason the boom is better for tilting walls is because it's much easier to raise a large wall without having to move the skytrak while loaded with the wall.

If you are not using the boom, the the forks need to be tilted upward to begin the lift to keep the strap on. As you boom up, you usually find your forks to be in a bad position, necessitating the manipulation of the boom by either drawing in or backing up the unit. If you draw it in, the wall gets lowered, which is countering what you really want to do. If you back up, it's dangerous because the skytrak locks it's axles when the boom is raised above a certain angle. If the terrain is rugged, it could easily tip the track.

Wall raising is much easier with the jib becasue you can get the wall raised so much higher and very close to where you need it simply by tilting the jib.

The picture I"m showing you doesn't really show a heavy wall being tilted. It just shows the jib attached. ON that particular wall, we actually picked it off my tables at the front of the house and drove it around to set it. But the picture does show the jib at a level position. If he would pull the tilt knob, the tip of the boom would raise itself quite rapidly. The operator is able to gain a lot of height quickly and combined with the tilting capacity of the main boom , he can raise a rather large wall much safer.

Remember, if you are raising a tall wall, you have to first position the forklift quite close to the foundation. That in itself leads to complications.

Hope this helps but I think it might not.

Lastly; generallly, we find it easier to NOT strap the bottom down when lifting with the forklift. In the past, when we did strap it, we usually tore up the straps anyways and we'd then have to clean up the wall and floor before setting the wall down. Straps are critical when raising a wall with a wall jack becasue there isn't anything holding the wall from sliding off the wall, but it won't go far when attached to the skytrak!




keep looking for customers who want to hire  YOU.. all the rest are looking for commodities.. are you  a commodity ?... if you get sucked into "free estimates" and  "soliciting bids"... then you are a commodity... if your operation is set up to compete as a commodity, then have at it..... but be prepared to keep your margins low and your overhead  high...."

From the best of TauntonU.

jib_lift.jpg44.88 KB

(post #98666, reply #12 of 14)

Diesel, here's a picture of Frank moving a bay around the house to set it.

Notice how far out the bay is because of the jib. This is an important feature when grabbing large bundles of trusses.

In this picture, Frank is making a mistake. He's got the main boom up at a substantial angle while keeping the jib level. The problem is that the axels are locked at this angle. He's not in much danger of tipping because the center of gravity is very low. He would have been much safer to drop the main boom and severly tilt the jib. This unlocks the axles and lets them fit the terrain. Frank could then just keep everything plumb by using the leveling lever.




keep looking for customers who want to hire  YOU.. all the rest are looking for commodities.. are you  a commodity ?... if you get sucked into "free estimates" and  "soliciting bids"... then you are a commodity... if your operation is set up to compete as a commodity, then have at it..... but be prepared to keep your margins low and your overhead  high...."

From the best of TauntonU.

(post #98666, reply #6 of 14)

I set eight walls with ours on our present job. Four of the walls where eighteen feet tall. They were structural light gauge steel. I just wrapped a chain around the header and lifted them up got them close and just slowly maneuvered boom, tilt and adjusted the wheels until I set them right in place. It was a little nerve wracking, but wasn't hard.

These walls were much lighter than what you would probably be dealing with. These sets were (four of them) 35 feet up to the bottom plate. As we went on I got a little less careful about my attachment and bent a couple of studs that I wish I wouldn't have. If I were you I'd be considering putting everything in. I've never done it but heard of people raising walls with the windows.

Since you have a machine its a no brainer. But your walls will be heavy so make sure you have a secure connection which may mean strapping, but plywood should suffice as a structural gusset I would think. Its going to be a judgement call you're going to have to feel out. Use common sense and be careful. . Its fun

(post #98666, reply #7 of 14)


  I see it done all of the time, the only problem I've ever seen is when a framer on the side of the hill tried to frame tilt towards the downhill side in order to move the wall over a few inches.. it didn't tip over but it was a scary thing. He lifted the whole gable end up, (two story house)  I suspect that he was very near the full 42 feet of reach..

  If you are working with one of my forklifts (Ingersol Rand) I can get real specific about loads and capaicties and I can even give you numbers for older Lulls, Cat's and Gehls..

  I will caution you that most brands cannot frame tilt once the boom is above a certain angle (Lulls for example cannot frame tilt when the boom is above 45degrees..  nor can the move forward or backward)  Ingersol Rand is one of a very few brands that have no such restriction.  Even Ingersol Rand restricts frame tilting and travel to slow speeds on their big 56 foot model..

  Why not consider doing the framing and sheathing on the deck but have the siding and trim installed from a work platform on the forklft?   That's what local guys around here do..

(post #98666, reply #10 of 14)

along the lines of Frenchy's post(s) .. I bet your equip salesguy has some thoughts and ideas on the matter. I'd run it past him ... he's probably seen what does and doesn't work.


    Buck Construction

 Artistry In Carpentry

     Pittsburgh Pa

    Buck Construction

 Artistry In Carpentry

     Pittsburgh Pa