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Thread: building aluminum ramps from channel

  1. #1
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    building aluminum ramps from channel

    I'm asking this question in several places, hopefully to find someone who can give me a definitive answer. So if you saw it on another board, excuse me for multiple posts

    I'm thinking about using aluminum channel for a set of ramps for my car hauler. My truck is very low and my 4' steel ramps don't give me a good approach angle. I cobbled together some 2x12s and a wooden stand to add to the length but its a pain to set it all up. So I'l like to build some longer ramps to change the angle and the aluminum is certainly lighter than anything I could build from steel. The cost of commercial aluminum ramps doesn't fit in my budget. Also I'm old and want something lighter to deal with.

    I have some channel that is 'available' to me It is 10" wide with .50 web thickness and almost 3" flange... about 15# per ft. The ramps will be 7-8' long .. and will go from ground to 17" high trailer deck... truck weight is 5300 +/- with front end weighting 3840. I can't find a table telling me weight capacity of channel with the load traveling up the wide web... like this any ideas on capacity ??

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    any help appreciated

    john

  2. #2
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    Re: building aluminum ramps from channel

    Alum channel will never hold up to that abuse. It is not ment to withstand pressures in that direction.

    Your best bet is to change it out to a double 4" heavy channel with cross members welded like a normal ramp is made. Then lay a piece of alum diamond plate or wood in it if you want it solid.

    Why do you need it on such a slight angle as the beaver tail has a much greater angle to it?

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

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  4. #3
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    Re: building aluminum ramps from channel

    thanks for the reply, my sketch is probably misleading... I want to maintain the same angle as the beaver tail (5 degrees) My truck is low 7-8" off the ground at the front valance and I need that shallow angle. My other objective is to keep the weight down... I'm old with bad shoulders and wrangling those heavy steel ramps is difficult.. plus I had access to the channel.

    When you say 4" heavy channel are you talking about steel or aluminum ?? I can see the weight adding up quickly as you add length with steel material.

  5. #4
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    Re: building aluminum ramps from channel

    Alum channel

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

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    Re: building aluminum ramps from channel

    Based on information given I would recommend not exceeding 58 inches in length with that channel. If that length ramp works with the truck going on the trailer, the channel is as described, and the connection to the trailer is strong enough you should not have excessive deflection in the ramps. Shorter would give you a better margin of safety.

    If the ramp must be 84 inches long or longer you will exceed the recommended deflection ratio of length/360 for a live load. So in that case you should not use this channel without adding a center support of some kind.

    Obviously, if you proceed with this project you are assuming all the risks to life and property that come with fabricating your own critical structures. Don't even try to use this material at 7 to 8 feet in length.

  7. #6
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    Re: building aluminum ramps from channel

    Personally I would block the ramps up in the center and use it. That effectively cuts your span in half and will greatly increase your weight capacity. That would make for a much better light weight solution than some heavy fabricated monstrosity.

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    Re: building aluminum ramps from channel

    Maybe you could have some flip down supports half way up the aluminum ramps so they don't bend.

  9. #8
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    Re: building aluminum ramps from channel

    I like the idea of the center supports and it would add to the capacity of the channel... I've still got to get the trailer set up level and do some measuring for the length to make sure . I looked in to Race Ramps ( too $$$) and they recommended a 7' ramp to get the proper angle of approach... also Discount Ramp was in the same ball park, but I want to put an inclinometer and tape on it to verify. Also thinking of adding jacks on the back of the trailer to steady things while loading and keep the butt end of the tow vehicle on the ground

    thanks for all in input guys, I'll update as I move forward

    john

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    Re: building aluminum ramps from channel

    WAY easier than trying to design long ramps out of available material,, you can instead practice looking for loading locations that give you an advantage.

    VERY little of this planet is flat,, with a little practice, you can get into a habit of looking for "LOAD-FRIENDLY" locations.
    It does not take much of a variation in location to give you a BIG advantage in loading.

    If you demand that your trailer be able to be loaded anywhere that you happen to drop the ramps, then even the length of ramp you stated will be inadequate,, so you are already partly looking for good loading spots.

    I have a dump trailer, and LONG ramps,, people are always shocked when I raise the dump body a little to give me a loading advantage.
    WHAT? do they think I am cheating,, or something??

    That might be an easier solution for you. Buy a small 12 volt hydraulic pump, and a cylinder.
    Use the pump and cylinder to create a hydraulic "foot" at the front of the trailer.
    The hydraulics would raise the front of the trailer (and the back of the truck) slightly, and this would result in the back of the trailer being much lower.
    There is always more than one way to skin a cat.

    I know if I did not have a dump trailer,, and only had a flatbed trailer,, the FIRST thing I would do is fab a hydraulic assist to raise the front of the trailer.
    When the rear of the trailer is lower,, loading ALWAYS becomes MUCH safer.

  11. #10
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    Re: building aluminum ramps from channel

    Just remember, when you weld in the center of your span you turn your T-6 channel into T-0 in the HAZ.

  12. #11
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    Re: building aluminum ramps from channel

    walker... I think that's above my pay grade... I don't know what t-6 to t-0 stuff means

    j

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    Re: building aluminum ramps from channel

    SweetMK, I already look for 'friendly' locations... this is a semi-show truck and It will be loaded and unloaded on asphalt or concrete and acceptable flat. so looking for a dirt bank other areas won't be done. I do already jack up the front of the trailer (and the back of the truck) with the front jack, to the point of almost getting the tow vehicle rear wheels off the ground, so I know that works with my cobbled together ramp solution... I'm trying to find an easier and lighter permanent solution that an old guy like me doesn't work himself to death loading/unloading

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    Last edited by jniolon; 07-03-2021 at 09:38 PM.

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    Re: building aluminum ramps from channel

    Quote Originally Posted by jniolon View Post
    walker... I think that's above my pay grade... I don't know what t-6 to t-0 stuff means

    j
    It refers to the heat treatment that was originally done on the aluminum after extrusion. The heat from welding will remove the effects from the heat treatment, thus weakening the aluminum and reducing it's capacity to resist flexing or bending. You could bolt the supports on or better yet just block the ramp in the center to reduce flexing.

  15. #14
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    Re: building aluminum ramps from channel

    MJD, that was my original idea, just add some bolted on legs at the center of the ramp, or fab up a support block to stick up under the ramp

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    Re: building aluminum ramps from channel

    Quote Originally Posted by jniolon View Post
    MJD, that was my original idea, just add some bolted on legs at the center of the ramp, or fab up a support block to stick up under the ramp
    Yeah, problem solved. If you are going to weld a hook on the trailer end, makes sure it's in compression rather than tension and you will be fine.

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  18. #16
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    Re: building aluminum ramps from channel

    I have stiffened channel (steel though) for loading in the flat position by standing strap on edge inside the web in an X pattern. Skip weld 2 in 6 on the channel web, & weld all the junctions on the strap & flange. I don't know if it will work on Al though. May affect the heat treat?

  19. #17
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    Re: building aluminum ramps from channel

    FWIW, a tilt deck trailer makes your situation super easy!

  20. #18
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    Re: building aluminum ramps from channel

    i think if you weld your ramps the way you want and block the center, you will be fine. that truck isn't that heavy for those centered blocked ramps. use old blocks of varying thicknes. oak works the best. try another similar weight vehicle that heavier first.
    lincoln 125sp
    monkey wards 250 ac/dc
    miller 211 w/spool gun
    ahp 200 sx tig
    lotos ltp5000d
    of course duramax diesel

  21. #19
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    Re: building aluminum ramps from channel

    Maybe a scissor jack like they use for levelling RV's would be an easy solution. Nice truck by the way.

  22. #20
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    Re: building aluminum ramps from channel

    thanks Walker

    When you're ready to bring it or ship it I'll give you address for delivery...what a nice gesture !!!

  23. #21
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    Re: building aluminum ramps from channel

    Quote Originally Posted by jniolon View Post
    thanks Walker

    When you're ready to bring it or ship it I'll give you address for delivery...what a nice gesture !!!
    I’ll ship just as soon as your check clears.

  24. #22
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    Re: building aluminum ramps from channel

    Something else that can help with your current setup is to simply leave the trailer connected and drop the tongue jack and raise the front of the trailer up a wee bit.

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    Re: building aluminum ramps from channel


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