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Needed: tips for making large frames

jamscal

Stainless
Joined
Sep 8, 2004
Location
Louisville, KY
12x14x35 foot box frames made from 4" square tube. 36" centers on the "studs" and "joists".
We already make similar scale boxes and just use conventional layout methods to get them right. We only make these occasionally right now and due to the size they are built off low sawhorses.

If you were going to scale this up and make constant production as quickly and accurately as possible, how would you do it? What tools would you buy and what jigs would you make. (lasers?)

We have the floor space and outside laydown area, so space isn't a problem.

They aren't terribly complex and the ODs will remain the same. We don't have an overhead crane but do have the rails I could put a hoist on easily.
Roof would be the same on all of them

Pain points are going to be tilting up the walls and getting them all square...material handling and measuring issues mainly.

Thanks!
 
Perhaps laser level and precise measured oak blocks glued to the floor as the stand fixture. That way at least one side would be correct to square, size, and angle.

Weld up some good size squares so to get angles correct.

Might make gauges for critical dimensions.
water soluble glue, blocks can be knocked off and floor cleaned.
 
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Build one flat, check everything on it. Weld flat bar ears on it sticking up. Now you have a stack jig for the rest. Slap parts in it, tack them up, send to the welder. Those are turn and burn jobs.
Have done this many times. it works. You just spend the time on the first one to make it perfect, rest just drop in. When done if your not making more any time soon, you clean that one up and use it on the last box, and now its out of the way and gone. If making more you put it away.

Just keep all the tabs on the same side of the tubing so it's easy to slip out of the jig and isn't trapped in there.
 
Yes the flat sides and 'roof' made separately would benefit from the tack and stack method...

I was wanting more help on holding the whole thing in place as the sides and roof come together to make a box....and also measuring.

Maybe overcomplicated but if I had scribed lines and one of those new Hilti Lasers that go in 4 directions and have a locating dot?...
 
Jamscal,
Just to clarify your dimensions, you are making a five sided structure from flat panels, 12’ tall, 14’ wide and 35’ long? Is that correct?
Is the roof also an assembled panel or is it built in place, just joists welded across from wall top plate to top plate?
That is a pretty large item so how do you move it once assembled if you have no overhead crane? Lift up onto dollies?
I have a few ideas but need more info.
 
Build roof as full frame, stack jigged. Use same jig to build walls, sans top horizontal.
Use same jig again, adding tall (3-4 feet) ears on outer members. Only add 3 each side. Stand walls on this “new jig”.
Use forklift to put roof on top. I would use crane, forklift works too.
 
Shop I used to work in had H beam poured in the concrete With tapped holes
And sawhorses with leveling feet and milled surface all the same hight You could bolt these to the H beams and then level it
At that time we used a leveling instrument for accurate jobs
You created a flat surface at comfortable hight you could work on
But at shipyards I saw huge CI floor plates with holes

Peter
 
Jamscal,
Just to clarify your dimensions, you are making a five sided structure from flat panels, 12’ tall, 14’ wide and 35’ long? Is that correct?
Is the roof also an assembled panel or is it built in place, just joists welded across from wall top plate to top plate?
That is a pretty large item so how do you move it once assembled if you have no overhead crane? Lift up onto dollies?
I have a few ideas but need more info.
See pic above. Tubes on end wall left out for clarity.

5 sided structure to those dimensions yes. All made of square tube. Not sure If I'd want to make the 2 largest walls and join them with the joists for the roof...or build the roof panel first and maybe build upside down off of that. The wall and roof are going to share a tube so not sure what the best process will be right now....

We modify shipping containers and can move those easily...these will weigh less and have more to grab onto. We have machinery mover dollies and 2 forklifts.

Thanks!

Edit, posted this as memphisjed was posting...that seems like a good plan, but I'm happy to hear them all.
 
Build the roof upside down, build the wall sections with uprights and base as one piece, and attach to the roof section. Weld and flip. Use turnbuckles with long extension rods welded to them to adjust your walls to square. Tack the extension rods to the wall parts in a place they can be removed and not seen easily.
BTDT
 
Seems to me you could build both the sides flat on the floor.
Some form of jig/location points on the floor, nice and flat and square; glue oak blocks, etc as suggested earlier.
Also make a couple of 4 sided squares, with diagonals to keep them square; maybe angle iron.
Make the sides in the jig on the floor. Stand the sides up in the jig. Use the "squares" held in place with clamps to hold the sides vertical and in place.
Drop the floor beams in place and weld.
Clamp simple plates ( 2" x 3/8" x 12") on the roof beams so they rest on the top of the wall, and weld them in place.
If your walls are square and all the verticals are in the correct place, its very easy to align the floor and wall beams with them.
Another option, if this is a repeating job, might be a jig you make up from several pieces that you bolt together and lay on the floor. Find a way to be sure the jig is always in the same place on the floor, and the pieces numbered so they always go in the same place. Weld some shims to the under side of the jig pieces so the jig is always level. Maybe set some threaded plugs in the floor so you can bolt the jig in place, more for location and stability. Blow out the holes whenever you need it.
You're working with nice light material,
Good luck,
Bob
 
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Tolerance is everything; does it fit somewhere , does something fit in it. Does it stack and bare weight .
Crane ?? Twin hoists if you have the means. Capacity depends alot on your span and beams but if you buy/ build a bridge head room should be optimized. Don’t put in a crane that will interfere with what you are doing with fork lifts unless it will improve material handling.
Off hand for your box construction, if your floor is flat enough to meet tolerances, I would build some angle iron squares you can push around on the floor. Maybe like 2’ x 4’ x 6’ blocks out of 2x2x 1/8” angle, heavier if you have rough handler’s doing the work.
Thats a start, more info = better results
 
You have some good ideas here and I would go with the master wall template on the floor with tabs. Once set up this will be fast and accurate.

The main thing is that you have lots of room so I would set up the main template in one area and then move each panel to an assembly area.
This way you can keep making panels while assembling the box.

For assembly I would bolt to the floor (concrete?) a 35’ long straight piece of angle (or whatever) and a 14’ piece into a perfect square on the outside of the box. Then I would bolt three plates to the floor ten feet from the long side and make some adjustable bracing rods that can clamp to the top rail of the first long side. Once the first long side is in place and plumb the rest will be quite easy. The giant framing square on the floor means you have forklift access until the box is complete.

I would even consider having a permanent scaffold platform on the outside of the first long side. A safe place to work for the first side tilt up and then also for the rafters. I would make up enough tab clamps for one set of rafters, clamp them all onto the rafters on the floor then up into place, tack tack, remove clamps in seconds with no grinding.

Good luck,
MM

With this setup and accurate cutting you should be well within 1/4”.
 
We make stainless steel buildings. 3x3x11ga square tubing frame. Last year we used CNC band saw cut straight sections and press brake formed corner fittings. Worked okay. But this year I switched to tube laser cut pieces with tab and slots. It took a while to design but they go together absolutely beautifully.

Buildings are 17' long and just dry fitting the pieces gets the building easily within 1/4" of square. A few ratchet straps square things up to "perfect" and then just careful weld sequencing to keep it that way.
 
We make stainless steel buildings. 3x3x11ga square tubing frame. Last year we used CNC band saw cut straight sections and press brake formed corner fittings. Worked okay. But this year I switched to tube laser cut pieces with tab and slots. It took a while to design but they go together absolutely beautifully.

Buildings are 17' long and just dry fitting the pieces gets the building easily within 1/4" of square. A few ratchet straps square things up to "perfect" and then just careful weld sequencing to keep it that way.
That's a really awesome idea...not sure of the logistics and cost of having this stuff tube lasered...but can really see the benefit.
 








 
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