CatBird

Auto Turntable??

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I am building a car collection garage/display/museum building and want to have a turntable for automobiles. I see them for sale for about $30k to $40k would severely stretch my budget!

 

I have local fabricators, including myself, versed in equipment building, metal, electrical. Any plans or ideas for DIY, or a used Turntable? I have heard events where displays have been sold after an event? I am in Atlanta. I can also provide heavy equipment shipping.

Appreciate any info. Bill

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Seriously some auto dealers have them and I would stop at your local auto dealer and see if they have a trade magazine.  Car shows also have a source for rotating displays.

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We had one at a dealership where I worked several years ago. The owner bought it used and I think it still cost him $20,000. It's more complicated than you think, since it has to support several thousand pounds of car and still rotate easily. We had it apart many times and I recall that there was a round track and a fairly sturdy frame and the turntable part sat inside it on its own separate round frame. There were 12 or 15 individual electric motors around the perimeter that had little hard rubber or urethane wheels that fit into the track and turned the platform. There wasn't just one giant motor in the middle (remember that it has to have a low profile unless you're going to dig a giant hole in the floor). Then there were aluminum or stainless pie pieces that made up the top of the turntable plus a bunch of outer pieces that were like the ramp and the outer finishing edges so you didn't see the tracks. The turntable would spin inside it.

 

I also recall that it was unreliable as hell and that we were constantly replacing those little motors--they seemed overwhelmed by the weight of even a modest car. Replacing a motor took several hours. Since there were no fasteners visible on top, you had to remove all the perimeter pieces first, then remove the pie pieces, then find the motor and swap it, then put it all back together again. There were HUNDREDS of little allen head screws holding the pie pieces in place. There were many times when we just rotated it by hand by pushing the car because enough motors had burned out that it no longer moved at all and it wasn't worth shutting everything down for a day to fix it.

 

There might be other designs, but this one was professionally built and engineered, it just didn't hold up very well in regular use. It wasn't reliable, but I don't know what could be given those circumstances. If you are putting it up on a platform and don't need it to be low enough to drive on to, perhaps the motors could be up-sized and more durable, but for one that's nearly flush to the floor, those little motors (like the size of a power window motor) just weren't up to the task, even with a lot of them working together.

 

345752_1936-Ford-Phaeton_low_res.jpg

 

There are plenty of turntables out there being manufactured for all kinds of applications, but I bet the prices will make your eyes water (I found these simply by typing "auto turntable" into Google):

 

http://www.carousel-usa.com/car-turntables.php

 

http://hovair.com/products/car-turntables/car-turntables.htm

 

http://carturner.com/

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In the town I grew up in, there are many big Victorian

houses on beautiful tree-lined streets.  I know one

still has its original turntable in the carriage house-garage.

It dates from the early 20th century or late 19th century.

 

Whether the turntable was factory-made or made on-site I don't know.

But I suspect there must be a way to make one that's not overly complicated.

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If you are starting with  a clean sheet of paper, you could pick up a single post lift and cut the safety bar off. They will spin once that is gone.

 

There is a concept to start putting some details to, something novel could develop.

 

The important thing to remember is that $20,000 to $30,000 turntables generally cost that much and that is what they cost. Otherwise they would be cheaper.

 

I am reminded of a project meeting where a medical lab renovation had been estimated $75,000 and the project manager had about a dozen of us staying late trying to figure out how to do it for the $50,000 budget. Every option had been explored. Finally, I said "Look, the are 10 or 12 of us here. How many Saturdays would we have to wash cars to raise the $25,000?" The project manager slammed his portfolio closed and said "That's it. Meeting over!" We built it for $75,000.

 

You could be in a similar position.

 

Bernie

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I'm thinking of a platform 12 feet in diameter, made of 2X6 lumber framing with 3/4" plywood top. Mounted on casters in a circle around the edge. Possibly with a smaller circle of casters 6' in diameter for extra support.

 

The drive system would be 3 electric motors, of about 1/2HP each equally spaced around the outside driving by friction wheels. You would need a stationary ring around the outside of the turntable or maybe just 3 boxes. A stationary ring would give you a good place to mount a guard rail.

 

You would need a removable ramp to put the car in position and the whole outfit would be about 2 feet high. But it would cost a hell of a lot less than $30,000.

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I've seen them for sale on Craigslist.  If you want to make one, I think Rusty has a good start.  I'd use a metal frame instead of wood, and a rolled circular rim to ride on those casters.  Friction wheels are a clever and simpler idea than trying to run a drive to the central shaft. The support and drive wheels probably want to be at about 70% of the radius out from the center to spread the load, not at the outer rim.

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My dream garage would be a two story barn with a turntable lift in the center that would allow stacking twelve cars on the second floor and twelve on the ground floor. Bob 

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10 minutes ago, 1937hd45 said:

My dream garage would be a two story barn with a turntable lift in the center that would allow stacking twelve cars on the second floor and twelve on the ground floor. Bob 

 

You and VW...

 

Volkswagen-AP.jpg

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Get four wheel dollies used to move cars around the garage.   Or flood a depression and freeze it.  Then hire someone to rotate the vehicle only when someone is looking.  Of wrap a belt around the dollies and drive the belt with a motor and the dollies are mounted to an adjustable length center arm.

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2 hours ago, emjay said:

Get four wheel dollies used to move cars around the garage.   Then hire someone to rotate the vehicle only when someone is looking. 

This may be the best idea yet.

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I used to work at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City. The international Auto Show was one of the most labor intensive we would put in. I remember that a majority of the automobile manufacturers used a company named George P Johnson who built many of the booths, almost all of the booths  had turntables of some sort, built by Johnson. I remember the set-guys for Johnson telling me that most of the stuff gets auctioned off after the show circuit is over. You might want to contact Johnson to see if auction off the turntables. They were somewhat portable and had to be assembled in place, and they were labor intensive but everything fit into a crate that was 8' wide 

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Where I worked in a GM Dealership we had two turntables.  One had two ramps that the car was driven up onto.  The other was like a hoist and lifted on the frame.  The problem with the second one was to pull the suspension up so the wheels didn't hang down.  Both had electric motors that ran on 110.  We used them for two or three months a year and never had any trouble with them.  The center that rested on the floor and supported the ramps/arms was about 4' in diameter and about 1' high.

The one with the ramps was similar to this but with 60 year older materials.

tt1.png

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6 hours ago, Rusty_OToole said:

I'm thinking of a platform 12 feet in diameter, made of 2X6 lumber framing with 3/4" plywood top. Mounted on casters in a circle around the edge. Possibly with a smaller circle of casters 6' in diameter for extra support.

 

The drive system would be 3 electric motors, of about 1/2HP each equally spaced around the outside driving by friction wheels. You would need a stationary ring around the outside of the turntable or maybe just 3 boxes. A stationary ring would give you a good place to mount a guard rail.

 

You would need a removable ramp to put the car in position and the whole outfit would be about 2 feet high. But it would cost a hell of a lot less than $30,000.

1

I am building a garage/collection and am in the planning stage, so I don't need to modify a concrete floor. I will be pouring one.  My average cars are about 19 feet long and weigh about 5,000 pounds. Average 19 feet overall length. Looking at some Hovair bearings. I am also near Georgia Institute Of Technology science labs with state of the art machine tools. Laser printers, water/garnet cutters, CNC lathes. One of those fine young men can build me a turntable. Still looking for a design. Might have a larger turntable and balance a car with weight distributed, This CAN be done.

 

Thanks for the ideas. Bill

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As i remember everything has to be perfectly level, I was an electrician there so I really just watched the process until the motors were to be installed, and  we had a very level floor and still there was a ton of time spent on getting the base level a lot of shimming was done

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I've got a rotation fixation. Bottom feeder at the old Boeing Surplus , U of Washington Surplus , industrial equipment auctions , etc. I have more circular (and linear) motion junk than most guys. Medical scrap sometimes includes old cat scan equipment which has enormous bearings. My favorite junk is a pair of preload bearings 52" o.d. , 46" i.d. from a medical linear accelerator made by Varian. Outer ring bored and tapped in 24 places , inner ring bored and counter bored at 24 places. Working radial load rating is 280,000# , axial is 336,000# , with a 178,000 ft.lb. rating for cantilever. They weigh around 300# each. Monstrous industrial pipe couplings can be driven on fiber pinch rollers , and obviously have been bored for the fastening bolts. I picked up a stainless pair , almost 4' in diameter for less than their scrap value. Be careful shopping high-tech surplus. You can easily rationalize purchasing more exotic junk than you ought to , if you harbor some of the pathology which afflicts me. Good luck , Bill. Please keep us in the loop !      - Carl

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If you build it like a railway turntable balance might not come into it so much. I think they have a circular rail near the outside and the structural system underneath is a set of trusses. Of course, they run on flanged steel wheels too. Kind of a giant Lazy Susan.

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Here's the basics of the Cable Car turntable, hidden below grade. 4 roller bearings near the center, and 4 "balance rollers" on the outside perimeter riding in a circular steel track.

 

http://www.heavymovablestructures.org/assets/technical_papers/00930.pdf

 

turntable.jpg

 

 The turntable's dead load
- 30,000 Ibs and maximum cable car weight, 16,000 lbs -is transferred to a concrete pier through a cylindrical
steel pedestal. Six roller bearings are bolted to the top of the base plate (Photo 4).
To stabilize the turntable during rotation on the roller bearings, a 4-inch pin connects the steel support to the
turntable. Four balance rollers running on a curved rail provide additional support Erom tipping when the front
wheels of the cable car enter the turntable platform. The balance wheels ride on single curved rail

 

SF Cable Car.JPG

Edited by mike6024 (see edit history)

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3 hours ago, Bill Caddyshack said:

I am building a garage/collection and am in the planning stage, so I don't need to modify a concrete floor. I will be pouring one.  My average cars are about 19 feet long and weigh about 5,000 pounds. Average 19 feet overall length. Looking at some Hovair bearings. I am also near Georgia Institute Of Technology science labs with state of the art machine tools. Laser printers, water/garnet cutters, CNC lathes. One of those fine young men can build me a turntable. Still looking for a design. Might have a larger turntable and balance a car with weight distributed, This CAN be done.

 

Thanks for the ideas. Bill

If Hovair bearings mean what I think they mean, that may be the answer. I though of an air platform but didn't think anyone would dig it. You would have to build an air tight platform (not that difficult) and float it on a base by feeding air in from underneath. It might be best to use a series of small lifts that can be independently controlled in case the weight is not perfectly balanced.

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4 hours ago, John348 said:

As i remember everything has to be perfectly level,

That's a good point because if it's a bit out of level and the vehicle not quite exactly centered it would have a strong inclination to stay in one position, weight at the low point.

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The Hovair Matt references in response #4 above looks like a fine solution. The craigslist turntable 32plywood found in response #20 sounds like the one to grab quickly if it suits your needs. Could be a rather versatile , transportable tool.   - CC

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I wonder how many realize how early such a turntable was used for automobiles?

From Wikipedia:

 

"By the end of the summer of 1903, [F. O.] Stanley [one of the two identical twins who produced the Stanley 'Steamer' in Newton, Mass.] had acquired property in Estes Park and... began the construction of Rockside, his home in Colorado. Completed in 1905, the Stanley cottage was built with four bedrooms, gracious living areas and a modern kitchen... Stanley, whose primary leisure activities involved billiards, violins and steam cars, designed a basement with space for a billiard table and a detached garage with a violin workshop and a turntable, so that the steam car could exit front-wise rather than in reverse."

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