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Thread: Aluminum I-Beam sled runners

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    Member Nukalpiaq's Avatar
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    Default Aluminum I-Beam sled runners

    Anyone ever build a wood-hauling flat sled using aluminum I-beams for sled runners before? been thinking of this idea for a few years now and the more I think it through the more I want to build one. Need to find a company in Alaska that sells aluminum I-beam stock, anyone know of one here in the State? 12 ft. long runners would do the job, was thinking 3 inches wide, 6 inches in height. Tricky part would be getting the front end of the runner curved up to the right height. Was thinking that the best way to achieve this would be to cut V cut cross ways through the front end of the runner, then bend and weld each one, as many as needed until you get the curve and height you want. Any thoughts on this method? for the back end of the runner there needs to be an upward curve also to help with moving the sled backward in the event you get stuck. Think this can be achieved with just one V cut taking a piece out of the base of the beam and bending the flat part of the runner up and welding it in place.
    For the sheeting on the top I would use 36" wide 3/8" or maybe even 1/2" sheet plastic, which would give it a good slick bottom for towing through the snow. Would also need to mount some sturdy cross braces probably angle aluminum stock would work. One brace on the rear of the sled, one on the front end to prevent the sled from bowing in the middle, when I am carry my logs. Would need to come up with a good system for tying down my load of wood, was thinking that I would have low height rails made and mount them or maybe even weld them on each side of the sled runner, another thought would be to just mount heavy duty eye bolts or heavy duty metal D-ring mounts spaced out every 20-24 inches or so.
    For mounting the runners and sheet plastic had a few ideas, one was to drill one inch holes thru the mid-section of the I beam snug up against the bottom base and the top base every 12 inches, holes need to be large enough to get a washer and lock nut secured on the mounting bolts. Another option was to use a criss-cross bolt mounting pattern and mount the bolts on either side of the I so as to avoid the extra work of drilling holes. Any thoughts on this? One thought that came to mind for sled runner plastic was to find a company that could make plastic slides that would just slip right over the bottom of the I beam like the slides on a snow-machine's slide rails. But for the time being would very likely just use 3 inch wide plastic runners and mount them using the same method as the top sheet plastic. These are my ideas so far if anyone has any more recommendations on how to improve this sled design I would be appreciate hearing them. Thanks

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Sounds complicated and really expensive.

    Question, as I don't know. Does the sled really need to be the full 12' length, or could you put a shorter sled at the front, and a second sled at the rear of the load?

    Came across this skidding cone after some googling, something to be said for simple and cheap.



    Here's a commercial unit.

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    Member sayak's Avatar
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    Have your own curved I-beams made.

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    Member ret25yo's Avatar
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    geez... find A "w" road guardrail .. a lot easier to bend and lighter (granted not as strong)

    http://www.allrail.us/

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    Member Nukalpiaq's Avatar
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    Thanks for the suggestions and recommendations, alternatives that were mentioned would probably work. I still would like to explore the idea of using aluminum I-beams and plastic sheeting. May cost more but I know of woodhaulers out here in the bush that are paying $1,000.00 for welded metal sleds built out of 2 inch square stock. Sleds are kinda heavy, but can sure haul a big load of black spruce logs.
    We have to snowmachine 2 rivers north of here approximately 70+ miles to get into country where there are black spruce forests, and only during the winter months when we have good trail conditions.
    The investment in a good sled is probably worth it cause the wood we cut and haul from there is real hot burning, best wood for the "maqi" (steamhouse). Makes me break out into a sweat just thinking about it.
    I attached a pic of the homemade version of the sled we usually use out here for hauling wood. Still a good design but an aluminum/plastic version would last much longer and be more durable.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Member ironartist's Avatar
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    instead of bending a alum beam why not make them out of flat material and weld them together into your wanted design?
    Visions Steel/841-WELD(9353)
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    Thought of that before an figured that it would be more costly, but who knows maybe it could equal the cost of the I-beam runner design. I would go with either method as long as I got a sled that would be similar in design to my wood one. I really need to price out the material and welding costs to do the comparison. One of the reasons I am looking for a company in Alaska that sells aluminum stock material including I-beams. Thanks

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    Member ironartist's Avatar
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    I am sure weld air has aluminum wide flange beam and has the ability to roll it, 373-2000 if you want it fabed send me some dimensions and I will shoot you a price
    Visions Steel/841-WELD(9353)
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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    UHMY comes in 48" X 120" sheets, and several years back a 1/2" sheet ran $500, I'm pretty sure with increased costs of oil, and with shipping out there just a full sheet of plastic will set you back $1000. Figure the aluminum and misc hardware will probably be in the same ball park, and having it welded or bent will add several hundred $, and then shipping out there. So, ballpark of $3-5,000.

    Honestly I wouldn't waste my time with all the drilling and bolting, it'll likely shake loose over the years. Have a fab shop weld up the cross beams between the I beams, if you go that route.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

    If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

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    If you have aluminum welding capabilities here is my idea for using the I beam you suggest to make your runners. Cut the top and bottom horizontals and bend out of the way, cut and weld the vertical to get the sweep you would like and re-attach the horizontals and there you have your runners and can drill and bolt to them as needed. Hope this helps and sorry for the poor drawing.

    George

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    Member Nukalpiaq's Avatar
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    George, now that looks like a good way of making an aluminum I-beam sled runner and have it still be as strong as ever. Checked on I-beam prices and sizes that were available online, not so easy to find 6 inch high beams, but some sites did have 12 ft lengths. I like your idea for making the runner. The top curve will be a lot smoother when the plastic sheet is secured on top. Thank-you

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    Member ironartist's Avatar
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    If that be the case theres no need in having the curve the entire lentgh cut a wedge out of it with your skill saw and pull it up screw a plate to each side and top or weld if you have access to a machine and caller good
    Visions Steel/841-WELD(9353)
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    ironartist, I am still open to exploring other options to fabricating an aluminum sled runner. I am trying to find the least expensive approach to getting them made. I-beams being an engineered product seemed the best bet since they would be strong and be able to carry a heavy load of logs without bending or getting too beat up on rough trails. The basic sled runner design I am looking for is similar to the Qamutiik/Komatic sled runner design. Difference is when I cover the top of the sled the sheet will go all the way to the front end and a snow shield will be added on the bow to keep snow from kicking up into the sled. I really like the wooden design we make out here, but within three years or so depending on use they wear out, mostly sled runners get cracked up or broken mostly due to fishtailing. This happens quite often even when we have skegs installed on the bottom of the plastic runners that we shoe the sled with. I have to build a flat sled basically every three years or so. An aluminum one would be a good investment over the long run. My sleds are usually 10 ft long but a 12 footer sure would be nice for the long haul. Still gonna think thru the options and figure out cost, maybe I can draw something up and get an estimate on an all aluminum framed flat sled, would be sweet towing especially if I could sheet the top with plastic.

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    Do you have more pictures from the back, front and the bottom? Also what is the terrain you run, deep snow or is it hard wind blown with lots of waves of hard pack snow?

    You are building a sled out of aluminum for the first time unless you over build the sled you are going to have problem with cracks. You have not mention if there is someone that can weld aluminum, if no one can weld aluminum I would make the sled out of steel so it can be repaired. If we know more about your wood sled, I think the skids could be built stronger than using a I beam for skids.

    One idea would be to the make the bottom of the skid out of 3/8 or , 6061 flat bar and they could be as wider if you wanted the sides would be 1/4 flat bar made into a V. This would help to protect the sides. If done right you could add steel runner to keep the sled from fishtailing.

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    My two cents,

    I'm an aluminum fabricator by trade, If this were me I would either build the slip roll jig to bend the I beam which can be purchased from alaska steel run it through the shrinking/stretching machine till I got the desired bend I was looking for. I would also use 5052 H34 so it would bend a bit before it cracked out.

    That being said after making a smaller sled to be towed filled with my ice fishing gear I would never build one bigger for hauling to much of a pain in the rear when there are much simpler solutions.


    Go down and buy a section of five foot culvert the width you want your sled to be this will have a cirumference of 15 and a half feet cut a slot down the side and flatten it out leave the front curved up and the back curved if you want. Its easy to weld some L angle tabs on to bolt on sides. This sled can be made in one day including the time it takes to go buy the culvert.

    known experice shows you can tow a bunk of plywood or 4 full fuel drums on such a sled and the ribbing on the bottom of the sled also lends it to tracking straight on the trail.

    Attachment 54668Attachment 54669

    Don't get me wrong light weight, works just as it should, and plenty durable but it took two weeks to make this one

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    Member Nukalpiaq's Avatar
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    rdrash, would you please repost your attachments, tried to see the pics and they were invalid. thanks

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