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Cam hook truss setter

Natman

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I got a suggestion to try one of these, from a guy I do enough work for, and have done for a while, to give it a shot. Today we were setting trusses with no obvious balance point, (not unusual at all of course, these days) steep pitch, not symmetrical in any way shape or form. The contractor's son doing the rigging, and he's not the sharpest tool in the tool box to start with, and I get a horse throat yelling suggestions from 70' away, I've found it's hard to make myself heard without sounding pissed off, which I'm not. Bored, embarrassed, yes, at times by picking a truss comically out of whack, while other contractors drive by, but after 3 or 4 attempts by the kid I give up and go ahead and swing it. Besides, the next truss will be different anyway...., it's the unrigging that presents the biggest hassle, at least with this particular crew. I almost got offended when he texted me a link to this thing, (I have a hook, but it's smooth, on purpose, so it disengages easily, but I can't use it on a out of whack/unblanced 8/12 truss top chord, unless a 16d nail is driven in the bottom of the top chord to keep it from sliding. I told the kid this, "drive a nail uphill from the hook, to keep the hook from sliding," and he comes back with a nail gun! I don't think he knows what a hammer or a 16 d nail is, if they need one they bust one loose from a gun cartridge. So, at least for this contractor, I'll brown nose him a bit and order it, who knows it might be the cats meow. https://www.trusshook.org/product-page/cam-hook
 

RocketScott

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Sep 8, 2013
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Lexington, KY
Looks interesting. I'd be afraid of snagging the release cord on something. Might be better to put a small loop on the release and use a hook on a painters pole, or a nail in a 2x4 in a pinch. See what doofus figures out once you get them. Something about monkeys and footballs...

Do you have a picture of your hook? I always used chains. Usually the webs keep the chain from sliding on the top cord. If they're put on loose they can be bumped free without climbing out to where they're hooked. Doesn't always work that way, but most of the time. I had two sets of chains and could lift 4 trusses if their design allowed for it. It wasn't that often that I had to lift multiple common trusses over and over again though. I always wanted to make a spreader bar for lifting multiple trusses but never got around to it

Can't speak for all framers, but most of us break nails off racks because it doesn't make sense to buy a keg of loosies for random hand banging. Even if the builder is buying nails it doesn't make sense to have one extra thing around just for that. Most of the time we end up with a bunch of broken or partial racks in our bags from switching between nail types over and over. Although I've seen a lot of framers that just throw nails on the ground and don't care. Don't use 16d anymore either unless the engineer calls them out for some specific reason. 10d 3" x .131 seemed to be the standard a lot of places. Longer than that and you'll have points sticking out around your door frames. The extra length does little for strength, girth is more important
 

Natman

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I think you hit the nail on the head! Having started construction doing formwork, before air nail guns were ever seen on any framingIMG_20240411_091750154.jpg jobsite, I got into the habit of packing both 8 and 16 duplex nails in my nail belt, even after I got air upped and was framing houses (and yes, not 16's in the nail gun, but 12's or 10's) as they were handy for temp bracing etc. So yeah, telling the kid to put a 16 in the truss didn't compute with him! It may pay for me to buy my own box of 16 commons, no need for duplex, and maybe even a loaner hammer, as the rigger kid usually isn't even wearing a belt.

I use a short length of chain on the end of a 6' sling, so the chain gets the wear not the sling, and the ball stays above everyone's noggin when unrigging, here's today's job, easy/peasy, and only two because they were 50' span, smaller and only one on the kingpost is the usual. If symtrical I can just slide it down the kingpost for easy reaching. The spring latch I use on the end of the chain is a special type I found, and stocked up on. The tip of the hook on most protrudes out just enough to now and then catch on stuff, these types end flush, and are impossible to snag unless the chain gets wrapped around a gusset or something. I always tell them to get me free, don't unhook me and leave the chain between the trusses but on the free side, so I don't have to cable down, then back up, then swing and cable down for the next one, and I tell the rigger the same as he can rig it to start with so I end up on the free side when unhooked.

The webs were way out of wack for the CG, no matter which was used, meaning we had to rig on the steep pitch top chord, and double wrapping the chain I've found keeps it from slipping, but it makes it tougher to reach to unrig, expecially when they are 10' tall trusses and short carpenters. That's why I told the kid to single wrap it, and put a nail upslope of it, and when he did, with a nail gun, it was too far in and didn't do squat. My current hook (just hand formed 1" cold rolled round stock) AND a 16 d hand driven, not too far, would have worked as well as this $300.00 hook, plus I can self unhook mine, no need for a rope puller, it has an 8" throat so as long as I don't cable down too far until ready, it's safe enough, though I only use it with direct line of sight, not when using my camera. They've shipped this new hook, I'll probably only use it for that contractor who suggested it, it was easier than telling him his kid is a pain to work with, especially as I now realize why he didn't have any 16's on hand, I'm showing my age. Back in my day, if you didn't have any in your belt, you'd be looking for a new job. I'll post again when I get some time on it.

Shop/house today, being so tall and set up so close, all I could see firsthand the entire job was 2' of the tails, but my camera system made it easy.IMG_20240411_114819740_HDR.jpg
 

RocketScott

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Lexington, KY
A framer without a belt is worthless. They need to get that kid tuned up. He should at least have a hammer for splitting trusses and breaking bands

I don't have any close ups of my hooks, but they're just regular grab hooks. No spring latch. They have wide square backsides where the clevis is. If I rig it right I can bump them with a 2x4 after the chain's unloaded and the hook pops off. It usually worked but I was always looking for a better mousetrap. I also have an extra 6' chain with hooks at either end that I can add to hold an oddball truss closer to level

Since I work by myself I try to do as much as I can on the ground or the floor. Partially assembling hip sets or bracing up a central set of trusses to stand on their own once I get them to plate line. Safer for me and reduces the back and forth of the crane

LMwhzfJl.jpeg


Built this one on the second floor to keep it square and level:
Pxhmbfdl.jpg


These were 50' IIRC. The only place I had to put the trusses was inside the garage. Had to fish them out two at a time. Like you said, I let the chain slide down the king post/web. These were easy. Some sets are like you said: funky, oddball, hard to find the CG... sometimes it's just tedious

p8scYyll.jpeg


Your camera system is awesome. I can't even imagine how much time that would have saved me over the last 10 years
 

Natman

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When I had my 17 ton Terex boom truck, I was still building for others a bit, plus my own new shop and house as I had moved onto new property. The wireless remote I had then could be worn without interfering with my nailbelt, and it made me a superman, or at least a super carpenter! I also found I could wear my climbing harness/fall protection rig, so I was doing stuff like running my self up to the top of 14' high framing to tie the corners together, fly myself up onto the roof rather than use a ladder. I set my trusses 6 at a time, like you I pre fabbed as much as possible on the ground.
On the jobs I do now for others, there's no way thats cost effective for my customers. Whenever I get on a framing job with a new people, and the first thing they ask is how many trusses can I set at once, I tell them "all of them, the whole bundle!" That gives them pause, than I ask, if we set 3 at a time, do you think the job will go 3 times as fast? As the crane op, I'd just as soon sit there drinking coffee and listening to the radio while they drag the trusses off the stack and prep for a multi truss lift, and make a single pick every 15 minutes, but for most of my jobs I can swing individual trusses quicker. If they have the room (rare nowadays, with land being worth more) and foresite to have units of trusses all prepped and scattered around and ready to pick, I love that too, but thats rarely the case. For your jobs, with your own boom truck, not costing you $ per minute, prepping assemblys makes perfect sense for sure, they are more fun to set also! It takes a good builder to keep them square etc., most screw them up, and that takes longer also by the time they jerk them around to make them fit, the ones that know how to do it are fun to work with, and make me look good, the others make me look bad.
 

crane operator

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Most of the trusses I set are bigger than you can pick in a single point. When they are small enough to pick in a single point, the center is usually covered by a metal plate, and I saw on their web site - only supposed to pick on wood. Can't pick a double, can't pick a triple.

Last week was 80' trusses with a 4 point pick on the 30' spreader bar, and they didn't even want to pick without big stiffbacks, they were vaulted with a hat flat top so nothing but floppy. $1,200 in lifting brackets? x multiple sets for multiple cranes? I think they are probably a "no" from me.

They would be slick for the odd centered that only pick with a nail driven for the center of gravity pick point.

The canadian guy tradesman had a remote release, and I think that would be slick for setting iron.
 

Natman

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I get maybe 25% needing a double rigging point on my residential work, the rest single. Just last week I finished up a 152' long by 81' wide horse arena, using my 16' spreader bar, and the ONLY reason just two pick points worked was because they were all doubled up, arrived that way, from the arena company who makes their own trusses. The single ply gables were noodles, we had to fab a stiff back for them. I bought just one of the "new" hooks, no way am I gearing up for mutiples of them, unless they are a huge time saver.
Just today, I spotted this old Pionner of a boom truck, and some kind of a lifting truss bar on the rear. On the arena job, my 20' slings gave me the right angle, so I told the guys to use a shackle to choke the sling to itself, around the top chord, clear from any metal of course. That'd be too slow for most work but worked well here. IMG_20240409_092043747.jpgIMG_20240414_092533222.jpg
 

Natman

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I got it, used it yesterday, while not a total game changer it was pretty handy in use. The quality is top notch, and it's as well designed as it could be, down to the hardware having the proper amount of thread showing past the nylock nuts, but not too much (that's what we look for in building planes, it kind of shows the overall care taken). The only complaint would be the short and small diameter pull rope provided, though it too was high quality. It will be replaced with a rope easier to grasp and a bit longer. Anything made of stainless I like.

We were setting bonus room/attic trusses in a high wind, and rigging to the center top chord (off to one side of the peak) meant the hook was 10' high, and as the nail benders got their bracing in, I'd slack off just a bit, and the hook never moved, not once, until the kid pulled on the rope, it's ratchet teeth are spring loaded and over center, slips on easy, won't pull off until the rope is pulled, and there are two little sharp projections in the hook bottom that will also prevent it sliding when used on a pitched top chord. I could have done the same work using my open throat hook, but of course using that I have to be careful not to winch down too far, too soon, then again I can self unhook that with no rope pulling needed. I'll post a few pictures in a day or so.
These pics are my home made hook (I have 3) and the spring latch hook I use that doesn't have the tip sticking past the gate, so it's much less likely to snag when unhooked.IMG_20240412_092945206.jpg
 

Natman

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My customers are liking the hook, these out of center point CG trusses are why. I could have used my hook, but no need for a nail (and a rigger that has a nail and hammer), and most of this job I was working blind, looking at sheeted gables, so setting them using my camera system, which I wouldn't do with my hook. This hook locks on positively and does not come loose until the rope is yanked.IMG_20240422_095429834.jpg
 

RocketScott

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That's really cool. I'm just surprised they will set trusses one at a time. Seems like a slow way of doing it on a house like that. Complex roofs are like that but this one seems pretty simple
 

Natman

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Going into hangars on one end, working totally blind (the pic wasn't taken from the op seat) trusses much too big for one rigger to handle/prep, no room, were why. I can cycle them faster one at a time. Lots of vaults and different overhangs, unsorted stack, etc. If a crew want to set multiples I'm all for it, I won't be the holdup, it's their call. No room is the biggest factor.
 

crane operator

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It usually works out the same (time wise), setting trusses one at a time vs flying up four at a time. Unless I'm just laying them down.
 

Old Doug

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When i framed we always had a boxes of hand drives in the trailer. I told this before but when i worked at a place that had cranes the boss told me to show a new truck driver how to opperate a crane we had . He was going to haul it and set trusses with it first time. The next day he sent me to run that crane . I got to the job site and before i got the door closed on the pickup several of that crew meet me and ask can you run that crane ? I told them yes and it would be nothing like the day before.
 

RocketScott

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In the puget sound area the truss companies had their own cranes and delivered to the plate line. They wouldn't set them though, had to do that part ourselves. If the driver was cool they would set garage beams or big girders. Most would lift a bunk of roof sheeting to the second floor but it wasn't guaranteed

Some houses had plenty of room to spread out, others we had to put stacks on top of other stacks

06JhME1l.jpeg
 

Camshawn

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When I built my last building, the trusses were delivered by a boom truck from a crane company that we used at work. The operator lifted a beam for me and put the truss bundle on the top plates. I sent him away with $ for a case of beer on us and we were all happy.
 

Natman

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My camera system has spoiled my long time customers, those sheeted gables would have totally screwed me sightwise pre camera, and the sharper builders would have left them off, but this crew knows it wouldn't be an issue for me. I can't imagine operating without it anymore, I'm spoiled too.
 

Natman

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As I use the hook with more and more of my long time contractors who have not used it yet, it gets a universal thumbs up. IMG_20240508_094232895.jpgI like not having to yell out "double wrap the the chain so it won't slip, or put a 16 penny nail in the bottom of the top chord", usually more than once, until they get it right.
 
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