Grain Elevator

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Written By Matt McTurk and Colton Hildebrandt

Welcome to part two of our three part series on hand powered manlifts. In part one we talked about the entryway and the capacity of manlifts. Today we are going to be taking a look at the structure surrounding the elevator car.

As a quick refresher, we are talking about manlifts that are typically found inside a grain elevator, feed mill, or seed cleaning plant

Car Rails

The car rails are the guide rails that the car rides on. They are typically attached to the grain elevator with either bolt, faster clamps or welds. Not all areas of the rails are accessible or visible from the car ride but it is important to check all accessible attachment and connection points. We will sometimes find broken welds, loose and sometimes missing fasteners along the car rails.


To balance the weight of the car and allow the large steel car to be moved by hand there is a counterweight that hangs from the other side of the main pulley and travels in either a dedicated shaft or is guided between the car rails. The code gives some specifics about the proper counterweight construction/setup and also states that there should be an access panel at the bottom of travel to allow for inspection of the counterweight, eyebolt and wire rope hitch.

You will (or should) also find counterweights in the car. This is to facilitate adjusting the different weights of the operators and to help better balance the car weight with the main counterweights. These weights need to be properly installed so that they can’t accidentally fall out during the operation of the car.


At the top of the Manlift shaft there is a frame holding the sheaves that the counterweight cable(s) glide over. This area should be a part of your daily inspection on the unit. This sheave and frame is where all the loading for the counterweight and car sit, and is critical to the safety and operation of the unit.

You will want to make sure that the shaft is properly greased and that no chunks of material are missing from the sheave. The sheaves and frame are typically in fairly good condition and broken sheaves are not a common find.

In the final part of this article, we will discuss the elevator car and braking system, and also give you some tips on how to prepare for the inspection on your manlift.

If you have any questions about inspecting your manlift, you can contact Sparta Engineering at (587) 315-0344.