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Vehicle Rotisserie (DIY)

Some years ago, I found myself selling my business and moving on to my next venture. Included with the sale were various machines, tools and spray equipment that I was sure I could live without when I retired and downsized the business to a small hobby garage for personal projects I hadn't had time for in the past. Since that time, I have added a large compressor, welder, various spray equipment and kept most all of my hand tools…but, what I missed most, was my "Car Rotisserie". IF you are among the few who know what this is, wants one and can afford to call the manufacturer and say "Hey,…send me this one, here's my credit card number", then this thread is probably not your cup of tea. If, however, you're like me and want one, then I hope this article will be helpful!

A vehicle, or car rotisserie is nothing more than two halves of a contraption that 'sandwich' a vehicle frame, body or uni-body that will spin 360° to provide easy access from all sides to perform panel replacement, structural reinforcement, rust repair or undercoating and paint work.

There isn't anything critical about your personal selection of wall thickness, tubing dimensions and plate thickness. What I chose to use was mostly convenient and matched a little leftover stock I had on hand. I wouldn't suggest the use of thin wall tubing as, even strongly reinforced, it does have a tendency to fail at the most inopportune times. This build consists of ¼" x 4" wide plate stock, ¼" x 2" x 2" square tubing and 3/16" x 2 ½" x 2 ½" square tubing (approx 40' of each). These sizes, or what ever size you decide to use MUST slip fit inside the larger OD tubing. Hopefully, the remainder of this thread will be much less 'wordy' and picture heavy to help visualize the build process.

Base Plate: I elected to start here. It will require 4 total to complete each half of the rotisserie with 4, 3/8" holes pre-drilled. These plates will join the upright (vertical) towers to the lower platform shown later in this thread.

Base Plate mounted to lower platform:

Base Plate second view:

8 - 5" Phenolic wheels: I had 4 on hand and purchased 4 additional. I'm using the sturdy, 1250# rated wheels specifically designed for smooth concrete and warehouse flooring. You may decided to use pneumatic wheels/tires for uneven ground or outside use.

Lateral sliding wheel mounts: Cut to length from large tubing, 4 @ 12" and 4 @ 6". The 'sliders' have pre-drilled holes with 3/8" x 16 TPI stop nuts welded on the sides. Bolts will be added, and used as stops after you've made the adjustments to your liking.

Wheel mounts second view: More 4" plate, drilled to match wheel base holes. Welded to the sliders and then the wheels bolted to the plate.

Rear Lower Platform - wheel mount w/stop bolts:

Front Lower Platform - Wheel mount w/stop bolts:

Hydraulic Ram base mount: I'll be using 8 ton, long travel hydraulic rams. 4 ton rams would have been more than sufficient, but I found these (at Harbor Freight) and thought...what the heck? (hydraulic rams viewable further down the thread)

Hydraulic Ram base mount attached to lower platform: Here, it's starting to come together. Something to consider is nearly all support structures are built with diagonal (45°) gussets. In this situation the gussets would be in the way of the rotating mass. The gussets have been substituted with the heavy duty hydraulic rams.

Upper Platform vertical sockets: Apologize - poor picture. One vertical upright is equipped with a base that remains rigid and will only have up/down travel. The other upright is equipped with welded 'hoops' that allow the ram to swing out. Designed this way to accommodate a future add on (engine hoist).

Lower Platform w/ no attachments (bed-liner coated): Fighting with a high humidity area and continued surface rust, it was necessary to coat the raw metal. I used HD truck bed-liner. Surprisingly, it worked so well, I decided to use it with the completed rotisserie.

Trailer Winch (Harbor Freight): I picked this up for around $30. to add to the build later.

Wheel sliders ready for paint: Better views of the adjustable wheel sliders, welded stop nuts, etc.

Wheel sliders second view:

Lower Platform complete: A little something you can sink your teeth into. The contrast of colors (I hope) shows better details of sliders, wheel stops and welded nut placements.

Lower Platform complete second view: You may have noticed the single 18" large tube (with 3 stop bolts per side) welded to the underside of both platform bottoms. These are there to receive a long, single square tube that connects both rotisserie halves that prevents deflection or movement away from the project once mounted.

Vertical Upright winch installed: The assembly "Head" consists of 14" x 2 1/2" OD round tubing which slides inside a 13" x 3" round tube. The worm gear winch is bolted through the middle tube and shimmed with copper (from common 2" water pipe) to tighten the tolerances (remove slop). To lubricate the assembly, I also drilled and tapped with 1/4" x 28 TPI and installed Zerk fittings on each side.

Vertical Upright assembled and painted: This assembly slides (sockets) into the lower platform, moves freely up and down and is secured by 1/2" pins directly through the welded loops and to the hydraulic ram top.

Additional Parts Painted:

Hydraulic Rams: Notice the two differences in the base of the rams. One is for the stationary side with a flat base, the other is designed to swing (when I convert the side to use as an engine hoist) (additional parts shown are 1/2" hitch pins to secure the ram to the vertical towers and the worm gear handle).

Hydraulic Ram with Swing Base (temporarily mounted):

Side View:

Closer View of Head with Worm drive assembly:

Opposite Side View of Head (without worm drive):

The few, remaining pictures are of the two sides fully assembled, painted and complete. They're all set to go to work:

So, I'm a genius...right?? Nope, not even close. Plans for Rotisserie builds are readily available on the internet. Many are free. Some are good and some are excellent. Although I owned a rotisserie before this build and, much is from memory, anyone who'd like to build this requires only the minimum of skills, simple tools (a decent welder) and a tape measure.

The budget for a build similar to this one is approximately $600. I spent $730 total and over budget due to the phenolic wheels, HD hydraulic rams and little do dads like the worm gear scavenged from the trailer winch.

Here is a link to a forum I've visited. The homemade rotisserie is of lighter duty and smaller in size (no hydraulics). It IS where I found the winch worm gear and adapted the idea to my build:

I hope you enjoy the read and thanks very much for looking
. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. You can send me an email or PM anytime! :confused:

Originally posted on November 2011.
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