A Moonboard climbing wall in my garage

November 15, 2017

TL;DR: I built a Moonboard climbing wall in my garage

It is an English translation of my french blog post about the Moonboard building process.

Intro

I started to get interested in climbing in the summer of 2015 (especially talking
with Denis who started previously on his own),
but without really practicing. With the eternal question, every year when the kids go back to school,
to choose activities for our children (at the time they were 7 and 4 years old),
we decided to register them in weekly group lessons at
Mur de Lyon in September 2015. I still wasn’t climbing
myself at that time but I accompanied each week my children to their course and
little by little my desire to get myself started amplified.

After many years of tennis and a very frustrating 2015/2016 competition season,
I needed some change and to get involved in another sport. So I started climbing
in the summer of 2016, especially during epic sessions on Wednesday mornings with
Geoffrey.

The children then changed their sport in September 2016 and I continued to climb
on weekends, especially at Le Mur de Lyon (and sometimes Azium).
At the end of 2016, we started to test bouldering,
and I quickly hooked to this form of climbing.

The opening in March 2017 of Mroc 3, a bouldering only gym,
300 meters away from my work allowed me to add an average of 2 additional weekly sessions,
with colleagues at noon.

And the Moonboard in all this?

It was when I started bouldering that I discovered the concept of the
Moonboard, which tries to standardize the format of
the climbing wall.

Ben Moon, a professional
English rock climber, has designed a 40° inclined wall, with well-defined dimensions
and above all a set of climbing holds (that he sells) allowing to have a “standard” wall.

The big advantage of the proposed solution is that
a whole variety of climbing problems are proposed
by the climbers (more than 10000 problems to date), allowing a diversity of climbing,
without having to conceive the problems yourself.

Yes but where to build it?

Convinced by the interest of the Moonboard, now remained the most difficult,
to know if (and how) I could build one.

Given the size of the beast (3.15 meters high for 2.44 meters wide and about 3 meters deep),
I had to find a location. My garage seemed the most suitable place. It is a double closed
box with a respectable height of 3m. After several aborted ideas of location,
I decided to push further the idea of ​​making a Moonboard hanging on the mezzanine of the
garage (which I built in late 2013)
and articulated to be stored under the mezzanine when I do not use it so that I can still
park my car, which is the main goal of a garage after all 😁

The plans

Once the location was chosen, I had to make the construction plans to validate the
feasibility of the project. My garage being 3 meters high and 2.6 meters wide, I had
to adjust the “official” plan [pdf].
In order to leave some space on the edges, I decided to go from 2.44 meters to 2.34
meters wide by trimming on the external margins (allowing to keep the horizontal
spacing of 20 centimeters between the holds).

To gain height and have some room with my ceiling, I decided to go from 3.15 meters
to 2.9 meters. For this, I reduced the height of the “kicker” from 37 centimeters to
20 centimeters and I reduced the vertical spacing of the holds from 20 centimeters to
19.5 centimeters. I am well aware of deviating a little from the “standard” but I had
no choice if I wanted it to fit in. I also had to make a cut because of the evacuation
pipes that decorate the ceiling of my garage… In the end my plan (on paper because
I love doing my DIY plans on paper) gave this:
Side plan
Face plan

Here are the sketches of the assembly that will be used to fix the pan on one of
the beams of the mezzanine:
Assembly with the mezzanine

The whole of the empty structure (without climber) weighs a little more than 200kg
(70 for the frame, 100 for the boards, 30 for the holds and 20 for the screws).
Some mechanical calculations (soft reminder of my high school lessons) allowed
me to calculate that it would take a force of about 600 to 800N to raise the pan
around its axis of rotation. As a reminder, the weight of a mass of 1kg is 9.8N.
This is therefore perfectly compatible with a simple rope hoist system, which are
supposed to lift a few hundreds kg.

Let’s talk about money: the budget

The plans once made, a budget was also to be made.

In order to lower the price, for the boards used to support the holds, I preferred
to take OSB in 18mm thickness
rather than plywood, usually used. The resistance is sufficient and the price per
square meter much more interesting.

For the security aspect of the reception area under the Moonboard (and yes we fall
often), I left on a mix between used mattresses graciously offered
by relatives and used mattresses found on Leboncoin (french Craiglist equivalent :)).
Indeed a real climbing reception mat costs about 1000 € for this surface and was
too expensive.

Here is the almost exhaustive list of supplies:

What Quantity Unit price Total price
4m rafter in 63x75mm 8 7 € 56 €
Brackets 24 1 € 24 €
10mm steel chain 1 11 € 11 €
Rock plates 10 0.75 € 7.5 €
Quick link 10 2.5 € 25 €
18mm OSB 6 12 € 72 €
Hoist for 300 kg 1 16 € 16 €
Rope for hoist 1 12 € 12 €
Screw inserts 1 56 € 56 €
150 M10 x 50 mm screws 6 6 € 36 €
25 M10 x 80 mm screws 1 9 € 9 €
Moonboard holds 1 546 € 546 €
Mattresses from Leboncoin & gifts 2 40 € 80 €
Various screws 1 40 € 40 €
Total     about 990 €

The build

The frame

After a trip to the store (it’s always a pleasure to lug 4m long wood in the car),
here I am with the rafters that will serve as a structure to the pan:
Rafters

I cut the rafters to the right dimensions with my miter saw, I fix them with my
brackets and I mount the whole thanks to my hoist rope. It goes up like a charm.
Frame

The joints with the mezzanine

For the articulation of the frame with the mezzanine, I cut pieces of wood
(on falls that I had left of my project of mezzanine):
Cut parts of the joint

The axis of the joint is made with a threaded steel rod of 12mm
diameter, which will slide in steel tubes (14mm) that will be inserted
in the holes of the previous pieces of wood. The fit is perfect and it
turns very well.

Here we see the pieces of steel tube, cut with the help of my jigsaw:
Steel tubes in the joint

Here, we can see the detail of one of the joints, once realized. We see
that it is supported on one of the beams of the mezzanine:
Joint

Overview of the chassis with 2 joints. At first I thought that 2 joints would
suffice. I finally put a joint on each rafter, to have a satisfactory rigidity
of the wall. I secured the wall with a 10mm steel chain that connects the
chassis to another beam of the mezzanine.
Chassis articulation

The chassis in raised position (by raising it myself thanks to the arm of lever,
we manage to lift it without problem, at this stage of the project). It is fixed with 2
pieces of steel chain (the same as before) to one of the beams of the mezzanine.
Chassis raised

We can see that we can still park the car, epic win \o/ :
The car fits, great :)

Preparation of OSB boards

Then place to the preparation of the OSB boards which will welcome at term the
climbing holds. I pass on the cuts to the right dimensions (thank you
the circular saw this time). We must drill the boards at regular intervals
to have the grid for fixing future holds.

Tip n°1 : we pierce 3 boards at once each time, it divides by 3
the number of holes to be made to the drill.

Tip n°2 : we first pierce 2 opposite corners in which we pass
a rod, so that all the boards do not shift during the drilling of
following holes.
Drilling OSB

Then a stroke of paint (thanks kids for the help):
Painted boards

And we end by screwing the inserts that will host the holds at the end
(each insert uses 2 small screws to prevent rotation, that’s 400 screws
total…):
Inserts in place

The kicker

Overall view of the kicker once fixed:
Kicker

The hoist

Now we need a solution that will be used for lifting (and descent into
softness) of the Moonboard. I chose a rope hoist, fixed this way :
Rope hoist
Hoist in high position

A video showing the operation of the hoist using the hoist rope:

Oh a mattress

First used mattress bought on Leboncoin (I promise there is no body inside):
First mattress

The return of the hoist

After an intense evening of thinking, I decided to upgrade my hoist to an electric
hoist (model Einhell BT-EH 250). It can lift 125kg live and 250kg
in hauling. So I have to provide pieces of beams to fix perpendicular to the beams of the
mezzanine and which will serve as a support for the bar that will hold the hoist:
Hoist support
Cut hoist support

A demonstration video of the hoist in operation:

Well, it’s starting to take shape:
Electric hoist installed

Boards laying

Next step, fixing the OSB boards to the frame. In order to make the fixation alone, I used 2 clamps
to fix the boards before screwing them.
Clamps

First board:
Board n°1

Second board:
Board n°2

Third board:
Board n°3

Fourth board:
Board n°4

Intermediate test of electric hoist with 4 boards installed on 6 at total:

Here we see the detail of all the joints that link the chassis to the mezzanine:
Joints detail

Fifth board:
Board n°5

A little acrobatic placement of the clamps for the last board (reminder: the
ceiling is 3m high and one board weighs about 15kg):
Sixth board clamping

Sixth board:
Planche n°6

Chassis equipped with boards, in raised position:
All boards installed

Holds setup

A few weeks after having ordered the holds (they were out of stock), they
have finally arrived. Installation time (in timelapse):

The wall equipped with all its holds :
All holds

Raised wall secured

Small retouching at the end of the project (and I spare you others), I replaced the
2 chains of fixation (when the wall is in raised position), by 7mm climbing rope,
knotted with a double fisherman’s knot. It is lighter to handle than the steel chain
and it holds 1200kg before breaking (since I have the equivalent of 50kg per fixing point
to hold, I’m really secured here):
Fixation avec un double pêcheur

Conclusion

Many hours of design, thirty hours of DIY later, a picture is worth a thousand words:
Moonboard: done \o/

In video :

I am very happy to have completed this project. Many moments of doubt and
questioning before and during the project. The night has often worn
advice. The very important time spent in design / thinking has enormously
served to avoid potential pitfalls.

The most difficul part has just started: I will have to climb this wall.

Thanks to: Denis, Geoffrey, Nicolas and especially
my darling for his infinite patience <3.

If you have questions / comments, do not hesitate.

Comments

Justin on December 15, 2017 14:26

Hello Eric,

I am based here in the US (AZ) and am in the process of planning out a system wall for my garage. Given my limited space I wanted to build something similar to yours; when I came across your design I said, “That’s it!!”

I was wondering if you’d be able to provide more detailed insight into the joints you used as pivot points for the lowering/raising of the chassis? My questions include:

  1. What are the dimensions of the wood you used?
    • It looks to me like 2x2
  2. How high up from the bottom of the joint did you place the holes for the axis point (where you placed the steel tube)?
    • It looks to be 1-2 inches up but I can’t tell from the photos
  3. What size washers did you use as spacers between the joints and rafter?

  4. Is there an ideal joint placement? In other words, how far down the chassis did you place the pivot joints?

Thanks in advance!! Really like your setup.

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Proud father of two, I am a team leader, specialized in solving people problems with (mostly) technical responses.