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  • Writer's pictureKristian Electric

RISING STARS – The Cosmic History of CM Hoists

From 1955 to 1975, the imagination of the world was gripped by the competition between Cold War adversaries, the Soviet Union and the United States, as they raced to achieve superior spaceflight capabilities.

Count Off Cereal was like Alpha-Bits, but with numbers. It was described on the box as a "sugar sparkled oat cereal." The cover of the original box featured an official U.S. Air Force photo of a rocket lifting off.
POST Count Off brand cereal, introduced in 1962.

From Yuri Gagarin becoming the first human being in outer space to the famous ‘one giant leap for mankind,’ every warm-blooded citizen of Earth was fascinated with the great beyond.

This excitement spilled over into all areas of life and commodity; board games, television shows, and even breakfast cereals all took on new space themes. Everyone and their dog were getting on the space race bandwagon. The space frenzy didn’t just stop at commercial products, but expanded into the industrial sector as well.

At this time, Columbus McKinnon was riding the post-war economic boom which allowed all types of industries and businesses to reach new heights. It was also during this time that they unveiled the iconic Lodestar electric chain hoist.


A Lodestar is defined as something that serves as an inspiration or beacon, like a star used to guide the course of a ship. Over the past sixty plus years, the Lodestar electric chain hoist has earned its name -- quickly becoming CM’s flagship electric chain hoist; renowned for its performance and reliability across both industrial and entertainment sectors. Since the Lodestar’s debut in 1955, more than one million Lodestar electric chain hoists have been produced and installed in facilities around the world.

This star of a hoist, however, was not the first piece of equipment that Columbus McKinnon christened with a celestial name. Long before Neil Armstrong, decades before Captain Kirk, and years before Sputnik, Columbus McKinnon was looking to the stars.


In the late 1930s, two engineers from the Ohio State University’s Engineering Department designed the Comet electric chain hoist. Released under the Chisholm Moore brand, the Comet hoist had a heavy oil-filled gearbox and was originally finished with a grey and scarlet color scheme; the official colours of Ohio State.

The Comet hoist stayed in the CM hoist line-up until 1954 when it was completely re-designed and re-introduced on the market under the moniker Super Comet. One year later, the name was changed again… this time to the famous Lodestar.

A fully restored Sky Hoist by Robert Dean of ZFX Flying Effects


During World War II, Columbus McKinnon produced a stainless-steel hand chain hoist called the Sky Hoist. The Sky Hoist’s magnesium-aluminum frame and two strains of aircraft cable were capable of lifting up to 4,000 lbs while only weighing 25 lbs itself.

Throughout the war, CM supplied both the American Navy and Air Force with vast quantities of tie-down chain and hand chain hoists, including the Sky Hoist. Columbus McKinnon holds the designation as the only company who was able to meet the American government's wartime specification for military-strength chain.


Columbus McKinnon launched the Meteor wire rope hoist in 1941. The Meteor was the first hoist developed through the company’s new independent research and development unit. The Meteor was a low-headroom wire rope hoist that utilized steel weldments in place of castings. In fact, the Meteor was the first hoist to introduce low voltage and two-speed button control! The Meteor remained in production until 1998, but CM continued to produce spare Meteor parts for service depots like Kristian Electric until 2014.


Upon retiring the Meteor in 1998, CM introduced the Apollo and Polaris wire rope hoist models. After Columbus McKinnon’s acquisition of LiftTech International in 1995, the Apollo and Polaris were both CM-branded versions of LiftTech’s popular 700 and 800 series hoists. CM produced the Polaris and Apollo until approximately 2012, and continued to produce LiftTech’s 700-Series until 2018. CM continues to produce the LiftTech 800-Series today.


The Satellite hand chain hoist was introduced in the early 1970s. Armed with an all-steel frame, steel covers, and forged-steel hoist hangers, the Satellite was a compact, low-headroom hoist produced in capacities between 1/4 Ton to 10 Ton. The Satellite was a short-lived hoist series and was retired by CM within the decade.

Even though not all of these hoist models remain in production today, they symbolize a time in which innovation was reaching new horizons…even within the industrial sector. Today, CM continues to produce some of the world's more versatile and rugged lifting equipment.

Since the merging of McKinnon Chain with the Columbus Chain Company back in 1917, Columbus McKinnon has always strived to reach new heights in the material handling industry.

And sometimes when you aim high enough, you land amongst the stars.

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