VOLUME XIII,  ISSUE 2 - MAY- JUNE,  2018

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Tech Stuff

DAY ONE: FOUR-POST LIFT

Text and photos by Chris Holley

Day one started with the arrival of the four-post lift. The large lift parts were well protected in several layers of cardboard and wrapped in plastic (and covered in a layer of snow, got to love Pennsylvania winters). As each post was unloaded from the trailer and laid on the shop floor, we noted that each post had arrived in great condition. There were no scratches, dents, or damage to any of the posts or cross tubes. The two runways were in the same excellent condition. Additional components that accompanied the lift were packaged in several boxes. Included in the boxes were several cables, hydraulic tubing, air hoses and fittings, and two bridge jacks.

The Bendpak four-post lift was the first to arrive. It was delivered with the runways on a special purpose trailer and the posts and related parts were loaded into the pickup truck for transport. Every part of the lift was covered in several layers of cardboard and then wrapped in plastic to protect the lift components during the shipping process from California to Pennsylvania. All the four-post lift components arrived without any damage concerns. The Ultra-High Molecular weight (UHMW) Polyethylene glide blocks (sixteen in total) where removed from the box and installed on each end (four per end) of both of the runway cross tubes. Each post cap will be installed at the top of each post. These provide the anchor for the cables and the adjustable safety lock tracks.

Burkhard von Schmeling slips one end of a runway cross tube into a post. Each end of the runway cross tube had to be slid into a post, and then the posts with the cross tube were able to be erected into an upright position. Four of the UHMW Polyethylene glide blocks have been installed onto the cross tube. These glide blocks will guide the cross tube up and down the inside of the post, and once fully assembled, they will provide a channel for the adjustable safety lock tracks. The posts have now been set upright. In the photo artright, the air lock mechanism can be seen slipped into the post. Looking closely, the UHMW Polyethylene glide blocks and channels can be seen. Later in the installation, air lines will have to be run to each air lock mechanism. The air moves the lock and frees the cross tube from the adjustable safety lock tracks, so the lift can be lowered.

The second pair of posts with the attached cross tube was erected. With all four posts up, the runway distance was measured, and the post assemblies were spaced apart from each other the runway length. Raising the assembly required at least two workers (one at each post).

 

The adjustable safety lock tracks had to be guided into place in each post. Each cross tube was raised approximately 30” off the floor. The post caps are on the floor next to the posts. These were put in place at the top of each post when each cable was run later in the installation.

 

The additional hardware required to complete the installation of the lift included runway bolts, clips, motor mounting fasteners, and post leveling shims. Airlines and fittings had to be run to each air lock mechanism. This procedure would be completed much later in the assembly of the lift.

 

Four cables of varying lengths would have to be run from each corner post to the hydraulic ram. The lengths differ based upon the distance from the post to the ram.

Each adjustable safety lock track has a threaded stud on the upper end that will slid through a hole in the post cap. There will be a nut on top of the plate that will adjust the track so that when the cross tubes are on their locks the lift will be level. The nut on the threaded stud in the photo is a jamb nut to keep the track in adjustment. The passenger side runway was pulled off the trailer and guided into position. There are two width adjustments that can be selected. We have one vehicle (a non-Mopar) that will not fit on the lift when the runways are in the wide position, and the A-body Dart and late-model Charger that will utilize the lift will fit in the narrow position.

The driver side runway houses the hydraulic ram. The ram had to be extended, so a tie strap was employed to pull the ram to the maximum extended position. Extending the ram while the runway was still on the trailer (and upside down) was easier than trying to extend the ram when the ram was in place on the cross tubes. While the runway was upside down, the king pins and cable sheaves were removed to allow easier installation of the cables that would be installed at a later point of the assembly. The hydraulic line was run to the ram. Several channeling tabs on the underside of the runway prevent the hydraulic line from interfering with any moving parts under the runway.

With the cables routed, the 220-volt (AC) motor was installed to the driver side front post. The motor could have been wired for 110-volt, but the lift would be more efficient and rise quicker with 220-volt, so we had wired the garage for 220-volt prior to the lift installation. The motor comes pre-wired, so we made a pigtail that would allow us to connect the motor to a 220-volt wire that ran to the outlet in the ceiling. Hydraulic oil was added to the motor’s reservoir, and the motor was run to purge the pump and the hydraulic ram.

A series of air fittings and air lines had to be run to each air lock mechanism. Plastic tubing was run through channels to each fitting. At any intersecting point, a fitting such as this was employed. All the fittings were lightly torqued, so the plastic seal was not crushed. At the front end of each runway, a stop plate was attached to the lift. A pin secured the stop plate to the runway. The pin can be removed if necessary. At the other end of each runway, there were ramps installed. These ramps can also be removed if necessary.

Each cable had a threaded end that was pushed through each post cap and a nut was threaded onto each cable. With the cables routed, the sheaves and kingpins were installed in a systematic fashion until the cables were all loosely installed to the hydraulic ram.

Proper adjustment of the cables is a requirement. Once properly adjusted, the cables should provide years of trouble-free service. If necessary, the cables can be readjusted to compensate for cable stretch.

With the four-post lift assembled, the bridge jacks were installed. The bridge jacks are very heavy, so some wrestling was necessary to line up each jack’s rollers with the guide channels on the runways.

We ordered the caster kit for our four-post lift. A caster attaches to each post, and with the runways lowered the cross tubes rest on the casters’ frame and the posts are lifted about 2” off the floor. The entire lift can be moved throughout the garage. The lift movement is similar to moving around an enormous creeper.

With a 14-foot ceiling, both lifts (and vehicles) fit in the garage without any clearance concerns. Note the four-post lift is bolted to the floor. We can remove the 16 anchor nuts at any time and install the casters, but we will most likely leave the lift in place, so we elected to mount the lift to the floor. With both lifts installed, it has been nothing but a pleasure to work with the lifts. They are smooth, quiet, and allow us to perform tasks without having to lay on the floor. When we are not using them, they provide excellent storage to free up valuable floor space.

 

Upon completion, some thoughts about the lift installation. Each lift required more than one person to unload, erect, and assemble, therefore, plan to have a crew if the installation is not being done by a professional installer. Everything related to the lifts is extremely heavy, so having at least one person in the crew with previous experience with lift installation is a benefit and will reduce the time of assembly. With each lift, expect at least an 8 to 10-hour day to complete the installation.

The setup of each lift can cost $500 or more depending upon the delivery location (physical address), the placement of the lift in the shop (floor prep, moving equipment, etc.), and if any fluids or expendables are required. If the shop does not have the electrical capacity for the lifts, expect additional time and costs to accrue to have an electrician run 220-volt or 110-volt wiring for the lifts. The costs for the two lifts in the garage pushed past $10,000, but a cost-effective decision could have been made to install a two-post lift for less than $3,500. In either case, it is not small money, but the benefits of having the correct tool (lift) when it is needed is priceless.

 

To see the installation of the Two-Post Lift click here.

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