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Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
10/4/18 1:25 p.m.


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Story and Photos by Tom Suddard

We had a singular goal: Build a kickass workshop in our backyard, do it ourselves, and come in on a budget. We accomplished that by building and outfitting a prefab 24×30-foot garage kit.

Just like a sailor at sea, though, we were left with an emptiness in our heart. We longed for a lift.

Now, a year after finishing our garage, we broke out the bin labeled “construction tools” and went back to work. It was finally time to install that lift.

Read the rest of the story

Hasbro
Hasbro SuperDork
10/4/18 6:00 p.m.

Very helpful, Tom. Thanks.

Mezzanine
Mezzanine Dork
10/4/18 6:18 p.m.

I enjoyed this article, and the lift you chose is the exact lift I've been eyeballing for the same reasons: ceiling height and clear floor.

codrus
codrus UltraDork
10/4/18 9:06 p.m.

I think it's worth mentioning that installing rolling bridge jacks on a 4-post lift mitigates a lot (although not all) of the drawbacks relative to a 2-post lift.  It does increase the cost by even more, but comes with many of the other 4-post advantages, such as narrower width and lack of floor anchor requirements.

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/4/18 9:35 p.m.

Forget the lift, now I want a trailer crane! That's awesome!

Hot tip: put a 220v welder plug on the lift upright. Being able to plug your welder into your lift is really, really convenient.

I've installed a couple of lifts, and I've found that it's actually pretty easy to stand up the towers with just two people. They're very bottom-heavy. The top beam on yours looks a lot heavier than the one on my 10,000 lb Bend Pak - I can carry it around, and two guys on ladders have no trouble hauling it into place. When I installed my home lift, I backed the trailer with the lift right up to the garage door and put the heavy parts on HF furniture dollies. A friend and I were able to do the full installation from there with nothing more than a rented drill for the concrete anchors and two ladders.

xflowgolf
xflowgolf Dork
10/5/18 1:22 p.m.

This looks like a great home garage setup.  

Tyler H
Tyler H UltraDork
10/5/18 2:45 p.m.

Apologize if I missed it, but how high are your ceilings?  Can't tell from the angle of the picture, but did you use a jackshaft garage door open for more clearance?

STM317
STM317 SuperDork
10/5/18 3:02 p.m.

I've begun some cursory lift research of my own lately and 10 ft ceilings are tough on lift purchases. That seems like a decent lift, but with a max rise of 68", seems like anybody taller than about 5'6- 5'7" will be hunched while working under it at its max possible height. Taller vehicles like the van will reduce that working height even further. But, when priorities are a clear floor, and the ability to lift symmetrically and asymmetrically you don't have a ton of options. 

APEowner
APEowner Dork
10/8/18 10:20 a.m.

Great article with lots of good information.  I do have a few comments based on about four decades of messing around with cars on a variety of lifts and jack stands.

I'm not convinced that a two post lift is safer than jack stands (or at least not significantly).  I think that they're both equally safe and that their safety is primarily dependent on the quality of the specific equipment and the care taken in setting them up.  I suppose you have a bit more room to move if you drop a car off a lift as opposed to jack stands but with quality equipment a vehicle setup properly on either is not going to fall.

I personally prefer a four post with bridge jacks for suspension work.  The ramps provide a convenient place for tools and parts and once the parts are installed the car can be set on the ramps while tightening bushing fasteners.  In my case suspension work is often followed by scaling and alignment both of which are done on the four post.

I actually prefer a four post for almost everything but pulling FWD engines and transmissions. 

For long term projects like complete builds or restorations I actually prefer jack stands to a lift.  Once the car is up on good quality, tall jack stands and shimmed level then I can get to any part of the car pretty easily and the lift posts aren't in the way.  I don't have a lift in my home shop for that very reason.  I do have a access to a lift at work however and if that weren't true I might prefer to have one at home.

The best solution is to have a large enough shop to have a flat stall, a four post and a two post.  Most of us don't have that option so (as the article said) taking the time to really think about the type of work you're going to do most is really important.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
10/8/18 10:26 a.m.

Another +1 for 4 post plus the bridge lift.  I really like mine.

Also- it does work well for a long term project- as I can move it up and down to make it more comfortable to work on the car.  Which I find important when grinding and welding a lot.  

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/8/18 10:28 a.m.

We used to have both four post and two post lifts at work. We now only have two post lifts. The four post was super-easy to put a car on but not as easy to work on the car. Scaling and alignment is done on hub stands.

I've built a few cars on jackstands. Maximum access to the sides of the car, but I sure would appreciate the option to have the car higher at times.

codrus
codrus UltraDork
10/8/18 12:13 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

We used to have both four post and two post lifts at work. We now only have two post lifts. The four post was super-easy to put a car on but not as easy to work on the car. Scaling and alignment is done on hub stands.

For a bigger/commercial shop, there's no question that the 2-post lift is far and away the best choice for everything except alignments.  IME, for your typical home garage a 4-post has substantial width advantages over the 2-post.  The lifts themselves are narrower because the posts are fore/aft and only need to be wide enough to drive between, not to open the doors.  You generally get about 10-11 feet of width per stall in a 2 car garage (at least where I live), the GP-7LC mentioned in the article is 125 inches wide.  If I put it hard up against the wall on one side, it would be several inches over the centerline and intruding into the second parking space (and in the most critical space, where the door for the other cars wants to open).  By contrast the 4-post HD9-ST that I own is only 100 inches wide (2 feet narrower), meaning that I can install it far enough out from the wall to walk around it but still have the other side be six inches short of the centerline.

RJStanford
RJStanford New Reader
10/8/18 4:27 p.m.
codrus said:

I think it's worth mentioning that installing rolling bridge jacks on a 4-post lift mitigates a lot (although not all) of the drawbacks relative to a 2-post lift.  It does increase the cost by even more, but comes with many of the other 4-post advantages, such as narrower width and lack of floor anchor requirements.

 

Just looking at BendPak though, their smallest rolling bridge jack - lifting one end only - adds another $1500 (or about a NB Miata's worth) to the cost of the four-poster.  While your points make a lot of sense, I'd say that the cost increase is not insignificant.  The recommended two RBJs would cost more than a second two-post lift (assuming you had the space for one).

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
10/8/18 5:01 p.m.

In reply to RJStanford :

Look for used ones. I found a 4 post lift with two bridge jacks for less than $2000. Even better for me it was a special narrow version, which is perfect for my small cars. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/8/18 5:31 p.m.
RJStanford said:
codrus said:

I think it's worth mentioning that installing rolling bridge jacks on a 4-post lift mitigates a lot (although not all) of the drawbacks relative to a 2-post lift.  It does increase the cost by even more, but comes with many of the other 4-post advantages, such as narrower width and lack of floor anchor requirements.

 

Just looking at BendPak though, their smallest rolling bridge jack - lifting one end only - adds another $1500 (or about a NB Miata's worth) to the cost of the four-poster.  While your points make a lot of sense, I'd say that the cost increase is not insignificant.  The recommended two RBJs would cost more than a second two-post lift (assuming you had the space for one).

Only at GRM do you buy a $3000 lift to put your $1500 car on.

codrus
codrus UltraDork
10/8/18 5:39 p.m.
RJStanford said:
codrus said:

I think it's worth mentioning that installing rolling bridge jacks on a 4-post lift mitigates a lot (although not all) of the drawbacks relative to a 2-post lift.  It does increase the cost by even more, but comes with many of the other 4-post advantages, such as narrower width and lack of floor anchor requirements.

 

Just looking at BendPak though, their smallest rolling bridge jack - lifting one end only - adds another $1500 (or about a NB Miata's worth) to the cost of the four-poster.  While your points make a lot of sense, I'd say that the cost increase is not insignificant.  The recommended two RBJs would cost more than a second two-post lift (assuming you had the space for one).

 

Agreed, it's definitely more expensive.  OTOH, in my garage (and many others I've seen) it's the difference between an expensive lift that fits and a cheaper one that doesn't.

While I have two RBJs on my lift, you can definitely get by with only one.  Most of the time you only need one end of the car in the air, and in the event that you need both you can lift one end with the RBJ, put jackstands on the ramps, and move the RBJ to the other.  I've done that for clutch jobs so that I can use one of my RBJs as a transmission jack.

 

codrus
codrus UltraDork
10/8/18 5:46 p.m.
Only at GRM do you buy a $3000 lift to put your $1500 car on.

 

...or build a $30K shop for two or three of the same car? :)

OcelotZ3
OcelotZ3
10/8/18 6:33 p.m.

Regarding bridge jacks, you can also purchase jacking plates which are just a heavy plate that can be moved back and forth along the lift. You use your own bottle/scissor jacks with it. I've used that with great success on my 4-post lift. They appear to be $160 now through BendPak. Mine was considerably cheaper at the time I bought my lift.

te72
te72 Reader
10/8/18 10:09 p.m.

My thoughts:

-High lift scissor or portable two post would probably be my choice of a second lift. Currently own a Bendpak HD-7P, and while it is fantastic to work on Miatas or other small cars, it's a VERY tight fit with the Supra or the LS400, due to width of those cars. Trucks, exotics, heck, even some modern American cars are simply out of the question. I'm sure this would preclude a lot of classic American cars too, but have yet to try. The other problem with a four post, it makes removing subframes... interesting, let's just leave it at that. My advice? Go as wide as you possibly can in the space you have available.

 

-Better advice? Plan out the building you're going to use as a garage for the eventual lift you may have. I should have extended our garage about 7' in width, it would have allowed for two lifts, no problem. Alternatively, it would have simply allowed for more room in general, never a bad thing in a garage unless we're talking about climate control costs... This advice is more or less for new or future construction plans, but still... count on having a lift someday, you won't regret it!

 

-Glad to see I'm not the only one using the term, "rocket surgery" haha.

 

-Trailer crane!!! I'm totally borrowing this idea now, thank you so, so much for sharing. I mean, I see these on service trucks all the time, how I never thought to stick one to a trailer hitch, I'll never know.

 

-Not all lifts require 240v, but it's not a bad idea if you can make it happen. I had a plug installed for a welder I knew I would eventually buy, so fortunately for me it works for the lift too!

 

-It is a pretty awesome feeling seeing a tool you put together take a car into the air, you're right about that!  =)

 

-Under hoist stands, I've also seen them called high reach jack stands, could also be used to support the suspension ala a 4-post lift, if one needed to have the weight of the car on the wheels and happened to be using a 2-post lift. I'd suggest something along the lines of hub-stands or some other way of mechanically securing the things, as the last thing you want is a car on a lift moving when you don't want it to...

 

-Drain bucket would be nice to have, but the same effect can be achieved in a pinch with a stack of buckets, assuming you have lids. ;-)

 

Great article, has been a lot of fun seeing your garage come together!

aribert
aribert New Reader
10/8/18 10:28 p.m.

I have two lifts.  Not rich - frugal, parsimonious (wife says cheap).

I the attached garage at my residence, I have an old symmetrical two post Rotary (Roger Penske became my best friend (though we have never met) when he closed down the Penske K-Mart Autocenter and the contents of the autocenters were auctioned  and I acquired my first lift).  I have it set up 2 ft narrower than design intent and had to shorten the arms proportionally.  This allowed me to place the lift into a 20 x 20 garage and not encroach on my wife's side. Major downside of the narrower spacing is that I have to push the vehicle about to be lifted to roll it into position to be balanced to lift - for daily use, I typically park about 2 ft rearward to be able to open the car door.  The purpose of this lift is to make the garage into a 3 car garage for my 61 Falcon and 71 GT6 convertible during the driving season.  I bumped the ceiling up locally to 10.5 ft so that the greenhouse of the car is above the nominal ceiling height.  This lift has the balance cables and hyd line running on the floor - not ideal - especially in the winter when the Isuzu is dripping slush and road salt, but for me purchase price was critical.   I also use the lift for oil changes and other minor maintenance.  My Isuzu can be lifted to about 5ft 8in.  Because of the tight clearances around the lift, it takes me up to 15 min to get a car up in the air - a nuisance when wanting to switch cars.   If price was not a consideration, this would be a 4 post lift. 

In my (hobby) workshop garage (offsite), I have an asymmetrical 2 post Rotary (courtesy of the Ford Rouge plant moving the Mustang elsewhere and retooling the plant).  This lift has the cross bar with balance cables and hyd line running across the top (at just under 12 ft height).  My workshop garage has a nominal ceiling height of 9.5 ft.  I bumped a pocket into the ceiling up to about 11.25 ft and ran the cross beam up in the attic (just above the pocket ceiling joists) - I get the full 6 ft lift height on every vehicle I own including my Isuzu Amigo (I have yet to put my old F150 on this lift, but I should be able to get full height also).  For both lifts, I have a shut off bar located just under the drywall of the pocket ceiling if a vehicle were too tall to get full lift. 

te72
te72 Reader
10/8/18 11:21 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

Only at GRM do you buy a $3000 lift to put your $1500 car on.

Hah, my madness goes even further than this. I had a house built so I had somewhere to build my car. Figure in the long run, it's cheaper than shop rent and mortgage at a place I didn't wanna live forever anyway! =P

JohnH240ZOriginal
JohnH240ZOriginal
10/9/18 2:27 a.m.

It looks like the project started out with ceiling lights perpendicular to the garage doors, then ended with lights parallel to the doors. Was there a design change or is it some kind of optical delusion?

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Digital Experience Director
10/9/18 6:58 a.m.

In reply to JohnH240ZOriginal :

My math was off when I hung the lights, and they ended up being in the way of the lift. I turned each one 90 degrees to make room. 

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
10/9/18 7:45 a.m.

Do you guys have more pictures of the trailer crane? I suspect it was in a ramp truck article and I missed it, but I can easily see the value in that. 

Austincrx
Austincrx New Reader
10/10/18 7:33 a.m.

What was the thickness of the garage floor pad that was required for this lift?  I have access to a used version, but I'm not sure if my 4-inch thick garage floor will be enough to support the 2-post structure, and I don't have the room for a 4-post.  22ft. deep garage is only barely enough for my 20 ft long truck, let alone a 4-post lift that will accommodate it.

 

thanks!!

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