Tuesday, November 3, 2015

It works


There’s been a couple of problems along the way but by Sunday night I had a functioning car lift.  I had about 24 hours where it would go up to beat hell but coming back down was a challenge, which was about as convenient as hip pockets in long underwear.  It turned out my assembly skills were not 100%.  There’s a brake on the slave side (right side in the photo above) that is designed to stop the lift from falling if the lift chain goes slack.  In order for that to work it turns out that the chain needs to be routed so that it holds the brake off while the chain is taut.  When I initially installed the chain it worked just fine and the lift would come partway down but the last 4 feet required frequent interventions on my part.  Eventually a combination of 1-800-MICHAEL calls and RTFM on my part arrived at the right solution.

I’ve still got some finishing up to do.  Right now the lift switch is a light switch.  I’ve got a couple of push buttons ordered from Taiwan to solve that.  There’s also a cross bar that sits immediately underneath the overhead beam.  Its purpose is to prevent me from ramming the top of my vehicle into that cross member, which seems like a desirable feature.  The switch that came with the lift had suffered an injury during removal or transport but less than $10 on AliExpress had 4 replacements on their way from somewhere in the orient.  The switches I ordered are SPDT so I can use one to activate the lift and another as the safety switch – I’ll just have to wait about a month for them to arrive.

In the interim I got the car up on the lift and greased the front end.  The Panther platform which our Lincoln is built on has a well known front end noise which sounds incredibly alarming but actually is relatively benign.  I should have taken a picture yesterday but I just shamelessly stole this one off the web:


There’s a little cast ball on the spindle assembly and a corresponding steel pocket on the axle.  When the wheel is hard over in either direction one of those balls is engaged in the socket and they make a hell of a grinding noise which can be extremely alarming.  The solution is to grease the socket which is dead simple when the car is on a lift and not so easy to do while lying in the mud.  Its also one of those jobs that’s pretty easy to put off because, aside from the alarming noise, its not really mission critical.  So yesterday I squirted some grease at the front suspension parts and filled that socket with NeverSeize. 

Once I got the chain re-routed and the car back on the ground I thought I should try lifting the Exploder but that turned out to not be possible.  The running boards on the truck mean that I need extensions on the lift arms and they didn’t come with the lift.  I briefly had visions of some elaborate build involving 4 x 4 steel tubing, hacksaws, 1/4” plate and welders.  Eventually I rejected that process and ripped some 3/4” plywood.  A little epoxy, some plywood, a bit of rubber and tonight I should have perfectly adequate lift blocks.  I also tried to find blocks on AliExpress but so far I haven’t landed on the right search terms.  I’m sure they’re out there but my plywood blocks should get me going and maybe they’ll turn out to be all I ever need.  The Superduty is still hooked to the gooseneck trailer so I can’t try lifting it but I’ll need the lift blocks for that as well.  That truck weighs roughly 1000# more than the lift is rated for but this lift is so massively overbuilt I’m not concerned.  I expect it will just lift the truck without any further action required but I know where the hydraulic relief valve is located so it most certainly WILL lift the truck, it just may take a little intervention before completing the lift. 

Update – Tuesday evening

Well the relief valve was a bit more sophisticated than I had expected.  I was looking for a cap that I could remove and then tighten a spring down a bit.  Instead I found a cap that I could remove with a preset cartridge underneath it.  So I had to order a higher setpoint cartridge. 


Initially I got the big Ford clear off the ground and raised it about 2 feet but the relief was squealing the whole time.  When the oil warmed up this is as close to lifting as I could get – 3 wheels clear of the ground with the rear passenger wheel still touching.


The little gray micro-truck was a breeze to lift.  I had to pay close attention to how high I lifted it because I don’t have the switch hooked up on the overheight bar.


I built 4 extension blocks last night.  They are 8 pieces of 3/4” plywood stacked and epoxied for a total lift of 6 inches.  I think I need some longer ones for the big truck but these worked great on the micro-truck and they will suffice for the big truck as well.  Evidently the Superduties are a notorious PITA to lift and I will likely need at a minimum 2 different heights of blocks and possibly 3 different heights if I want to lift it close to level.

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