I have been wanting a lift ever since we built the shop. Now that I am getting a little more busy and doing a wide variety of repairs (and feeling old as my body creeks getting back up off the floor) I figured it was time to make the investment. I did a lot of searching and some research into the different brands and models of lifts. The 2 basic types common today are the 2 post and 4 post. There are slight variations within these categories like the Over Head Post and Base Plate 2 post lifts.
The 4 post lift is the easiest to install and doesn’t need to be anchored (but I would) to the concrete. This lift is often used by car collectors to get a little more space out of a small garage. They are stable and easy to operate. The done side for service work is the tires stay on the lift so a “jacking bridge” is needed to lift the car/wheels off the lift. Then you still have the lift in the way.
Â The 2 post base plate lift has the hydraulic lines and equalization cables running under a “base plate” that runs between the posts. The advantage to this lift is clearance above the lifting area. You don’t have to worry about a large vehicle hitting the top support.
I chose the 10,000# over head 2 post lift from CEM lifts in Monroe, WA.Â Chris was very helpful in choosing a lift and provided good technical support when I had questions with the installation. This lift has a bar that crosses between the top of both posts to carry the equalizer cables, hydraulics and what ever else needs to go between the posts. I chose a tall one since I work on a lot of trucks and a van every once in a while.
The directions say it should take two people about 5 hours to erect the lift. I did it by my self in two half days. The first step was to lay out the placement and check the concrete thickness. The lift requires 4-6″ thick concrete for proper tightening of the bolts. I purchased a rotary hammer from Harbor Freight tools. They had one that would do the job for a little less than a 1 day rental would be. I used this to drill a test hole at the center of each post mounting point to verify the thickness of the slab. The rotary hammer was also used to drill the holes for the mounting bolts.
When I had the shop wired the contractor put in the power for the lift since I knew I would have one some day. The hydraulic pump runs on 230v 1 phase power with a 20 amp breaker. I used a generator type twist lock plug for a quick disconnect within reach of the controls (in case of emergency).
Running the hydraulics, filling the pump and adjusting the equalizer cables were the last steps in getting the lift operation. After a few cycles of the lift to get all the air out, I put our F250 Diesel truck on the lift to give it a test. No problem, I even cleared the bay door. Next I put my FJ60 Land Cruiser on the lift to check height. With the roof rack I was able to raise the lift to the top locking position with out hitting the safety stop on top and cleared the bay door in the back.
The last thing I had to to was rearrange my storage and bench locations to make working around the lift safer and easier. I’m sure this will be an evolution process as I find out what works and what doesn’t.
A few of the other items I need to make working on the lift easierare an oil drain, transmission jack and safety stand. The vehicle is essential when changing the weight of the vehicle once on the lift or doing work that takes a lot of movement. While the lift is very stable with the vehicle raised, it doesn’t take kindly to sudden shifts in weight.
Â I did the first oil change on my wife’s car and my truck with the lift and I think I am going to really like having this, even for the little jobs.