I'm about to purchase a 4-post car lift to support my lifelong involvement with Model T's. I'd appreciate any input from forum users on reputable brands and things to watch for.
The research I've done so far shows that the vast majority of the car lifts are made in China, and I'm concerned about quality, but the resonable prices sure look attractive. I plan to spend around $2,200. Can I get a good for this amount?
All of my lifts are Rotary and are not 4-post. I have seen some of what you're talking about in places like Greg Smith Equipment and they look decent enough.
However, if you want U.S. made and are willing to put a little work into moving and setting up something used, there are drive-on alignment lifts with tracks for jacks that you can position to lift by the axles. I always thought this would be the hot ticket. There isn't a practical way to lift a T from a 2-post, sometimes you need a drive-on, but you'd still like to be able to lift it to get the wheels off AND raise the car above your head. Something to consider.
They still make them new, though I think they have fallen out of favor given the new visual alignment machines they have now. They show up online pretty cheap sometimes. If I had indoor room for another, I'd have one.
Jim, I'm in the same boat. I am about to order my four post lift and decided that BENDPAK is the one for me. I have traveled around to several installations and while most of the others are less expensive, the BENDPAK appears to be much more stable and higher quality. If you are only concerned with lifting a 2000 pound T (I have three also) the less expensive would probably serve the purpose. I am interested in being able to lift a 27 MARMON and my other vehicles (250 Ford Van, Lincoln, Mustang). The less expensive lifts do not usually have the certifications either. The BENDPAC I believe is also made over seas but I'm told to a higher degree of specifications. In any event, I have chosen a lift that lifts 9000 pounds, is extra wide and extra long (about 185 inch ramp). That may be over kill for a T but adds a lot of flexibility and great storage capability. It costs about $3000.00. I also looked at a two post set up but what made me a little nervous was the extensions that were required so the arms didn't hit the running boards. Again, lifting a T vs a MARMON with those extensions my not be an issue. Most guys I know that have lifts for antique hobby seem to use four post. One other thing to think about is the shipping. The BENDPAK includes free shipping as long as you can get it delivered to a commercial dock. I have a friend that has one and will let me have it delivered to his dock. The shipping alone can run up to $400-$600. That goes a long way to justify the added expense of the BENDPAC. If you want a number to call, EMAIL me. Also look up BENDPAK in GOOGLE for several sites and descriptions. Just my .02 or .03 cents.
I'm not sure what brand it was we were using but it was a 4 post lift, and it has 4 positive "lock/latches" that click in as you lift. A friend was using it to lift his Lamborghini diablo and did not pay attention to the clicks and when he got back from lunch the passenger side of the lift was about to dump the car off the lift. What happend is the hydrolics let go a little bit and the post that were not locked in started going back down and the other 2 stayed up locked in place.
I am going through that now. An acemetric or regular style 2 post lift does not have to be to fancy for a model t as it weighs around 2000# or so. The problem is the frame sits inside the reach of the arms and the running boards hang down far enough that you have to stack pins under the pads to hit the frame without hitting the running boards first. The amount of pins needed makes the car shake and a little bit scary. I picked up the steel today and will build the adaptor tomorrow and Can take photos if you'd like. This adapter will work on all Ts and As and will have a plate pad in the center so yo can lift the trans or motor if needed. My lift is an Atlas 9000# ace metric type and I should have it done tomorrow. Luckily the T frames are the same width but I will make it adjustableto fit the As. Good luck.
Heck I just noticed your getting a 4 post. Sorry.
Richard Moore, I think you were reading my reply that talked about the problem of the extensions. I think your solution is good but in my case the significant difference in cars (Model T vs Marmon) probably makes it less than perfect. The four post seems to be the most versatile for me. I wrote into the forum several weeks ago and didn't get any response. I concluded that most of the guys don't bother with lifts.
I bought a 4 post lift over a yr. ago. I love it. It is one of those Made in China for about $2200.00. I hired a guy to put it together for $300.00. It really takes 2 guys to put it together and adjust it correctly. I love it.
Tim Wren in Ohio bought one about the same time. He will probably chime in on this thread.
Ahh, yes Richard.. here I 'tis!! LOL..Jim, yep, got mine about same time as Richard. From Greg Smith company. Very pleased with it, and the quality, for yes, a friggin Chinese lift! Got it for $2grand. Everything about it seems heavy duty, believe me! Took me and my friend about 5 hrs. to put it all together. Would've been a bit less except when we tested it and it kept going into "safety lock" we discovered that we had the cables on the wrong side of the sheive, causing the unit to think it was in a failing situation. So that sure proved the fail-safe part works also!
I love this thing! Right now I have the Model A stored on it all the up, so the T-bird can fit under it for the winter to make room for the trailer with the '15 inside the trailer for the winter in the barn.
Only way to work on a T. I run a cross bar across the 2 front arms and the 2 rear arms with Pins welded on the bottom to fit where the pins go to hold it solid to the hoist arms. This stops the arms from spreading apart. I then cut 2 square short tubes that fit over the cross bar so they can slide with the up rites to the frame with a pad and tabs that lock on both sides of the frame so they trap the frame. This works better than multiple pad spacers as they get kind of wobbly. My next lift will be a 4 post that I will mount outside.
My 4-post is a Gemini, made in Dallas, TX, with optional wider runners and a rolling jack tray. I love it and use it for all my vehicles up to my old 85 hp John Deere. It's heavier than my dually, which weighs over 9000 lbs. I've put trailers on it to straighten axles. I've got tall stands that allow me to put one or more under axles and lower the lift a little to do wheel/brake work or tire rotation/balancing without bending over. There are 12K and 14K models.
I forgot to mention that the ramps can be moved in or out, however, with the optional wider ramps I can run a T up on it then my dually without moving the ramps. About the only time I have to move them is before or after working on my golf cart. All kinds of safety designed into it.
My buddy has a tranny shop. He told me to get the Rotary. I did, its has the hyd rams mounted upside down. The ram is all the way extended when the car is on the ground. The ram then returns inside its self. It is more stable and the seal is upside down. so trash will not build up around it and wear the seal out over time. Mine is the 10,000 lbs one and is great. I can strip a car down to the bare frame or remove any wheel to do any repair needed. I like it over the 4 post and I have more floor room. I also added 4 bars of 3/8 round stock that I threaded on the ends. I mounted them to the top of the uprights and then went out to the walls of my building. I have a steel building so mounting was easy. I splayed them out also. This top support make thins very ridged. I live my lift and have used it to unload a 8,000 lbs gear cutting machine. It acted like it was not there. Money well spent. Scott
I have a friend that took a 2 post and pulled the pads out, put a schedule 40 pipe in place of the pad - then placed a channel iron on top of the pipe laid them out to the width of the wheels - then welded them up. He can now drive up like a 4 post or take them off for his large cars. Uses tall jack stands to do wheel work. Doug
Question for those who have altered their lifts.
If, God forbid, you have an issue or accident with your lift and since you altered it by adding pads ,cross bars, pipe, etc. Will your insurance cover any injury or damage?
I am interested in a lift system but my understanding is that once you alter or change a manufactured engineered piece of equipment they are no longer held responsible because they did not make or authorize any changes and your insurance doesn't have to pay. Is this correct? I am asking because I have the opportunity to get a lift but would have to replace cables and such but a friend told me I would not be covered in case of an accident because the lift was tampered with.
Do a search here for previous 4 post hoist information. Keep in mind there are a lot of cheap imports that are not certified by the hoist manufacturers in the US.
Cheap imports uses substandard bolts and cables, and if there is a need for repair parts good luck.
Having purchased well over a dozen hoists for my shops over the years, I have found there is a lot more than cost to be considered.
There have been over 25 different hoist manufacturers and distributors disappear in the last few years all import junk. My suggestion is to buy a name brand American manufacturer using US made motors, pumps and controls. That way you can at the very least find replacement parts if needed.
I was fortunate enough to buy a used 2 post from a retiring mechanic. It is a Canadian made Hydra Lift with an 8000 lb capacity. The quality is excellent, parts are still available, and it has served me well for over 2 years. It was easily adapted to lift my T, and only cost $1000.
Buying used is a good alternative.
I'm glad to see safety is a big concern here.
On Dec. 7th this year near York Pa. 2 brothers were killed when a 4 post lift holding an F350 collapsed on them.
I do not know any details about what caused this.
One thing I missed on was to get the extra high 4 post lift so you can fit the older cars under. I have model A's and have to put the top and windshield down to fit it under the sedan. What is the height of your ceiling?
A few details of the tragedy that Dale mentioned above:
Two Brothers Accidentally Killed at Home - North Codorus Twp.
Two brothers were killed in their home garage when the vehicle lift they were using to support their truck collapsed. Both brothers were underneath the truck at the time. Both died from trauma from the weight of the truck. The accident occurred at their home in the 4000 blk of North Rohrbaugh Rd., Seven Valleys, North Codorus Twp.
The brothers were as follows:
Robert P. Szumachowski, 22
Michael D. Szumachowski, 19
Their parents advised that they were last seen alive when working on a vehicle at about 1000 pm on Saturday Dec. 6. The brothers were discovered by their parents at approx. 0230 AM on Dec. 7. Neither could be revived at the scene. The York County Coronerís Office, Seven Valleys Ambulance and the North Codorus Fire Department were on the scene.
Very sad indeed......
Add .02 on the safety issue. We all have heard stories about disasters concerning lifts. Most of the time the cause can be traced back to an individuals failure to operate the lift safely. One area is the weight limit. Un-certified lifts often can lift weight more than the specified limit. Because a lift is certified for weight limits, the manufacturers often control the weight to not exceed the design. Therefore, if it is designed to lift 9,000 pounds the lift will not work if one tries to put 9500 pounds. A good safety measure. Of lifts that I have seen, some seemed to use weak support posts, small pulleys, small bearing shafts, etc. While I can usually be accused of squeezing a penny too hard, I will opt to buy some of the more expensive name brands that I personally test out if my body is going to be under it.
Before you buy, take a look at the side-by-side comparison appearing on "Backyard Buddy's" website: http://www.backyardbuddy.com/side-by-side-comparison.html I have no affiliation with this company. It is worth a look if you are in the market.
I looked at Backyard Buddy. American built. Twice as much as "Made in China" ones.
I got a Rotary 10,000 lbs twin post lift for 2,300. I had to go get it but not to far. Its been great, Scott
Moved to 2015 at the request of original poster.
Did you get a lift yet? I'm glad you're researching it, however, don't let cost over ride everything else--even if you need to wait a while longer. For the hobbyist, this is a lifetime investment. A 2000 lb lift may be ok now for your T's, but some day your wife may have a Suburban, or you may have a 4wd diesel dually. I looked for years. I saw where the single post would hit the transfer case on my 4wd; the 2 post would crush the running boards on my old cars. The 4 post seemed most versatile. It has probably given me more satisfaction than anything I've ever bought. I'd rather give up one of my old cars than my lift! I've used it to unload heavy things from a pickup. With the front wheel "squeezer", I can lift my motorcycle. With a couple of boards thrown across it, I can lift my golf cart or a 4-wheeler. I've used it to lift my bassboat from the trailer to remove and replace the wooden runners--and, the list goes on.
I was at a township meeting last month when the fire chief gave a report about the two young men killed by the collapse of their four post lift mentioned by Dale and Timothy. I didn't think he was particularly clear in what he was saying, but his report indicated that the root cause was that the lift was not bolted to the floor. It was thought they had just repositioned either the truck or some heavy removed component of it fore and aft such that two of the legs were carrying much more weight than the other two. Apparently the whole thing leaned and collapsed.
In response to Mike Black's question above, yes, I purchased a lift about 2 weeks ago and got it installed last weekend, thanks to the help from a great neighbor!
After lot of consternation, I selected the 8,000 # CES lift, which is the same lift sold under many other brand names, but is all the same Chinese made lift distributed by Tuxedo lifts. Tuxedo has 14 wharehouse distribution locations in the U.S.
Mechanically, I felt the FP8K-DS 4-post lift I purchased, was good. All of the workmanship was good, although some of the welds were not as neat and clean as I expected. The bolt holes and all sub-assemblies aligned correctly, and I was shipped all the parts needed except one wrong sized bolt which was easily corrected at the local hardware store. The 20+ page installation instructions were very poor to say the least. Critical things such as the hydraulic oil reservoir fill level were not mentioned and I over-filled, causing a significant (about a gallon) oil spill on my shop floor. Also, the cable routing pictures were not as detailed as they should have been, and there were no text instructions on the proper cable position hookup to the hydraulic cylinder.
It took my very mechanically inclined neighbor and myself 2-1/2 days to get the lift installed and we had heard from several sources that it would be a 1 day job. I do think we could meet that timing on a second lift installation now that we figured out how to do it. I did have to call the local dealer on the 3rd day for advice on why I could only raise the lift but couldn't lower it without it locking up, even with the lock latches released. It turned out that my cable adjustments were not evened out correctly and you need to have some weight on the lift's first 2 - 3 up/down operations and it will work correctly from then on. This wasn't explained in the installation manual.
Overall, I'm satisfied with the lift and just hope that the distributor updates the installation manual to meet average consumer expectations. See picture of finished lift installation attached.
Jim - What's up with the speedster having two steering columns? LOL, maybe you should just let your wife drive if she insists on "helping" that much. =P
My wife insisted that if I had a "bug screen", she wanted one also, so the extra steering column came to be to hold the extra monacle "bug screen". It looks like the speedster has a pair of spectacles on when you view the car from the front. It actually does help keep the bugs and wind off!
I just got word that my four post lift is shipping today. I went for the Bendpak 9k with extra long ramps (185 in.) extra width and extra height. My problem is I need the capacity for a heavy van and a 1927 Marmon four passenger speedster in addition to my 13 Hack and 16/24 tourings. I will comment later on the ease/difficulty of the set up. Dick C.
Cable lift?? Im sure you can count on the Chinese to have used Improved Plow Steel Cable?? If said lift is rated at 8,000 pounds will it handle 32,000 for a safety factor of 4 to 1?? Bud.