Strongman car lift
Like many of you, I've spent far too long lying under cars. It's dangerous and uncomfortable, and as we all get older, the cold concrete (if you're lucky, or your damp front lawn if you're not so lucky!), will start to give you backache. It's time for a solution.
I've often thought about buying a ramp, four posters take up too much room, and simple 2 post ramps need good foundations to be safe.
I don't want to commit to digging up any floors, and I'd like the ramp to be movable to another location.
So as usual if I didn't quite know what to do, I didn't do anything!
With her usual good sense, my wife told me to stop messing about and get an underfloor car lift, so I started looking.
There's a wide selection of this kind of car lift available, all using the twin hydraulic ram and scissor lifting principal.
The rams are run by an electric hydraulic
pump in a separate control box, and the lifts have a ratchet locking system at all heights.
COLLECTING THE RAMP VIDEO
As usual, the ramps are all made in China, and they look very similar, my Trudi said she liked the green one best. This was the Strongman lift, wanting to keep a little authority in the decision I kept looking.
The green Strongman lift did look to be the best of the bunch, the metalwork looks very sturdy, the lifting ramps look stronger too.
On the Strongman website you can visit the Chinese engineering works where the lifts are made, the work does look to a good standard.
Surprisingly, delivery was an important factor. All the other lifts are assembled in a fixed 2 ramp unit, and have to be delivered by truck.
The lifts need a fork tuck to unload, or access for the truck to get up the yard alleyway to use it's Moffat Mounty, this is charged for at over £200.
The Strongman ramp requires the final assembly at site, so the
platforms are packaged singly.
I was going to the West Midlands for other business, so I paid for the Strongman lift on line and collected it from their Napton factory on my way home again.
Strongman were friendly and helpful, loading up the Hilux carefully, and giving me a good, plastic backed, instruction manual. I think the plywood boxed lift weighed 650kilos, so it gave the old Toyota something to consider on our way back up North. As usual the Hilux didn't miss a beat, and the load just made the
ride pleasantly soft.
The Strongman is shipped with the control unit in one box, and the ramps packed on top of each other in a second box, allowing transport in say, a Hilux!
After fork truck loading at the depot, the ramps and the hydraulic control boxes
can be lifted off with an engine crane. This can be done at leisure,
without holding up a busy truck driver.
After tea I went to our workshop, I reversed the 'lux into our unit.
I adjusted the engine crane jib to its shortest setting, I made a sling from substantial synthetic tow rope, I lifted the 2 boxes off individually, hoisting them up and driving the pickup out from underneath. I lowered them down gently onto car moving dollies.
The bigger box with the 2 ramps in was bloody heavy! This is containing the complete lift. I realised that when you can't lift something, you know it's heavy, but you don't know just how
much heavier it is! The crane and the ropes did survive,
but I'm sure they were at their limit.
The ramp is substantial and needs 2 people to assemble it safely, John came over and helped me complete the job. The instructions are thorough and need careful reading.
The hydraulics need bleeding and setting up, but with a little adjustment the ramps worked well.
I had purchased a movement wheel set to allow the ramp to be used in other locations.
I assembled the ramp in with the Deltas, but it's first job was next door in John's BMW garage. So it was a simple, if heavy, job to pull the ramp into next door.
With the ramp next door we were able to have a look under John's ex USA BMW E36 M3. This smart coupe is in perfect rust free condition,
but it's a high miler and needs a clutch, and it needs gearbox repairs too.
John used this M3 when he lived in California a couple of years ago,
he worked as this site's Foreign Correspondent. I think he had another job too.
John bought the car back to UK, where it's enjoying the fresher
climate, and less blinding sunlight!
With careful positioning of the rubber lifting pads, and plugging into a round pin 16amp outlet, the ramp worked a treat.
Removing the M3 gearbox is a bit tricky, the star torque head bolts are very tight, and because the engine is close to the bulkhead it can't be swung down to access the top gearbox bolts. A link of long extensions is needed to go over the gearbox top to undo the upper bolts.
This engine has a dual mass flywheel, which was worn, I assumed we would get a solid flywheel to replace it. However, John found the existing clutch has no springs, with some research John discovered that with a solid flywheel the gearbox 'chatters', and the car becomes quite unpleasant to drive. Owners who have done the swap regret the change.
I have always preferred an Integrale to remain as Lancia intended, and it looks like BMW know best too. So after the gearbox synchro repairs, we'll just replace the flywheel and clutch with the original standard spec items.
The Strongman ramp made the gearbox removal much easier, I'm looking forward to using it on an Integrale, probably quite soon!
We were actually lucky to get this lift at all. The upheaval to global trade caused by the Covid epidemic is
well recorded. Items like our ramps, and other Chinese made items, have not been made in the usual large quantities.
The shipping containers arriving here loaded have not been returned to China quickly enough,
shipping containers are now a very valuable commodity. With a shortage of staff, the shipping industry is not
able to unload the ships and clear the docksides fast enough, HGV drivers are in short supply as many
overseas agency workers have returned home.
I had to pay a deposit for our lift before the shipment had arrived in this country, there aren't enough to complete
all the orders. The staff at Strongman told me shipping was now a major problem, it's pot luck
if they get the quantity they ordered, and when they actually do get them.
The shipping costs for a Chinese car lift are already more than the lift cost to buy, and the cost will
certainly go higher. So I was happy to get our new lift on schedule, and I thank Strongman for their attentions.