Turning Archive 2004
Bill Grumbine, Kutztown PA
Today I had the opportunity to assemble and test my Harbor Freight truck lift, which was discussed some time earlier on this forum. I have a number of things to say both good and bad.
Packing. The packaging of this thing was horrendeous. I think it either broke open at some point or someone opened it up and then "repacked" it by randomly throwing everything back in and slamming the lid shut. The styrofoam packing was broken and smashed, and nothing was in its original place, except for the contents of several smaller boxes. Oh yeah, everything EXCEPT the instructions on how to assemble it were there. Fortuanately I had seen on the HF site where there was a downloadable manual, so I had that to fall back on. Even those instructions were not as clear as one could wish. There is still one part that apparently does nothing, and is not mentioned anywhere I can find, although it is clearly pictured installed on the lift.
I had help assembling it. Fellow woodturner and student du jour Frank Joseph was visiting. We were putting this thing together because the power went out (for the second time since he arrived yesterday). Even though the power eventually came back on, Frank decided to keep on assembling. My Mama taught me when people come over to play, you play what they want to play, so that is what we did.
Despite the instructions, we were able to get the thing together and get it running. Most of the parts are fairly heavy duty looking, and reasonably well made. The limit switch adjusters on the winch are virtually useless, the one breaking right off when I tried to adjust it. Oh yeah, there was a plastic cover that goes over the winch and apparently is supposed to protect the cable from weather. It was smashed off in transit, and it looks like the winch will have to be halfway disassembled to get a new one back on. I think I can live without it.
Here is a picture of the lift installed on the truck and in the travel position. There are two pins which hold the platform in place, and the winch is wound up to its top end. Frank is posing here with it "for scale" he said.
Here is a shot of the thing in loading position, with the tailgate down. I was able to adjust the limit switches so that they both work, but the one adjuster is shot. That does not seem to be a serious issue at this point. Frank is removing the power cord from the tool box. There are two cords that plug into quick connecters on the winch, one for power, and one to operate it. I suppose I could hard wire something in, but I do not see it getting enough use for that to be worthwhile. It is not that hard to pop the hood and hook it up to the battery via a couple of alligator clamps (which I had to supply, along with a 50 amp fuse). Also, if you have a full size vehicle, plan on buying an extra roll of 10 ga wire. The wire supplied is not quite enough to get to the battery from the end of an extended cab with an 8' bed.
Here is a closeup of the thing in the up position. Everything moves fairly smoothly, although I do not have a lot of confidence in the life expectancy of the cable. That should be relatively easy to replace though. I would not want to think about having to replace ANY of the myriad of metric shoulder bolts holding the thing together though.
As you can see, it is capable of lifting large loads. I am 390 lbs, and it took me right up to the top. Of course, we tested it out with something not so important first. I threw Dominic's new jointer on to make sure it would hold me! Ha ha Dominic, not really, but it did take your jointer right up into the back, where it is waiting to go on the ride to your house.
We moved several logs and people with it, as well as one very heavy Rockwell 8" jointer. I know, I know, people aren't supposed to ride on the thing, but there were many who wanted a chance. Overall, it looks like it will do what I bought it to do, and do it reasonably well. There are the pain in the butt things that are often associated with tools from Harbor Freight, but I think that they will be tolerable given that I will not have to be schlepping huge logs in by sheer grunt force anymore.
One thing we noticed. The lift has two stabilizing legs. I am going to need to keep a wrench with me to crank them up once the truck is loaded. We discovered that even a moderate load really compresses them onto the ground, making it difficult to swivel them back up into the travel position. Another thing - this lift weighs in at 140 lbs. I was amazed how different the truck felt with it hanging off the back. It was like I had a huge oad in the bed. The truck was not sluggish or anything, but the trim was changed, so that the nose was up in the air further than I am used to.
I know a bunch of you have been waiting to read this. I hope it answers your questions. If you have more, you know where to send them.