By Gary Peters
CRITERIA FOR SELECTION AND DESCRIPTION
As many of you know I installed a vehicle lift in my pole barn. After
much research I settled on one made by Rotary, 9000# capacity, in-ground,
fully enclosed and high pressure rather than air over oil for EPA reasons
and ease of installation. Of all the inground lifts I looked at it was
the easiest to install and also has a higher pay load than most air over
oil types for standard garage use.
I had several criteria for my lift when I started the research and from
the beginning wanted an in gound type but was beginning to lean toward
the above ground types due to the complexity of installation and potential
EPA and code restrictions untill I found this one which is fully contained
in a polypropylene or ethylene tub and which has 2" conduit fully
sealed all the way to the power supply assy. so it eliminated most of the
potential complaints of the building inspector and township. To further
pacify them I'm documenting the installation with pictures as I go so they
can see everything was done according to the Mfg's instructions.
The criteria for my lift selecton were these:
1..Must have the capacity to work on any truck I might decide to buy
including 4x4's, at least 6k - 9k pounds.
2..Must leave the under carriage unobstructed which eliminated the single
3..Must work from the frame rather than the axles since I plan to be
able to remove axles while using it which eliminated the two post, axle
4..Must not obstruct the sides of the vehicle so I can do body work
and painting with no interferance which eliminated most (virtually all)
of the above ground systems.
5..Must be easily bunkered to prevent oil seepage into the ground to
satisfy the neighbors and the township which essentially eliminated most
of the in-ground hoists. Some others offered fiberglass coatings but this
did not fully contain the unit so seepage was still possible on the ones
I asked about.
6..Had to be something I can install myself
7..Had to be in my budget range.
On this last point I was looking at above ground setups for $2600 up
to $4500 which had the capacity but the best ones of them still had large
posts very close to the vehicle doors so that the sides were badly obstructed
for painting or body work etc.. My plan was to pay cash originally but
when I stumbled on to the Rotary hoist at $5060.00 plus tax and installation
which brought it up to about $6000 (I installed it myself) I decided that
it perfectly satisfied every criteria but the price and then determined
I could deal with the price to have EXACTLY what I wanted so here I am
telling you about it.
DETAILS OF INSTALLATION
First I prepared the barn floor so that it was relatively flat and at
the grade needed to pour the floor. I cleared out the area I thought he
would need to run his backhoe but had no clue how dang big the thing was!@#@#
so I was Ill prepared when he got there. The dealer delivered the hoist
(included in the price) and agreed to position it on the floor exactly
where I asked him to and I marked the spots and labeled them with flourescent
orange marking paint so the driver couldn't miss it but he did so the sales
man sent him back to fix it. The mixup was partly my fault but they still
came back and fixed it. I had them put it next to the location of the hole
lying flat on it's pallet with the lift eyes facing the hole so the backhoe
could hook on with chains and lift it right over the hole without moving
anything but back far enough to be out of the way to dig the hole and lay
a piece of plywood on the ground as a protecive work platform to keep from
knocking dirt back in the hole while trying to set the hoist. I placed
one on each side of the hole, long ways and positioned them with stakes
to keep them lined up to use as a guide for squaring the lift in the hole
while setting it. Of course the stakes were in the way and had to be removed
so when it was set and hanging from the front bucket of the backhoe I repositioned
them to square with the wall for a referance (again) and let the lift down
and installed the threaded rods (1/2" X 18") with nuts and washers
and blocks under the ends of the 6x6 posts so it could hang over the hole
and use the threaded rods to adjust the level etc..
Here's what I learned from the experience:
I cleared out what I thought was sufficient room for the tractor to
operate but not being a back hoe operator didn't take certain things into
account which required me to move a lot of stuff out of his way after he
got there. (heavy stuff too :-()
20/20 Hind Sight #1:
Make sure the barn is EMPTY so the tractor has room to manouver.
Don't assume anything is correct! I had two pedestrian doors installed
and a bathroom slab poured all with referance to the 4 corners which miraculously
were dead on level but the centers of the 48' length walls were way off
for some reason. I plumed the lift to the center of the closest wall ASSUMING
the skirting was straight and level as it was when I checked it last year
during the construction process. The point I chose was 1.5" high!@#$%$#$@#
When I ran a string across to the other wall to get a level it seemed to
want to go about 2" above the skirt line I was using on the other
wall so I made a compromise (fortunately) and lowered the first side slightly
just in case. I measured to the top of the lift from the joists and got
my 12' right on the nose so went ahead with it.
20/20 Hind Sight #2
ALWAYS USE ANY UNCHANGEABLE REFERANCES FOR YOUR REFERANCE! In my case
the slab I poured for the bathroom was the right choice but I didn't recognize
it till it was too late :-( Fortunately I also made some mistakes in grading
the floor so when the contractor set up his transit (level) the top of
the floor wound up within 1/4" of the lift and is now history and
quite acceptable though far from perfect.
Pea stone can be compressed by tamping but it puts tremendous pressure
on things sufficient to lift an 1800# hoist! I wanted to make sure there
were no voids under it so I tamped it pretty agressively to get the stone
all the way under the tub and compress any loose dirt in the bottom of
the hole and didn't realize till too late that I had actually taken the
weight off the beams so I spent the next few hours rocking it back and
forth hoping the tub didn't crack from the weight to get it back to the
level I wanted. Each time I tried to adjust it some stone got under it
and made things worse so I finally gave up once I had it level and started
20/20 Hind Sight #3
Tamp lightly even on the bottom but start with the lift about an inch
below grade so you have some lee way while leveling it. As you tamp it
shifts the bottom of the hoist around and upsets the level so you have
to constantly check it as you go so as not to get too far out to fix. DO
NOT TAMP BEYOND THE VERY BOTTOM OF THE HOLE EVEN WITH THE BOTTOM OF THE
HOIST or you will crush the plastic tub and interfere with proper lift
operation! When you back fill, the weight of the stone and it's slippery
nature will fill the voids without any tamping except to keep it level.
Keep the stone even all the way around as you go and it won't upset the
level as much. Buy good quality pea stone, well washed and dry for best
Once you have about half the back fill in you can bring the lift up
to grade with the threaded rods it hangs from and fininsh the back fill
while watching the level.
The book calls for a machist level referancing off the top of the posts
which are machined surfaces but I discovered that the ends of the posts
are coated with a plastic paint which is uneven enough to throw the level
off. Added to that was the fact that the posts were not exactly parallel
since it is a weldment and with a span of some 5 feet and posts some 8'
long and controlled by bushings which have some clearance (not very dang
much but some) in them to allow the posts to move, there are discrepancies.
I roughed in the location and level of the hoist and backfilled about
a foot from the bottom to hold it in place and then hooked up the hydraulic,
conduit and air lines and wired the power supply so I could raise the posts.
I then used a mason's 4' level to double check my machinist level readings
and found the discrepancies mentioned above. Fortunately the posts were
very close but angled in slightly so that I took the average of the two
width wise and leveled each one separately on the other direction. When
I was satisfied I had the best average level for the unit I finished back
filling, all the while keeping an eye on the level till it was within 18"
of the top of the hoist frame. (where the book called for me to stop and
The rest of the process was very easy and straight forward as was the
hook up of the air and hydraulic lines and conduit. The rubber gasket fitting
for the conduit is very tight so I used vaseline to lube it and it popped
right in, a very nice fit. The hydraulic line was custom made for me by
a farm supply with lots of margin for safety at 4k psi and cost about $40
as I recall.
A very small compressor is all that's needed to operate the safety lock,
the lift is operated by a hydraulic pump motor at 2500 psi and the lock
ratchets under spring pressure automatically as the lift goes up and must
be released by air pressure through a small valve on the power supply conveniently
located next to the down lever. It uses a push button switch to turn the
motor on and raise the lift.
Access to the workings is through a large cover plate which comes with
a rubber gasket and is held in place with 10 or so 1/2" bolts. The
entire mechanism can be pulled with an engine hoist of sufficient capacity
for major repairs as the whole assembly hangs from the frame which is rodded
into the concrete very securely.
I plan to open it up occasionally and shop vac the water and oil out
of the bottom to keep it nice and clean. The top plates are sealed at the
factory but the center access plate has a gasket you put in once it's been
opened. The other two plates never need to come off so should stay sealed.
(remember the bottom is 9' below grade......:-))