By Michael Zimmers
If you’re like me, your garage is reasonably well-equipped for most projects, even the big ones. One thing that most of us don’t have, though, is something to help with the "heavy lifting," for when we need to move around something really big. Such back-breaking tasks might include:
- lifting an engine out of a vehicle, onto the truck bed or into an engine stand
- putting an ATV or motorcycle into a truck without the use of long ramps
- getting extra-heavy items out of the truck bed into the garage where we can tackle them
I’ve had the need to do these things for years, but I’ve resisted the urge to invest in a winch or hoist, since they tend to be expensive and take up a lot of space (which is at a premium in my garage). Furthermore, most of these tools themselves weigh a lot and are inconvenient to take with me on the road, where I may have the need to perform similar tasks.
Solving all these problems elegantly is a light but powerful portable crane from Spitzlift. The Spitzlift crane is a truly clever piece of design and engineering that can be used in the garage or on the road with equal effectiveness and ease.
Features of the Spitzlift
The Spitzlift has many compelling features:
- powerful: the Spitzlift’s load limit is a hefty 700 pounds. While this is more than enough for any application I can envision for myself, the folks at Spitzlift told me that it is in fact capable of lifting considerably more weight than this.
- lightweight: the Spitzlift weighs less than 35 pounds.
- versatile: the three-position boom arm allow me to lift an item from 4′ to almost 7′ off of the lifting surface.
Performance in the Shop
I wish I had the Spitzlift when I bought my air compressor. Without the Spitzlift, it took two of us, some long boards and a lot of elbow grease to get the compresor into the bed of my 4×4 truck. When I got the compressor home, my attempt to unload the compressor by myself (which was in retrospect not a wise move) resulted in a broken copper pipe and a near-injury. I’m not sure how much the compressor weighs, but I’d estimate around 250 lbs.
Since the compressor was probably the heaviest item in my garage, I used it as a modest test of the Spitzlift’s capabilities. I was pleased to find that it lifted the compressor like a loaf of bread. I lifted the compressor into the bed of my truck and off again a few times, setting the lift to different heights. In all cases, the Spitzlift performed effortlessly; I could have performed these operations wearing a tuxedo.
Here’s a picture of David Inniss, Spitzlift’s VP of Marketing and me getting ready to test the crane. (I’m the skinny, gray-haired guy on the right; now you can see why I don’t want to tackle a lot of heavy lifting on my own!) A couple of points: the Spitzlift is in its most upright configuration. This probably wasn’t necessary, since any of the configurations would have given us enough lift to get the compressor into the bed of the truck. Also, for this exercise, we just looped the strap of the Spitzlift around the compressor’s handle. Had this been a more unwieldy item, we probably would have taken the trouble of finding multiple lift points to better secure the load while hoisting it.
The Spitzlift is holding the complete load of the compressor in this picture. This is a good view of the trailer hitch mounting option. As you can see, the mount extends beyond the side of the tailgate, so the Spitzlift can be used with the tailgate up if so desired. Spitzlift also offers a smaller hitch mount for SUVs and smaller trucks. While it’s not really easy to see from this photo, the mounting leg is taking the full load of the lift, so the truck isn’t being pulled down on the left side. There are times when this could be important.
With the compressor lifted high enough to clear the tailgate, David is now pushing the compressor around and into the bed of the truck. Until you try this yourself, you’ll just have to trust me on how easy this is to do.
The compressor is now lowered into the bed of the truck…easily and without incident. Note that, even though the compressor represents a fairly tall object, the lift still has plenty of room to move even higher.
When I first began using the Spitzlift, I was somewhat leery of the braking mechanism. To test this, I left the load on the crane for an extended time to test the brake. After a few hours of remaining under load, the brake hadn’t budged so much as an inch. This is significant (to me, at least) as it means that I can use the Spitzlift to hold things while I work on them, besides just moving them up and down.
When done with the Spitzlift, it folds up into a footprint of about 12"x4" and can be tucked away in a corner of the garage. Try that with most garage hoists!
Performance on the Road
As I mentioned above, one of the salient features of the Spitzlift is its ease of use away from the garage. Spitzlift offers a variety of vehicles mounts, from an inside-the-bed option that fits nicely behind a wheel well, resulting in almost no lost space within the bed. The mount I prefer, though, uses the trailer hitch (shown above) with the arm that absorbs most of the load weight, preventing the truck’s suspension from compressing while the Spitzlift is in use.
When considering how the Spitzlift does in the field, it’s probably noteworthy that it unfolds and is ready for operation in just a few minutes. Breaking it down is equally fast. It is truly a convenient tool for remote purposes. For those planning on operating the Spitzlift in areas with soft ground, I would recommend taking along a metal plate about 1′ square to put under the weight-bearing leg. This will prevent the foot from pushing itself into the earth. Other than this, the Spitzlift is a complete, self-contained tool that should serve quite well on the road. One use for it that I’m anticipating later this spring is to use it while hunting, so I can hang a harvested animal while I skin and field dress it.
The Spitzlift is so powerful and so easy to use that there really isn’t much else to say about it. For anyone who needs a strong, light compact crane that works equally well in the garage or on the road, it’s hard to imagine a better choice. The Spitzlift is a much-needed addition to my toolset.