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Thread: Quick Jack

  1. #1

    Quick Jack

    Last season was sort of a bust for the Mad Cow team as I only ran one race, got t-boned in it, wrecked the car and took the rest of the season rebuilding the car.

    We needed something to do over the winter that was car-related, so my brother/crew chief and I decided to build a new quick jack for the car. The idea of a quick jack, for those who don't already know, is to be able to quickly jack (get it?) up either end of the car for maintenance or repair purposes. The jacks we use are also useful for moving the cars around the pits, and in bad moments, pulling the car into the trailer when it won't go under it's own power.

    The jack everyone uses is from 600 racing. Shown below, it is clearly built to a price.



    The top bar, which grips the bumper (front or rear) of the car to lift it, rotates in another 1" square tube on yet another piece of all-thread that is welded to the top bar. See below for what happens after a few seasons of use:



    It's built entire of mild steel so it is pretty rugged but looks shabby relatively quickly.

    It's also engineered, if you want to use the term here, pretty loosely. FOr example, the "axle" containing the two wheels is just a length of all-thread. And that all-thread is just shot through the 1" square steel tubing with nothing to bear upon. Eventually, the rod breaks and the wheels fall off.



    I could have just bought another one, since mine is clearly worn out, but that just isn't the way I'm wired. So I decided to build a better quick jack. OF course, I could have bought several new/crummy regular jacks with the money I spent on this one, but that's pretty typical for me, too.

    I began by deciding to use my favorite material, aluminum. There aren't many metal products that wouldn't be improved just by making them in this material instead of steel, IMHO, so I ordered up a bunch of 1X2 and 1X1 6061 T6 1/8" wall square tubing. I wanted the jack to look good as well as feel good to the user, so I ordered the tubing with an external radius. It just looks better to me, and feels better, too.

    After making rough plans, I started cutting metal, and began with the frame weldment. Here it is in an inexplicably fuzzy shot on the welding table.



    In this design, I used solid aluminum blocks about 5" long on each side of the bottom tube where the axle was to be placed. The blocks were milled to fit inside the 1X2 and tacked in place. A custom axle was created by using a piece of 5/8" drill rod that was chucked up on a lathe to cut grooves to fit snap rings, which would locate axle in the housing and position the wheels where I wanted them. You can see the axle already assembled in the frame.

    Since I wanted the top bar that contacted the bumpers to rotate freely, I used a bearing assembly, and affixed that to the top bar. You can see the plug welds where I welded in a bar that was tapped to hold the 5/8" pin we made to locate the top bar in the frame.



    I wanted the jack to be strong, so I applied the normal garage engineering skillz that required me to gusset anything that looked weak. Hence the joint below:



    I used 1/4" aluminum plate after I had welded the two long handle pieces together.


    Here is a pic of the front of the jack assembled, with the racing slicks (we can't run them on the race car, but the jack will sure have them!) and aluminum wheels from a go kart application.



    The top bar, and the bumper grabbers are fabricated from 304 stainless. I didn't think I could easily make an aluminum weldment that would be strong enough, and this is the part of the jack that takes a trmendous amount of abuse. The bumper grabbers were made using the traditional "H&H" method, (AKA Heat and Hammer), then welded to the top bar.

    Because I wanted the handles to feel better and work better than the old 1" steel square tubing, I secured a used aluminum handlebar from a old MX bike, shortened it, and attached new grips. While at the bike store, I learned a new tip: spray the handlebar and the inside of the grips with hairspray right before working the grips onto the bar. Evidently, the slickness of the hairspray acts as sort of a lubricant to make it easier to slide on compared to a dry surface, and the hairspray eventually dries to a glue-like condition that holds the grips in permanently. Worked great!



    Finally, we wanted to make the top bar be able to rotate freely, but not so freely that it just spun around; we also wanted it to mostly stay in place relative to the expected bumpers. So we made up a quick set of stays out of bungee cord that attached to the lower gusset and the top stainless bar.

    See the pic below for an overview:



    We are pretty happy with the quick jack as built, as it lifts easier, rolls around with less effort, stores easier in the trailer and just looks better as well. All of that might be worth up to a half-second a lap, don't you think?

    Here is one last shot showing the old with the new:





    -Will

    PS: I haven't cleaned up the garage yet as we ended up running late, so sorry for the mess...

  2. #2
    Registered User Glenn's Avatar
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    Re: Quick Jack

    Nice work. I love the gokart rims and tires.
    Glenn H. Shelton III
    My Garage Pics

  3. #3
    Administrator Cebby's Avatar
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    Re: Quick Jack

    That's awesome! It's got to be easier to roll than the other one - bet it goes FAST!! So what was the total weight savings?
    My vehicle sites: 1993 Toyota 4Runner & 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee

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  4. #4

    Re: Quick Jack

    Great stuff, nice to see 'homemade' tool's that
    improve on the original!

    What welder are you using? I'm looking at new one's
    now for aluminum fab work.

    Thank's, Rich

  5. #5

    Re: Quick Jack

    Quote Originally Posted by 66RICH View Post
    Great stuff, nice to see 'homemade' tool's that
    improve on the original!

    What welder are you using? I'm looking at new one's
    now for aluminum fab work.

    Thank's, Rich

    Thanks!

    I use a Lincoln Precision TIG 185. You can see it under the table I made for it.

    -Will



  6. #6

    Re: Quick Jack

    Quote Originally Posted by Cebby View Post
    That's awesome! It's got to be easier to roll than the other one - bet it goes FAST!! So what was the total weight savings?

    I haven't actually weighed them both, and the "heft" test would indicate that they are closer than I'd like. A lot of the weight is in the stainless top and alu frame, so even if it doesn't actually weigh much less, it has less weight at the handle, so it feels lighter, if that makes sense.

    -Will

  7. #7

    Re: Quick Jack

    Will;
    Thank's for the reply, I am debating between the 185, and the
    225. I was told the 185 struggled on 1/4", but yours look's fine.
    I mainly want it for light gauge (.063), but you never know!

    If anyone has a "Blue" they like, please pipe up.

    Thank's, Rich

  8. #8
    Administrator Cebby's Avatar
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    Re: Quick Jack

    Quote Originally Posted by 66RICH View Post
    Will;
    Thank's for the reply, I am debating between the 185, and the
    225. I was told the 185 struggled on 1/4", but yours look's fine.
    I mainly want it for light gauge (.063), but you never know!

    If anyone has a "Blue" they like, please pipe up.

    Thank's, Rich
    I have a Syncrowave 180SD. I don't have much time on it with AL. Works great on steel though.
    My vehicle sites: 1993 Toyota 4Runner & 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee

    **NEW** - UZswap.com - a site dedictated to sharing tech about swapping Toyota V8's into 4Runners and Trucks

  9. #9

    Re: Quick Jack

    Thank's Cebby, I'm going to have a look at the Miller line. My
    local dealer carries both, but was pushing towards the Lincoln.
    I'm leaning more, and more towards the 225 range, anything
    bigger, and the price really jumps.
    I'm running my tig off an old stick machine now, but need
    the Hi-Freq for aluminum. I have been making custom fan
    shrouds for local guy's, and want to switch to alum. Iv'e
    been using 18 ga c/r for my current projects.
    Thank's, Rich

    Will:
    I like how you added that drawer to your weld table.

  10. #10

    Re: Quick Jack

    Quote Originally Posted by 66RICH View Post
    Will;
    Thank's for the reply, I am debating between the 185, and the
    225. I was told the 185 struggled on 1/4", but yours look's fine.
    I mainly want it for light gauge (.063), but you never know!

    If anyone has a "Blue" they like, please pipe up.

    Thank's, Rich
    The 185 does struggle on 1/4 aluminum. You really have to pour on the heat (or heat up the piece befor welding it), and the 185 struggles to do that with a decent duty cycle. Several times the machine stopped in the middle of a 1/4" weld for duty cycle rests. And, of course, the air-cooled torch is running right at it's rated capacity so it's pretty marginal as well. It sometimes is so hot I have to grip it lower (farther from the heat) in order to not get burned through the gloves I'm wearing.

    I rarely weld such thick aluminum, so mine is OK. But if I were buying one again, I'd go up a class to the 225.

    LIke you, I bought it mostly for lighter duty, and especially liked the slightly wider range (top and bottom) compared to the blue brand.

    Still happy with it, it just is marginal for such thick aluminum. It does fine on thicker steel, of course.

    -Will

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