There was a time in my life when pulling a four-speed out of my car was easy, actually kinda fun. I’d throw a few floor jacks under it, grab my trusty tools and within an hour or so, I’m crawling out with the transmission in hand.
But that my friends was a long time ago. I’m north of 60 now and the thought of pulling a four-speed under a car isn’t as appealing as it once was. The kids are grown and all of their college tuitions are paid off so I decided its time to treat myself to something I’ve always wanted, a lift for my garage.
A few years ago, I replaced a 1941 vintage slightly leaning one-car garage with a pretty decent three-car replacement. I designed it hoping that eventually I would get a lift. With that in mind, I had the two-car portion of the garage made with a fourteen-foot ceiling and the single car portion with storage space. And while it took a few years to order the lift, I had the electrician run a dedicated 220 line for a lift.
When I began looking for a lift, I found out that there’s a plethora of companies selling them so the big question became how do I choose the right company and right lift. I scanned the Internet and contacted quite a few places before making my choice. After due diligence, I chose the BendPak Corporation. This global, California based company has been in business for 45 years and today offers not only high quality lifts but many other types of garage equipment for use in both commercial applications as well as for back yard hobbyists. Since I still do some suspension work, my choice was their asymmetrical XPR-10AC two-post model. While a four-post lift is easy to drive on and is great for storing two vehicles in one spot, the two-post keeps the suspension pieces more accessible. With a 10,000 pound capacity, the XPR-10C is sturdy enough for anything including my full-size Chevy Silverado.
While price is certainly an important part of the equation, I’ll suggest this isn’t the time to be a cheapskate. Cheap and good are typically mutually exclusive. I’m sure you wouldn’t want your $50,000 vintage ride to come crashing down because you tried to save a few bucks on poor quality lift, would you? Yet with BendPak I found it wasn’t necessary to pay lots of money for a high quality unit.
Just to be safe, before ordering the lift, I went to www.autolift.org to determine if the lift passed the rugged certification process of the American Lift Institute (ALI), and it did. It’s important to know that not all lifts are certified so you should go to website before making your final decision.
There’s a lot to like about this lift. One very unique feature is its 30-degree rotated column design that provides added door opening clearance and its overall width of 132 inches makes it perfect for smaller garages. They also have a wider version available. The variable arm position allows it to be used as either a symmetric or asymmetric lift for added versatility. Another important feature is the low profile contact pads (about four inches) that can get under exceptionally low vehicles. Unlike some other lifts, Bendpak lifts come with truck and van adapters at no extra charge. Finally, its durable powder-coating will last a long time.
Installing a lift is something to be left to professionals and finding a qualified installer wasn’t a problem. BendPak can set you up with one. Finally, on a snowy Friday morning, installers Joe Epifanio and Glen Austin arrived with the lift and within about four hours the lift was installed. It doesn’t get much better than that.
I’d like to mention a few cautionary notes. It is necessary to first make sure your garage floor is in good condition and free of cracks or other defects. And while a level floor is recommended, the lift can be installed on a floor with 3-degrees of slope or less. Concrete specifications vary with the type of lift, but for my 10,000-lb. model, my garage floor needed to be a minimum of 4” thick and have 3,000-PSI strength concrete. Fortunately when I built my garage, I prepared for having a lift by meeting those specifications.
Note: The article, while giving readers an idea of the necessary steps to install the lift, does not show every step and is to be used only as a guideline for installation.
For more information about BendPak lifts go to:
1645 Lemonwood Dr.
Santa Paula, CA. 93060
The lift can be installed in nearly any garage that has sufficient height. My garage was built with the necessary 14 foot ceiling.
The delivered assembly weighs 1,770 lbs. A cherry picker makes it easier to get it off the trailer.
The first step after unpacking the lift assembly is to check delivered components against the parts list.
Joe and Glen begin installing the hydraulic cylinders into both columns.
Route the hydraulic hoses through their respective column prior to raising them to their vertical position, then connect the hose to the T-fittings.
This shows how to secure the hydraulic hose to the column using locking tabs.
Unwind the two equalizer cables. Equalizer cables on "AC" models such as mine have one short and one long cable.
Install plug end of the cable into carriage unit of each column.
This shows where the cable routes through the carriage portion of the column.
Connect hydraulic hose fitting to the hydraulic cylinder.
Remove the pulley pin, then route lift cable around the pulley of each column at the base. Reinstall pin.
Assemble the overhead limit switch. The limit switch will shut the lift off if a vehicle height exceeds maximum lift capabilities.
Route the limit switch wiring through the opening in the top trough assembly, then secure it with a wiring clamp.
Here Joe is identifying the proper locations for each column.
Lay a chalk line to locate proper location of both the hydraulic power column (the one with the Hydraulic pump) and the offside (slave) column assembly.
Position the hydraulic power column in the appropriate location. Make sure you have at least two people for this operation.
BendPak lifts include notched cut-outs to aid in lining up the base locations on their asymmetrical lifts. Simply align the notch with the chalk line.
Position the offside column assembly and align notch to chalk line.
At each column, using a drill that can accommodate a 3/4 inch masonry bit, drill 6 holes a minimum of 4 1/2 inches deep into the floor.
This photo shows one of the special anchor bolts that come with the lift assembly.
Tap bolts into the holes. Do not tighten fasteners at this point.
Using a level, plum the column.
These are the column leveling shims. Use as necessary to plum each column.
If adjustments need to be made, loosen nuts, then using a pry bar, tilt the column and insert shims at anchor bolt locations as required. Hand tighten fasteners 3-5 turns. Do not use an impact wrench.
Insert the safety latch assembly into the column using the pin, spring and clip included with the lift. The hydraulic power column receives a red handle latch and the offside column receives a plain latch.
Assemble the latch to the offside column.
Install motor vibration pad to the hydraulic power column using fasteners provided.
Install power unit to hydraulic power column with 4 fasteners.
Install top trough assembly to each column, fastening with four bolts and nuts. This is definitely a two man operation.
Route the hydraulic hose through the top trough assembly to each hydraulic T-fitting.
Route cables through top trough assembly then down each column.
This photo shows cables routed, hydraulic hose and limit switch wire routed and crimped in place.
Install the carriage-stop bolt after top trough is installed and secured.
This is the cable being routed through the offside column. After routing through the hole, install cable nut.
Route the lift cable into the hydraulic power column, install nut then adjust to the appropriate tension. Repeat for the offset column.
This is the safety latch release cable. Unroll it and begin routing the cable from the hydraulic power column, across the top trough and down the offside column, then connect to each safety latch.
Install the cable into the offside column latch, then secure with locking clip.
Route safety latch cable through the hole in the power column, then through a hole in the safety latch. Secure with locking nuts.
Install the hydraulic hose to the power unit T-fitting.
Route the limit switch wiring and hydraulic hose into safety latch cover of the hydraulic power column. Using fasteners supplied, install safety latch cover. Install safety latch cover on the offside column.
Install hydraulic fitting into the power unit.
Install hydraulic hose to hydraulic power unit fitting.
Install arm restraint gear finger tight to the lift arm.
Prior to installing lift arms, move the carriage up to the first latch on both columns.
Install the lifting arms. Insert lifting arm pin though carriage and into the arm.
Engage the gears at the centerpoint, then tighten fasteners. Do this for both columns.
Install "C" clip to arm pin.
Have a certified electrician connect the limit switch wiring and power source wiring.
Fill reservoir with approximately four gallons of 10 weight hydraulic oil, then bleed the hydraulic system as explained in the instruction manual. Run lift up and down several times to insure that the safety locks are engaging uniformly and the safety release mechanisms are functioning properly. Re-adjust if necessary. Now you are ready to try it out.
What a beautiful sight. No more crawling under my car.