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Ideal spacing of the posts to lift a 50's era Buick onto a 2 post lift


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Is there anyone with experience that knows the ideal spacing (the inside distance of the 2 post set) of a 2 post car lift?  This lift would mostly be for lifting my 55 Buick, but I expect to use it to work on other vehicles.  Thank you.

Edited by Kosage Chavis (see edit history)
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Approximately 11.5 ft center post to center post  is what I used when I laid out for the 12 inch thick X 4 ft square areas in my garage in anticipation of bolting in a lift.  

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1 hour ago, MrEarl said:

Approximately 11.5 ft center post to center post  is what I used when I laid out for the 12 inch thick X 4 ft square areas in my garage in anticipation of bolting in a lift.  

Thank you for that Mr Lamar.  With those dimensions you gave on offset, did this allow you to open the car door enough to get in and out comfortably?  Would this also allow me enough room to get a Roadmaster on the lift?  Hope you and the Wife are doing well.

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Why would a collector buy a two post lift for cars built before 1970? If you have ever lifted thousands of cars, which I  have, and you have thousands of hours in a shop, which I also have, a four post lift is the way to go. My modern shop had 50/50 with two and four post lifts, because back in the day we did lots of exhaust work.........and you needed them. 

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You will find that the post to post distance is fixed by the manufacturer.    One big reason is the two sides are connected (with cable over the top) so that one side does not move/lift faster or slower than the other.  

My old two poster has a heavy chain that goes across the floor (covered) to do the same thing.

You will find that the hard decision is where to place it front to back in the garage/shop.

When you lift a vehicle on a two post,  you want to have the post at the center of the vehicles weight.

On a average front engine car,  the post will be closer to the front than the rear.    Same with a pick-up

I have a Corvair so 60% of the weight is in the rear,  hence the posts are closer to the rear.

Now when you do a sketch of your garage and position the vehicles you own and estimate where the center of the vehicles weight is from the front or rear.

You will find that in a 24 ft deep garage the post will not be at 12 ft.... mine are at 13 ft from the overhead door, also if you have a built-in bench that may shorten your 24 ft to less than 22. 

Both 2 and 4 post lifts have advantages.....do some research before deciding.   Do a Google search on installing a lift and you will find lots of info,  even manufacturers installation manuals.

Edited by Barney Eaton (see edit history)
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2 hours ago, Barney Eaton said:

do some research before deciding.   Do a Google search on installing a lift and you will find lots of info,  even manufacturers installation manuals.

 

what Barney said.

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Get a 2-post with the posts offset forward. You can recognize one easily because the arms are asymmetrical, the front ones are shorter.

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It won’t matter on a full framed (55 Century)  car.
A Riv or something with an X frame won’t work on short armed lifts. 

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I have already done the research and I want to go with the MaxJax portable 2 post lift.  I have to think smart here.  I only will have a 9 feet ceiling and I need to maximize my floor space.  This lift gives me that.  When the lift is not in use, I can unbolt and wheel it away.  The anchor bolts also are flush with the concrete and I won't have to worry about a tripping hazard.  The lift's max height is only 49 inches off the ground, but again that is perfect because my ceiling height is limited.  I will just need to purchase a reclining creeper so that I can move under the car with ease.  I have read many reviews dealing with this lift and I have even seen some 5 year reviews which expressed a lot of good reviews.  My only uncertainty is how wide I should set the post.  I have already read the manual and they give a range (min is 105", max is 135").  @MrEarlsays that he put his at 11.5 feet (center to center).  So, I am thinking that I should place mine at the max of 135" (outer side to outer side).  Here is a sketch that I am going to send the contractor.  Maybe you all can give your opinions.  812338533_20200714_1748042.thumb.jpg.f4523ed91f99ed40996a95a768cb535e.jpg

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Trigonometry being what it is, the further apart the posts are the less front-to-back adjustment you have.

 

But if you're going to be constantly unbolting and moving the lift, why not put in three sets of anchor bolts?  You could put one set by the wall, a second at 105", and a third at 135".  That should cover all your bases.

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17 minutes ago, KongaMan said:

Trigonometry being what it is, the further apart the posts are the less front-to-back adjustment you have.

 

But if you're going to be constantly unbolting and moving the lift, why not put in three sets of anchor bolts?  You could put one set by the wall, a second at 105", and a third at 135".  That should cover all your bases.

That's exactly what I had in mind.  I just wanted to get an ideal spacing to lift a car like mine.  Of course, with what you mentioned being kept in mind.  Also, I want to be able to get in and out without worrying too much about hitting the door against one of the post.

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Put in a 4th set at 120".  Or two rows of evenly spaced bolts for infinite adjustment. ;)   On some jobs, you might not care if it's next to the wall.  On others, you might want to get to both sides.  Put in 6 or 8 sets.  Won't change the cost much, and you might be glad you did.

 

FWIW, a lot of folks with 2-post lifts augment them with extra-tall jackstands placed front and rear to keep the car from rocking.  Maybe I'm an idiot, but the idea of leaning into something like a pinion nut that requires 250 ft-lbs of torque (i.e. a long breaker bar) while the car is perched on a 2-post with no additional support seems a little suspect.

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For what it's worth, not hitting the doors on two-post hoists is ALWAYS a problem. Some are offset toward the front, some are not. With the posts offset forward, you will have to be careful getting out. With them centered, it can be very hard to get out of the car. Doubly so if it is a wide car.

 

There is also the matter of balance. The weight has to be somewhat evenly distributed so that the car will not have a tendency to tip front to rear. Offset to the front works best for big American cars like yours, as well as modern front wheel drives. Once you get used to using your individual hoist, you will get a better idea how to "load" cars on it for good balance. Sometimes they wind up closer to the front of the bay than you would like, sometimes they hang out the back more than you want. Better to be safe rather than convenient.

 

After looking at that hoist you mentioned, it appears the posts are centered. Put the posts as wide as you can possibly get them, and you might not have to climb out through the window.

 

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2 minutes ago, KongaMan said:

 

FWIW, a lot of folks with 2-post lifts augment them with extra-tall jack stands placed front and rear to keep the car from rocking.

I would not consider going under any hoist without jack stands that were totally separate from the hoist.

I worked in a GM Dealership that had eight or ten hoists.  Each stall had a single hoist that was positioned to go under the rear axle housing and a movable front hoist that lifted the front of the car.  These had a ratchet mechanism that protected the car from falling.  Four times  in fourteen years a seal in the rear hoist blew and the back of the car dropped leaving the car at a 45 degree angle.  Each time the ratchet attached to the rear hoist was unhooked by the explosion of the seal.  All the held the car up was the one inch edges on the front hoist.  Each time the mechanic was quick enough to get out from under without being caught.  Tall jack stands were brought in after the fourth seal blew.

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They typically have some sort of ratchet system. Some of them are EXTREMELY noisy, to the point that they start messing with your head. I have seen a bunch of them disabled. I won't use a hoist like that. Some designs allow you to hold the latch open as the car goes up. Typically you then let it back down against the latches to take the hydraulic pressure off, and let the mechanical latches hold the car up.

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In that arrangement, the pin would be inserted to hold the latch against the ratchet.  That is, you don't want the ratchet to fly open, and you want something more substantial than a spring to hold it closed.

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I don't recall anything like that. The ratchet cant move once the weight is on it and it is hooked. Its up to the operator of course to let the weight back down on the ratchet.

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When I saw the ad in Road & Track for the MaxJax..... with a guy under the car looks like he is sitting on a modified lawn chair (because he cannot stand)

I thought.....no way.

The ad does not say anything about bolting them down, and you have those hydraulic hoses laying on the floor.   How do they keep the sides synchronized when other lifts need an interconnect cable?

If you bolt them down,  how thick does the concrete need to be and do you know if you have 3 inches or more....guess you would know when you drill the holes.    Pretty sure I would want an adjustable stabilizer on one or both ends of the vehicle.  

My guess that a '55 Buick is about 5 ft tall,  with a 9 ft ceiling that means the bottom of the car would be about 4 1/2 feet off the garage floor.....I suspect you will be hitting your head several times.

Edited by Barney Eaton (see edit history)
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No way could it work not bolted down. It would just tip over. I believe this thread is about the distance between mountings.

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Also, you can get out of the car and then roll it. Always leave in neutral when on the hoist. Push it forward a bit by hand, or just grab a wheel and turn it while you are on the floor setting the pads, if the car is not in an ideal position.

 

Get the pads set, if they are flip-ups, they should be pointing opposite directions front to rear. Get the car off the ground just a few inches, then shake the crap out of it. That should reveal if the car is balanced badly on the hoist, or if the pads are not solid. Then, take it the rest off the way up.

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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4 hours ago, Kosage Chavis said:

I only will have a 9 feet ceiling and I need to maximize my floor space.

 Did you consider scissor trusses to give you more ceiling height or maybe you just want a portable lift..?

 

 

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2 hours ago, Barney Eaton said:

If you bolt them down,  how thick does the concrete need to be and do you know if you have 3 inches or more....guess you would know when you drill the holes.    Pretty sure I would want an adjustable stabilizer on one or both ends of the vehicle.  

My guess that a '55 Buick is about 5 ft tall,  with a 9 ft ceiling that means the bottom of the car would be about 4 1/2 feet off the garage floor.....I suspect you will be hitting your head several times.

For this lift, the manual states that minimum requirements are 4" thick concrete at 3000 lbs psi.  Instead, I will be going with 6" thick at 3500 lbs psi.  Also, there is a creeper that is available that reclines from a flat to a seated upright position.  It will allow me to move freely and comfortably under the car without hitting my head.

 

2 hours ago, Bloo said:

Also, you can get out of the car and then roll it. Always leave in neutral when on the hoist. Push it forward a bit by hand, or just grab a wheel and turn it while you are on the floor setting the pads, if the car is not in an ideal position.

Didn't even think of that.  Thank you.

 

1 hour ago, MrEarl said:

 Did you consider scissor trusses to give you more ceiling height or maybe you just want a portable lift..?

 

 

I did consider the scissor trusses, but it was more than we could afford.  All things considered, this was the best option for what I can afford.  I will also have a lot of attic space for storage.  

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I had a Quick Jack scissors lift and it worked well.  You couldn't got to the car from the side hence the need for Jack Stands.

 

But you still had to lay on your back to do anything and I am too old to want to do that anymore for long periods of time.

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On 7/14/2020 at 8:58 AM, Barney Eaton said:

I have a Corvair so 60% of the weight is in the rear,  hence the posts are closer to the rear.

 

Just back the Corvair onto the lift. Having said that, I always drive mine on forward. Works for me.

 

On 7/14/2020 at 7:43 PM, Tinindian said:

I would not consider going under any hoist without jack stands that were totally separate from the hoist.

 

I bought three of the Harbor Freight Hoist stands. Great. Really hold the car steady, like hanging on torque wrenches and removing weighty objects, like engines from Corvairs. And they bolt together, with screws for adjustment, so they do not fail like the jack stands.😉

 

Kosage, you show the lift quite close to a wall. Do not mount it so close to the wall you cannot remove parts from the car, like rear axle shafts! Or not be able to open the right door. It happens, car up in air, need something out of glove box.....👍

 

On 7/14/2020 at 9:49 PM, Bloo said:

No way could it work not bolted down. It would just tip over.

 

I saw our local rep demonstrate lifts at local shows in the mid 80s, never bolted a two posts down and raised cars on them. I forgot the brand, something from Europe. Looked really sketchy to me! But, no one was hanging off them either.

 

On 7/14/2020 at 9:46 PM, Barney Eaton said:

How do they keep the sides synchronized when other lifts need an interconnect cable?

 

The interconnect cable is the hydraulic hoses. Just like hydraulic brakes, equal pressure is sent to each cylinder and there you go, evenly lifted! Only hoses connect my two post side to side. for control, and of course the brake release cable that on mine goes across the top steel plate between the two columns on pulleys.

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Some 2 posters have cables and pulleys in them. Frankly I think it's dangerous as hell. I used quite a few of them, but they were pretty new. I hate to think what would happen when the cable frays and lets go. The car falling might be the least of your worries. Those hoists had threaded areas at the end of the cable to adjust. If it's out of whack, the car hangs crooked. I have seen them in some shops, car tilted sideways because the cables were out of whack, ratchets disabled, etc.....

 

 

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