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A website about how I set up my old, small, two-car garage for metal fabrication, carpentry and automotive work.

An Invisible Hydraulic Lift

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With the benefit of hindsight, this seems like a pretty simple decision. But as it played out, there was a lot of agonizing involved.

I made a spontaneous bid on a hydraulic lift table I saw for sale on Ebay. It had the capacity to lift my car, but was deigned for another type of use altogether. I knew if I was going to use it I’d have to cut a pretty big hole in my garage floor. So before I rented the concrete saw, I asked a lot of people a lot of questions. My concerns were about the center of gravity of my rear engine car and how that would change is I took a 500-pound piece out of it (like the engine) and how the change in the center of gravity would affect the lift’s ability to hold the car.

I did some calculations -- at one point even balanced my car on a steel beam -- and ended up with this:

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That was the theory, at least. In practice, this is what I brought home (in a Home Depot truck -- cheaper than U-Haul). It weighed 1000 pounds and had a completely unknown history.

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Now, if you want to cut to the chase, here’s a video that shows how it worked out -- and how I put it in.



Still, I hadn’t seen the video when I positioned this thing under my car for the first time. I was a little apprehensive. This was my car -- going up in the air…

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But it worked fine.

The video shows the pictures, but here’s what happened. I rented a concrete saw from Home Depot, then dug out about 2000 pounds of clay from underneath my pad. I mixed and poured new walls around the hole and an 8” pad underneath where the lift would go. Everything was tied together with rebar. Then I re-tiled around the hole and also tiled the top of the lift. When it’s down, you would hardly know it’s there. But when it’s up, it’s my shop’s work surface #10.

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It’s become the most useful tool in my shop. Because of its design, and because my 911 has a flat belly pan with all the drive train and exhaust behind where the lift holds the car, I have full access to everything -- including the suspension and wheels all around.

Click on a picture to see a larger version of the lift, and the shop, in use.

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It felt like the craziest decision I ever made for my garage. But in retrospect, it was the best. I use this thing all the time.

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Next: The Garage Door