Monday, May 23, 2011

Beaterblog Product Review - 1 Ton Foldable Shop Crane

My progress in the garage was coming along at an unbearably slow pace as I was fighting with all three of the now inoperable forklifts to try to get one working well enough to drop a motor in the E30. No dice. Even the best of my prospects, the 8,000 lb Hyster, was sucking down batteries like both poles were bolted directly to the body - come to think of it, maybe they were. Long story short, the frustration was too much to take and I drove to Harbor Freight with a coupon and a gift card.

Harbor Freight has models of both a one ton and two ton capacity. Obviously, I didn't plan on moving entire vehicles with an engine hoist and I'm part Swabian so I got the 1 ton model. Little did I know that the two ton had some secret advantages.

Why you would

At $189.00 before the 20% off coupon, it's got to be the cheapest out there. Pricing one out at some of the auto parts store showed savings of more than $50.

The hoist was pretty easy to put together although you need little carnie sized hands to hold the nuts on the inside of the frame while bolting the wheels on - best to recruit a 5 year old for this task. Everything else goes together fairly easily but do not tighten anything but the wheels until all parts are loosely bolted on as eyeballed production tolerances will cause everything to bolt together 1/4" away from workable.

I know it has to be a Harbor Freight first but all casters swivel easily so the hoist rolls anywhere. I may fit a brake to two of the wheels so that it can't roll back while dropping a motor in. The ram lifts quickly and the bleed isn't an on/off switch like a crappy jack - this makes it really easy to position a motor when it's being lowered into the car.

Why you wouldn't

The biggest complaint and secret disadvantage of the 1 ton model is that the reach of the boom is a full 13" shorter than the 2 ton model. This means that if your motor is sitting far back in the engine bay, the ram will likely hit the bumper and prevent your mill from going to it's final resting place. I'm thinking that this reach could be extended with some longer stock for the boom.

As a test, I left the motor on the hoist 1' off the ground overnight. When I came back the next day, the motor had inched down to about 2" off the ground. This isn't as bad as some of the equipment I've used but it makes me think twice about crawling under the car to move the driveshaft out of the way when the motor and trans are suspended above me. I have also made a note to not sleep under it.

The Verdict

Overall, it seems to be a good product. I really think the quality of Harbor Freight is improving - all of the hardware was included and it hasn't broken yet. But just spend the extra $30 and get the 2 ton hoist.

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