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How a Shop Built Its Own Wheel Lift

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Homemade Wheel Lift

STATS:  Pete's Garage  Location: Newark, Del.  Innovator: Pete Rudloff  Staff: 3  Size: 4,500 square feet

What It Is

A homemade wheel lift

 

The Inspiration

Pete Rudloff, owner of Pete’s Garage and member of the Automotive Service Association mechanical division, says that for a long time, moving a dead car was particularly difficult for his staff of three. The task required at least two people, and with only two people in the shop at times, required the whole staff to assist. Pete’s Garage has a forklift, which it would occasionally use to push vehicles, but Rudloff was always worried about additional damage to the vehicle. Averaging one or two of these situations per week, it became a hassle. 

One day, when the shop’s tow truck driver came in, Rudloff got an idea. He looked at the wheel lift on the back of the truck and thought,
“I can build that.”

 

What It Does

The wheel lift can be attached to the forklift in 30 seconds or less and is used to pick up cars by the wheels and maneuver them around the shop. The operator of the forklift drives into the wheel lift adapter, locks it into the forklift and then drives the lift under the tires of the car. The two tire lock bars are then slipped into place on the adapter. The forklift can then hoist the vehicle off the ground. The wheel lift can be taken off the forklift when it’s not needed. 

 

How It's Made

Whenever possible, Rudloff is a fan of making things rather than purchasing them. That way, he explains, you can make it to your exact specifications. When he decided he was going to make the wheel lift, he took measurements and drew up the plans to attach it to his forklift. He gathered steel tubing, both square and rectangular, from his shop and began welding. A vertical tube is attached to the forklift and a perpendicular tube is attached to the end of the attachment. The two tubes were welded together and a hinge was added at the intersection so that the vehicle could navigate turns when moving around the shop. One bolt holds the hinge and another bolt attaches it to the forklift. 

 

The Cost

Rudloff had all of the necessary materials in his shop already, but he estimates that it cost him roughly $200.

 

The ROI

Rudloff has used the attachment for roughly five years, and he says that it paid for itself within a few months based on time savings alone. 

“If you think about it this way, before it took three guys about two minutes to move the car,” Rudloff says. “Now, with the lift, it takes one guy two and a half minutes. Over the course of five years, I would say it’s saved thousands of dollars in man hours.” 

By allowing his staff to move an immobile car solo, the rest of the staff is freed up to work on other projects. 

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