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View Full Version : Hi Lift Horror stories!


nakman
02-12-2013, 03:32 PM
In case you didn't know it's Hi Lift month here at the Rising Sun... so let's hear your best horror story, or recollection of a jacking incident that didn't go so well.

I'll start: was living in Boulder, and my car was a 1980 extended length Ford Econoline van. I had a flat rear tire, and jacked up the back bumper using a Hi Lift to change it. Those lugs were on there really tight, but I had the parking brake set so I was able to really get into it without the wheels turning, and ultimately got them to bust free. A couple of you have already guessed where this is going... :o

For starters, I didn't have the front wheels chocked, and then genius here lifted the e-braked axle up off the ground. So that van was on the free spinning front wheels, and the jack. Then in busting that last lug free, my weight was enough to push the entire van forward, where I then was able to watch it slowly roll forward, as the jack tipped into the back of the van door, ever so gently lowering that exposed brake drum right onto the street. There was nothing I could do but just stand back and watch.

Thankfully, I didn't do any damage to the drum, and was able to get the thing jacked up again and the spare installed. And you couldn't tell the new dent on the door from some of the older ones. I did learn something about chocking up the front tires that day.

Ok, what you got?

treerootCO
02-12-2013, 04:25 PM
I put my head in the "V" that is made between the handle and the jack when I lowered an FJ40. If you haven't had the pleasure of that experience, it smarts! What happens is the weight of the vehicle starts the jack handle swinging and each time the jack ratchets, the handle swings violently up and down. Luckily, I stopped it with my face after the third or forth hit. I think... :)

loudbay
02-12-2013, 04:30 PM
"Stopped it with my face..." LOL

subzali
02-12-2013, 04:34 PM
A couple near-misses:

-I had the front of my FJ40 held up with a Hi-Lift jack. The little cotter pin that is supposed to hold the jack handle in its holder was broken and missing, so the handle could come out. As I lowered the FJ40, the handle started swinging violently like treeroot mentioned above and the handle flew out with enough force to knock me over or break my windshield. Luckily it did neither and instead hit my passenger side mirror and broke the glass. Lesson learned - hang on to that thing!

Come to think of it I still need to find a new cotter pin to put in there.

-Was installing 80 series front springs onto the rear of my buddy's 2nd gen 4runner for a little extra lift. Had to jack the rear end of the truck up really high to get the suspension to sag. Didn't like the looks of the setup and gave the truck a little test nudge. It tipped the jack over sideways while moving the back end of the runner over about 2-3 feet. Luckily no damage or harm done. Lesson learned - keep the lift as low as possible, and/or use extra stablizing bracing when needing to hold the position for a while!

Uncle Ben
02-12-2013, 05:08 PM
I have a few "encounters" that I would like to remember so I don't repeat them but I also would rather not share....if you know what I mean.... I do have one instance I have witnessed that somehow I have not been able to do on my own. I was on a tougher trail (forget which one) and came up on a J**p ahead of me in a situation. It was a long travel suspension and they had a 60" Hi-Lift maxed all the way to the top and locked up because they managed to raise it to the point the pin clicked in but they could not raise it enough to lower it. The pressure on the assembly was huge thus preventing them from removing the end plate. Finally, the solution was to winch it sideways to make it fall off the jack (yes, front bumper was securely anchored to a tree in front of them.) It was a PITA situation and the guys doing it were clueless!

OilHammer
02-12-2013, 09:00 PM
That's why I don't have a hi-lift anymore.....never impressed with how heavy they were, and dangerous all at the same time. I had some close calls, and watched a friend have one drop and wind up poking a hole through his body.

I've never seen this one in operation, but I like the sound of it. http://www.radflo.com/hydra_jac.htm

spectre6000
02-12-2013, 09:09 PM
The Radflo jack is still 37" tall (too long to put anywhere in the truck really), has the same inherent safety flaws, and it only has a 2K# capacity... I'm acutely interested in alternatives, but I don't know that the Radflo is in the running...

nakman
02-12-2013, 09:24 PM
...never impressed with how heavy they were, and dangerous all at the same time. I had some close calls, and watched a friend have one drop and wind up poking a hole through his body.


Mine spends most of its days leaning against the wall in the garage. Put one in the wrong hands, or inexperienced hands, and it's got liability written all over it. OTOH, in the right situation it can be the best tool available, and used properly a very safe one as well. But the reality is, a lot of people know how to buy hi lift jacks, some even win them in raffles, but not all people actually know how to operate one. And what's worse, some of those people also don't know how to maintain them, store them, or carry them on their vehicle. Then consider the situation where you need help, and it's "that guy" who's there to help you.. that's my extreme call to action, but do you think it could happen? "hang on man, I'll go grab my jack..." oh boy :eek:


I appreciate the unsolicited examples above, let's hear more of them. I would suspect for every story posted here there are 10 more from within our larger community equally scary. And yes there's a point to all this... :D

farnhamstj
02-12-2013, 09:27 PM
On Chinaman gulch, Loud got his Lexus stuck between a rock and a hard place. Tried to use a high-lift on the front bumper to do a little rock stacking under a tire. High-lift was too rusty to be useful. Had a crew of suzuki samurai's behind us. We were searching for wd40 or motor oil to use as lube. One of the samurai drivers walked up and poured some beer on the high-lift. Did the trick and we were able to extract the Lexus. Learned I wasn't as redneck as I thought I was.

farnhamstj
02-12-2013, 09:34 PM
radflow. That looks even more dangerous due to it's short length. just sayin'

FJBRADY
02-12-2013, 09:40 PM
I carry a bottle jack in addition to a high lift as a safety precaution because I don't trust the hi-lift by itself. Had one fail on Spring Creek for no reason...luckily no one was under the truck.

Corbet
02-12-2013, 10:13 PM
I've had my 80 come off my high lift twice. Both times in the driveway while rotating tires:banghead:

First instance I used my slider to lift the vehicle. It was winter and the base of the jack slid out as I went to grab the impact. I went outward and the top of the jack put my first dent in the side of my 80. Would have been much worse had the tire been off the truck.

The second time I used the eye on the front of the ARB to lift from using Slee's accessory tool. The truck leaned out and the front rotor hit the ground. I only had damage to the dust shield as I have a gravel driveway.

I'm lucky both times. I know use a 3.5ton dolly jack to rotate tires. Its a better tool for the job. But I would never leave my hi-lift behind on the trail. Its just too versatile of a tool. However commands respect. I want to add an X-Jack to my kit when money allows. I much prefer that for tire changes on the trail.

OilHammer
02-12-2013, 11:20 PM
radflow. That looks even more dangerous due to it's short length. just sayin'

I've never seen one operate, but just from the looks of it, you could easily eliminate one of the two risks with a hi-lift. I have seen handles wack people as often as seeing a lifted truck tip over on a hi-lift. The native rad-flo doesn't have a handle that will wack you, and you aren't swaying it every time you pump for a little more height as you would on a hi-lift.

The other risk....dunno. Maybe since the radflo body isn't a traveler, you could have a mount that grabs that cylinder in two points to keep it more steady. Just thinking out loud. I don't think it's a solve-all for sure, but I like some aspects of the design.

However, it's been around for 3 years, and I've never seen one. There must be something about it (cost?) that keeps it off the trail.

JadeRunner
02-12-2013, 11:21 PM
I still sport a nice dent in my door from my high lift. I had a boulder at Chinamans under my rig. I couldn't move and it was tearing up things as I tried. I did'nt have full belly pans at the time. A high lift was the about the only option. Winching would have risked ripping things up. I didn't have enough negative angle on the jack on the loose dirt. Things were going well. But as soon as the truck lifted the tires - it slipped out and the top of the jack dug into my door. I was too pissed to take a picture of the damage. I just have this pic of before hand.

JadeRunner
02-12-2013, 11:34 PM
On Spring Creek I sliced a side wall while going up the snowy shelf road. I heard the air coming out. So I continued to the next switchback and stopped on fairly level ground. This time I successfully jacked off the front corner of my bumper to change the tire. A bottle jack and wood block wouldn't have raised it high enough on that road.

It was a little precarious. I wonder what I could have done differently. I have a slider attachment now for the high lift so I guess that would be a better option today.

I will say after removing fence posts with my same jack and a choker chain on two of my houses over the years. I find working the jack very easy and safe now. But, using on a rig requires additional respect.

AxleIke
02-13-2013, 08:59 AM
A couple near-misses:

-I had the front of my FJ40 held up with a Hi-Lift jack. The little cotter pin that is supposed to hold the jack handle in its holder was broken and missing, so the handle could come out. As I lowered the FJ40, the handle started swinging violently like treeroot mentioned above and the handle flew out with enough force to knock me over or break my windshield. Luckily it did neither and instead hit my passenger side mirror and broke the glass. Lesson learned - hang on to that thing!

Come to think of it I still need to find a new cotter pin to put in there.

-Was installing 80 series front springs onto the rear of my buddy's 2nd gen 4runner for a little extra lift. Had to jack the rear end of the truck up really high to get the suspension to sag. Didn't like the looks of the setup and gave the truck a little test nudge. It tipped the jack over sideways while moving the back end of the runner over about 2-3 feet. Luckily no damage or harm done. Lesson learned - keep the lift as low as possible, and/or use extra stablizing bracing when needing to hold the position for a while!

I've had the same thing, with the jack ratcheting out of control.

However, the issue you had with the 4runner, in the right situation, is something I've done probably a dozen times.

In tight trails, I've often slid off my line, and gotten into a situation where the side of the truck was too close to a rock or tree and no matter if I go forward or backward, I'll hit the truck on the object.

Solution: stick the jack into the reciever hitch, jack it up until the back wheels come off the ground, and, standing clear of the jack, push the truck off the jack. This moves the truck a foot or so away from the obstacle, sometimes less, sometimes more. Repeat until you can drive out of it.

In addition, I have used a highlift in a situation where a truck was in a very bad position, and it was only possible to get their winch out on the front, but no one could get up to get a winch on the back end. The truck was trying to tip over down a very long hill when the winch was tensioned.

Solution: use a highlift as a winch on the rear tubework, and pull the back end of the truck up at the same time as the winch was being used, and the truck was recovered safely and successfully.

In my opinion, highlift jacks are no more or less dangerous other types of jacks when out on the trail, when they are used properly. A bottle jack can slip off an axle tube pretty easily. As with anything, they need to be respected, and used with caution. But, they are an extremely handy tool to have in your vehicle.

The handles can also be used to trail repair bent tie rods and drag links, and the main rail can be used as a pry bar.

SteveH
02-13-2013, 09:34 AM
I have used Hi-Lifts extensively through the years for fencepost pulling, ranching, car repair, etc., but all it takes is a moment's inattention.....

I was winching an old Chevy Blazer chassis onto a car hauler with my FJ40. The rear end of the Blazer was wider than the car hauler, and I had to pick up and move the tail end of the Blazer over about 6" to get it better aligned and on the trailer side rail. I jacked up the rear-center of the Blazer chassis with the Hi-Lift and tried to shift the whole mess over. Somehow, my gloved pinky got caught between the jack and the back frame member of the Blazer. It hurt - a lot - but I continued for 45 min. (I was alone) and got it realigned and fully loaded. I hitched up the trailer to the FJ40 and drove it home, and my wife determined that if your pinky is wandering off in a direction other than straight, it's probably broken. The doctor said 'most people just do a hairline crack - you broke it all the way through'. To his credit, he got the bone (now a 2-piece unit) aligned and it healed perfectly. I still use my Hi-Lift, but give it even more respect.

subzali
02-13-2013, 09:41 AM
That's why I don't have a hi-lift anymore.....never impressed with how heavy they were, and dangerous all at the same time. I had some close calls, and watched a friend have one drop and wind up poking a hole through his body.

:eek: Wow Barry!

I'm sorry to hear about your friend :(

Hope he survived the ordeal...

RicardoJM
02-13-2013, 10:03 AM
Before I met you all, I watched a hi-lift put a nice dent in the tailgate of my Bronco. The operator (two tuck guy) neglected to install the pin that holds the standard to the base. He got the truck up in the air and the standard promptly leaned forward and click, boom click,click, click, click - $hit. Odd how I can still clearly recall the sounds.:D

OilHammer
02-13-2013, 10:39 AM
:eek: Wow Barry!

I'm sorry to hear about your friend :(

Hope he survived the ordeal...

Car body! lol....

subzali
02-13-2013, 10:41 AM
Car body! lol....

Oh, whew! :o

I was like, jeez, how can we ignore a mishap like that and move on to our own stories! That one tops them all!

JadeRunner
02-13-2013, 11:30 AM
I was thinking about all the fence posts I removed with the jack and choker chain. I think the winch accessory choker chain would be a good thing to use on the rig. The metal jack on metal bumpers and sliders makes things precarious. You could wrap the chain around something under the rig and jack from the chain to prevent things from sliding around.

FYI - I do carry a 4x4 wood block to use with the stock bottle jack and I carry a full size jack stand on my moab runs to help with trail repairs.

FJBRADY
02-13-2013, 11:42 AM
I carry a full size jack stand on my moab runs to help with trail repairs.

Carrying a jack stand is a great idea. CDan had these mobile fold able jack stands I borrowed in camp one year and they worked great....not sure where he got those.

PabloCruise
02-13-2013, 12:37 PM
I put my head in the "V" that is made between the handle and the jack when I lowered an FJ40. If you haven't had the pleasure of that experience, it smarts! What happens is the weight of the vehicle starts the jack handle swinging and each time the jack ratchets, the handle swings violently up and down. Luckily, I stopped it with my face after the third or forth hit. I think... :)

Sounds like a 3 Stooges incident...

subzali
03-04-2013, 10:34 AM
A couple near-misses:

-I had the front of my FJ40 held up with a Hi-Lift jack. The little cotter pin that is supposed to hold the jack handle in its holder was broken and missing, so the handle could come out. As I lowered the FJ40, the handle started swinging violently like treeroot mentioned above and the handle flew out with enough force to knock me over or break my windshield. Luckily it did neither and instead hit my passenger side mirror and broke the glass. Lesson learned - hang on to that thing!

Come to think of it I still need to find a new cotter pin to put in there...

So this thread got me thinking about doing some Hi-Lift maintenance - so I went down to Ace Hardware and picked up a #8x1" SS sheet metal screw - hopefully it'll work better than the cotter pin...

Corbet
03-04-2013, 10:09 PM
Carrying a jack stand is a great idea. CDan had these mobile fold able jack stands I borrowed in camp one year and they worked great....not sure where he got those.

They did not look like these did they... Christo please make them :cool:

bomber22
03-05-2013, 06:49 PM
http://www.overlandexpo.com/overland-tech-travel/2012/12/15/transform-your-hi-lift-jack.html

found this, i don't know if the link works though, i'm pretty much a dummy when it comes to computers

bomber22
03-05-2013, 06:50 PM
ya it worked