If you're anything like me (and for your sake let's hope not) you more than likely spend a lot of your shop time working alone. For the most part that's a good thing as work seems to progress much faster without distractions associated with helpers-like idle chat, second-guessing, and large amounts of adult beverages. But there are times when a pair of helping hands comes in pretty darn handy-like when you need to lift large or heavy objects.
Well, years of solo shop time have by necessity served to exercise my imagination a bit and motivated me to craft some pretty bizarre contraptions over the years (some of which have actually even worked). My latest brain fart was necessitated by having to repeatedly remove and replace the cab and bed of my current, and hopefully soon to be finished, Model A pickup. For the most part my wife, Candy, serves as my extra set of hands out in the garage, but chores of this nature are a bit above and beyond her call of duty. So it was with this in mind that I cast my gaze around the garage and mused about how I might accomplish what I needed to do without calling in reinforcements.
My roving eye spied my engine hoist right off the bat, but I quickly realized that the boom length and the support leg length were much too short to be of much help. Fortunately that's when my attention turned to my scrap metal pile. There, leaning against a wall was a couple of 8-foot lengths of square tubing of differing size. Hmm, might they be of use? Turns out, they were ..
After a couple of crude sketches on a handy piece of cardboard I figured out that if I were lucky I just might be able to cut and weld my way out of this predicament-and after a few hours of trial and error I found out I had. The following series of images show how I figured my way around a particular problem-and though it may not be the best way (I'm planning on showing you the best way in next month's issue), my thrashing did end up doing what I needed it to do and may actually continue to serve me well in the future. So take a look at what I've done-keeping in mind that I'm no engineer (pretty obvious) and if you decide to follow my lead keep in mind that potential contraption failure could lead to possible life support-or at a minimum lots of Band-Aids.
How about that! It actually worked! The new support strap I'd fashioned did the job and took the stress at the first weld joint just as I'd hoped it would. After lifting the body a good foot above the framerails I let it hang there for about 15 minutes or so to see if the whole shootin' match would come crashing to the ground. It held up just fine with just a bit of flex but no bending or cracking. After about three hours or so and about a $100 worth of steel I'd succeeded in my quest for a hoist I could use in lieu of a bunch of helping hands.
This is an example of how I personally tackled my working solo conundrum. And as I said earlier, I'm sure as heck no engineer, but it's pretty darned stable and has been working for me since I finished it. I'll show you a great alterative next issue if everything works out the way I plan. Just please keep in mind that if you attempt to follow my lead make sure you play it safe and never get near the item you're lifting--lest you take the chance of getting squashed if something goes wrong.