Monday, February 13, 2017

Motorcycle Lift Review

About a decade or so ago, I bought one of the best tools ever for working on motorcycles, a Harbor Freight motorcycle lift. Getting up off the cold hard floor and working on a bike at eye level makes for easier and faster repairs. No more crawling around on my hands and knees trying to change the oil on a hot engine. 

The HF lift works with a manual foot pump and a max 1000 lb lifting capacity.
It cost approximately $300 on sale back then.


Fast forward to today, the HF lift is getting a little long in the tooth but its shortcoming arose when I tried to raise a heavy sidecar rig. A 1000 # rated lift would not budge the larger sidecar rigs that can easily weigh more than 1300 lbs.

Time to go shopping for a heavy duty 1500 lb lift. Started looking on Craigslist, eBay,  reading reviews, getting recommendations.  Found prices ranged from $650 to over $2400.  I couldn't just drive and pick one up either, there are no lift retailers in the Houston area. So the cost of shipping has to be included in the price.

Being the frugal Dutchman that I have been accused of being and after reading what I thought was an honest review, I ordered the APlusLift MT-1500 air operated Hydraulic lift with a free service jack from Skywave Lifts in Washington state.  Why do I say honest review?  Because the reviewer stated that the APlus lifts had the lowest prices, was of decent quality but the foot air controller he received was defective.  Since the lift next closest in price was over $1200, I figured I could find another inexpensive foot controller if need be.

The AplusLift MT-1500 price was $659 plus freight, a total of $805 delivered to a truck depot on the far side of Houston.  An 80 mile drive round trip to retrieve it.  They could have delivered to my house for an additional $75, if I had a truck dock. HOA rules don't allow that modification.


Trailered the heavy 500#+ wooden box home.  Set up went smoothly until it came time to flip the lift over (it was shipped face down).  Instructions call for two people to flip it over as lifting at one corner can twist the frame.  I tried flipping it over using long handles, hand truck, etc, but it kept sliding away on the tile floor. Called my son Alan to come help. 

Together we flipped and moved the lift into position. Then we finished connecting the front tire clamp, the service jack and the tie down hooks.


Next step was connecting the air compressor to the foot controller then connecting that to the lift itself.  All assembled, connections tight, turn on the compressor, let's test it. Pressing the foot pedal to make it go up...... nothing happens! ^*


Rechecked all the connections on the lift, looks okay.  Narrowed down the problem to the suspect foot controller.  If I bypassed the foot controller and blew air directly into the line, the lift would move. Disassembled the controller, cleaned, lubricated all the parts, reassembled, tested again.... 
no movement! #!@#$%

Time for intense scrutiny of the foot controller. Yes, the foot controller is a sloppily assembled, ill-fitting piece of junk. Decided I did not want to risk life and limb raising a large heavy motorcycle with a foot controller that could fail at anytime.  Order a better quality $50 foot controller from Derek Weaver Company in Fort Worth. 

Received the new foot air controller the next day, great service! With the new controller now connected, once again tested the lift...  nothing happens! No movement! !
WHAT..... @#$%*^%#@!


Once again disassembled the foot controller, going piece by piece, narrowed the problem down to the female coupling on the lift side of the controller. The brass male coupling on the left in the photo above is coming from the air compressor line going to the foot controller. 

The silver male coupling above on the right goes from the controller to the lift pump. It is pressed on, i.e. non-removable. But the female coupling on the controller going to the silver male coupling is the real problem. With that now identified as the issue, simply go buy a new female coupling.

Next day went to NAPA, several auto parts and hardware stores trying to find a matching female coupling for the silver male. Was informed this coupling is not available, as is not US standard. No one had anything close to fitting it.  If I wanted to replace it with a standard US brass fitting, I would have to cut the factory hydraulic hose on the lift....... !@%^&*())*&^%$#@!

Before cutting the OEM hose, decided to splice in a short piece between the silver coupling and the foot controller.  Let's make sure everything actually works before cutting.


Above is the replacement foot controller, air line coming in on the left, spliced line on the right going to the lift. All the pieces in place, let's try again... the lift moves... it goes up!!!!!!! 
HIGH FIVE!!   Miller Time. 


This controller is of much better quality than the original.  Sorry, no photo of the original foot controller as it was deep sixed with great fanfare and vociferous animal sounds.


With the new lift working correctly and utilizing a modified auto jack under the sidecar, I can raise the rig level to a height of 20" plus. Enough to work more comfortably. The line stays spliced for now. Now to find a solution for raising the auto jack side higher.

For home repair, the occasional use, I can recommend the APlusLift, but plan on replacing the foot controller in your cost estimates. You can spend a lot more for other brands of lifts, but for my needs and pocketbook, this fits the bill. If it will last ten years like the HF lift, it will outlive my motorcycle wrenching days.

Ride safe ya'll
CCjon












3 comments:

  1. Good review, good WWID with the coupler temp solution! 20" is way up there! I get slightly nervous raising my rig up onto car ramps and that's only 9"! But yes, raising things does make one's knees and back feel much better at the end of the day. What does the Ural dealer do? He separates the sidecar from the tug, then uses regular motorcycle lift....

    If I can ever figure out storage for the HF motorcycle lift, I'll get one.

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    Replies
    1. With the HF lift, there was no problem raising the Ural, but with these heavy weight highway rigs it is a different story.

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  2. Hi buddy, as our record, you should order it on 1/12/2017. If you told us that your pedal has problem and we will send you a free warranty pedal asap just like we did for other customers. There were 30+ lifts in January whose pedal have defects. It is because one of the threading tools was worn out and made the hole diameter smaller than design. When the customer connected the pedal to air compressor, the inner wall of pedal base will be cracked. The problem has been resolved and won't happen again in new lifts. We are deeply sorry to the buyers who suffered the problem. Not sure if you have solved the connection to cylinder(in your article, you cut the line). We also have the new pedal like Derek Weaver. If you like it, we can provide one free pedal which is fitted to the hose from cylinder. Send me an email to apluslift@gmail.com if you are interested in it, we will send you a new pedal. Last, apologies for the problem.

    ReplyDelete