A “Tall Tale” from the “Lone Ranger”, then I'm gone for two weeks!

Submitted: Friday, Feb 25, 2005 at 22:49
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We see this missing in many 4x4 vehicles… When all else fails and you are really in the muck up to your proverbial, you will want to know the value of the Hi-Lift jack…. Yep, before all the Taiwan and Indian knock-offs, the Hi-Lift jack was made in the U.S.A. I Have used them for decades… And none of the copies are as good as the ridgey-didge Yank one.. I thought you might like to know the reason they were invented as a “High-Lift jack”, and why they became so big, as some of you leave your vans and go off exploring as I do.. I have one for each Cruiser… And carried one in my F-350 when She was with me.. But we see few of them with the Boggers, and if you really get in a BOG, you would miss it, so here goes:

Now, the invention came about in about the 60’s and this jack is a take-off of an old railroad pattern mechanical jack that you can see in museums.. Loggers, hunters, campers, Rangers, Game Wardens and the like were running high-lift suspensions on Dodge Power Wagons and Ford F250 and F350’s, would find themselves in the wet mud on tracks that were severely rutted out… Not all could afford or had winches, but most would carry the Hi-Lift Jack. When they bottomed out badly in a rut, the centre diff and axle would high centre in the middle like a big boat anchor. Sometimes they could not move even with 4x4.

NOTE: This is a very dangerous move, and let me stress this, if that bloody jack kicks out at you it can take your head off, so be careful and only pick a secure jacking point for the teeth of the jack. This is for those of you that find yourself in a position where you have no choice… Like hung up on a rock in a river, or a flat tyre in a mud bog, or high centred on something, with a long walk out if you don’t get it off, OK? If you are in that spot by yourself, here is how you get out of the mess in deep ruts without a winch… The Hi-Lift is about a Metre tall, to allow you to jack up the truck high and push over jack and truck so it lands over nearly the height of the jack and it moves over out of the rut, or hole, or the high centre on a rock. Mind you when it gets tall it is hard to keep it from falling over anyway.. This is very dangerous, and you have to be sure it does not pop out at you, but it was common to do years ago and in a pinch it does work well. Let me stress again, this is a very dangerous proceedure, but if it saves you in a really remote setting and it is done carefully, it is worth it!! Here are some examples:

I have had a lot of occasions to use one here in Oz… They are even great changing a tyre in the mud so you don't have to crawl in the mud to set a smaller jack.. But it can get even more serious than that.. On one trip, we were tired and drove out into a field of high grass to a clearing to spend the night… I did not walk it first, did I .? Yea, dumb, but you do things like that when you are tired.. I ran up on a rock about 400mm or so high; hard enough to invert the 75 Series front leaf spring, and ended up hung up on the rock and could not get off in 4x4… Nice move, huh?? Call me “Swifty” ! Saved by the Hi-Lift jack again where normal jack would be next to useless..

Another time it got even more serious yet… And on the Hi-Lift would save the vehicle... In 1988 on my way up to go Buffalo hunting, we were off on a beach in the far North, looking for shells in a Troopcarrier. I drove out onto a bit of an underground stream you could not see, just wet sand.. And what happened? Yea!… And buried the Cruiser up to the running boards in something close to quicksand didn’t I...? And yes, you need to pay real attention to the tides up there… Out ran the winch, and we started pulling out little mangroves, and the winch was near on useless.. (I know, mangroves are protected. But in 1988 we looked out and saw that the tide was not a km away anymore. In that hour or so of being stuck it was only about a half km away, the mangroves might have been protected but they were not protected from me…Ha!) Out came the Hi-Lift jack to the rescue… We gathered up all the driftwood from all around and started to press it down in the muck with the Hi-Lift jack over and over until we had a reasonably hard base. This was repeated on each corner until we could lift the Cruiser wheel by wheel. Then we drug all the Mangroves over and stuffed them under each wheel and lowered the wheel down on a mix of mangrove and driftwood. By this time the tide was only a couple of hundred metres away and we realized our big mistake as we were well below the high tide mark! Lessons learned on the “Frontier” the hard way as you “discover” the BLOODY OBVIOUS, aye MATE!!

That was my first introduction to how big the tide changes were in the North.. Yeaa, I know, pay attention…! But, who wants to read all the local tourist manuals when you can go out and really get in a pickle… That is half the fun of going exploring is the adventures you get into.. Yea right, almost convinced myself… But there weren’t too many manuals on things in 1988 for the far north…

Mind you in sand or conditions like that, if you have your spare on the back, you can bury it perpendicular to the winch out about 30 Metres or so and winch to that… But it is a big hole to get it deep, and also not much chance of getting at your spare with your Tojo buried up to the running boards sitting on top of it, as most spares are slung underneath…

Anyway, the Hi-Lift jack saved us again… You can use it for all kinds of things in a pinch, a clamp, a crude winch, a high lifting jack in the muck, it is almost more important than a winch to me.. I even have a little piece that breaks the bead on tubeless tyres jacking up the Tojo with it on the bead… And if you have ever had a flat in deep mud, or hung up in water, you almost cannot use anything else…

Cheers, another “tall tale” from the “Lone Ranger” at Bushtracker….
‘Struth’ too… I swear it!
"The Last Stand In Open Country"

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Reply By: jmgabby - Friday, Apr 29, 2005 at 23:13

Friday, Apr 29, 2005 at 23:13
Hello Lone Ranger,
Do you know how to use this tool in the event of changing tyres on the van, not on the car, please?
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Follow Up By: Bushtracker - Friday, Apr 29, 2005 at 23:29

Friday, Apr 29, 2005 at 23:29
I was thinking of a new Posting Question, but never mind, here is the answer.... You cannot do it with the high lift jack as you would have to go too high and it would be dangerous and there are not particular jack points that would hold it.... Here is an except from back about Tip #14 on how you jack up a van.....

You do not try jacking up the entire caravan.... You could get the wrong idea when visiting Bushtracker as you see us push in a "Rolling Floor Jack" to the center of the spring and jack up both wheels... But this lifts the whole van up way in the air as the arms hang down, and we only do it as we are usually servicing one side at a time doing both wheels and we are parked on concrete... THIS IS THE WRONG WAY TO TRY AND DO IT IN THE BUSH...!!!

This is a LOAD SHARING suspension, now think of it this way, if you just jack up one wheel, the caravan does not move, as it shifts the load onto the other wheel.... In other words, you could do it with the smallest little 1 tonne hydraulic or even stock Toyota screw jack. Put it under the back edge of the spring hanger near the axle stub of the one that you want to jack up... Or on the inner bolt head of the spring hanger, or on the spring in front of the spring hanger, or on an edge of the suspension a-frame, any where you get a good bite so the jack does not slip depending on the jack type and the ground you are jacking on... And just jack up that one wheel about 75mm or so until it clears the ground. You could almost do it with a 4 metre piece of wood, you only have to take the weight off that wheel and it shifts the weight onto the other wheel. We are talking about less than a tonne, and the van does not move, just the one wheel...

Let me explain another way.. You are only shifting the weight from one wheel onto the other and the caravan itself does not move up... Just the one wheel load shares onto the other wheel, and you only have to lift it about 50mm. Understand? You do not have to lift up the entire van by jacking up in the centre of the spring pack, that would be dangerous!!! If you tried, you would be lifting the whole van up in the air, carrying the whole weight of the van up in the air until both suspension arms dangle down the full length of their downward travel and hang there..... This is not only dangerous, but is also nearly impossible to do in soft ground as the jack will just sink in.... It is also dangerous as you have the whole van up in the air far enough to lift the suspension travel up that high.... Way to much weight and instability...

Being load sharing, there is very little weight just on one wheel as you shift the weight onto the other, and very little weight on the ground then, and since you are not letting the suspension hang down the length of its travel, you are only lifting it the depressed amount of the tyre shape, maybe 50-75mm and the van is flat and stable on three tyres.... There is usually a groove in the top of the hydraulic jack crown, set that on the back edge of the spring hanger, or I have also jacked on the suspension arm itself, and in a pinch even on the spring in front of the hanger. Depending on the ground, and angle of the van, you can pick any number of spots around that axle and just jack up the one wheel, NOT THE VAN, just the one wheel only a few inches.... OK? Just pick one of the spots I have mentioned that suits the jack head and the ground you are jacking from, so the jack does not slip, but we are talking about very little load, and I myself have never had a jack slip... Just bust loose the lug nuts before you jack up the wheel... No kidding, I think you could do it with a fulcrum and lever with 4 metre piece of steel or timber in a pinch as the wheel only moves a couple of inches as it load shares....

Anyway, sorry but no on the High Lift on the van...
Cheers, from da Ranger....
"The Last Stand In Open Country"

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