In ground auto-lift

I am building a 30' X 42' building and have the opportunity to get an in ground single cylinder air opperated auto lift for 500 bucks. What is
involved with installing it and is there any reason not to get it. The building is at the stage to pour the floor slab and I was going to build a pit for auto work but then found this. My compressor will only put out around 6 cfm @ 90, max 125 and the unit will handle up to 150, how long would it take to raise a vehicle?
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Salvaged in ground lifts are usually not a good deal. First problem is the hole in the ground, second problem is the possibility/probablity of leaking hydrualic oil into the ground, and third is the lack of safety locks on some of the units.
Brand new 2 post above ground lifts start at around $2500, I see decent used ones regularly for the $1500 mark. http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?ItemnumberF299
If you consider the 2 post lift, make sure the concrete floor is extra thick in that area, consider putting in some real rebar instead of just wire mesh. Make sure you have enough ceiling height. Depending on what vehicle you have, you may need 12' to 14' clear height.
mark wrote:

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Are the seals etc... replacable from above ground if the need changing? How do they work, does the air push the hydraulic oil into the cylinder, generally how big of a hydraulic resovoir is need or is that built into the cylinder? I assume a scratched, pitted etc cylinder would make the whole thing garbage.

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There are vegetable based hydraulic fluids for such situations.
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wrote:

I've had one installed for about 10 years, and it was one of the best things I've ever done. I left a small pit in the concrete, about 3'X4'X8" deep around the hoist (with a drain in the bottom). That allows the hoist arms to be lowered below floor level and completely out of the way. I installed the oil tank above ground, which uses up a bit of floor space near the wall, but made installation simpler and easier. I abandoned the original hydraulic safety hand-valve in favor of a foot-operated ball valve (close valve when hoist is raised). My hoist has a mechanical lock as well, but I almost never use it.

A hoist is almost always better than a pit, and I bet that if you install one you'll never regret it. A pit would cost more than $500 in time and material anyway.

Mine is a 230V 12A Sear's (rated 4hp), with a 20 gallon tank. The compressor starts as soon as the hoist starts moving up. About half-way the hoist stops, and I have to wait perhaps 2 minutes for the compressor to catch up before raising the vehicle the rest of the way. I use the wait time to ask myself if the parts I'm about to install are in the car. Keep a ladder handy if you're short of air. ;-)
Wayne
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mark wrote:

Those are generally free around here, $500 is ridiculous. They can't sell those to a gas station or anywhere with a business license, as they aren't approved for use in this country anymore.
If you want it, offer the guy a deal (I'd start with a real low number) and if you get it and ever get it installed and the air isn't enough, buy a bigger compressor.
Nobody's going to know how long it would take to lift that thing with your compressor. Besides, slow is safe.
GWE
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I got tw0 of them for free 15 years ago when we were building a shop for my dad. I set one in the driveway in an "H" shaped area 4 inches below level (with a direct drain downhill) so the head sits flush and you can roll over it when not needed. A 5 HP portable compressor takes two tries to get it up, but it sure beats a floorjack. The pros put a fiberglass outer skin on to prevent leakage from getting too bad or being un-noticed The seal is an easy change, if you can find one.. $500 sounds pretty steep. The guy will probably have to pay for toxic disposal if you don't haul it away.
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They want $1,500 to remove them from the ground plus EPA testing and contaminated soil haul away charges. I would stay away from them. If you ever sell the property you may be faced with soil testing and lift removal.
You could probably make money removing one from your local abandoned garage.
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wrote:

I wouldn't install an old style in-ground lift, for the oil leakage potential and the legal liabilities that come from it. The resale value on your entire property goes down a lot when you have to disclose that lift is there - it's a potential Hazmat Disaster.
For a car lift in a home garage or personal shop, it's much safer and simpler to go with an above-ground two-post or four-post lift, depending on what kind of work you usually do - the only special thing you need to do is pour some concrete footer pads where the lift will bolt down, and make sure the ceiling is high enough to lift the vehicle without crunching or splintering noises...
And they will be much faster and cheaper to operate - they have a direct 1HP to 3HP electric hydraulic pump that will go all the way up in one shot, no pauses. You won't need an oversized compressor.
Pits are usually reserved for buses and heavy trucks - but even then, they're making lifts big enough for buses now.
--<< Bruce >>--
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There seems to be a lot of talk here about these things leaking, where do they leak from, up near the surface where the seals are or down at the bottom where it could be not noticed. This model has the hydraulic resovoir inside the cylinder.

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mark wrote:

It really doesn't matter what point it leaks at, since the oil will run down the side of the cylinder to the bottom of the pit.
Hydraulic elevators have the same issue and I think all the new ones have the cylinder housed inside an outer PVC containment casing that can be monitored and probably has an alarm sensor as well.
The bottom line is that an old in ground auto lift has *zero* monetary value as a lift and only has scrap metal value if you can clean it adequately. Besides the leakage problems the old lifts do not meet current safety standards either which is why you will find few if any commercial shops using them.
The new two and four column lifts are safer, easier to service, easier to install, easier to move if you move and don't cost much at all. Save the your $500 and save a bit more and get a good 2 column lift.
http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_6970_776611_776611
If your needs are just for light cars there are some smaller scissors type lifts that will do the job, are even cheaper and can be rolled out of the way when not in use.
http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_6970_200102674_200102674
Bend Pak is a well regarded brand. Note the free shipping in continental US as well.
Pete C.
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wrote:

Down at the bottom of the hole - the air (and the water in the air) goes into the underground cylinder and displaces the oil to make it go up. With wet compressed air and moisture contaminated oil on the inside and wet soil on the outside, the cylinder is under rust attack from both sides - and the best tar and felt wraps on the outside, or a Fiberglas wrap, even active cathodic protection won't prevent a rust-through forever. Rust Happens.
Ask the BP crew at Prudhoe Bay about that one - they're getting their noses rubbed in faulty corrosion prevention and detection practices at the moment.
A leak won't be obvious for a while, then you notice the lift won't go all the way to the top... Then you have a big ball of dirt under the building contaminated with 50 or 100 gallons of hydraulic oil to deal with.
Two choices:
Option One: You get a great deal on the used single-post lift, and you install it. If and when it leaks, you get inside the building with a concrete saw and jackhammer and break out the floor, then get a backhoe inside to pop out the lift cylinder. Then dig all the oil contaminated dirt out of the hole and truck it all off to a hazmat incineration facility to get the oil out of the soil - or pay a lot to get it buried in a Hazmat Landfill in drums. Keep expanding the hole in the slab till you get to clean dirt on each side - and you have to pay for laboratory tests to confirm it.
Hopefully the contaminated dirt stops before you have to undermine the wall and post footings to get it all, or that complicates saving the structure over the lift...
Backfill the hole while compacting the soil with a Wacker every foot or so, pour a new floor with a footing, and install a two-post lift.
Option Two: Or you save the potential huge underground remediation expenses and put in the two-post above ground lift now.
If it leaks on you it's very obvious and easy to control - and if you want to get fancy, you profile the floor slab so there's a little recessed reservoir spot around each post to control where a gallon or two of leaked oil goes - that's about all they hold, 5 gallons tops for a dry fill. Get a bucket and a bunch of oil sorbent pads to clean up the mess, and get the lift fixed.
--<< Bruce >>--
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wrote:

Mine used a separate oil tank, which was originally buried near the hoist. So the setup could leak anywhere the tank, plumbing, or hoist tube rusted. Once I had it out of the ground, I could see that the tube and plumbing were all in good shape. I replaced the tank with a different one mounted above-ground. Pressures are low - it only takes about 50psi to lift a 2 ton vehicle. If you're concerned about leaks, then use vegetable-based fluid.
As for using a two-post lift etc. instead, those can definitely be nicer depending on what you're working on, since they provide full access to the underside of the vehicle. On the other hand the single-post style needn't waste *any* floor space, a considerable advantage for most of us.
About the "oversized air compressor needed" comment... you could run one of these lifts with a 1/2 hp compressor if you have a large tank, or even a small tank if you aren't in a hurry. Even with the tiniest compressor, if you have say, a 40 gallon air tank, the hoist will go up in one shot. And that 50-100 gallons of oil? My hoist (typical ~3 ton capacity) has a 10" cylinder and an 8' lift. That's 33 gallons, plus in my case a little extra for the plumbing. I expect the one you're considering likewise holds less than 40. As for speed, it's best to go slow, but single-post lifts are generally faster than two-post models in my experience. Wayne
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How about cleaning everything that goes under ground and having it coated with a sprayed on rubber membrane. Would this contain any leaks and prevent rusting from moisture in the ground?

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mark wrote:

When it comes to the DNR, the fact that you "coated it with rubber" won't matter... You will still likely have to dig it out of the ground, and have a complete remediation just "to be sure" "because it is policy"
There is a strong reason why everyone is telling you "RUN!!!!!!" from an inground lift. Just Don't do it! Is my advise.
Pete
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mark wrote:

When it comes to the DNR, the fact that you "coated it with rubber" won't matter... You will still likely have to dig it out of the ground, and have a complete remediation just "to be sure" "because it is policy"
There is a strong reason why everyone is telling you "RUN!!!!!!" from an inground lift. Just Don't do it! Is my advise.
Pete
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On 14 Aug 2006 14:10:43 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@centurytel.net wrote:

We're hanging out a Fifty Freaking Foot Tall Blinking Neon Sign - DO NOT INSTALL AN OLD UNDERGROUND LIFT, no matter how attractive the price it's still an incredibly bad idea. You might be able to cobble together a secondary containment vessel in case that old lift leaks, but a sprayed-on rubber membrane isn't going to do it.
And even if you had a big fiberglass catch tank built to sit the lift cylinder in, the liability still remains because it isn't a tested and certified system.
If that lift leaks out all it's oil into the ground, and the State or Federal environmental agencies get involved - and they will - THEY get to dictate how it will be cleaned up, and they get to decide how clean is clean enough.
And your property insurance company will jack your rates to the moon if you want insurance coverage for this eventuality, or will refuse to cover you if it becomes a problem because it is specifically excluded in your policy.
This is why gasoline stations all over the country were in a big rush around 20 years ago to pull out perfectly good and not leaking underground gasoline tanks - because their insurer said "Pull the old single-wall tanks, and install double-wall fiberglass tanks with double-wall piping and proper leak detection monitoring NOW - or your insurance policy is cancelled effective the end of the year."
You are literally writing a blank liability 'check' that can be cashed anytime in the future, and that check could quite easily hit six figures to remediate one leaky lift in a residential setting.
Yup, $100,000 total losses to partially or totally tear down the building that's in the way of the cleanup, dig a big hole in the ground (that could be 50 feet across and 75 deep) to get out all the contaminated dirt plus a safety margin, and have all the dirt hauled off for treatment or disposal. Then you have to haul in and compact fill dirt and repair or replace the building.
If it was a light industrial site like a gas station with two or three leaky lifts and a leaky waste oil storage tank, a seven figure cleanup bill (Over $1 Million) is not out of the question.
And if they haul away the dirt and bury it instead of remediating the petroleum products (IE running it through an incinerator) it's still legally "your" dirt for perpetuity. They're just storing it in drums for you. There's even more liability that could pop up in another 20 years.
--<< Bruce >>--
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On Tue, 15 Aug 2006 05:49:42 GMT, Bruce L. Bergman

To repeat for the third time - anyone who's concerned about hydraulic leaks (in any type of equipment) can use biodegradable oil. http://tinyurl.com/jclsj .
As for comparing underground fuel tanks to small hydraulic tanks, jeez louise! Fuel tanks are regulated, lift tanks aren't - "The EPA reasoned that hydraulic lift tanks pose a low level of risk compared to other types of storage tanks because they contain small amounts of non-hazardous regulated substances solely for operational purposes. The EPA further stated that the loss of fluid would so affect the operation of an inground lift that the operator would obviously recognize its faulty operation."
In-ground lifts are sold every day http://www.manitowoclifts.com/manitowoc/lifts/MLinground.html The risk of leaked oil is always there with any kind of machinery, and well deserving of mention. But your fifty-foot warning sign is goofy, and your efforts to scare this guy are ridiculously shrill. You remind me of all the old women who tried to talk me out of taking up motorcycling 40 years ago.
Wayne
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I can see how these lifts may create an oil plume that leeches into the ground water. The volume of oil is likely so miniscule on a real world level that without very special equipment it would never be noticed by anyone for the next 100 years. An aquaintence of mine bought a house in Michigan and had to abandon it for just this reason or spend a huge amount of money to fix it. I always wonder when these discussion come up about all the waste motor oil that the state of Michigan used to spread on the dirt roads almost every summer. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of dirty oil just sprayed right next to vegetable fields for maybe 50 years. It would get all over the cars and then get washed off later by rains. That had to be bad Right?
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On Tue, 15 Aug 2006 08:15:15 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (daniel peterman) wrote:

So what has changed today? Don't we still have a bazillion cars, trucks, buses... being driven on the road that leak oil? And where do you suppose that eventually ends up? ;-)
The price we pay for our way of life that revolves around the almighty auto is staggering, with much of it being hidden from the casual observer...
--
Leon Fisk
Grand Rapids MI/Zone 5b
  Click to see the full signature.
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