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As promised in my earlier post about the RacorPro HeavyLift, I finally installed one in my garage, and will now report on how it went. The picture* above shows the unit attached to my garage’s ceiling (that’s not a mini-bike hanging from the lift: that’s my mountain bike near the far wall of the garage hanging from its own lift, a Harken Hoister).

The installation went reasonably well. It’s a one-man job, as long as you take your time, study a few things, and basically work around the somewhat confusing instructions.

First, I assembled the wire grid platform (don’t overtighten the “J” bolts, or the beam supports will twist). I did not assemble the arms to the T-brackets, but I did remove the pulleys from each arm so I could more easily reach all the arm’s mounting holes. After locating two ceiling joists 48″ apart, I mounted the T-brackets in the center of each joist (and in the center of the garage’s ceiling) using only one lag screw in each so I could rotate the brackets for squaring later. Following suggestions on Amazon’s reviews for the HeavyLift, I substituted heavier duty lag screws in place of the ones that came with the unit (I used some 3″ #12 lag screws that I got at the American Bolt Co. in Austin). I then attached the arms to the T-brackets, squared them up to each other and to the joists, and lag screwed them into the joists (to make this a little easier, l lubed each lag screw with a bit of stick wax; see TM 8/28/09). Next, I reattached the pulleys, mounted the winding axle (removing the bearing assembly on one of the T-brackets made this easier), and connected the gear drive. Finally, I threaded the cables and grid attachment bolts through the pulleys, and secured them to the grid platform’s beam supports. Cranked that puppy up and down a few times (it does take a lot of turns), leveled the platform, and loaded it up.

All in all, it’s a worthwhile addition for storage in my garage. I now have more floor space, and am inspired to attack further garage cleanup.

*Stored in the large bag is our artificial Christmas tree, not anything weird.

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15 Responses to RacorPro HeavyLift Part II

  1. Jim says:

    Looks like an awful lot of money, time, and effort expended to store a plastic tree.

  2. Matt says:

    I did something very similar with some conduit, eye bolts, rope and the crates used to move my pool table slates. Similar function, total cost <$30 for 2 “trap door” storage areas.

  3. Thanks for the discaimer, I was wondering about it being a body. Or perhaps some meth lab equipment that’s out of season 🙂

  4. shopmonger says:

    I am not secretly wishing my garage had taller ceailings………. This is awesome and nice write up…good to know it is a one man job.


  5. Justin says:

    This looks like a worth-while project for shops and garages with limited space> Regardless of what is stored on them, you get back that precious space stolen from you by seasonal items.

  6. Scott says:

    I have two of these in my garage. One for my son’s hockey goalie equipment and my regular hockey equipment, and one for summer seasonal/garage sale items. Our garage has 12 foot high ceilings, which means getting up on a step stool can give us a little more leverage when cranking the lift up or down. I’ve enjoyed the extra floor space these lifts affords us, and the lifts prevent the items from getting wet from snow or rain. Because of the extra garage height, it is tiring cranking the lift up or down. I also ended up putting painters tape on each of the four cables to show where to stop cranking on the lift positioned directly above our garage door. When the taped part of the cable reaches the roller, we stop cranking, assuring that the lift is safely above the garage door. When we are cranking the lift up or down sometimes my knuckles scrap against the edge of the platform as it passes by. Wearing work gloves usually prevents this. On the lift with the hockey equipement I supplemented the lift by adding wire mess “sides” so the equipment wouldn’t roll off.

    If there was a version that I could add an electric winch to, I’d seriously consider buying it!

    Remembering back to the install, I remember it being a one man job, but working over my head on top of a 9 foot step ladder was difficult racheting in the lag bolts.

  7. rob says:

    could you maybe wind it up with a cordles drill on low or maybe a cordless impact

    I have used my cordless impact on small scissor jacks and many other things that did not come powered originally

  8. Brau says:

    Something tells me this is one of those products that will be disappear in the near future, right after the maker gets sued because some kids played “elevator” and got hurt, or the thing fell off the ceiling after being overloaded with firewood or some other brain-dead usage issue. Personally, I feel it offends my basic load-bearing rule of not hanging loads on screw threads. I’d feel differently if the mounting brackets went through the ceiling and placed the weight directly on top of the rafter joists.

    The warning at the end of the instructions really says it all:
    “Do not park car or walk under for at least one hour, to be sure that unit is installed securely. Never allow play on or around installed heavy lift.”

    So if it stays up for an hour … it’s safe?!!!

  9. Shopmonger says:

    Brau: They have been around for over a decade…I used to sell them in my Auto Supply Stores…… SO i don’t think they will be “Going” Anywhere….

    As for the Screws comment, maybe you just don’t use long enough screws. i have made built in engine lifts in garages for years with screws and they have lifted everything from big block engines, to tractor engines….. Screws can be amazing if correctly oriented and correct sizing is used….. Ever seen a DECK? Most large hanging decks are only “HUNG” on screws for the joists…they are simply lagged into the floor joist of the house…. Engineering is thing of beauty if it is understood……Screws rule….just make sure they are large enough and that they have the proper pitch and thread count configuration for your application. The law of leverage of a screw allowing you to lift large weight with small amount of input effort is a principal that has lived through the ages…… Ask a roofer, who bets his life on 3-5 screws to hold his safety anchor….


  10. Pezdad says:

    If it is that much trouble to use the winch, why not get a fixed unit? I have two of the HyLoft units (that together cost a little less than this) and they work great and were very easy to install by myself. If the winch was quick and easy I would consider adding one of these, but it sounds like a lot more troble than pulling over the ladder as I do now to load and unload (I’ve never needed gloves or scraped my knuckles like Scott did!).

  11. Jim says:

    I think I would be climbing up into the ceiling to make sure that the joists aren’t full of knots or something too. Regarding the comment about hanging anything from screw threads, I have to agree. Since they’re threading into an unseen piece of wood, you have no idea whether or not they’re actually secure. Maybe there’s a big knot or void in the joist, or it hit near the edge of the joist. You don’t really know…. I’d rather see something mechanically wrapped around the joist (like a U-bolt) for hoisting anything heavy. And even then, with the crappy lumber being used nowadays (that was never intended to hold anything up except drywall), I’d be nervous being under this thing even if it was empty.

  12. Michael says:

    I helped my Dad and a neighbor install one of these in my Dad’s garage after Christmas—he has a 20 ft ceiling with a 12 foot high loft. The neighbor had one also.
    Some of the things we did: we built a simple 2×4 frame that we attached to the bottom of the thing to add some rigidity and give it a soft landing (non-metal) on a finished floor. there are 2 cables, each cable going to 2 corners–we replaced them with two 76ft plastic covered cables. We put heavy duty lag screws in the ceiling—don’t want this thing falling on our heads, esp with a heavy load.
    Next we went to a garage door installer and got 2 long rails and the wheels, etc. We attached the rails to the wall and attached the wheels to the wood frame–another reason for the frame. The wheels ride in the garage door tracks and prevent any sway in the lift—it wasn’t swaying much anyway but don’t want someone leaning out from the 12 foot high loft and pushing this out and falling. the worst they could do with this is fall on it–we tested it with the weight of 2 people. Make sure the rails let the wood frame touch the floor–you will want to load some heavy stuff at floor level–we found that for boxes we stopped the lift at about waist height. Also make sure that the lift goes at least waist high in the loft area–this makes unloading boxes easier too.

    Another thing that the neighbor did was attach a stop on each end of the winding part to keep the cable from going too far and snapping back–I didn’t see that happen with ours but my Dad has prob since put the stops on.

    There would be an awful lot of winding with this but the crank comes in 2 pieces–we left the handle off and chuck it into a 1/2 inch drill. A 3/8 chuck isn’t big enough. It still doesn’t operate like an elevator because you still have to climb to the loft to run the drill but if one person stays up there to run the drill and unload another person can load from ground level and a lot of stuff can be stored in a very short time.

  13. jeff says:

    I used the HyLoft units like Pezdad did. I just joined them together so that I have one platform (with 6 supports) that is 45″ x 90″. Plenty of space for all my wifes plastic bins. Both of them together were over $40 cheaper than this unit (from amazon).

  14. Gordon DeWitte says:

    @ Jeff: I also have installed one unit similar to the HyLoft, and it works great for lightweight boxes I can easily carry up a ladder. For heavier things that I want to store, but don’t want to attempt carrying up a ladder, the HeavyLift is better.

  15. Blair says:

    @ Shopmonger. I think Brau’s comment was relating to the difference of tension force, versus shear force, decks are hung off the building by joist hangers that utilize shear force, (and usually nailed, not screwed because of shear factor of screws vs nails).

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