Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Harbor Freight Load Leveler and some cool stuff!

I bought a Harbor Freight load leveler a few months ago when it was on sale, stashed it away and had forgotten about it. When we changed the trans in the pilot I pulled it out but we never did end up using it. It basically looked like this.

If you buy one of these it may look pretty good at first glance. I was browsing through some posts on the garage journal and found a post about the leveler so I checked it out. There have been some guys on there that have had them fail. 1 guy had an engine drop on his radiator support, 1 guy had dropped one on the floor moving it and another had it fail and crush his hand between the engine and the car he was working on. They had basically said it just exploded and dropped without any warning. There are a couple reasons they failed and I will explain them here and show you what I did to modify and strengthen mine. This picture shows what I removed and basically threw away from my leveler. I will explain why below.
 Here is all the parts of my leveler. I of course had to strip, sand blast and powder coat it so it would look good and I have the stuff to do it myself. The first thing I did was buy all new grade 8 bolts for it. The ones installed in the original leveler were grade 5 bolts.
 The handle to it is very cheesy. The handle constantly falls off when you try to crank the thing and its made of some very cheap plastic. I decided to cut mine off and chuck it.
 I decided to take an old spark plug socket, cut it down and weld it onto the end of the screw shaft so that I could use a ratchet to turn it or I could grab a gear wrench and turn it with that also. Here is the socket I used.
Here is everything powder coated and just about ready to put back together. I just needed to get some welding done now.
 This is one thing I did. If you look at the original picture you can see 1 big spacer on the crank side of the leveler and none on the other. I wanted one on both sides so I cut it into 2 pieces and reinstalled it after I polished them up.
 OK, here is where some of the failures occurred. The original design has 2 nuts on the screw jack and they are secured by roll pins. When the leveler is put in a very high nose up or down angle there is a lot of stress put on those nuts. On 2 of the levelers that failed (the ones that exploded) the roll pin sheared and the nut came off. That allowed the whole thing to come apart (explode) and drop the engine. I fixed that by actually welding on the nut to the shaft. You can see where I had the socket welded onto the nut also.
 Here is the other side of the jack screw and the nut welded on. It's definitely not going to come off now.
 The socket side wear the ratchet can go.
The other weak link (pun intended) is the chains. You can see from this photo that the chain is not the best chain in the world. The one that failed and smashed the guys hand had the chain fail. I looked closely at mine and found half of my chain links weren't even welded all the way around. I could of welded each link and they probably would of been fine but I chose to just get new chain and not risk it at all.
 Another modification I did was to install a bearing on the part of the leveler that lets the load move. You can see it here in this picture. (I actually am using 2.) The original used a spacer and a bushing that was pretty rough. Most people grease them up really heavy so they are somewhat smooth and movable. Mine is smooth as glass with the bearing.
 I also polished the bottom of the rail where the bearing rides. It works great. This isn't necessary but it makes it work really nice and smooth.
Here it is all put together and ready for some use. I think it will work great and should be a ton safer than it was.
 It's home now on the hoist ready for it's first trial run. I have a Saturn that it will get used on this weekend sometime so I will let you know how it works.
You might ask why I would go through all this trouble for a 20 dollar load leveler. I looked around and found different brand levelers. I looked at them closely and found they were basically the same leveler with a different name on it. I decided to just fix mine so it would be a good tool that should give me many years of service. I guess I should mention that I am not responsible for anything you may do to change or alter your load leveler. I just informed you of what I did and am in no way responsible for any modifications you may do to yours. Now onto the cool stuff I mentioned in the title. I was surfing e bay and came across this auto analyzer. No one had bid on it so I threw a bid in just to see what would happen and ended up winning it for 99 cents. It's suppose to work great and it should work great for the bugs. I think it's cool. I love this old time stuff.
 The other cool thing is that I finally got my piston shift knob made. I had a chunk of aluminum and I finally gave it to a friend who runs the mill and lathe at work. I also gave him a drawing of what I wanted. He gave me it back yesterday and I attached it to the bug. I think it looks cool. I made a few of these in high school but I don't know what happened to them.  
 Bob did an awesome job machining it. It looks cool. If I ever get my 50's lead sled I will put it on that for sure. Until then, I will sport it in Ed.
 I guess the winter wasn't a total loss for Ed. I at least installed a cool shift knob in him. Check back in a few to see how the Saturn works out. Until then, keep on Truckin!


JoseABrown said...

Informative and interesting which we share with you so i think so it is very useful and knowledgeable. I would like to thank you for the efforts. I am tiring the same best work from me in the future as well.

Roberto - Beto - Baccarat said...

hifriend, did you have some drawings of the pieces used ? thanks in advance, regards