For the good of the collective I'll take a few minutes on this rainy Saturday morning to share a recent (September 2011) experience, with the goal of reinforcing some basic safety tips and maybe saving somebody else some money, time, embarassment, and potential injury.
I've had an air-powered table lift for about three years and after the first 2 or 3 uses I have been using the LT's center stand when working on the bike. The lift came with a front wheel vise but to use that you need another person to tighten the vise while you hold the bike up and it isn't always convenient to wait for a helper. (Putting the LT on its center stand pulls the front wheel up and out of the vise, rendering it useless.) And, because the bike was on its center stand, I did not strap it down to the lift because doing that would have pulled it forward, off of the center stand. I've never had any problems working on the LT this way until (ahem) last fall.
Backing up to July 2011: Dave Selvig stopped by our place to help me work on the LT. He commented 2 or 3 times that the bike was not strapped down. I think he was just being polite, when he should have said "Hey, let's take a minute to do this the right way." Not Dave's fault, of course - totally mine.
You can see where this is going, right?
So, last September I had the LT on the lift as usual for some light maintenance. I started to bring the lift down when - in quick sequence - the right side of the lift stopped lowering, the left side of the lift continued to lower for several more inches before it stopped, the table pitched to the left, the LT fell forward off its center stand onto me (I was standing on the left side of the lift, operating the foot control) and the front wheel rolled off the lift. I was pinned between the bike and a commercial shelving unit, the windscreen broke with a loud BANG, things fell off of the shelves (which are now threatening to fall over), and I'm wondering what just happened.
Fortunately, my friend Steve and his wife were nearby. They heard the commotion, Steve assisted, Mrs. Steve went up to the house to get my wife, and between the four of us we stabilized things until we could determine what happened. In the meantime I was going nowhere - still pinned between the LT and the shelving unit as I did my best to keep the LT from falling entirely off the lift onto me. Fear and adrenaline can do amazing things...
We found the rolling mechanic's chair had rolled beneath the ride side of the lift. When I lowered the lift, the right side of the table contacted the chair, the chair bent as much as it could but finally resisted, and that is what caused the table to pitch to the left. Solution: raise the table a few inches, remove the chair, lower the lift, and get the bike back onto the lift in some kind of stabilized fashion. This was done while Steve (holding the front of the bike against the lift) and I (still pinned, holding the LT, and not going anywhere) did our best.
We got the bike back on the lift and then rolled it off and out of the garage. Checked the bike for damage: windscreen is in several pieces on the garage floor, windscreen motor's right lifting arm broken, instrument gauge cover had a small tear (when the right arm broke), various scratches to front fender and right upper fairing, right lower fairing has scratches and a dent, scratches to top case rack (from impacting the shelving unit), ride side case, and both tip-over wings. The insurance settlement? $5,500
And that is the story of why I have several LT parts for sale. I've sold a couple of them recently and will be posting the rest in the Classifieds forum sometime.
1. I replaced the wheel vise with a wheel chock. I ride the bike into the chock, which eliminates the excuse for using the center stand because it holds the bike in place while I dismount and then:
2. Strap the bike to the lift. No exceptions.
3. When lowering the lift I do a walk-around, looking for anything that may be in the way or potentially cause a problem. No exceptions.