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Discussion Starter #1
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? :eek:

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.

Lessons Learned
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.
 

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hschisler said:
Lessons Learned
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.
Howard, thanks for the insight and I'm glad you were not hurt. Given your scenario, do you think the entire lift would have tipped with the bike strapped?
Number three is very (as well as the rest) important!
 

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Thanks for sharing, Howard! Good lesson for all of us.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
SmokinJoe said:
... Given your scenario, do you think the entire lift would have tipped with the bike strapped? ...
Uh... I had not thought of that. With the bike solidly strapped to the lift, they would act as one top-heavy object in the scenario I described.

I honestly can't say, but if the center of gravity exceeded <insert technical term here> then yes, the whole thing could fall over. If that had happened I would have been squished between the combined weight of the LT and lift, and the shelving unit - which would have fallen over, also.

Maybe we should look at anchoring the stationary set of legs on the lift to the concrete floor. :confused:
This is an excellent question.

Engineers - what say you?
 

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hschisler said:
Uh... I had not thought of that. With the bike solidly strapped to the lift, they would act as one top-heavy object in the scenario I described.

I honestly can't say, but if the center of gravity exceeded <insert technical="" term="" here=""> then yes, the whole thing could fall over. If that had happened I would have been squished between the combined weight of the LT and lift, and the shelving unit - which would have fallen over, also.

Maybe we should look at anchoring the stationary set of legs on the lift to the concrete floor. :confused:
This is an excellent question.

Engineers - what say you?
I think that you would have been better off if the LT was secured to the lift. Even if the combined CG was tilted beyond the outermost support point on the floor, the whole thing would probably fall slower than the LT slipping off the stand and catching you by surprise. No need to anchor the lift to the floor, if you really want to be safe. Just add some "out-riggers" to the base of the lift to effectively increase the outer most points of the support on the floor.

Of course, checking things and making sure that there are no reasons for it to tip off in the first place cannot be beat! </insert><label for="rb_iconid_6">
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You said "the right side of the lift stopped lowering". Do you know why? I ask because this same thing has happened to me, but it was my fault. I lowered the table with my roll-around stool sitting under the lift. Fortunately I caught it (no pun intended) before any problems. Did tear the seat cover though.
 

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I'm glad to here nothing serious happened to you Howard. I put the LT's at a slight angle on the lift so that the side stand fits on the 24" wide platform. Here are some pic's and you can see that the rear tire is offset a little to the right. The hole in the lift out plate is in the center of the 24" platform. As far as the stool been there done that too. When I did lower it down on to the stool with the bike strapped down I was able to notice something was wrong and lift it back up.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
fpmlt said:
You said "the right side of the lift stopped lowering". Do you know why? I ask because this same thing has happened to me, but it was my fault. I lowered the table with my roll-around stool sitting under the lift. Fortunately I caught it (no pun intended) before any problems. Did tear the seat cover though.
Yes - it was the roll-around stool sitting under the lift - the same problem that you caught in time to prevent a problem. The right side of the lift hit the stool, the stool crumpled, and when it could no longer crumple it jammed the lift on the right side, while the left side continued to lower - just enough to create an off-camber table surface.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
saddleman said:
I'm glad to here nothing serious happened to you Howard. I put the LT's at a slight angle on the lift so that the side stand fits on the 24" wide platform. Here are some pic's and you can see that the rear tire is offset a little to the right. The hole in the lift out plate is in the center of the 24" platform. As far as the stool been there done that too. When I did lower it down on to the stool with the bike strapped down I was able to notice something was wrong and lift it back up.
Well, I'm feeling a little less like a "lift noob" - as in, there are at least two other people out there who have experienced the same problem I did - although you did the proper thing and had it strapped down. :)

Are you using the sidestand so you can still use the wheel vise?

Here's a photo of the crunched chair, and the pieces of the Cee Bailey's windscreen collected in a box. What I didn't take a photo of was the alarming knife-like shard of windscreen still in place on the front of the bike. I didn't intend to reopen the polycarbonate-vs-acrylic debate, but it is what it is. A polycarbonate windscreen would not have done that.
 

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Wow, Howard, that is quite a story, thank you for posting. This is a good wake up call to all of us. By all means we should always take that walk around. Being a big fraidy cat on the lift, I always have my wife help me get the bike on and off the lift and she operates the front wheel vice. And I always strap her down. (the bike that is :histerica I didn't say that right)
 

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I'll throw a little more caution at ya. I have three lifts and on all of them the front tire clamp was not square from one side to the other. The last lift I bought was so bad it wouldn't hold a LT up. It did fine on a few light bikes but last night I put a LT on it and it wouldn't hold it upright. This one was out of square by 1". The first thing I do is to square the left side to the table. I had to slot three holes to accomplish this. Then I align the uprights to each other. Finally I squared up the right fixed side of the clamp to the left side. I had to drill six new holes on the right side. I didn't think to take any pictures until I was almost done.
 

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Thanks all for sharing the lift information. I don't have a lift, but if I did, I think I'd place a BRIGHT RED TAG on the control that said, WALK AROUND and INSPECT before operating. It is so easy to get complacent.
 

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I like just having the vice up front vs. chock, as I ride up to the stop plate, put side stand down, get off & put on center stand, then tighten wheel clamp. I have two 3/8 eye bolts mounted to the lift at the back on each side for tie downs, which also serve to keep the bike from moving forward if working on front with wheel lose in the clamp or jacked up. I also have the lift centered to a rafter beam, so I can attach another strap to the eye bolts that are at the center of the lift, up to the rafter beam for added tip over protection. I have a little rolling stool that got stuck under there one time too, hence the latter addition. Not all adrenalin rushes are fun. :)
 

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DanDiver said:
Thanks all for sharing the lift information. I don't have a lift, but if I did, I think I'd place a BRIGHT RED TAG on the control that said, WALK AROUND and INSPECT before operating. It is so easy to get complacent.
I have the Harbor Freight outfit and do just about what Dan says...but instead of the TAGS..my lift has very easy removable pump and bleed leavers and I place them in a awkward location to bring to mind the walk around.

Good Idea Dan!
 

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I'm thinking about getting a lift for next year. (I've already ponied up for this year's service.) After reading this, which lifts do you guys suggest a guy get? I don't want to end up with die Blau Frau parts all over my garage or on top of me. :)
 

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Heracleitus said:
I'm thinking about getting a lift for next year. (I've already ponied up for this year's service.) After reading this, which lifts do you guys suggest a guy get? I don't want to end up with die Blau Frau parts all over my garage or on top of me. :)
My Handy Lift is ~12 years old and works like new. Electric model, which I favor over hydraulic or air powered. Primarily due to steadiness while going up or down, and the fact that it stays in place at whatever height you leave it - no bleed down.

That said - I see that a lotta folks recommend the Harbor Freight model of table lift. And another one that is Tejas made is http://www.worthequipment.com/motorcycle.htm out of Mansfield. Looks to be a clone of the Handy Lift. My guess is since the Handy Lift patent ran out, there are several manufacturers offering clones or similar units. Pricing is pretty high, except for the Harbor Freight model. A *google* search will prolly bring up other units and sellers.

If like me, you'll love working on your bike with the convenience factor of a table lift. Bones don't creak and groan as much as getting up and down off the floor!! Good luck in finding a good one. And do take a close look at some of the lift accessories that make using it a lot easier - a dolly to move it around; side extensions to lessen the fear factor of loading/unloading; and a wheel chock.
 

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All of Dicks points are good ones. I also have the electric Handy Lift with the side extensions, wheel vise and the dolly. Park the bike on it so it doesn't really take up any more room in the garage than the bike itself. It is more money than the Harbor Freight unit, but I have had it for 10 years and three bikes and I am guessing I will be able to hand the thing down to my son when I am finished riding.

Look in the service bays of most dealerships and that is what they are using. Doubt you would ever see a HF unit in there.
 

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Dick said:
...the fact that it stays in place at whatever height you leave it - no bleed down.
The three air operated lifts I have seen up close all have a flip-down multi-stop lever that swings down to lock the lift at the desired height. All three go up and down smoothly. Part of that could be the air supply they are powered by. That compressor is a big 'un!
 
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