Saturday, August 25, 2018

Building 3" Car Ramps

Three inches is not a lot, but three inches allows me to maneuver and position the low-profile jack I have a lot better, thus allowing me to raise my Corvette without flexing the body as much. If you've ever lifted your Vette from one side, pay attention to the door gaps and you'll see what I'm talking about.

I built four ramps in order to drive the car up on them and keep it level. This also allows better access all around, especially after you jack up the vehicle and have it sitting on jack stands front or back or both.


Since I did not want to break the bank with this project, I purchased inexpensive,  construction-grade lumber. You could build nice ramps from an exotic hardwood, for example, but for my garage, this lower-grade stuff is just fine.

Also worth mentioning is if you own or have access to a table or a radial arm saw, you could bevel the ends of the ramps, before assembly, for a smoother transition. I did not do this but at only 1.5-inches per "step", they should work just fine... or will they?

For materials, I went to the local Lowe's and bought two 2" x 10" x 10' planks, which really measure 1.5-inches x 9.25-inches x 10-feet.

The cost was roughly $15 per plank and I had them cut to size right there since Lowe's offers the service at no extra charge.

He cut both planks to size so I ended with four pieces 30 inches long, and four pieces 22 inches long.

I also brought home the remaining two 16-inch pieces so I could cut the two 2x2-inch bump stops with my circular saw. I only installed bump stops on the front ramps.

My garage floor is painted with epoxy and it's pretty slick, so in order to keep the ramps in place, I bought eight stair tread anti-skid rubber guards at $2.98 each, plus a can of 3M Hi-Strength Spray Contact Adhesive for $12.98. In hindsight, I should've used Liquid Nails Construction Adhesive® or Gorilla Heavy Duty Adhesive® from the beginning. I did so later, and also made sure the pads stayed in place by stapling them to the wood, in addition to using adhesive.

I pre-drilled the planks so the 2½" deck screws I used to secure them, would not split the boards. I also countersank them as I screwed them in with a drill.

Once all the ramps were assembled, I sanded and rounded the edges to eliminate splinters. If you have a router, you can use a rounding bit to give them nice smooth edges. I gave each ramp two coats of red paint since I had the paint.


Once the paint had cured for 24 hours, I started gluing the rubber anti-skid guards to the bottom of the ramps.



You must apply contact cement to both surfaces and allow several minutes so it dries to the touch. You must then carefully line up the rubber pieces so they will stick to the ramps in the right spot.



I also added a smaller piece to the areas where the tires will rest. This was just for looks, nothing else. As the photo above shows, I used masking tape to define the area where the glue was to be sprayed. If you don't do this, you end up with a mess that would be pretty hard to clean.



Make sure you read the instructions on the can before using the adhesive, but being contact cement, you must allow the glue to be dry to the touch before mating the two surfaces. And take your time so they align well. Once they bond, you will not be able to reposition them and the only solution would be to start over.



I had a hardwood roller from another project and it came in handy to ensure a good bond between the two surfaces.




And these are the rear ramps. As you can see, for the bottom area I had to glue an additional piece since the tread guards I purchased are 2 feet wide and the ramp bases are 30 inches long. That's why I purchased extra guards.

And speaking of tread guards...

After I gave the front ramps the first coat of paint, I went ahead and pre-cut all the rubber pieces for them. That way they'll be ready when the time to glue them on comes.

I had cut the excess material from the bottoms of the rear ramps after I had glued them on but did not care for how that turned out, so for the front ones I measured everything carefully and cut all the necessary pieces.

This will not only save me time but it will ensure nice even edges. And I also pre-cut a couple of small pieces for the bump stops for both looks and to cover the exposed deck screw heads that secure them in place.

Since these things are not only heavy but also awkward to handle, I may install handles on one end so I can pick them up easily and move them around comfortably.

When all four ramps were finished, I tested them by driving my '76 Corvette onto them.


It took three or four attempts and I did not like the fact that I had to rev up the motor so much in order to get over the vertical ledges.

I really did not care for that part and, frankly, I was afraid of causing damage to the car, so I had to do something about them if they were going to be user-friendly.

My solution was to rip a 2x4 at 45° angles. This would allow for an easy transition from the flat floor to the ramps.

Luckily, I have a friend who has a nicely-appointed woodworking shop at home, so off to his place I went.

I am happy to report that the 45° angles solved the problem. I attached them with construction adhesive and also secured them with long deck screws. When the glue had cured, I immediately tested them.

Driving the Corvette up all four ramps simultaneously, truly is a piece of cake. The ramps stay securely in place as the tires creep up on the angles further securing them to the ground by utilizing the weight of the car.



After all four were done, I painted the angles with the same red paint, and they look great.

They are bulky and heavy, but I am able to store them out of the way on a shelf. As I mentioned earlier, I was thinking about adding handles, but that is not necessary. I just have to be careful when moving them around to avoid chipping the edges.


These low ramps are perfect for my car now that it has the front Pace Car air dam. I can still use the Rhino Ramps I bought a while ago, but have to use a couple of 1/2-inch planks for the air dam to clear the incline.

I decided to build these in order to safely and (somewhat) comfortably do oil changes and other jobs that require me to crawl under the car.

Now, many of you may disagree with using the front suspension cross member to lift the vehicle.

I've owned six C3s over the years, and have never experienced any problems from doing so. I've always used a block of wood between the jack and the cross member and, again, have not damaged it or affected the alignment.

I like to place the block toward the front rib of the cross member as this area is much stronger than the middle section, but that's just how I do it.

Having the Vette on the 3-inch ramps allows for plenty of clearance so I can roll the jack under the car without it touching the air dam. I still have to be careful with the jack handle because of its location under the car, which gives it limited travel.


Once the two front wheels are off the ground at the desired height, I place jack stands under the car and lower the car so it rests on them. I keep the jack in place for convenience as well as added security.

If I need to drain the motor oil, for example, I raise the car enough so I can crawl under it and get the job started and drain the oil. I then lower the car back onto the front ramps so all the oil can drain. When that's done, I raise it again so I can install a new filter and reinstall the drain plug.

I'll be the first one to admit that it is not the most comfortable job as crawl space is minimal, but you can get the job done properly without having to invest thousands on a lift system or professional ramps.


Product Links... (#sponsored)

• Rhino Ramps (12,000 pounds)
• Wheel Chocks
• Liquid Nails Construction Adhesive
• Gorilla Heavy Duty Adhesive
• 3M 90 Hi-Strength Spray Adhesive
• Grip-Rite 2½" Exterior Screw with Bugle Head
• Hyde 30160 1¼" Oval Hardwood Roller

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