Tuesday, April 16, 2019

QuickJack BL5000SLX Portable Lift for my 1976 Corvette


I spend way too much time jacking up my Vette in order to change the motor oil, rotate the tires, tighten this or that, or just detail and clean the underside of the car to name a few tasks. Therefore, I did what I should've done a long time ago...

I purchased a QuickJack Portable Lift.

Since I am a member of the CorvetteForum, that's where I started the "due diligence" to determine if a QuickJack was right for me.

The answer was an emphatic YES!

Some of the posts and comments were made a few years ago, (I've linked a few at the end of this article), and several end-users reported some minor issues. So when I talked to Jacob over at QuickJack, I asked him about that. He assured me that the company is always improving their products and that they promptly address any defects reported by customers.

Additionally, QuickJack lifts are covered by a 12-month warranty for both equipment structure and operating components, plus free shipping for any warranty related issue.

Frankly, I was sold well before I made the call, but Jacob still made sure the QuickJack BL-5000SLX model would be the correct one for my C3 Corvette. As a matter of fact, I measured the jacking points as well as my car's height (from the ground to the bottom of the chassis), as instructed by Jacob.

One thing I did not know is that you have several voltage choices: 110-volt AC, 208-230-volt AC, 240-volt AC, and even a 12-volt DC option. Talk about portability!

I opted for a 110-volt lift.

One of my concerns involved shipping charges. These things are bulky and heavy, and I feared that the shipping alone would be a deal killer, but I heard those two lovely words we've all come to appreciate so much: FREE SHIPPING!

So I went ahead and placed my order.

Four days later, a FedEx driver showed up at my house with my QuickJack lift.


SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED

The QuickJack lift arrives in three heavy boxes. One contains the hydraulic pump, long and short hydraulic hoses, fittings, rubber blocks, and other miscellaneous items. The other two boxes, weighing in at 75 lbs. each, contain the frame assemblies, frame positioning handles, and the Installation and Operation manual.

The lifts are built well and packaged nicely. And upon inspection, I determined that my car lift system arrived complete and in perfect condition.


In order to assemble it, you will need a few basic tools including a couple of open-end wrenches, an adjustable (crescent) wrench, and a 3/16" (4.5 or 5 mm) Allen wrench (a.k.a. hex key). You will also need a pump or compressor in order to pressurize the system air cylinders. I used a bicycle floor pump.


And since we're dealing with a hydraulic system, you will need the correct fluid. In this case, three quarts of Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF), Dexron III or VI, Mercon V or LV, or a similar grade. Plus a small funnel that will fit the reservoir.


As a side note, I should mention that even though the QuickJack manual states that the reservoir will take approximately 2.5 quarts of ATF, I would start with just two. Otherwise, have plenty of paper towels or rags handy. Don't ask me how I know. Besides, you can always add more fluid later.


WHY DID I WAIT THIS LONG?

I must admit that it took me several years to pull the trigger on this purchase. It's an investment for sure, and I'm on a budget like everyone else. But basic maintenance tasks, such as oil changes, are a pain in the rear when you are dealing with sports cars that are so close to the ground. And lets not even mention rotating the tires.

That was the first task I did once my QuickJack was operational (article coming soon). I think I did the whole rotation in about 45 minutes, and that included taking photos for this article as well as shooting a video for my Instagram account:


After I finished rotating the tires I was left wondering why did I take so long to get one of these lifts. And I have no good answer to that question.


KEEP CALM AND RTFM

The best way to damage something and/or injure yourself is to rush through the QuickJack assembly process.

Have the necessary tools, safety glasses, gloves, shop rags or paper towels ready beforehand. And don't leave the most important part out... RTFM.

Read The Friggin' Manual!

Since it has taken me years to make up my mind to buy one of these portable lifts, I've watched lots of assembly and operation videos on YouTube in the interim. But the best guide is the 40-plus-page Installation and Operation Manual that comes with the QuickJack!

It has lots of clear b&w photos and diagrams and is a must-have reference as you put your lift together.

I assembled mine is several stages, starting with opening the boxes to inspect and inventory the contents.


PLAN YOUR WORK AND WORK YOUR PLAN

After reading the manual a couple of times, I unboxed all the components. Keep in mind that some of the pieces are heavy and/or unwieldy, so pay attention as to what you're doing in order to prevent injury or property damage.


Next, I installed the provided fittings on the hydraulic hoses and pump.



Applying a few drops of ATF to make the O-rings on fittings pliable is a good idea. This helps prevent leaks and extends the life of the seals.



POLYTETRAFLUOROETHYLENE ANYONE?

It is advisable to use Teflon™ tape on the fitting threads that don't have O-rings. The manual indicates where this is recommended.

Each lifting frame has a hydraulic cylinder and a separate air cylinder. The 90°elbow fitting in the photo above must be screwed to the bottom of the hydraulic cylinder after removing the protective cap shown on the photo below (red arrow).


But before you attach the 90° fittings to the hydraulic cylinders, it's important to follow manufacturer instructions and use one of the rubber blocks to prop the frame open (see photo below). Otherwise, it would be impossible to install these fittings.


Tighten the fittings at an angle slightly pointing up as shown below, so you'll be able to connect the short hydraulic hoses.


The two photos below show how the short hydraulic hoses connect to the 90° fitting. And it's also important to note that all these connections are to be tightened snuggly but DO NOT overtighten them.



Hydraulic systems must be clean to operate properly, and QuickJack provides rubber dust caps to help with that. They may also help prevent damage by cushioning connecting points, so I definitely used mine.



UNDER PRESSURE

The air cylinders (next to the hydraulic fluid cylinders) must be pressurized between 40 to 50 PSI. DO NOT EXCEED 50 PSI.

I used my floor bicycle tire pump for this purpose and it worked great, but you may use a compressor or any other method as long as it works with a Schrader (automotive) valve.

However, I did run into a small problem when one of the air cylinders failed to hold pressure.

I traced the issue to a loose Schrader valve core, and I had to resort to using needle-nose pliers to tighten the core since I couldn't find the appropriate tool.

So thin needle-nose pliers will work in a pinch (no pun intended).



With this step complete, all I had left to do was bleed the hydraulic cylinders.

To do this, I first loosened the Allen bolt on one end of the cylinders (red arrow below). I had a piece of paper towel on hand to catch any ATF that might leak out (a little bit did). When the hissing stopped and there were no discernible air bubbles in the oozing fluid, I closed the valve. I then repeated the procedure on the other hydraulic cylinder.

I then checked the air cylinders again to make sure air pressure was holding steady between 40 and 50 psi.


I bled the hydraulic cylinders with the lifting frames flat on the floor first and then vertically. In other words, for the second bleeding, the little wheels on one end were pointing to the ceiling. The manual provides a diagram and clear instructions.

You have to be careful if, like me, you work alone. As stated before, these things are heavy and unwieldy. And you certainly don't want one of these long, 75-pound contraptions getting away from you as they can cause severe damage and/or injury. So I took my time to ensure the task would be done correctly and not end in tragedy.

When I was done I checked air cylinder pressure one more time, just to be safe.


THE POWER UNIT

As I got closer to the finish line, one of the final steps was to fill the power unit's hydraulic fluid reservoir with Automatic Transmission Fluid.

As I mentioned earlier, I ended up sopping up the excess fluid that overfilled the reservoir since—at least in my case—2.5 quarts was more than the pump's tank was willing to drink. Overfilling it also resulted in some gurgling noises emanating from the vent when I ran some tests.

And speaking of vents, mine has the kind of breather valve that has to be manually loosened when operating the lift. Apparently, some units come with a self-venting cap. I am not clear if this was an option but is not a big deal.



The reservoir's filler hole is pretty small, so I drove down to Family Dollar to buy a small funnel. Actually, I found a 3-pack of different sizes for a buck, and one of them was just right for the job.

I also pressed the included rubber pads to the power unit base. They help cushion the assembly as it runs.


TEST RUN

With all the fittings in place and the power unit ready to go, I was ready to connect the hoses and give the system a test run.


I positioned the lifting frames under the car and used the 3-inch rubber blocks (for no particular reason). Since I did not know how far forward the top rails of the lifting frames would move as the lift contacted the bottom of my car's chassis, I raised the lift almost to the point of contact and this allowed me to position the rubber blocks in the right spot.

IMPORTANT: You MUST use the provided rubber blocks to lift a vehicle. DO NOT lift a vehicle on the QuickJack frames alone. See the operation manual for more info.

I then proceeded to lift the car with my QuickJack for the first time, stopping at the first locking position.

After making sure everything looked okay, I continued raising the car to the second (and top) locking position. I then lowered it a bit until it locked. All of this is accomplished with the hand-held Up-and-Down controller.



IN SUM

There's no doubt this is by far one of the best car-related purchases I've ever made, and like I mentioned earlier, I'm still kicking myself for waiting so long to get one.

I plan to keep my jack stands handy and will use them as an added layer of security every time I crawl under my car. As a matter of fact, the QuickJack operation manual recommends that.

Does a portable car lift such as the QuickJack completely eliminate the need for a conventional floor jack? Absolutely not. A floor jack remains as important as ever, and I will continue to use mine for simple jobs. But the QuickJack does stuff a regular floor jack will never be able to accomplish. And, at the same time, it will allow me to do jobs that were otherwise impossible.

I consider myself a serious hobbyist when it comes to my C3 Corvette, so the purchase of my QuickJack BL-5000SLX was a justifiable investment on a much-needed tool for both convenience and safety. And like many other QuickJack owners, now that I own one I have no idea how I managed without it before.

I hope you found this article helpful if you are considering purchasing one.

Thanks for following my Corvette blog!


Contact:
Jacob at QuickJack, (805) 933-9970 ext. 164

It's important to note that this is not a sponsored post. All opinions are mine and I'm sharing them with hopes they may help other C3 Corvette owners who may be thinking about buying one of these car lifts.


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