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Service Pit with Cover

03/17/2014 @ 2:58pm

Option 1: A hoist that takes up floor space. Option 2: A service pit that takes away floor space. Doug Langel chose Option 3: A service pit with a cover that puts his floor space back whenever he wants. The best of all worlds!

“I didn’t want a hoist, and I didn’t want to take up the floor space I saved with a stack of planks I’d have to throw off and store somewhere while I was working in the pit,” he recalls. That’s how he came to envision a cover that lifts out of the way yet creates a solid floor when lowered.   

There was only one problem with his plan. The pit in his new shop would be 21 feet long and the walls were set at 18 feet high. Langel pretty quickly determined that instead of merely tilting up, a pit cover would have to fold in order to fit under the ceiling.

He did the studying
The key, Langel says, was figuring out where the hinge should go and where to pull it from. 

“It took some doing to figure out the weight system for lifting it. I was unsure at first if everything would take the weight,” he recalls. It did.  

Little wonder he was concerned about the weight, considering that the cover is built of 3-inch-thick bridge planks bolted to a subframe made of 3-inch channel iron. It also has two massive steel hinges formed of ¼×8-inch flat iron with pipe cut for a pivot point.    

A 1,300-pound electric winch is mounted on the building’s footings within the service pit near the centermost hinge. The cable runs on the same side as the winch, and that is where the cover is lifted from. A pulley for the cable is bolted all the way through the shop wall. 

Gets frequent use
Langel says it takes about one minute for the cover to lower and just a few seconds longer to lift back up.   

Once the cover is upright, he uses a latch on a rope on the wall to lock it in place.

“We’re always opening and closing it. Not just for work but also for safety – like when people are in the shop walking around,” he says. 

“So, yes, if I want to bring in the disk or the cultivator or anything else that folds out, I lower the pit cover and drive it on in,” he says. 

Langel estimates that he spent less than $300 on materials, including the winch, the planks, and the steel. 

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