Floor jacks

Agriculture.com Staff 11/03/2008 @ 12:30pm

Caring for the equipment around your farm is a never-ending job. So before you delve into maintenance chores and elevate another vehicle or tool, know how much your jack is capable of raising off the ground.

The size and type of jack you choose will be determined by the weight of what you're lifting.

There are three basic types of floor jacks: hydraulic, air hydraulic, and mechanical. Hydraulic and air hydraulic jacks are the most popular for obvious reasons - they help you lift a piece of equipment quickly and effortlessly.

"Jacks that are air and hydraulic are made for very, very heavy lifting. These type of jacks are good for combines and tractors. They can actually hook into an air compressor system instead of having to pump and pump and pump," says LeRoy Allen of Northern Tool.

According to Allen, there are key considerations to keep in mind when shopping for a floor jack.

"The main thing to consider is what you'll be lifting with your jack," he says. Once you determine what you want to raise, you can narrow your choices to the appropriate weight size. Every floor jack is rated for different weights, and jacks generally range from 2 to 20 tons.

The second consideration is whether or not you'll have access to an air compressor.

"A lot of people seem to have to go out to the field to make repairs. Then they get there and don't have an air compressor with them," Allen says.

He also suggests purchasing a jack that is wider for more stability. "A wider jack is a lot safer since it can take vibrations better," he notes.

The surface you're lifting off of is also key. "A cement base or hard ground to work on is best," he says.

Jacks are made of either steel or aluminum so you'll need to consider which is best for your use. "Even though aluminum is a lot lighter to haul around, I recommend an all-steel unit because it's more durable," Allen says.

Be aware that some models include a Quick Lift design, which brings the jack up to the bottom of whatever you're lifting. That makes the process a little quicker.

"For repairs around the home, a 3-ton unit should be sufficient. But it can depend on the type of equipment and vehicles you own," Allen says. "For farm use, that's where you get your long-arm jacks and get into 5- and 10-ton units."

Five- and 10-ton jacks are heavy. A 5-ton jack weighs about 246 pounds and a 10-ton jack weighs about 350 pounds. Allen recommends keeping these in your shop.

No matter what you're lifting, be sure to have jack stands and blocks on hand.

As with any piece of equipment around the farm, you want to maintain it properly for longer life. A floor jack is no exception. To get the best performance and longest life from your jack, replace all fluids at least once a year.

For hydraulic jacks, use a good grade hydraulic jack oil. Avoid mixing different types of fluid. Never use brake fluid, transmission fluid, turbine oil, motor oil, or glycerin. If you use an improper fluid, it can cause failure of the jack and the potential for a sudden loss of load.

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