Four Post Lift by Dannmar; D-7 Do-it-Yourself and Review
Four Post Lift Arrives at Trucking Terminal
This is the “package” that you will receive when you order your Lift.
The day we have been waiting for has arrived; our new four post lift is here. I went to the delivery company loading dock and picked it up on Friday.
It is a GES Dannmar D-7 Lift, they are the Official Lifts of GoodGuys. You have undoubtedly seen their ads in the GoodGuys Magazine. Not the most expensive one you can find but appears to be more than adequate for our anticipated use. It will serve as added storage when needed and will more importantly allow us to work on the underside of the vehicles without jack stands and a creeper.
Over the next week or two we will be showing you the summarized version of the assembly of the lift, we are doing it ourselves to show you how easy it is or how clumsy we are. Not sure which just yet.
We had to pick the lift up at the trucking terminal because a large truck can not navigate our driveway. The transporting was easy. The terminal just picked it up with a fork lift and gently placed it on our trailer. Now this assembly weighs just under 1,700 pounds so it is important to strap it down just like you would your car. If you don’t’ one good bump and it might be in the roadway; one freeway ramp too fast and it might lay over on you. As always, safety first. Never take a risk you don’t need to.
This is over 1,600 pounds of steel, tie it down no matter how short your drive.
Over time you will also get our opinions on the quality of the lift on our Product Review Page as well as right here in our Blog.
Like I said the loading was a snap, the trucking company did it. As for the unloading that was an entirely different experience. We don’t have a fork lift and some of the individual pieces of the lift weigh as much as 400 pounds or more. We will be telling you all about that in a few days. It had its moments but all ended successfully.
When you strip away the cardboard cover you discover all the goodies inside.
Unloading the Lift
Getting the Lift to the garage on the trailer was totally uneventful. However, I spent the night tossing and turning trying to figure out how we were going to unload the 1,600+ pounds of steel. I don’t have access to a fork lift and taking the packaging completely apart and moving one piece at a time was not an option nor recommended by the supplier.
Some of the parts are in small packages and should be removed prior to moving the package to its assembly location. However, do not cut any steel bands at this time.
Careful inspection of the packaging showed that a number of smaller items were packed within the larger package so these were easily removed prior to taking the larger package off the trailer. With the exception of the two steel caps on the end, the entire assembly is its own packing box. The Lift’s runways are the main structure of the shipping carton and everything else simply bolts or is strapped to them.
Here is what you will likely be removing. The box with the yellow and red is NOT part of the shipment.
The “end caps” of the box are steel frames to which everything else bolts.
The old farm “Rat Tractor” came to the rescue again. Some chains, straps and hooks and it did a great impression of a crane. While I lifted the big lump of steel my friend (at least he was my friend before we started the project) drove the truck and trailer out from under its load. I then sat the big package of steel back down on the ground.
Our “Rat Tractor” gets a work out and earns its keep.
This is where we were about to have the most exciting moment of the build. We broke the supporting device for the two straps and flung little steel parts throughout the area. A quick rethink on the strapping quickly got us back to work with no further adventures. Luckily the load was barely off the trailer when the break occurred so no damage resulted.
Do not use anything like this engine cherry picker load leveler to help unload the Lift, it is too heavy.
Our Load Leveler was not up to the task and snapped before the load even got off the trailer.
The “Rat Tractor” did most of the heavy work but is no forklift.
Once it was on the ground we connected a cherry picker to one end and the tractor to the other. Then it was lift each end and use the tractor to push it into the garage and center it in its new home.
If you don’t have an engine hoist, cherry picker, you better be in excellent condition and lift weights regularly.
If you don’t have a tractor or fork lift at your location I would think you could accomplish this same procedure with two cherry pickers, one on each end. However, the best advice is to have it delivered to your location and professionally unloaded. This is a big piece of equipment and it is very heavy.
The first step of construction, the cross members go up.
In the next Phase we will take you step by step through the complete assembly of the lift. We will tell you when we were frustrated, worried and happy. A four post lift is probably one of the most desired pieces of equipment by most home auto hobbyist and it is a special treat to have one again after several years without one.
We are building a four post lift, Dannmar D-7, from Garage Equipment Supply (GES USA). It is the Official Lift for GoodGuys. We have owned a couple of lifts before but always had them assembled. This is our first lift build. It was a little intimidating at first but turned out to not be such a big job after all. One thing to keep in mind, you are going to be standing under this lift with your prized car on it when you are done so check everything three times and don’t leave anything loose. We had two guys during most of the assembly and my wife helped on a couple of steps adding a third set of hands.
Here is a quick overview of the assembly process.
The first car to grace our new Dennmar Lift was our Project Talladega. We wanted a big heavy 428 CJ car to give the lift a work out.
1. Determine where you want the lift to sit; keep in mind overhead obstructions like garage door openers, garage doors and light fixtures.
2. Make sure the floor is level and strong. No gravel etc. This needs to be on at least 4″ of concrete (not asphalt and not outdoors).
3. Layout where the posts will be located according to the dimensions in the instructions. Mark these locations on the floor.
4. Place the four posts as instructed and install the cross bars.
5. Place the runways (where the car will sit) onto the cross bars. Tighten all bolts. The basic structure is now complete and it looks like a lift but does not work.
6. Run the cables per the instructions/diagram and mount the power unit (pump, motor and hydraulic reservoir).
7. Install all of the hydraulic fittings and hoses; fill the pump reservoir with proper fluid.
8. Install the connecting safety linkage rods; these are what allow you to safely lower the lift.
9. Double and triple check everything and look it over closely.
10. Start it up and follow the instructions provided with the lift and the power unit.
You can see we assembled the Lift with the control center at the right rear of the car. I think most people will locate it on the diagonal corner, driver side front. For our application I wanted the controls away from the wall.
The cherry picker was a big help but there were times that raw brute manpower was the only option. One such point was putting the cross members on the end posts. The cherry picker can hold it up close to the top but its reach was not great enough to lift it over the top of the columns. We just had to grab it, lift and put it into place. This is when we made our first mistake. The cross members have a front and a backside. They will fit into the posts either way. We installed one correctly and one incorrectly. Not a big deal but these suckers are heavy and the reach to install them requires them to be hoisted well over your head or to struggle with a couple of ladders.
Although the Talladega was classified as an intermediate car in its day, it is wide, long and heavy. You can see the Lift from GES is plenty wide and has lots of clearance on both sides. This helps a bunch when you are using the Lift for parking a car under the one on top.
Once the four posts are in place with the cross members attached it is time to add the runways and complete the basic structure. The two runways can be installed a couple of different ways depending on how you want your lift to sit in your garage. The very first decision you need to make on placing the lift is where you want the controls for the lift to be located.
You have two options, one is on the front driver’s side and the other is the rear passenger’s side post. The instructions are written for driver’s side front. However, due to the way our garage is built I preferred to have the controls on the rear passenger’s side post. This required extra caution to interpret the instructions and diagrams correctly but was no real issue.
Every major part of the Lift is heavy so preplan every move before you start. I suggest you place the carton directly in the middle of where you want the lift to be. This will minimize movement of parts. The runway with the hydraulic cylinder attached is very heavy and can be installed only one way. You can eliminate some heavy lifting if you figure out (read the instructions) where it should be before you place the bundle of parts in your garage. Put the wrong end in first and you will have to do as we did and rotate it 180 degrees before you can install it. In a narrow garage you may not be able to do this.
All things considered the Lift assembly was less work than I had imagined but it did require careful work and thinking through every step before you took it. Some things did not make sense at first read or the parts didn’t seem to fit but it was always solved with a little more reading and thinking. Get stumped, sit back and drink another cup of coffee. This is not a project to take on and drink beer! I know guys who can get drunk and chop a top! However, if they screw that up its bad body work; you screw this up and you could get hurt.
This is one of the most important things on the lift. These steel “Stops” keep the Lift safely in the air. The locking mechanism is shown resting on the stop block. To lower the Lift you must raise it sufficiently for the “Safety Lock” on the Cross Member to clear the Stop. You then pull the release handle near the Control Panel and hold it while releaseing the hydraulic pressure and the Lift will slowly settle to the ground or the next Stop if you release the Safety Lock.
This project will take you all of a day depending on how many people you have and how many breaks you take. Our assembly took a little longer. We had a problem.
We ordered a couple of options with the Lift. I think this one will be my favorite. It is a steel jack stand for bottle jacks (jack not included). This allows you to raise your car off the Lift runways to remove a tire or for any other reason. You can also place jack stands on this stand. I think I will also use it to hold an oil pan when changing oil but that is yet to be tested.
Unfortunately, when we got to the point where its time to start up the pump and run the lift up and down to fill the hydraulic system with fluid ours just kept blowing circuit breakers. The lights would dim like in the movies when the “big house” fries a bad guy in the electric chair. I just happened to have an electrician here doing some other work and he checked everything out with the shop’s electrical system. We soon agreed that the pump was the problem.
The car is part way up. At this height you can work under the car from a stool or remove a tire and work on the brakes or suspension.
Let me start by saying I hate to call any big company any more. It seems like every one of them wants you to push buttons or talk to a computer before you can talk to a real person. You have to push one for English, push two if you know your party’s extension etc. THAT IS NOT THE CASE WITH GES. I placed a phone call to GES and a real live person answered the phone. I asked for the salesman who sold me the lift. I briefly explained the problem to him and he immediately transferred me to the tech guy. A brief explanation of the situation and he said “it sounds like a bad pump”. He looked up my invoice and said he would ship out a new pump and I should have it in 24 hours! This entire conversation took less than 60 seconds. I really didn’t believe him but said ok. This pump and fluid reservoir is large and heavy (read expensive to ship). It had to go from Southern California to Middle Tennessee overnight. What do you think that costs?
When raising the car be extremely careful and watchful for the location of your car’s roof, hood and trunk in regards to any ceiling projections such as light fixtures and garage door openers.
Sure enough, less than 24 hours later FedEx had it on my door step. I am impressed. I can not remember the last time that anyone provided that kind of customer service. First, there was no hesitation on their end; they didn’t try to wiggle out of responsibility; didn’t try to blame me; they knew right away it was their pump and said so. Then they could have taken the less expensive route to ship the pump and send it ground but they didn’t. Having a quality product is important but customer service is also vital for a business to be successful. Believe me, I won’t hesitate to purchase anything else from them; GES stands behind their products.
Wheel stops are provided for both ends of the runways to prevent you from driving too far forward or the car rolling off the Lift it you forget to set the brakes.
The final step was to run the Lift up and down it full range (without a car on it). I was a little troubled when I first pushed the button and the lift started jerking and very slowly moving upward. It would move an inch or so, pause and then move another inch or two, very slowly. Once it reached the top, I pulled the safety release handle and let the lift down. It came down the same way it went up; one inch down, stop and then another inch. It looked like it was never going to reach the floor.
Never raise the car right up to the level of items above it. Remember that the car must be lifted a couple of inches from its at rest level to get the safety locks to release. If your garage door opener is a problem some openers can be relocated to the side of the door and if you only need a little room it might be possible to raise it slightly. I have done this at other locations when it was a problem. What ever you do don’t forget that the garage door itself hangs down below the opener. Do not open the garage door without making sure it will clear the back of your car. Also remember that EVERY car is different and do not take it for granted that if the Lift cleared one car that it will clear on all of them.
When the runways reached the garage floor there was a sound straight out of an action movie. It sounded just like the gurgle you hear from the villain who is drowning on his own blood after being shot by the hero. No one was dying it was just the air being purged from the hydraulic system!
Here is one of the detachable ramps used to get your car onto the runway. These are steel and heavy. Another option I got was the aluminum ramps but they have not yet arrived. On previous Lifts I have had the steel ramps and after a while they seemed to get heavier and heavier. Putting on and removing the ramps was the one thing I hated about using the Lift.
I tried to run the lift back up to the top and it work as expected. Back down to the floor no problem. Slow but no problem.
Next was to put a car on the runways and try it again. I swear it went up faster with a car on it than it did without. This again is where you need to pay close attention to overhead obstructions and your vehicle’s roof and other upper surfaces. If you have a restriction with how high you can lift your car due to a conflict with a garage opener or other obstructions consider backing the car onto the Lift. Remember, the hood is generally much lower than a fastback roof line and may allow you to raise the car even more.
This is a close up of the Jack Stand and the steel channel added to the runway to make it safe. Remember, if you use this jack stand you are putting just as much weight on it as you do a concrete floor when you are jacking your car. You want it strong. A single sheet of steel just laying on the runway or a couple of 2x4s spanning over to the other runway just isn’t going to make it.
When it came time to let the car down it lowered without effort and at a safe but more rapid pace than the empty Lift.
We will be giving you a complete product review on this 4 post lift in the near future after we have had an opportunity to use it and see how well it functions and meets our needs. You can read our review on our Product Review pages when it is posted.
Believe it or not when you get done assembling your Lift, this is all that is left plus a few cardboard boxes. These are the steel end caps which the run ways and everything else mounts to. The Lift is actually its own shipping carton!