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Old 12-01-2013, 12:14 PM   #1
JGT OP
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Harbor Freight lift modified for a /5

My basement work area is quite small and my budget is quite limited, so a platform lift seemed out of my range. Harbor Freight has a "high position motorcycle lift" that has received generally good reviews. At the current markdown price, plus a 25% coupon discount, I got one for around $140 this last weekend. The lift is sturdy and seems to be well-constructed. It has a 1,000 lb. capacity which should be plenty for a R50/5.

The lift has two arms that go under the bike and have to bear on something to lift it up. These arms can't bear on the frame with the /5 because the frame is not the lowest thing -- the engine or exhaust pipes are, depending on where you look. So some modification is needed. I wanted something that did not involve cutting, drilling, or welding thick pieces of steel.

When the lift is positioned so that the midpoint of the lift aligns with the connection point of the centerstand on the bike (presumably the center of gravity) the front arm just fits under the oil pan. So that is one connection point that is nice and level. The rear arm then aligns right under the rubber stop for the centerstand that is welded onto the frame. Durn. Also the clutch cable is in the way of the arm. And the exhaust pipes are of course in the way as well.

My solution was to put together a wooden block that has a stepped center portion and 2x6's on either side. The various pieces of wood are cut to avoid the clutch cable and the rubber stop, and are high enough to clear the exhaust pipes. They fit right in between the pipes and bear on the frame at several different points.

Here are some photos to show how it works:

The lift against the wall in my work area, with room to move the bike in and out:


Bike up on the lift:


Up on the lift from the rear:


The block of wood bolted together. Big bolts have metal spacers inside to help with shear loads. Small bolts help keep the 2x6's from being pushed apart at the top. The bent steel strap also keeps the 2x6's from being pushed apart.


The wood block in place on the lift arm. It is not glued or bolted in place, and has a sliding fit on the steel arm, because as the arm is raised it needs to be slid around to fit in between the muffler pipes and adjusted as the arm goes up.


Bike up on the lift, with the block doing its thing. The small clamp is just an extra bit of security to keep the block from sliding forward. Actually it seems quite secure without the clamp, but why not be safe.


Here it is from the other side, with the 2x6's bearing on either side of the rubber stop for the centerstand.


This is the front bearing point, under the oil pan. A 3/4" thick piece of wood has been added here between the steel arm and the rubber pad. This is needed to raise everything up enough so that there is space in the rear block of wood for the shear bolts.


I added some slick plastic furniture glides under the lift so that it could be slid easier. The wheels at the back only work if the lift is tilted back pretty far, and then you can't get it under the bike. It's easier with the furniture glides as it can be scooted around in any direction.

There are some tie-down straps included with the lift and they are probably a good idea, but it is hard to figure out how to use them in a way that actually would stabilize the bike if you were to bump it hard enough to push it over. I'll need to keep working on that.

When the bike is up on the lift things do wobble around a bit. Reviewers on other sites have mentioned this but it does not appear to be a problem.

Anyway, hope this may be helpful to others dealing with these same issues. Seems that this lift will be useful for me.
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Old 12-01-2013, 01:34 PM   #2
frozenpeas
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Hey nice job. I m gonna try that with the HF floor m/c jack that I have.
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Old 12-01-2013, 02:30 PM   #3
685
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Figure out some way to use the tiedown straps. You really don't want your airhead to take a two foot tumble off the lift and even if the straps just steady the bike, it's better than having it wobble around.

From the pics, you keep your bike in an old mine or prison cell?
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Old 12-01-2013, 02:49 PM   #4
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One thing I always wonder about bikes in basements-how do you get them down there? More importantly- back up?
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Old 12-01-2013, 03:20 PM   #5
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I guess my basement does look creepy, but that's what you get in a 1930's era house around Nashville.

Luckily it is a walk-out in the back, and there was even room to install double doors so that I can get the bike in and our easily. Didn't know it when we bought the house years ago, but it's just what I needed.

I do intend to work on those straps. Just thinking about the bike falling off the lift is scary.
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Old 12-01-2013, 04:32 PM   #6
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Holy cow does that basement bring back memories. I grew up near Green Hills in Nashville. We made played in basements like that for hours: build forts, roller skate, battle ball, and in the 80's video games. That basement brings back some good memories.

BTW, great bike and lift. That's a cool use of the space...I likey.
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Old 12-01-2013, 05:00 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JGT View Post
I guess my basement does look creepy, but that's what you get in a 1930's era house around Nashville.

Luckily it is a walk-out in the back, and there was even room to install double doors so that I can get the bike in and our easily. Didn't know it when we bought the house years ago, but it's just what I needed.

I do intend to work on those straps. Just thinking about the bike falling off the lift is scary.
The bike falling off the lift would be bad enough, but if it did fall it doesn't look like you'd have much room to get out of the way. Maybe some ratchet straps from the rafters? Like a "Y" with the bike in the middle. You don't want to take much weight off the lift, but a bit of restraint at the steering head and the rear would at least reduce swaying of the lift itself. Those lifting arms don't look very rigid.
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Old 12-01-2013, 05:10 PM   #8
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Gotta say I just love looking at others' basements and man-caves... That stonework is just awesome, what a nice cozy environment. You can have your perfect-shop places, I like funk and reality!

Nice shop, nice bike, nice work.... you's a lucky man!!


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Old 12-02-2013, 02:04 PM   #9
bajaburro
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nice

nice old basement.not so sure about the chinese lift idea.
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Old 12-02-2013, 02:45 PM   #10
erimille
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JGT View Post
The lift has two arms that go under the bike and have to bear on something to lift it up. These arms can't bear on the frame with the /5 because the frame is not the lowest thing -- the engine or exhaust pipes are, depending on where you look. So some modification is needed. I wanted something that did not involve cutting, drilling, or welding thick pieces of steel.
(lots of good stuff snipped)

I really dig the setup. Nice, clean and efficient given space limitations. Excellent work.

One quick additional suggestion. Folks in the past have recommended against lifting the bike by the oil pan and risk breaking fins or compressing gaskets. If you subscribe to this concern, I'd suggest fabricating a similar wooden brace (as you had for the back) to support the front of the bike via the frame.



Given the awkwardness of the frame to the exhaust, etc. at this point I had to build a set of interlocking spacers to support this front brace, but its been a huge win for me regarding support. It took me quite a while, but I've found a good lift and the right bracing makes working on these bikes even more enjoyable.

hope this helps,

--e
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Old 12-03-2013, 06:45 AM   #11
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That is some nice looking woodworking erimille! Puts my rough carpentry to shame. I did consider making a wood block sort of like that, but decided to concentrate on the rear end block as that was more essential. I do wonder if bearing on the oil pan is a problem. With the rubber pad on my lift I'm not worried about breaking a fin. Maybe time will tell if the gasket compression is a problem. Good to have your example as a guide if I decide to go that route.

Also, I was inspired by howellhandmade's excellent suggestion to add some bracing straps to the joists above. Using the tied-downs supplied with the lift plus two of my own, this is what I have now:



The straps are only tight enough to take up the slack. They are not really carrying any weight right now. But they do stabilize things somewhat and could probably take the whole weight of the bike if the lift were to collapse (seems very unlikely). Mostly they are there to keep the bike from toppling over if I were to trip and lean on it or something. I think they would do that job well. They attach to the subframe under the seat and to the welded frame gusset plate at the fork.
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Old 12-03-2013, 06:49 AM   #12
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nice!
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