They say tools are a workman’s toys. He doesn’t care what a tool given to him is made for; he will find a thousand more ways to use it. Conforming to this exact notion is the high-lift jack, one of the most versatile devices anyone can have in their kit. You might know them by the name, Hi-Lift, after one popular brand name.
Like most tools out there, high-lift jacks have both their advantages and disadvantages; we personally believe that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
In the spirit of the phrase, “a bad workman always blames his tools,” it should be noted that the disadvantages can be completely eliminated simply by careful and informed usage.
What is a high-lift jack?
If you’ve never come across one, a high-lift jack is an extremely powerful device which can be used to complete a wide variety of tasks. While it’s most basic use is to lift heavy objects such as vehicles, it can be applied to a lot of other tasks, such as winching, which would otherwise require you to purchase other costlier devices.
A high-lift jack basically consists of a long handle with grooves occurring periodically on it. Over this handle lies a movable rack which can move up our down the handle, and stay in the desired position because of the groove.
So yes, you can guess what a device that works this way is mainly used for—lifting very heavy objects. The torque produced when moving the rack away from the top-most position is immense, and can put even the heaviest of vehicles to shame.
A lot of companies also provide various attachments with their product. Common attachments include a steel chain or rope to use as a winch, a tree protector strap, gloves and a shackle.
Wherever lifting heavy objects takes place, danger inevitably follows. Working on a vehicle might make you lift it and go under, and if you’ve slacked on properly fitting your high-lift jack onto your vehicle, disaster might follow.
What you can use it for
There is almost no other tool in a workman’s kit that is as versatile as a high-lift jack. There is no list of “things you can do” set in stone for using a high-lift jack. It is left to a good workman’s imagination as to what such a jack can be used for.
However, you might be a beginner or a car newbie, so here’s some things for which a high-lift jack is commonly used:
- The first is the most basic reason, the reason that led to the design of a high-lift jack: Lifting vehicles is the most common and most suitable use for a high-lift jack and will definitely get you out of sticky situations.
Tires getting stuck in mud or crevices on the road is one very common problem. Now, with a high- lift jack in your trunk, you can use it and simply lift one side of your car, lifting it to level with the road; place a board under your stuck wheels and you’re good to go.
Make sure you have proper place available on the car to affix your high-lift jack. A loose fixture might cause your car to fall back on the ground.
- Imagine a situation where your car is overturned. We know the whole idea sounds wild, but every once in a while, someone finds themselves in this situation. Now imagine the huge hydraulic lifters which you would’ve needed otherwise, being replaced by a simple high-lift jack. Yes, with a high-lift jack, and a few other common tools, you can turn your vehicle around, if need be.
- We’ve frequently mentioned how a high-lift jack can be used as a winch. To elaborate, winching is a task used to move heavy objects which would otherwise be immovable by the normal force.
To winch a vehicle out of a pit or more specifically, quicksand, you need to have a metallic rope or chain as an attachment. Attach one end of the chain to your vehicle and the other end to your jack. Move the handle to and fro and the jack will make short work of what once seemed like a herculean task.
Do not limit yourselves to road vehicles while using the winch function. A high-lift jack is also a very common tool among freedmen to move stuck boats or heavy wreckage. It is to be noted that there are tools made specifically for winching. Do the math, why buy one tool for one task when you can buy a three in one tool with almost the same effectiveness.
- Normally, you would need a screw jack to change the tires if your vehicle. Here again is where the versatility and utility of a high-lift jack puts it far ahead of its companions. You can change the tires of your vehicle with the same ease as changing tires with a screw jack.
Getting the best in machine tools comes with its own hazards. We are looking at a small device (compared to hydraulic machines and winches that can be used for the same end result), to do tasks involving weights in tons. Obviously, accidents will follow.
An experienced mechanic or engineer knows his way around these tools and might stretch the limits a bit.
For the rest, here are some precautions you should follow without fail:
- Make sure there is a proper mate on the car for holding your Jack in place. Mating your jack without a proper connection will lead to your vehicle crashing back down to the ground.
- Do not use the tree strap in winching applications. The use of a tree strap is pretty clear from its name, is used to strap your jack to a tree for leverage. A tree strap will stretch and will not have enough strength for winching. You don’t want to destroy your vehicle trying to get it out of quicksand now, do you?
- Do not use the high-lift jack without a base on soft ground such as wet mud or grass. You might make a hole in the grass due to the weight of the heavy machine you’re working on. A base is provided as an attachment to your jack. This helps in spreading the pressure evenly on the ground.