Fixing Stuff

Maybe I am a glutton for punishment. Our human brains can rationalize most anything, and the example I think of most often is rationalizing purchases that we don’t really need. In my brain, however, I am usually rationalizing how working on some project is not actually a waste of my time. My rationalizations include that I am learning skills for future projects, I am saving myself money by fixing whatever happens to be broken, or that I just plain enjoy it.

In today’s example, my dad has had this 3 ton Michelin branded floor jack from Sam’s Club for a very long time. As I recall, the jack got broken when it was used in conjunction with a tractor lifting a body off a used derby car frame and in the process that jack got tipped over. Somehow, the u joint that connects the handle to hydraulic valve got broken. This lead to the jack sitting around for probably the last 4 years, and only didn’t get thrown in a car for scrap because I had kidnapped it back to my house to attempt to repair it. In typical fashion, it sat at my house for over a year until my wife and I needed to move. I brought it back to the farm and finally committed an hour to attempt to fix it.

It used to say Michelin somewhere…

At first I thought I could retrofit a ratchet swivel or universal joint to what was left of the half of the joint still on the valve. I came up empty on this idea, and the square drive of the shaft was and odd size anyhow. What I ended up fashioning was dead simple. Knowing that two pieces of chain linked together can work as a crude u joint from doing something similar on Y-framer steering shafts in the past, I cut a chain down to two links. I was intending to weld the chain to the end of the jack handle. The first chain I tried was too big and would not slip through the hole in the jack handle support. The next chain was a great press fit into the diagonal of the square drive at the end of the jack handle. I made an eye ball measurement, and hammered the first link of the “chain-joint” into the square drive of the jack handle about half way. I slipped the jack handle into the support, and lined the chain up with the hydraulic valve half joint still there, but I needed one more piece to hold it all together. Luckily, the half joint on the hydraulic valve still had the holes needed to make a connection. I lined it up vertically and grabbed the biggest cotter pin I could find that would fit and Bam! Fixed it! The cotter pin got a little stretched out after a couple test turns, but the chain link takes the actual stress of actuating the valve, so it should last a long time. The only downside to this fix that I can see is that in order to remove the jack handle, the cotter pin will need to be removed or sacrificed. I don’t think we will be hauling this jack to any derbies, but it should service just fine in the garage and around the farm.

Close up of the chain joint solution.

I hope this redneck repair will give you inspiration to fix something anyone else might give up on or throw away. A little ingenuity can go a long way. Thanks Derby Dudes!

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