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I would first like to thank our newest sponsor Quality Lifts - Auto Lift, Motorcycle Lift, Shop Equipment, and Car Lift Installation by Quality Lifts for their sponsorship and participation in this article and their discount program for our members. I spent months doing research into automotive lifts, talking to various companies, obtaining specifications, references and additional materials and by far the people at Quality Lifts were much more responsive to my calls and emails and requests for information than any other lift manufacturer. For those who watched our live streaming video of the installation at Ustream you had a chance to hear information about Quality Lifts directy from their COO Eric Howlett.

If you missed the live broadcast, replay videos are available here:
Planet9's Videos on USTREAM. Page 1 of 1 : Recorded videos, shows captured LIVE

As Eric mentioned in our videos, Quality Lifts is offering an additional 5% discount on their entire line of lifts and lift products over and above any existing sales or specials. The latest specials are always listed at the Quality Lifts website. If you have any questions please give [XXX a call at YYYY], or to place an order please [ZZZZZZZ]

If you aren't familiar with Quality Lifts, it may be because they are a recent outgrowth of a popular and well known commercial lift company - Challenger Lifts. A few years ago Challenger Lifts decided to branch out into the home enthusiast market and the Quality Lifts brand was born. What I found interesting throughout the installation of the lift as that in 95%+ of the components and design the Quality Lifts product was identical to the commercial grade Challenger Lift. I'll get into some details later in the article where this is important, but to think of a Porsche parallel, it is sort of the same thing as Porsche offering a GT3 RS for the street that shares many of the same components as the Porsche GT3 RSR from the racetrack. Quality Lifts gives the home enthusiast a chance to enjoy the same features, capability and construction found in a more expensive commercial setup in their own garage.

2 Post or 4 Post?

After deciding upon the Qualify Lift my first big decision was whether or not to purchase a 2 post or 4 post lift. Two post lifts are the style typically found in your local automotive shop, they lift from arms that go underneath the frame and allow the wheels to hang down for easy removal. Four posts lifts are driven onto and the entire car raised up while resting on the platforms called "runways". Four post lifts are often used for vehical storage. In my case I would be needing the lift for some work on both our 1956 Jaguar as well as my Cayman, but when not working on the car(s) I would be storing the Jaguar so I decided upon a 4 post lift. There are also other considerations such as most 2 post lifts require more headroom and a line at the top that connects both posts which might have presented a problem with the beam across our garage ceiling. There are specifications you can get from Quality Lifts for both styles to measure which one would work best for your own needs. I measured my garage length, width and height to the ceiling beam to see if I had enough space for the Q4P09H lift and I did!

Ordering & Delivery

Once you decide upon the style/model of lift you want, there are a couple of ways you can order the lift. You can order directly from Quality Lifts by calling 1-877-771-5438, or you can order from a distributor in your area which Quality Lifts can refer you to. [Insert Order Specifics here]. You will also need to decide if you want the lift delivered to a freight dock in your city where you will pick it up, or if you want it delivered to your home. Since I don't own a pickup truck or tow vehicle, I chose the latter and had the lift delivered directly to my home. Here's a picture of the lift and accessories arriving:




If you have your local certified Quality Lifts installer perform your installation you receive an extra year of warranty coverage. I opted for this option so the lift also came with a couple of gentlemen to help set it up. If you decide to perform the installation yourself keep in mind that the whole unit weighs about 2,000 pounds and there are a couple of runway parts that weigh close to 500lbs each so you will need some help in loading and unloading and moving parts around, this isn't a one-person job.

Installation

The first step in the installation process was for the crew to measure my garage and mark the floor with chalk lines. The crew also checked the slope of the garage floor to make sure there were no problems with drastic changes in floor slope, etc. Everything checked out fine.



The assembly of the lift begins with the ladder locks being inserted into the 4 posts. The ladder locks are where the deck of the lift rests when the deck is raised into position. As you can see from the photos the ladder locks have engagement points every 4 inches so there are plenty of places the deck can be stopped and stored from top to bottom. The lift installation and operation manual linked to at the end of this article contains measurement details for each stopping point if you are interested.



Internal locks are safe and do not present a pinch hazard to someone’s hand. The internal lock system also holds the lock pawl at a fixed distance from the lock ladder for proper engagement. Also, with the internal locks and full size column, the full weight of the vehicle is always centered inside the columns for even compression loading of the columns. Combined with the internal lock system, the adjustable lock ladder is the proven design for commercial grade 4-posts and ensures that the runways are level when they are on the locks in a garage with normal slope.

The next step was to install the front cross member piece between the two front posts. It is important to note some differences about the Quality Lifts system from other lifts you might find out in the market that don't use commercial grade components. Most of the competitors (if not all of the ones I checked) have reduced the width of the column so that you can see the cable hanging. The larger Qulaity Lifts column ensures that all load from the weight of the vehicle is either on the locks or during raising or lowering provides a compression force inside the column. Other competitor’s smaller width columns with the cable exposed or the locks welded on the outside of the columns will cause a bending moment on the column.





Notice too that the bases of the columns are both thick and a full 12" x 12" for additional stability. Insider of the cross member piece is the lock release bar, not a cable, but an actual bar, in fact all 4 posts will eventually be linked together via this bar that will engage or disengage the locking mechanism at the same time. Inside of the cross members and columns are also the slider blocks. I was amazed at the size and composition of these blocks as compared to other lifts I had seen, again, another sign of the commercial roots of this system. The slider blocks are Ultra High Weight Molecular composite material used to guide the cross beam inside the 4 columns. They provide slide and wear resistant at the same time. The full size units (both length and width) combined with the formed columns will provide a stable and smooth operation. For those wanting measurements, the blocks are 1½” x 7 7/8” x 4 ¾”

Project Runway

The next step is the installation of the runways that the car is driven onto when the lift is in use. These runways are heavy, one more than the other because one runway is called the power runway and contains the hydraulics for lifting the runway. The other runway is the idler runway, but also still several hundred pounds. Here is a picture of the workers bringing the runway in on a cart.



The runway is then attached to the cross member via bolts. If you saw the live streaming video we mentioned the fact that there is no hardware bag with this lift so it bears repeating in this article that the hardware is pre-installed from the factory. There is no guessing what bolts are needed to attach the runway to the cross member as those bolts are already pre-fitted, simply line the runway up and tighten down the bolts.



The runways contain a rail system that is used to support the rolling jack and other accessories. On the inside of the runway, there is one last upward bend on the runway to make the runway rail system. It is used for the rolling jack to roll on smoothly and the drip tray to grip for secure location. It also provides and extra level of flex resistance on the runway itself. The runways are formed meaning not welded together but formed from a single piece of steel which makes them stronger, lighter and in my opinion better looking than some of the other units I inspected.

Inside of the runways are the hydraulics, cables and pulleys that make the lift operate. I took some additional pictures to show these in more detail.



Those pulleys are 4 5/8” in diameter and the cables themselves are full 1/2" thick! Yes 1/2" thick cables. Many other systems I saw used 1/4" cables or at best 3/8" cables, but again the commercial underpinnings of the Quality Lifts system provide a full 1/2" which allows this lift to attain certifications that other lifts cannot.



More examples of the heavy duty construction where the cables meet the hydraulic chamber:



Cable Routing

The next installation step is the cable routing. The cables from the runways must be routed into and through the cross members, around the pulleys and up into the columns to be attached at the adjustment point at the top of each column. This was the only step of the installation that required some disassembly of the factory hardware that had already been installed in order to feed the cables through properly. Here are some images of that process:







It may not show up well in the photos but each cable is routed through a tensioner that locks against the cable and keeps it in a locked position. This is the secondary cable lock system and not found on low end products. This is a requirement for ALI certification to the ANSI standards. If there is a failure of the primary load suspension mechanism (the cable), the locks will automatically engage. Here is a picture of that mechanism:
 

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Re: Quality Lifts Article Part 2

(continued)



Then the cables are routed up through the columns to the top where they are attached to an adjustment screw and locking nuts:



These locking nuts not only allow for cable adjustment but are also the location where the ladder locks can be adjusted as well. Although I didn't show the specifics, the second crossmember at the other end of the lift also has the runways attached and the cables routed through it. Like the first cross member it also has the lock mechnism contained within the crossmember. This prevents any damage to the locking mechanism and also provides a cleaner overall look to the lift. One more item remains with respect to the locks, and that is how to connect the locks at the front of the lift to the locks at the rear. This is accomplished by a solid lock bar that runs the length of the runway from the front of the lift to the rear to complete the mechanical connection.



The Quality Lifts 4 post list is the only unit on market that comes with the front and rear crossbeam lock mechanism pre-installed from the factory. Provides for long term safety of the mechanism, ease of installation and a clean look to your lift.

Motoring Along!

Now that the mechanicals and cables are all in place something has to be installed to make the lift do its job and that is the motor. The motor is a 1HP motor available in a standard 115v plug-in version or 220v hard wired version. I asked about the differences between the two and basically it comes down to speed. It takes about a minute to raise the lift from bottom to top with the standard plug-in motor, and about 1/2 that time with the 220 hard wired version. Since I didn't have an electric line with 220 service anywhere close to where the motor would be and a minute seems like a reasonable amount of time to me anyway I had no qualms with going with the standard plug-in motor. The plug-in version draws only 15amps at max load. The motor can also be mounted in different locations such as driver side front or passenger side rear of the lift in case you have clearance issues, etc. Here's are some pictures of the motor and hydraulic oil and lines being installed:









Level Headed

The next step is to make sure the lift is level both front to back and side to side and if it isn't to adjust the ladder locks inside each column to make it level. Luckily my floor didn't have much slope so it was fairly easy for the workmen to get the lift level. They brought with them a long level bar and checked the level front and back, side to side in multiple locations making adjustments as needed. This is one of those areas where a first timer must struggle a bit doing this themselves whereas someone who does lift installs for a living can get the adjustments done rather quickly. The guys who installed my lift were pros. In fact one of the tests is to raise the lift and as you cross another ladder lock section and the locks engage to listen for whether or not they were engaging all simultaneously in all four posts or if one or more locks were out of sequence. The installers did an excellent job and the lift was level and the locks simultaneous.

Wait a moment, I noticed that the lift had been assembled about 4 inches to the right from where I had wanted it, suddenly we needed to move a 2,000lb lift about four inches to the left. Not a problem for the Quality Lifts team as they brought with them a set of casters. First the casters are attached to the front and rear crossmembers as shown:



Notice how the caster unit hinges from the crossmember and its arms go underneath 2 pins on the side of the post. What happens is that you set up all 4 casters and then literally lower the runway deck down until those arms lock under the pins and pick all 4 posts up into the air leaving the entire lift supported by the casters. It was pretty slick. The best part, I could single handed push the entire lift over 4 inches to where I wanted it positioned.



While not everyone is going to want to move their lift around, its nice to know that Quality Lifts has a solution for it. One note, they do not advise moving the lift with a vehicle on it.

Accessories

What would a lift be without accessories? I've actually already covered one above when discussing the casters that were used to move the lift. Qualifty Lifts makes other accessories as well and some of them were installed with my lift. The first, and to me probably most important, accessory is the scissor-like 4,500 pound rolling jack that moves forward and back along the runway side rails.



This unit allows you to jack up the front or rear of a car by the frame or suspension so that you can easily remove the wheels. Need to make a quick brake pad change with your car on the lift, this is the tool you need. The unit is hand-crank operated and has a built in locking mechanism so it cannot simply drop on you. It also comes with a couple of extender pieces for the rubber jack pad pieces to help fit them up on taller cars or when positioning under a suspension member requires it.



Quality Lifts also makes a straight jacking platform that you can lay across between the two runways and place bottle jacks on if you don't want to use this rolling jack. I knew I'd be using the rolling jack so that was the option I chose. Qualifty Lifts also offers an aluminum storage tray for under lift storage but I did not go with that item either as my last accessory chosen was the set of drip trays. Wth a 50+ year old Jaguar on top, I knew I'd need something underneath to catch gear lube, tranny fluid, engine oil or whatever might occassionally leak out of a vehicle of this type. I can firmly say that so far these trays are doing their job. They are made of formed sheet steel and use the runway rail system for support. Much better than your typical plastic drip tray that can fall through and handles no load whatsoever. Here is a photo showing them installed:

 

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Re: Quality Lifts Article Part 3

Ramp it Up!

Of course to drive up on any 4 post lift you need some ramps. Quality lifts has two types, the normal ramps that are 36" long or the extended length ramps ($100 upgrade) which are good for lowered cars that are 50" long. The standard ramps also store nicely between the runways across the rails. The ramps are constructed of reinforced aluminum and are both strong and light. Here are some pictures:





Conclusions & Certifications

After driving the Jaguar up on the runways we lifted the car up and drove my Cayman in underneath it with room to spare. In fact, I can even slide the rolling jack all the way forward or back with my car underneat due to the low profile design. Here are some pictures of the lift in action:





Here is a photo demonstrating the use of the rolling jack while the lift was in use:



One of the factors I considered in choosing a lift was how safe the lift was, how well it was tested and what sort of certifications the lift had. The Quality Lifts lift is ALI/ETL certified. ALI/ETL certification program is the industry standard for ensuring that lifts meet the ANSI national standards for safety. ALI is the Automotive Lift Institute and ETL is a certified third party testing laboratory. For example, the Q4P09H/X is designed with a 3:1 safety factory so the stress that the unit sees at max load is 1/3 of the ultimate strength of the material. During the certification process, the Q4P09H /X was load tested to 150% of load, and passed. Other safety factors in the testing and certification: a) the suspension cable must be designed at a 5:1 safety factor, b) a secondary lock system must engage if the primary load suspension fails (noted above when describing the secondary lock system), which the unit passed, and c) the max lowering speed during a hydraulic failure cannot exceed the maximum normal lowering speed. The Q4P09H and Q4P09X have been certified in the 220v version. Quality Lifts is waiting for some technical documentation from the motor manufacturer for the 115v version but the base structure is exactly the same between the 115v and 220v unit, which passed all testing so Quality Lifts anticipates that the 115v version will pass as well. You can go to the Automotive Lift Institute website to learn more about the ALI program and see the listing of the Q4P09H and Q4P09X on their website. Automotive Lift Institute: Auto Lift, Vehicle and Garage Car Lifts
The specifications listed above are neither all-inclusive or comprehensive of the complete standard, but are just sample summaries of a couple of the safety standards.

Specifcations

I wanted to share some general specifications for the Quality Lifts units as well as provide a link for the installation and operation manual that we have in our Files section.


Rise (Underneath) Q4P09H - 67.75” on lock | Q4P09X – 80” on lock
Runway Length - Q4P09H: 164” | Q4P09X: 188”
Runway Width - 20" (great for a car like our Jaguar btw)
Runway Height - 5"
Construction - 7 gauge (0.179”) or 4.5mm (commercial grade)
Width between columns - 95"
Outside width to fit in garage bay - 112" (106" to outside of columns)
Overal Length - Q4P09H: 212” | Q4P09X: 232”
Column Size - 6 5/8” x 5”
Cables - 1/2"
Pulleys - 4 5/8"
Capacity - 9000lbs certified

There are more specifications as well as a positioning chart in the following document:

Quality Lifts Installation and Operation Manual for Q4P09 series lifts

I'd like to thank Eric and the entire team at Quality Lifts for doing such an outstanding job setting up the lift, explaining the process to our viewers during the live webcast and helping me document it for this article. I know we had over 50 of our members in our survey say that they were looking for a lift for their garage and I am hopeful that each of them will follow up with Quality Lifts when it comes time for them to purchase. I couldn't be happier with the unit, it is the envy of my friends and neighbors (all who want to store something on it) and exactly what I needed to continue the restoraton of my father's Jaguar in the limited amount of garage space that we have. If you have any questions or comments please use the link below to post them in the forum.
 
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