I got sidetracked on a project a couple months ago. It was taken on as a result of pity I felt towards perfectly good piece of equipment. I have access to a scrap metal pile and the other day as I peered into the kingdom of metal awaiting reincarnation I spotted an old floor jack. The jack was a typical 3300 lbs capacity automotive floor type, nothing special and certainly not really worth anything however it seemed a shame to throw out something that, with a bit of love, could be given a 2nd chance on life.

So I dragged it out from the middle of the pile and was lucky enough to find the handle that belonged to it. Upon close inspection it appeared that the hydraulic portion wasn’t working however the frame looked straight and all the components looked to be in decent shape.

So I decided to see if I could breathe some life into it before I sent it to rehab. I topped the ram up with fresh hydraulic fluid, bled out the pump, slid it under a car and was able to extend the ram to full height no apparent issues. There were no obvious signs of leaks so I was a bit puzzled as to where all the fluid had previously disappeared to. Perhaps someone left the bleed screw loosened off at some point in time. Anyway…the jack appeared to want to remain in service so I figured a complete tear down, inspection, and rebuild was in order.

So the surgery began with a full disassembly. All the pump seals were inspected and determined to still be in a useable state. The ram piston was polished and all hydraulic internals were cleaned. The idea was to rebuild the jack completely custom with the challenge of putting no money into it. Any part, or supply, that was needed would have to either be build from scratch or be something that I already own.

With the workhorse portion of the jack verified to be good it was then a matter of cleaning, prepping, finishing, and reassembling the complete unit. So over the past couple months when I had time in between my in between projects (yes that’s 2 in betweens) I sandblasted, polished, and powder coated the jack using a combination of Safety Orange and Flat Black powder coating. All the small hardware including the ram powder was all polished.

The caster axles were pressed in and peened into place so they required drilling for removal. A new set of axles were machined out of a couple of 10mm bolts I had laying around. The jack handle grip was in poor shape and had the end torn off so I decided to machine an aluminum one and polish it in order to help tie that color scheme together.

So in the end I was able to save the poor fella and give him a new outlook on life. I think he was happy with the restoration as I was too. For having come right in on budget without spending a cent the jack received a custom touch and best of all continues to be functional.

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Comments
  1. TheFonz says:

    For some reason on your post of the rebuilding the orange and black jack, the comments are closed, but i wanted to ask you about the spring and hardware. you said you polished them so are they made of stainless that you are able to polish it? Or is it raw steel and how do you keep it from rusting? or did you get these chromed or chrome powder coat?

    • gordsgarage says:

      Thanks for letting me know about the comments, I figured out what happend and fixed it. I transferred your comment to the appropriate post. I appreciate it when readers catch mistakes and let me know, editing everything myself is tough and I tend to mess up. Thanks.

      All the hardware on the jack was mild steel that I polished. Everything was original to the jack except for the caster axles that I machined. I clean up much of the harrdware on the lathe going from 320 grit sandpaper, to a Scothbrite pad, to 0000 steel wool. I then take all the hardware to the buffing wheel and run it through a 3 stage buffing. After they are all polished I apply a high grade marine wax to help protect the components from rusting. Obviously the wax will only last so long.

      I ordered up some clear coat powder coating known as “glass clear”. My plans are to run some samples of highly polished components and the clear coat them with the powder. I suspect the shine will suffer a bit with powder coating however I hope it will remain acceptable enough that it will warrant doing. With the components powder coated clear there will be no issues with corrosion.

      Thanks!
      Gord

      • Keven Coates says:

        Fantastic work as always, Gord! I think we may have talked about chrome plating before, but I thought I’d bring it up again. The copy chrome from caswell is very good, and although it isn’t real chome (it’s nickel based), it does a great job of protecting and shining like chrome, although it’s not quite as scratch resistant.

        I did all my lathe handwheels when I rebuilt my old Logan, and they turned out great. Here are a few pictures. http://s578.photobucket.com/albums/ss228/kevenc/My%20new%20Lathe/Rebuild%20Pictures/
        The process is very simple, pretty quick, and not too expensive if you happen to have a DC power supply. I used the solution from the plug-n-plating system. You could use the same power supply as well I suppose, but I submersed the wheels to get my coating done. You first plate them with copper, which is super easy, polish up a bit, then plate with the copy chrome. It’s a fun thing, and my wheels still look the same after ~two years in Houston humidity.

        Anyway, fun stuff! Thanks for sharing!

      • gordsgarage says:

        Hey Keven, thanks for the comments. I remember looking at your copy chrome photos previously. The knobs look great! I have explored the posibilities of setting up for it. I already have the DC power supply, and heaters, from my anodizing set up. I can certainly see the advantages of copy chrome over polishing as there is no protection provided with the polishing.

        Last time we talked you convinced me that powder coating was a viable garage option and I ended up parting with a significant amount of dinero. What are you doing to me? Because of you I have been back on the Caswell site checking out the kits. :)

        As always thanks for staying tuned!
        Gord

  2. Keven Coates says:

    >Last time we talked you convinced me that powder coating was a viable garage option and I ended up parting with a significant amount of dinero. What are you doing to me?

    Ha! I know the feeling! But, to be fair, I said I was using a $60 Harbor Freight gun and a $4 used electric grill on a free IV stand, you were the one who upped the ante to the professional gun and full sized oven!

    As a side note, I’ve tried the Eastwood “metal black”, and while it leaves a nice black finish, it doesn’t seem to be more rust resistant. That’s too bad, I was hoping for a nice easy metal finish that was nice and rust resistant for those parts I don’t need shiny. I guess I’d need to step up to the nice metal bluing salt bath (slightly dangerous) or something like that. I’ve found some recipies, but nothing easy yet. I’ve thought about zinc plating, but I was hoping for something easier.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Keven Coates says:

      Two more questions. How did you polish the screw threads on the little pump body? And how did you get the spring so shiny? Screw threads and springs are murder on a polish wheel since they seem to be hard on the wheel fabric. I can never get the screw threads polished without dulling them down a lot, and springs seem to just rip out the threads of the wheel.

      I’m actually pretty amazed you can polish regular steel that shiny!

      • gordsgarage says:

        Hey Keven, I haven’t seemed to stuggle too much with the threads or springs. Most of my polishing is done in 3 stages. The first one I use a Sisal wheel with black compound. I then move onto a spiral sewn wheel coupled with the brown compound. I then finish things up on a loose cotton wheel with a white compound. Lately I have got onto using the Sisal whel with black and then jumping straight to the loose cotton and a green compound. Anyway…I do not work the threads too hard on the sisal wheel or the sewn cotton, light pressure and time seems to work. As far as the spring goes you are correct, they tend to rip up the wheels, I try to avoid the sharp edges. The spring that I polished for the jack project actually got away from me during the buffing and has left a nice gouge in my garage ceilng, it serves as a reminder to be careful.

        Gord

    • gordsgarage says:

      >Ha! I know the feeling! But, to be fair, I said I was using a $60 Harbor Freight gun and a $4 used electric grill on a free IV stand, you were the one who upped the ante to the professional gun and full sized oven!

      Don’t forget about my Honda 65 Revive cafe racer project I sunk myself into, you’re also partially responsible for that one too. I would never have taken on the project if I wasn’t set up for powder coating. Hopefully it has become evident to you the magnitude of which your seemingly innocent actions have affected my life. :)

      I agree with you that it would be nice to find a non-paint finish for steel parts that offers a corrosion factor. My experience has led to believe that there is never a quick, cheap, easy solution for proper finishes. Often it requires much more time then money to achieve good results.

      As always thanks for keeping me on my toes when it comes to DIY finishes, you’re always giving me something to think about.

      Gord

      • Keven Coates says:

        Thanks for the polishing advice! I have tried different compounds, but not different wheels. That’s been on my list of things to try, but I haven’t yet. I only have one polisher/grinder, so changing wheels is kind of a pain. I’ve also got a few dents from polishing incorrectly, but usually they end up on the project :-( I had a ’68 Mustang headlight trim piece that was constantly catching. I thought it would end up completely mangled, but I took a VERY light touch (after the first two catches!) to it and worked it out.

        You’ve inspired me to try polishing some threads now…

        >Don’t forget about my Honda 65 Revive cafe racer project I sunk myself into, you’re also partially responsible for that one too.

        Ah, the power of suggestion! I should be a salesman ;-)

        > My experience has led to believe that there is never a quick, cheap, easy solution for proper finishes.

        That’s true for sure! I’m O.K. with the basic prep (derusting, degreasing, and a little wire wheel work), but I was hoping that there would be something after that that didn’t take too much time. I think there are some hot black oxide finishes that might be better. I’d really like to try Eastwood’s Zinc system too. That looks fairly easy.

        The copy chrome plating would work for my purposes (mostly rust protection) except that it takes two steps (copper first, then chrome) and it doesn’t go on thick enough to protect well without polishing first, which of course takes much more time.

        Hopefully the zinc can go on thicker so that it doesn’t have to be polished so much first, and since it’s a sacrificial metal, will provide good rust protection. I’ll let you know if it works when I get a chance to try it out.

  3. Tara says:

    This is so absolutely amazing! I just cannot believe the work you do. It looks, seriously brand new.

  4. That is some serious talent. I love seeing old equipment restored instead of discarded. Kudos!

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