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I Love This Tool: Big Red Jacks Double Piston 8-Ton Long Ram Jack

Posted March 30, 2022 4:00 AM by dstrohl
Pathfinder Tags: engines and parts Tools

Can you really love a hydraulic jack for an engine hoist? Can it inspire longing, even desire, that lasts for years? Can a jack really provide fulfillment in any way beyond doing exactly what it's supposed to do? In my case, yes, on all three counts.

A decade and a half ago, I thought I had it all figured out. I had a garage of my own for the first time in my life, and I had started to accumulate tools to work on cars, including an engine hoist. It was a basic Performance Tools two-ton hoist with an eight-ton ram that I'd bought at the corner parts store. Even with the foldable legs, it took up two tons of space in my garage, but I could now pull engines for rebuilds and swaps, like the one I had planned for my 1979 AMX.

And then, when I pulled up to Lou Vignogna's shop to drop off an engine for machine work, I realized I was just a babe in the woods. Here was Lou and his son Jimmy, with an engine hoist about as old as time with double-piston operation. Unlike the single-piston ram on my hoist, which exerted pressure only on the down stroke, this one exerted pressure on both the up and down strokes, halving the time it took to lift the hoist. Jimmy watched as such a simple thing that he'd probably used for years blew my mind. "You need one of these now, don't you?" I nodded.

I'd just dropped a lot of dough on the garage, the tools, the hoist, and the project, though, so I deferred buying a double-piston jack. I told myself I'd wait until the single-piston jack on my hoist gave up the ghost, then I'd splurge. Yet that single-piston jack kept working just fine until this winter, when I rolled it out to prep it for handling the battery stacks for the Chenowth. It had developed a little rust on the ram, and all I really needed to get it working again was a simple bleed procedure, but I jumped on the opportunity to buy that double-piston jack I'd waited 15 years to get.

It's pretty much identical to the single-piston jack in every way except the color and the second piston. All the mounts are the same, the length is the same, the 8-ton weight rating is the same. No drama swapping the single-piston jack out and the double-piston one in. The handle that came with it is a few inches longer than the one that came with the hoist too, which was nice.

And with it all buttoned up, it worked exactly as expected, lifting to the same height as before in half the time. The motion was just as smooth as the single-piston pump, though I'll have to modify the pumping rhythm I've developed over the last 15 years. Does every hand-pumped hydraulic ram need double-piston pumping action? I think perhaps they do now. While I haven't really put it through its paces yet, it's already proved its worth in the time it's saved me. Maybe I shouldn't have waited those 15 years to get one.

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