Hacking the Hi-Lift

Bought a new All-Cast Hi-Lift jack and took some photos as the jack was modded to be a little more convenient on the trail. By removing the cotter pins from the jack and replacing them with lock pins, the Hi-Lift is made even more trail friendly. Specifically, the base and handle may be removed very easily after this quick hack.

Complete list of needed materials;

  • Non-Extreme Hi-Lift Jack
  • 2 * 1/4" PTO Lock Pins - Cost is approx. $4 total
The running gear of the new hi-lift jack

The running gear of the new hi-lift jack

Done this exact hack to my original "survivor" jack and it has worked well for years. However, I am replacing my i-beam on it for the second time in sixth months and realized that I require a second hi-lift anyway. As a bonus, this allows me to do a quick write up on how to do this little hack, quickly, cheaply and with very few tools.

The cotter pin that needs to be removed; secures the base to the hi-lift i-beam.

Squeezing the one side of the cotter pin and pulling from the other side will free the base.

Working on the base first. There is a cotter pin that goes through the base that holds it to the hi-lifts i-beam. This needs to be removed. The hole for this cotter pin is 1/4" inside diameter. Test fit your new lock pin in the spot that the cotter pin occupied. Using a quarter inch lock pin for simplicity sake makes this the easier of the two mods. Just replace the base onto the i-beam and use the lock pin to secure everything. The base should still have it's full range of motion but now can be removed much quicker with far less tools.

Now that the cotter pin is gone, the base can be removed from the i-beam.

With the base back on the i-beam, slide the lock pin through the same hole. Hi-Lift Hack #1 complete

A second smaller cotter pin is located in the handle to keep the handle attached to the Hi-Lift running gear.

A second smaller cotter pin is located in the handle to keep the handle attached to the Hi-Lift running gear.

The next mod involves the handle. The handle is kept from flying out of the running gear on the hi-lift by a small cotter pin. This one should be a tighter squeeze as it was never really designed to be removed. After working the cotter pin out of the handle, you'll be able to remove it from the running gear. At this point you may notice that the hole for the cotter pin only exists on one side of the handle. In order to install a lock pin, we'll need to drill a secondary hole exactly opposite from the first on the the handle.

Twist and pry the cotter pin out of the handle

The lock pin needs to go through the handle, which requires drilling through the handle

With my other hi-lift, I just eye-balled this part. I drilled through the original hole with a quarter inch bit and then continued on to the other side of the handle. Missed the exact opposite side of the handle and it the lock pin sits at the slightest of angles. It still works this way but bothers me every time I go to use the Hi-Lift.

Marking out the holes to properly drill out handle

Carefully drill out both holes

This time, we're going to be slightly more precise. I measured the circumfrence of the handle, halved the measurement and marked it as such on the handle. This can be done with a measuring tape obviously but I did it by wrapping the handle with painters tape (as seen in the photos). I also took a measurement from the end of the handle to the cotter pin hole and replicated that measurement on the other side. 

With the two measurements marked on the handle I drilled the hole with a cordless drill and 1/4" bit. I'd recommend using a centre punch on the marks to make sure that your drill does not walk from the initial drill point on the curved handle surface. Being careful and using eye protection, I drilled through the original cotter pin hole (smaller cotter pin than the one holding the base) and then drilled from the other side through the marks I had made. To clean up the edges a little, I routed the edges of both holes with the edge of the 1/4" drill bit.

Test fitting the lock pin in the handle.

Result is a quickly removable handle.

Once complete, simply place the handle back into the running gear and run a 1/4" lock pin through the holes on the handle. This allows you to remove the handle and use it with your tools as a snipe to gain leverage while doing trail repairs. Always return the handle back to the jack when not in use. It would be terrible to have taken your Hi-Lift with you only to be unable to operate the jack because you've left the handle at home.

I'm sure that the above hacks would be frowned upon by Hi-Lift. I can only vouch that they have worked well for me over the years but only do these hacks at your own peril. Comment on the forum.