A few months back we showed how we can "Hack the Hi-Lift" ... Doing that when you first buy the Hi-Lift can actual make it easier down the road when you finally have to perform maintenance on the jack. Sadly, yes, you have to perform maintenance on your Hi-Lift. The amount of work changes with how much and where you use the jack and where and how you store the jack. In the case I'll be describing below, the beam of the jack has been bent and damaged and needs to be replaced on top of general maintenance.
The beam on this jack was bent while being stored on the front bumper of a truck that was rock crawling in Moab, Utah. Might not have been the best spot to store a jack but hindsight is 20/20 as it were. In this photo the beam curves to the left while it should be in line with the red handle.
Obviously, the jack wouldn't work very well in this configuration and the beam needs to be replaced. Pretty much every part of the Hi-Lift can be replaced and all you need is the part number. This one was picked up from the Gear Shop but you should be able to have one brought in from your preferred 4x4 dealer.
While replacing the beam, I thought I would go a little further and go over replacing a few of the other parts for preventive maintenance.
Hi-Lift makes something called the Fix-It Kit. This is a small package containing new climbing and cross pins for the Hi-Lift as well as a new shear pin. This is a great kit to have with you in your recovery gear as you never know when you're going to need it and the parts are extremely specialized.
To replace the i-beam you need to remove the base plate. This is super quick if you've already done the steps outlined in our Hacking the Hi-Lift article. Simply remove the pin, slide the base plate off the bottom of the jack and then ...
Using the palm of your hand, strike the reversing latch and the running gear will just slide off the end of the i-beam.
At this point we're going to replace some parts on the running gear as well. The springs and the climbing/cross pins are getting a little worn and oxidized. So now is as good a time as any to replace them. You certainly don't need to remove the beam before doing this maintenance but it does make it easier to manipulate the running gear as you perform the following steps.
You need to remove the cross pins from the climbing pins. This is best performed with a punch or drift and hammering them out. Provided the pins are not bent, you should be able to simply pull the pins out after getting to the halfway point. If they are bent, a set of pliers will be your friend.
With the cross pins removed, the climbing pins are simply floating inside the running gear and will be easily removed by hand.
The old pins have been heavily oxidized despite being zinc coated and has led to buildup and pitting on the pins.
With the Fix-It Kit, you get quite a few of the parts you need to get this job done.
Here you can see what the pins are supposed to look like. Free of pitting and oxidization.
Putting the springs into place and dropping in the climbing pins. The orientation is important. Ensure that the beveled end of the climbing pin is facing in on the jack with the beveled side pointing towards the top of the running gear.
Next you need to install the cross pins into the climbing pins. Lift the springs out of the way as you drive the cross pins into the climbing pins. Once again, the best way is to use a punch/drift and a hammer for this. It is important that the springs sit on top of the cross pins for the climbing action to work properly.
At this point, if you didn't remove the i-beam, you'd be done. However, for us, we're going to put the running gear onto our new unbent i-beam. The best way that I've found to do this is to return the reversing latch into the up position. Slide the i-beam into the top of the running gear and operate the handle to move the climbing pins. Once the pins catch it will start climbing the new i-beam.
While we are at it, I like to check the retention spring. This is the spring that helps prevent the handle from repeatedly actioning back and forth while lowering the vehicle and losing your grip on the handle. In other words, the retention spring could save your life. You may need to tweak and twist this a few times but considering the consequences this is something you should be regularly checking on your hi-lift. When properly shaped, the spring should be forced to spread apart by the i-beam when the handle is raised close to the beam.
The one item from the Fix-It Kit I've never bothered to / been forced to replace is the shear pin. This is the pin that, in theory, will shear before lifting a vehicle or item that is much heavier than the Hi-Lift's weight rating. I've never seen one fail personally but I make sure to keep one with my recovery kit at all times. NEVER replace this pin with anything other than a Hi-Lift shear pin. Putting in a bolt with a higher shear strength may put you into a situation where another part of the jack fails with massive amounts of weight being held by the jack.
Operating the jack after performing the PM (and the new i-beam) is a far easier task. Unfortunately this kind of maintenance/inspection is a necessary evil but it will allow you to keep you farm jack for years to come and to do so safely.