Raising the Body Off the Frame and Rolling It Over

Bruce Derenski

Good evening, Crosley Fans!

I'm the guy that posted about the CD Wagon electric conversion last month. I'm just now doing the grunt work that goes with any restoration, and I'm still many moons away from the sexy stuff of the actual conversion. This month's project is separating the frame and body and attacking the repair and preservation of the undercarriage. I know the traditional way of lifting a body off a frame involves half-drunk friends and metal oil drums, but all my friends are in rough shape, and I didn't want to lose any to cardiac arrest, so I thought through a different way.

Behold my patented lifting rig! After stripping everything off the car and removing the doors, I jacked under the front and rear axle to raise the car as far as I could, and placed it on sturdy jack stands. I cut two 2x6s and two 2x4s to 6ft, and used them to span across the door openings. The 2x6s went closest to the floor and were notched to clear the tunnel. The 2x4s go above them; the front one tucked under the dash and the rear one all the way up along the rear of the door opening. The 2x4 under the dash has a couple of notches to clear the two bumps on the underside of the dash. The front two boards are attached using 1/4" bolts through the door hinge holes. I had to drill holes in the door opening frame for the rear boards. I feel badly about that, but I'll weld-plug them later. These four horizontal boards bear the entire weight of the body, so it's important to attach them well. I cut two 2x6's in half to make the 4 vertical supports, but I didn't attach them yet. I bought three 1000lb trailer jacks from Harbor Freight  (about $25 each with the coupon and borrowed a fourth one off my jet ski trailer.  I raised one jack all the way up, then lowered it an inch and used it to position the lower end of each of the four vertical supports. The vertical supports were attached with a bunch of screws to all four horizontals, and the four jacks were lag screwed to the vertical supports. I lopped off the top of the verticals even with the roof of the car, and I added two more 2x4s to the top and bottom of the verticals on the PASSENGER SIDE ONLY, running from the front to the back of the car. And I added a couple of short lengths of 2x6 to the bottom of the vertical supports. These lengths have an arc cut in them, and are positioned so that they "catch" the car on this side when the jacks on this side are almost completely lowered.

Now the fun part. After I unbolted the body, I put concrete blocks under the four jacks and raised the body up 4", ensuring that I hadn't missed any bolts (I did). With the body clear of the frame and supported by the trailer jacks, I used my trusty rolling jack to support the axles while I removed the jack stands and lowered the frame. With the wheels off the car, the frame still rolls easily on the brake drums. I dragged the frame clear of the body with about 4" to spare between the top of the shock towers and the bottom of the floorboards. Now, the body is high in the air and the frame is out in the driveway.

I then used the trailer jacks one at a time to remove the blocks on the PASSENGER SIDE ONLY.  I lowered the passenger side as far as I could, removed the blocks then repositioned those blocks to the driver's side, raising it as far as I could. When the passenger side was completely lowered, it was caught and supported by those two curved pieces I mentioned. Now the car was tilted about 30 degrees, and I could lift the driver side without any further help from the trailer jacks. It rolled over the rest of the way on the arcs cut in the bottom ends of the 2x6 extensions, and came to rest on the previously-vertical-but-now-horizontal supports.  It is stabilized by the 8' long 2x4s that run from front to back on the passenger side.

I probably haven't done a great job explaining this, but the one thing I can make clear is this: It cost me a couple of afternoons and about $125 in parts, lumber and fasteners to save countless hours on my back under this car. I can do a far better job working upright, and I didn't have to say "Hold this" to my wife or any of my geriatric neighbors. The whole thing is reversible, so when it's time to put the body back on the frame, I can do it without drama.

Can I get an Amen?

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