Using the Hi-Lift Jack

Using the Hi-Lift Jack

The minimum recovery items any 4 Wheel Drive vehicle should always take along on any trail ride should be: 1) tow hooks or recovery points, 2) a recovery strap, and 3) Hi-Lift jack. This article is dedicated to the Hi-Lift Jack. The Hi-Lift Jack is the only one of its type that meets ANSI standards and is made in the USA with USA steel and parts!There are two types of manufactured jacks: 1) the cast and steel, and 2) the all cast. It has been shown the all cast seems to last a bit longer under harder use, although the cast and steel type lasts for many years. The all cast jack costs a little bit more. The difference is that on the cast and steel the top clamp clevis, the foot piece (base), handle socket, reversing latch and pitman are stamped steel. All parts of both jacks are made on site and meet all the demanding tests. Each jack is fully tested at the factory. Both jacks have a 7000 pound capacity and will lift, push, pull, hoist and clamp equally!

Even with a winch you might have to use the Hi-Lift jack. You could be in a deep pockets of quicksand or mud that will not let go of your rig. You would have to use the Hi-Lift jack to lift the front of the vehicle up to break the suction, then winch out of the stuck situation. The 60″ jack gives you an extra foot of lift or when using it as a hand winch extra distance to pull if you run larger than 33″ tires. The 48″ jack works for those rigs with standard tires and suspensions. With long travel suspensions and taller tires, the 60″ really works best.

There are a few Hi-Lift accessories that make life easier. There is a wheel attachment that lifts the rig by the wheel instead of the bumper, which is great for those with large amounts of wheel travel. There is a larger footprint plastic base for soft sand and mud use. The bumper adapter is great for holding onto those metal edges of bumpers and can be adapted to fit other types of bumpers. The lock rack and bumper mount kit are great to secure the jack on the outside of the rig. There is also a “fix-it-kit”  and a cover that are handy to have just in case.

A basic list of equipment to carry with the Hi-Lift jack when using it as a recovery and lifting tool while on the trail would be: two short slings or tree protector straps (8′ x 3″), 3 D-shackles 3/4″ pin diameter min., 25 feet of 3/8″ chain with holding hooks–high grade tensile strength–work gloves, a board approx. 18″ square or diameter with a bolt in the middle that fits the hole in the jack base, and for extreme cases, 25′ or 50′ of 5/16″ cable (wire rope). The board is so you don’t drive the base of the jack into the mud. The bolt is when the board gets off kilter, the jack does not slide off the board. This is for the lifting procedure. The wire rope is to extend your reach when using the jack as a hand winch. I have used a Pull-Pal portable anchor successfully many times with the jack.

When you off-road, you can get stuck! Ascertain why and on what you are stuck. Sometimes it’s best to pull the vehicle out backwards! To rig the Hi-Lift jack for hand winching, you simply connect an end of one of the straps to the tow hook or in your receiver.  The other end of the strap is connected with a D shackle to the top clamp clevis of the jack. The top clamp clevis should be in straight alignment with the jack, not in its clamping position. The base of the jack is facing away from the vehicle. Place the other strap around a suitable tree or anchor, taking care not to chafe the tree bark. If using a Pull-Pal, you do not need to use this other strap. Use a D shackle to connect the strap around the tree, or place the D shackle in the end of the Pull-Pal and run the chain through the D shackle enough to connect the hook to a link. Do not put the point of the hook in the link hole. The hook should be made so that the link fits in the hook jaw and will hold the entire load to tensile strength. Run the other end of the chain to the jack.

Again, the wire rope is to extend the reach of the assembly. Always use the chain first at the jack tongue, then extend the reach with the wire rope between the chain and the anchor. DO NOT USE a recovery strap with this operation as it will stretch too much. With the chain, you can tighten the rigging by “choking” the chain (shortening it) and connecting the hook to an appropriate link. The chain is looped around the tongue of the jack. Now get the rigging as tight as possible and begin to jack using the handle. Use work gloves and watch your fingers.

The vehicle will begin to move as you jack. Be careful it doesn’t roll over you and watch closely the tires and steering, keeping it aligned to where you want to go. It may take a full jack length to set the Pull-Pal. Once the jack is all the way to the top, secure the vehicle from rolling back in the hole. Move the jack reversing lever down. Loosen the chain. Choke the chain tight and begin again. It sometimes takes 2 or 3 jack lengths to get a vehicle out.

If there are no good anchor points and no Pull-Pal available, you’ll then have to lift each corner and build an elevated road bed. This procedure takes time, but you are stuck and going nowhere fast anyway, right? This usually happens in boggy areas where there are deep ruts and the vehicle is high-centered. Take the time to gather large rocks or log pieces not stones or brushwood. Lift each corner up as high as needed, bringing the tire into the air. Build 2 or 3 feet of road (or longer) at each tire extending in the direction you want to go. Sometimes it only takes that much of a start to get the vehicle going again. Once out, go back and repair the trail damage, replace the rocks and log pieces off the trail (kinda’ like replacing your divot in golf) and carry on!

The hardware you use should exceed the capacity of the jack so the jack is the weak link. There is a shear pin on the jack that will break (another reason to carry the fix-it kit) if the capacity is exceeded. Also, the direction lever ( up and down) should always be in the “up” position when the jack is stored. The pins could sustain damage from trail and supermarket impact if in the down position.

Use the jack carefully. Give it regular maintenance, and it will give you many years of great service. Spray some WD40 on it once in a while. When using it in the bush you can just pour water or mud “juice” on it to help “lubricate” it. Hose it off when you get home. Spray some white lithium grease on it and it’s good to go!