Alternative to a Body Rotisserie

I purchased the 57 Vette replica body and frame because it was a fantastic deal but I hadn't planned on building one for a couple of years. I needed someplace to store it. I don't have any place to store it outside and have no access for a vehicle to be stored in my backyard (besides the wife would kill me!). I figured that if I could flip the car on its side, then I could store it up against one wall inside my garage.

I thought that a car rotisserie might be the solution but everyone I saw seemed too flimsy and too complicated or too expensive to purchase. Typically, you needed to add the capability to balance the car and chassis on the rotisserie then have the room to rotate it and lock it in place. In addition, you needed the forks to connect to the frame to be adjustable and be able to clear the body.

I thought of using modified two engine stands since I have one already. But when I got down to it and purchased a second one, it became pretty obvious that it would be easier to start from scratch rather than rebuild the engine stands.

I finally decided to keep it simple, all I needed to do was to flip the car on its side. No rotating. I could build a jig that would bolt to the frame, lift one end with my engine hoist and the body/frame would rest on its side. Put some heavy duty casters on it and I could push it up against the wall. Well it works like a charm after a little bit of fixing

Here's the body/frame mounted to the jig and stored against the wall

Here's the two pieces that make up the jig - front and rear braces

The jig is made of two braces: front and rear. Each brace supports both frame rails. The braces are made up of 3"x3" square tubing (1/8" thick) welded together with 1"x1" square thickwall (1/8" thick) tubing. The casters support up to 600 lb each. The total weight is only around 900 lb so they are way over-rated.

If you look at the bottom of the uprights, you'll see that it is cut with a 1/4 round circle. This helps to pivot when it was lifting from the horizontal to the vertical position. I gave it 1/2" of clearance from the floor.

I orginally made the uprights too short and couldn't attach a chain to the uprights to lift it without pressing against the body. I added some 2 3/4" square thickwall tubing to the top (unpainted). I bolted them in rather than welding - which turned out to be a good thing because they were too high and didn't clear the garage door rails. The car stood upright stuck between the two garage door rails. I had to undo the bolts and let the addition drop down to clear. You can see them lowered in the following pictures.

The bar on across the top was originally added to prevent the braces from twisting but it ended up to be a good point to lift from. The engine hoist was scraping the roof in order to get the car turned.

This is the front brace - it's not really leaning just the photographer!

I measured to the center of the front crossmembers and that became my reference point. I allowed for about 3 to 4 inches of clearance between the brace and the car body. Add on 3" for the bottom of the brace and another 5" for the casters and the body sits about 12" off of the floor.

This is the rear brace

I measured to the center of the rear crossmembers and made the upright the same height as the front brace. The positions of the support beams changed. The bottom of the braces are about 3 feet long only. Just enough to clear the body and not take up too much room. I figure that the center of gravity is just a little to the frame side. The whole mess is quite stable and very easy to move around. I even attached my 1984 Vette rear-end upright to the rear brace for storage. I figured that if it wasn't too stable I could always use some tie-downs to the wall but there's no problem.

Here's the shiny side before I swung it around

I made a mistake and used one 1/2" Grade 5 bolt to bolt each crossmember to the braces. This allowed the braces to swivel around the bolt. I had to weld on some bungs to prevent it from swiveling. I would use two smaller bolts per crossmember, this would stop the swiveling. I would also measure the height of the ceiling and any low objects like the garage door rails and then decide on how high to make it - seems stupid now but you learn from experience (hopefully others!).

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Copyright May 2011 Eugene Blanchard