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GENERAL BOTTLE JACK BACKGROUND

BOTTLE/HAND JACK SPECS & PRICES
ANIMATION OF THE INSIDES OF A WORKING BOTTLE/HAND JACK


Bottle or hand jacks, came into wide spread popularity during the early part of the 20th Century, paralleling the boom of the automobile industry. They filled the immediate need of a small convenient device requiring only one person to operate that could lift an automobile off the ground for servicing - It quickly found hundreds of other uses in the modern world, as well.
Bottle Jack Image

PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES

Bottle/hand jacks have the general appearance of an old 1 quart milk bottle and range in weight from a few pounds for the smallest 1 1/2 ton models to more than 200 pounds for a 100 ton jack. Average heights range from about seven inches to 10 inches with a stroke (pushing range) of about five to six inches. Many jacks in the 1 1/2 to 12 ton capacity group offer a convenient extension screw giving an extra 3 inches of utility. Aside from the standard sizes, a few brands offer 'stubby' jacks that start as low as 6 inches. One brand sells a 'telescoping' jack that ranges from a low height of about 5 inches and extends to a height of more than 10 inches.

In addition, 1 1/2, 3, 8, 12 and even 20 ton capacity jacks are available in heights from 20 to 24 inches, popular in engine cherry picker/cranes and for special applications, however, the 8, 12 and 20 ton versions are quite expensive.


STANDARD CAPACITIES

The standard American lifting capacities start at 1 1/2 ton and run 3 ton, 5 ton, 8 ton, 12 ton, 20 ton, 30 ton, 50 ton and 100 ton.
USES

In the automotive world the 1 1/2 through 5 ton jacks are popular for cars and light trucks, the 8 and 12 ton models for Recreational Vehicles and medium to heavy duty trucks while the 20 ton bottle jacks are used primarily for 'big rig' tractor trailers.

Bottle jacks and variations thereof appear in fields as diverse as medicine (for patient lifts, examing tables, hydraulic stretchers), plumbing (pipe benders), electrical (cable slicers), printing (paper cutters) warehousing (material handling), agriculture (equipment maintainance), construction (pushing, pulling, hoisting or lifting), food industry (from pallet jacks to pressing apple juice or sausages) metal shops (bending, cutting and fabricating) and in dozens of applications too numerous to mention.

Jacks, while traditionally used in an upright fashion with the ground as a base to lift a great weight in the air, are quite often mounted inside a framework to do a specific job such as compressing, as in a hydraulic press, or mounted on a verticle beam to push against a horizontal beam making a crane. An often overlooked characteristic of bottle jacks is that they can be turned sideways in order to push objects apart such as fence posts or a door frame warp by weather.


MANUFACTURERS

Currently, if you want an American made jack your ONLY choice is the U.S. JACK line (Formerly AUSCO/DREDNAUGHT - Also sold by Milwaukee).
Marquette, now renamed Hein-Werner (formerly LINCOLN in the 90's and WALKER before that, also sold by SNAP-ON and NAPA) used to be the most popular American made jack but now with their production moved to China they have become just another Chinese jack company.
OTC/POWER TEAM sells a couple American made models, but most are imported from Japan.
ENERPAC and SIMPLEX brands used to be made in the U.S. but currently SIMPLEX imports from Japan and ENERPAC imports from China.

Japan exports the standard Masada models (sold by JET, OTC, POWER TEAM and SIMPLEX) and special made models originally designed by KYB and sold exclusively under the NORCO name in North America.

Several undeterminable brands of lower to middle quality are imported from China and Taiwan.


BUYING TIPS

What to Buy, depends on your needs...

If you only need a jack once or twice a year as an emergency tool or for light duty occasional use - MAYBE a cheap Taiwan or Chinese jack will work for you, but they are notorious for leaking and failing just when you need it! (*See 2nd NOTE below...)

If you want a damn good tool at a fair price - buy the Japanese made jacks.

NOTE: In all fairness, because U.S. JACK does not actively market their products West of the Mississippi River (we're in Burbank California), we have not had our hands on one in years and simply DON'T KNOW if they are currently made as well as they used to be - So, we can't give an honest opinion on them, one way or another, sorry...

2nd NOTE:
A couple of years ago a Chinese manufacturer sent us an unsolicited, junk email extolling their products. The email included this listing of their pricing:

FOB Shanghai

2 TON..... USD$ 2.84
4 TON..... USD$ 3.89
6 TON..... USD$ 4.99
8 TON..... USD$ 6.21
10TON..... USD$ 7.26
12TON..... USD$ 8.32
16TON..... USD$ 9.37
20TON..... USD$ 10.74
30TON..... USD$ 15.26
50TON..... USD$ 34.74


Now I ask you - How the hell good can their 20 ton jack be if they can make it and sell it for $10.74 and still be making a profit?!
SPECIAL AIR/HYDRAULIC TRUCK JACKS

In the last 20 years a new style of jack has come into popularity in the heavy duty truck repair shops called an Air/Hydraulic (usually pronounced 'air over hydraulic') jack. What the manufacturers have done here, basically, is taken an ordinary 20 ton bottle/hand jack, added an air activated Porto-Power style pump (so, you don't have to bend down and pump the jack to produce pressure) packaged it all up neatly in a convenient little metal box with a couple of wheels and a nice long handle and - BANG - every truck shop on the planet buys one! Lifting capacities are between 20 and 22 tons (Norco actually brings over a 44 ton model if you ever run into a railroad engine with a flat tire...) with general lifting ranges starting at about 10 inches and raising to 20 inches. All models require 80 to 160 PSI of compressed air.

NOTE: These jacks will NOT work manually, they MUST be powered by air.

IMAGE OF AN AIR/HYDRAULIC 20 TON JACK

BUYING TIPS

Marquette (formerly Lincoln) used to be the American made field leader but after moving their production to China their quality has changed quite a bit.
The Japanese models imported by Norco and Astro are currently the best values while the Chinese & Taiwanese make some very inexpensive lines, tho, they usually don't hold up well in professional situations.
BOTTLE/HAND JACK SPECS and PRICES PAGE

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This page updated by Richard J. Tafilaw, July 6, 2009. Online since March 30, 1996

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