Going Up

I missed a house feature.  Like an industrial art sculpture, my Dad’s lift posed outside the front door.

My family was in that house for nearly 30 years.  The lift worked for all that time.  Pretty amazing for a piece of machinery cobbled together from odds and ends.  I wish I’d been born when they designed it.  It was exactly the kind of practical engineering problem that Dad loved.

When lowered it vanished into the ground.  Almost.  It lay flush with the pavement around it.  When raised it was up flush with the height of the fourth stair and level with the threshold of the house.  Constructed from recycled metal it was durable.  The concrete pad was dug it so it could nest in the ground.  A single hydraulic ram caused it to be raised and lowered.  On top of the lift a small white wooden box covered the motor.  A normal solenoid turned the power on and off.  A metal lever with a big ball bearing for a handle made it go up and down.  Up handle for down.  Down handle for up.

In winter, before Dad got on when it was raised, you needed to step on it because it would settle up to three inches and needed to be raised again.

If you ever need to make money, medical aid – wheelchairs, lifts, converted vans – there is a fortune to be made there.  But getting all the permits and licenses and safety regs would be tricky.  The lift at home had none of those.  No railings.  No safety belts.  But the lift never failed and I never heard of anyone getting hurt on it.

It was pretty awesome.


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