Origin of the RennStand – Part 3
THINKING ABOUT THE DESIGN
So now that I had a basic concept down, and fresh from reluctantly having sent several thousand dollars to a lawyer, one I had never really met, to begin the patenting process, I needed to build a prototype for proof-of-concept. Well, proving that my concept would work wasn’t as simple as just putting together a mock-up of a design using a material like wood, as an example, which would have been inexpensive and relatively easy to build. Sure, a wooden version could represent the concept and I could maybe demonstrate how the parts came together and could even explain to someone the benefits of the design, but I’d never put that under an actual vehicle, so that wasn’t good enough in my mind. For me to properly demonstrate that my idea was a viable one, I needed a fully functional prototype made of steel, and one that was properly welded together, that could hold up to the weight of at least a small car, and one that I could repeatedly use, over and over again, to demonstrate proof-of-concept to whoever needed to see it.
At first, this sounded fairly easy, at least just for the prototype. I would come up with some measurements, hand them to a welder, and have him build it to spec in no time. I mean, after all, this is a jack stand. A tool that’s there to safely support a car in order to prevent injury or death. It had to be super durable of course, but there wasn’t anything about its overall geometry that would cause too much of a headache, right?
As I started to consider the geometry, I realized the bases would have to be spaced far enough apart so that most floor jacks could fit in between them because I didn’t want most customers having to go out and buy a new floor jack to use the stand. That required me to figure out what the width of “most” floor jacks was, so I began researching that exhaustively until I had a number in mind. Ok, that wasn’t too bad, right? I’ll just make the entire device wider to keep those bases spaced far apart. “No problem,” I thought.
Well, by widening the stand overall, the topside would also become wider. This seemed ok at first, until I realized that because the car would begin to tilt relative to the stand during the lifting process, it would likely cause the shoulders of the stand to make contact with the car outside of the factory designated lifting point which would defeat the purpose of the stand. So, the topside would have to be as narrow as possible.
Narrow “as possible” … which lead to the next big question … what was possible? A wider base coupled with an overly narrow topside meant the bases and legs would be at a steep angle which would put unacceptable stresses on the shoulders of the stand. Add to this, the higher the setting on the stand, the more stress at the shoulder. This meant that the width at the bases and the width of the topside would both have to be balanced against the highest setting. Safety was a priority, and everything would have to be made to work in harmony if RennStand was ever going to become a reality.