Origin of The RennStand – Part 4

Origin of the RennStand – Part 4


Since I was still overseas, I was unable to personally measure some of the more commonly sold floor jacks in the US, but I was able to find some specs online that were enough to get me started, so I began designing the prototype based on those measurements. I also wanted the stand to be built entirely of off-the-shelf materials to reduce manufacturing costs, and I figured I’d try to build a prototype with locally sourced materials that were at least close in dimensions to those I could source in the States since that’s where I originally intended to build them.

So, the measurements, calculations, and drawings began. It was a mess of numbers. If one angle or length changed, then most of the others would likely have to as well. This wrestling with measurements went on for weeks until I found a balance that I felt would be at least close to what the final product might look like. With the help of my father-in-law, I was able to find a welder in town that would work with me in building the first prototype. After a few meetings and discussions of what I wanted, the work began, and within a couple of weeks I had my very first prototype. It was built of unfinished carbon steel that had already begun to “patina” which, in this case, was a fancy word for surface rust.

Without a press to test its durability, I was under no illusion that the prototype was strong enough to safely support a vehicle while working underneath it. It certainly looked strong enough, but I wasn’t taking any chances, so I decided to test it under our daily vehicle … a tiny Opel hatchback that was in need of repairs anyway, and which I would slowly lift without getting underneath it. My intent was only to test the concept, and lo-and-behold it worked! I lowered the car just about as fast as I had lifted it, went home, and celebrated. The whole operation took about three minutes, but it was a milestone.

Now what was I going to do with this? I felt I had to get the prototype back to the US to manufacturers that could build another one and then test it properly under a press, but I knew prototyping in the US would be very expensive due to the tooling costs, and also the cost of an engineer to draw CAD drawings and likely make changes to the geometry once the design began to inevitably evolve.

I originally hesitated when I thought about what I might have to spend to do this, but then I remembered a book by Richard Branson titled ‘Screw It, Let’s Do It.’

I hadn’t yet read the book, but the title was good enough for me, so I shipped the prototype home, and met it in Miami about a week or so later.

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