When looking at ways to jack up a load with minimal clearance, most people think of using a hydraulic pancake jack, but quite often, a mechanical jack may be your best bet. In making the decision for the best option, there are several factors to consider. What weight will the jack see at each point? How much clearance do you have below the load? How high do you need to lift the load? Do you have access to a hydraulic pump and hoses? While there are other questions that would arise on a case-specific basis we will focus on those four.
What weight will the jack see at each point?
For loads greater than 20 tons, your only choice is to run with pancake jacks, often referred to as flat jacks. However, when the load/bearing point being raised falls below 20-tons, choosing the appropriate mechanical jack can provide greater flexibility.
How much clearance do you have below the load?
Pancake jacks tend to carry a slightly smaller footprint than their mechanical counterparts, albeit at the expense of lifting height. While the difference is generally minimal – anywhere from 1/16” to roughly 1/8” – that difference can make or break your decision. Mechanical jacks require clearances anywhere from 1¾” (5-ton model) to 2¼” (10 and 20-ton models) and provide easy tight-space lifting.
How high do you need to lift the load?
This is arguably the most important question of the set. Utilizing a pancake jack, as mentioned above, sacrifices maximum lifting height. For projects requiring minimal lift, just enough clearance to remove something from below a load, pancake jacks can work great. Typically, pancake jacks only provide around 1/2 inch of stroke, where its mechanical equivalent can reach up to 13-inches.
Do you have access to a hydraulic pump and hoses?
Mechanical jacks also thrive in situations where there is no access to hydraulic pumps or there may not be space for a hose. Requiring minimal handle effort, less storage space and far less maintenance, mechanical jacks are a staple on low-capacity projects.
Are mechanical toe jacks the only mechanical jacks in our fleet?
In addition to the mechanical jacks listed above, LGH owns and supplies 5 to 20-ton cable reel jacks. Our 10-ton model can accommodate up to a 96” diameter reel. As with the ratchet jack, reel jacks are ideal for their portability and versatility. With three models to choose from our reel jacks accept spindle sizes from 2” to 3½” depending on the hook used.
For any questions regarding any of our Mechanical Jacks or any other lifting, rigging, pulling, jacking, or material handling equipment, please reach out to your local representative or give us a call at 800-878-7305 to speak with one of our rental specialists.