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Old 07-08-2012, 08:15 PM
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Angle Grinder or Sawzall ?

Hi all

I bought an E350 with an 18 foot cube Van body and an 8 foot Lift Gate to use for picking up various projects..

It was the right price and came with a few problems that were easy to fix...except....

The Lift gate is fully operational, a rail style, 8 foot wide and about 36 inch deep platform. It is bowed in the middle and makes it tough to wheel dollies loaded with engine projects etc into the van....

I dont see any practical way to straighen it as is... so...the main platform is welded 2x 3 square steel with 1/4 inch diamond plate welded to the top. My plan was to cut away the platform itself leaving the side structural pieces and just fabricate a new platform between them....so I dont have to mess with any pivot points or brackets...essentially cut the old center portion of the lift gate platform away and build a new one....

Any of you metal fabricating gurus suggest which would be better to do the cutting / I have a 4 inch angle grinder and a pretty stout Milwaukee Sawzall....Have to cut a total of 36 inches each side... any thoughts ?

Thanks.. Mike B

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Old 07-08-2012, 08:26 PM
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The 4" grinder with a cutoff wheel is what you need. The sawzall will be pretty much useless in doing that work. Please be very careful with the cutoff wheels and don't scimp on quality, buy the good ones (Milwaukee, Metabo, etc.) to name a couple. I have seen some cheap ones shatter and they're like a grenade when they do. Use all the proper safety equipment (PPE) such as safety glasses with a face shield, long sleeves (preferably welding sleeves) and good leather gloves. It just takes a split second to go from cutting metal to cutting bone if you're not careful. If used properly, the cutoff wheel on your grinder will be one of the best tools you can own but can also be one of the most dangerous. I use them almost everyday.
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Old 07-09-2012, 03:13 AM
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Actually you will need both tools..cut the diamond plate with the cutoff blade in the grinder and then use a 14 tooth bi-metal blade to cut through the square tube to finish..

Good luck..

Anther thing to consider is see if any of your buds have a plasma cutter..

Sam
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Old 07-09-2012, 06:31 AM
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It would be a pretty simple push with a large jack to straighten the lift gate. If the lift gate has a positive metal to metal stop, and not limited by the hydraulics, just jack up the low areas. You might have to load the truck with a fair amount of weight, or chain it down.
If you get the gate straight, you are done. If that does not fix it to your satisfaction, then cut and weld.
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Old 07-09-2012, 07:31 AM
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jack and chain

Drill some holes thru the structure, put in some eyebolts for the chain then jack it, or find a heavy truck body shop with floor anchors and have them jack it.
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Old 07-09-2012, 07:33 AM
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fork lift

I straightened a big truck bumper by picking up the rear with a fork lift. I've straightened loading ramps by putting them on blocks at each end and running over with a tractor; big truck etc, easier than all the cutting and welding. raise the lift gate, hang on a 4 X 4 and back into a big rock. , IN high school we were using a power pole to pull out a crash. but were sparking the power line wires.
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Old 07-09-2012, 06:37 PM
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Liftgate

Lots of suggestions, thanks....

Hard to explain but the platform is actually bowed down just off center..someone really overloaded it at one time during its life....since it pivots at one end it is hard to see how to chain it down and jack it out.... I actually have pulling pots in my home shop but of course the truck is too tall to get in there ( Put in 8 foot doors and now need 10, story of my life).. the idea of backing into something solid would work but I dont think it would straighten this mess out enough... I am also thinking I will extend the depth of the platform by 18 inches or so to get a little more safe working room with awkward loads....
I'll post a pic or two tomorrow..

Guess there is some grinding and cutting in my future, thanks for all the info... Mike B
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Old 07-10-2012, 01:48 PM
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Is it possible to just heavily load the back of the truck and then put a jack under the bent point and just jack up? I've used the weight of my truck for this kind of thing before, put a block under the bent point and then drive the front of my cummins up on it, 4tons is a lot of bending force.

Otherwise the angle grinder is the way to go, you'll cut through it all in about 10 min. If it was me... my 50A plasma will go through that in about a minute...
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Old 07-10-2012, 03:55 PM
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jacking it out

Loading the truck would probably work if it was a fold- under lift, the rail gate is just hanging on rollerchain and I would be just pushing on the hydraulics...

I'll go pick up the steel Friday and some good discs and start cutting....

Mike B
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Old 07-10-2012, 04:16 PM
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You may just need to make a judicious cut or three to release the tension on the bent area which will allow the bend to be jacked straight more easily...we do this on metal work all the time when repairing bent metal...

Sam
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Old 07-10-2012, 05:34 PM
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Liftgate pics

Looking at it I might be able to drill the inner and outer rails and bolt them together while I jack.....

You can see the bow in the pics....

Mike B
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