Quaddro 4×4 Scissor Jack – This is the Jack that Colin built?
Text and photographs: Stephen Smith
We turn off the tar, onto a small dirt road just outside of Pretoria that runs through a field of mealies. We follow the road and at the end find a small team of friends and colleagues, sharing a joke and listening to boeremusiek.
They’re there to film and watch the Quaddro 4×4 Scissor Jack in operation, and we’ve been invited along so that we can keep our readers informed of a very useful piece of kit that’s about to hit the local market.
The setting might be low-key, but the product is world-class. The story began in 2004, in the United States, when South African entrepreneur Colin Christie visited the AM General factory. There he was told that the company was looking for a new jack for the Humvee military vehicle, which they build, and challenged to come up with a better product.
Colin began to research the designs, and failings, of traditional scissor jacks, and a year later, while battling to sleep on an aeroplane, he came up with the “Central Coil Spring Design” that today presents the critical part of the patented Quaddro scissor jack.
The patented design uses four powerful springs mounted to a central point and each fastened to one of the four arms making up the “scissor”. These springs give the entire jack more lifting strength, make it more stable, and eliminate the main problem of traditional jacks: collapse of the drive screw.
Colin’s design has received many plaudits, including the South African Bureau of Standards Prototype Design Award in 2006, and the South African Bureau of Standards Design Excellence Award in 2008. In addition to this the design has received several international media awards, and has passed the safety standards tests of both the US and Australia/New Zealand.
Since those early days the Quaddro scissor jack has undergone a number of refinements, perhaps the most notable of which is the addition of a planetary gearbox to the drive-train.
The planetary gearbox makes raising and lowering the jack much easier and faster, so even a heavy 4×4 vehicle (such as the pictured Ford F250) can be lifted with a minimum of effort. For the really lazy (or impatient), Colin has designed an attachment that allows you to use your cordless drill to operate the jack, taking all the sweat out of the situation.
Another clever accessory is an extender that attaches easily but securely to the top of the jack, giving it extra reach, but without compromising the stability and strength of the design. A base-plate is also available, for soft ground.
The aim of the demonstration that we attended was to illustrate how well the Quaddro jack worked, but also to show how it can make the traditional high-lift jack obsolete and fill the role of off-road recovery gear.
Colin maintains that the Quaddro scissor jack can lift any make or model 4×4 vehicle on the market, safely and reliably. This is what sets it apart from rest, and from high-lift jacks, according to Colin. Admittedly, when we tried to lift the Ford F250 we had absolutely no problem, and the Quaddro jack was powerful, stable and required a minimum of effort to lift the huge vehicle. Whether it can replace a high-lift jack, though, is debatable. The Quaddro jack does have a number of advantages. Firstly, it is much smaller and more compact to pack, and can fit inside the vehicle, eliminating problems with dust and reliability that can affect high-lift jacks.
The Quaddro is also very, very stable, and can be used while working underneath the vehicle. Another major advantage that the Quaddro has over high-lifts is that it doesn’t require special mounting points on the vehicle, or any special skills to be used effectively.
Where the Quaddro does fall short of the high-lift (literally) is in height. With its extender attached the Quaddro jack has a maximum reach of 68cm, while a high-lift jack can extend to double that. There are times when this extra reach could be vital.
There will also be arguments for the high-lift jack, with people arguing that it can be used as a winch, and they do have a point, but how often does this actually happen in practice? Wouldn’t you rather have an easy-to-use and safe scissor jack that can be used on vehicles without modification, and will cover 90% of eventualities?
We left the mealie field thoroughly impressed by the quality of the design and manufacture of the Quaddro Jack, and confident that it could play a useful role in any 4x4ers bag of tricks. We’re not convinced, however, that it can totally replace the high-lift jack or, even if it can, if 4×4 drivers would be prepared to give up their trusty high-lifts. A fairly steep price-tag won’t help matters either!
Some fast facts:
? Quaddro jacks are currently built in the USA, but South African manufacture might commence in 2009.
? A heavy duty version of the jack will also be available.
? When the jack goes on sale in South Africa (hopefully during 2009) the retail price will be in the region of R3500.
? Load capacity of 2000kg
? Minimum height: 20cm
? Maximum height: 46cm
? Maximum height with extender: 68cm
? Weight (jack only): 8,6kg