Working out in the garage is always therapeutic. Well, that is until you find yourself with a three-person job and you are the only one who answers your questions. One such occasion is anytime you have to lift something heavy, awkward, or just plain more than you can handle. The classic case is taking a hot rod body on and off during the build process. But there is an answer.

Let me show you two ways to properly overcome the disadvantage of your buddies not showing up! The first, and most substantial, is the Harbor Freight Telescoping Gantry Crane; the second, is making your own body lift using the ever-present engine hoist with some home-fabricated components.

Telescoping Gantry Crane
One problem with any device that you need to slide under your street rod will always be clearance. Primarily, the fact that it's hard to use under lowered vehicles due to the castered legs, which require a good 7 inches of clearance between the ground and the framerails. The best bet is to find a telescoping gantry crane, which I'd spied on a recent visit to one of my all-time favorite haunts-Harbor Freight Tools.

The reasons I opted to go for the gantry crane shown here are many, but the fact that it offers a much more stable lifting platform than the modified cherry picker was foremost in mind when I chose it. Another plus is the fact that the unit is telescopic-in other words the I-beam height is adjustable from 8 feet 3 inches to 12 feet 8 inches with seven increments between its minimum and maximum height. This adjustable capability ensures that the crane can be utilized in varying situations-from pulling an engine to removing and re-installing truck cabs and beds. Plus, it's a life saver when it comes to single-handedly loading or unloading heavy objects into or out of my pickup bed.

The fact that the gantry crane allows me to accomplish things on my own and without outside help makes it well worth the price (MSRP is $649), and when used with an optional push trolley the crane is one of the best investments a lone hobbyist or fabricator can make. So take a look at the Harbor Freight Telescoping Gantry Crane (PN 41188-7VGA) I recently brought home and see how easy it goes together.

Homebuilt Body Lift
As my roving eye cruised over my garage I spied my engine hoist right off the bat, but I quickly realized that the boom length and the support leg length were much too short to be of much help. Fortunately that's when my attention turned to my scrap metal pile. There, leaning against a wall was a couple of 8-foot lengths of square tubing of differing size.

After a couple of crude sketches on a handy piece of cardboard I figured out that if I were lucky I just might be able to cut and weld my way out of this predicament-and after a few hours of trial and error I found out I had. The following series of images shows how I figured my way around a particular problem-and though it may not be the best way, my thrashing did end up doing what I needed it to do, and may actually continue to serve me well in the future.

Here are two ways to solve a problem. It should be obvious the advantages of each. Just keep in mind that your safety is of major concern and you'll do just fine.