Repurposed Air Bags
04-20-2020, (Subject: Repurposed Air Bags ) 
Post: #1
Repurposed Air Bags
(Not sure if this fits best in "Things that may help others" or "Your daily blog" or where?)

So late summer last year I replaced all 4 tractor air suspension bags. One had a small leak and the rest were looking pretty rotted. Now, I'm the type of person that doesn't like to throw things away if they might still be useful. Ever since then I've been playing with ideas to repurpose these airbags. First I thought I might put 1 or more to use in my (hobbyist) wood shop, perhaps as some sort of table/workpiece lift. But I have very little free time to spend in the shop and couldn't quite figure out what to do.

Then a few months back I spent more time than I would have liked on my back under the tractor working on exhaust components. So that got me thinking about simple ways to lift the tractor. There are wooden block ramps. Works fine as long as you can drive it up onto the ramp. But If you need a stationary vertical lift then this wouldn't work. There are plenty of electric and/or hydraulic solutions, but I'm not looking to spend the money on something like that, which I probably won't use that often. I also don't have access to electricity where I park my tractor, but I do have air.

So that brings me to the topic at hand. Repurposing old air bags as a vehicle lift. This is very much a work in progress and any thoughts or ideas are welcome! This is also something I would consider as a hobby project. That means: I'm mostly going to use parts and pieces I have laying around, I'm not going to spend much money on dedicated parts, I'll work on it as time permits.

The basic concept:

Take (1-4 or more) used air bags, build a sturdy base for each. Connect them with quick connect air hoses and utilize them as a lifting mechanism. Solid wood shims can be used to adjust the starting height with heavy duty blocking to be used for the safe working height platform. That's pretty much all I have thought about so far. Just need a good air supply to raise the airbags and some kind of release valve for controlled descent. As for keeping the air bag oriented properly during operation, I was thinking about a small plate on the top with 3 springs pulling down to the base. Since it's only raising maybe 3-6" I figure that should be enough to keep it from leaning and blowing out sideways. That's the simplest solution I've come up with so far, but might not be the best.

Another approach would be to have some sort of scissor mechanism that raises with the lift and has locking teeth or something to prevent reverse movement. This, along with a few other parts, could allow the air bag to raise 3-6", lock the load in place and deflate, then continue to raise the load from the new starting height. While this method would be a bit more complex, the scissor/locking mechanism could perform double duty to keep the air bag level as it inflates. Just as a caution to others reading, such a ratcheting/locking mechanism would only be used for the lift and proper jack stands or blocks would still be needed to ensure a safe working environment.

Thoughts? Concerns? Ideas? Modifications? I'll all ears!

Again, this is a hobby project that I would like to use to lift my tractor, but also use in other ways, such as lifting my pickup truck, or lifting a platform with my lawn tractors, or whatever I can apply it to. So it should remain simple, versatile, small, portable and very inexpensive.


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 Thanks given by: barf
04-20-2020, (Subject: Repurposed Air Bags ) 
Post: #2
RE: Repurposed Air Bags
So it should remain simple, versatile, portable and very inexpensive.

A JACK of all trades. Haha

Show us what you come up with.


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 Thanks given by: JimT
04-20-2020, (Subject: Repurposed Air Bags ) 
Post: #3
RE: Repurposed Air Bags
As far as using bags to lift truck I would only do this with some sort of fall protection


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04-20-2020, (Subject: Repurposed Air Bags ) 
Post: #4
RE: Repurposed Air Bags
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZV-GCXT0f60
Some idea here. Safety support stands must be used.
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 Thanks given by: JimT
04-21-2020, (Subject: Repurposed Air Bags ) 
Post: #5
RE: Repurposed Air Bags
(04-20-2020 )snailexpress Wrote:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZV-GCXT0f60
Some idea here. Safety support stands must be used.

that thing is still extremely dangerous when all the way up. Those hinges should never reach more than about 105-degrees opening for stability at the full up position. They are way too short for proper lateral stability in the full up position. Make them longer to fix it, then it would be something almost viable. There should also be a minimum of 5 of them, not 3.


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 Thanks given by: JimT
04-21-2020, (Subject: Repurposed Air Bags ) 
Post: #6
RE: Repurposed Air Bags
Snailexpress: Like the video! illustrates the basic concept pretty well. Had not considered using hinges. That's why I welcome feedback!

Lonestar10: Correct, as with any jack it should only be used to lift an object, not support or secure it.

Mattman: Jack of all trades, I like it.

Rawze: Thanks for the analysis. If I try this approach I'll keep those points in mind.


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07-30-2020, (Subject: Repurposed Air Bags ) 
Post: #7
RE: Repurposed Air Bags
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AKN2Hy2pmk
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 Thanks given by: Waterloo
07-31-2020, (Subject: Repurposed Air Bags ) 
Post: #8
RE: Repurposed Air Bags
No thanks!! I've had air bags blow (new ones even) while the truck was just sitting and idleing. Sounds like a shotgun of course. It could blow while you're setting the jack stands.That's extremely dangerous if you ask me.


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07-31-2020, (Subject: Repurposed Air Bags ) 
Post: #9
RE: Repurposed Air Bags
(07-30-2020 )74bassman Wrote:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AKN2Hy2pmk

interesting. not sure if i'd trust a single bag like that to lift straight up without tipping to one side or the other. I guess for low lifts that are relatively stable, but thats it.

I've stalled out on this idea for now. Too busy with other stuff and no driving need for it. But unlike the video here, I'd be using old, leaky, single piece air bags. So the biggest concerns would be stability of the lift and a lower safe working load limit then that for which they were originally designed. And really it's all just an exercise in reusing something that would otherwise be trash.

If anyone has other ideas for ways to repurpose worn out yet functional air bags, please share! Even if it's just an idea, it might be worth exploring. I'd say 95% of the ideas I have never make it out of my brain. Of the remaining 5% less than 1% of them actually get tested.


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