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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have had my GT up on tall jack stands (in order to remove the engine from below) for a VERY long time. OK, that's another story. But I removed the suspension a while back to rebuild and re-paint the pieces, and one of the reasons (excuses!) for not getting much more done to the car was the difficulty in moving it around with wheels. And I didn't want to re-install the suspension before I had the car painted, since all the nice black paint would be over-sprayed with the car paint.

So I have been considering some kind of body dolly for a while. I also considered a body rotisserie, to allow the body to be rolled over to access the bottom. And the PERFECT solution would be to have a rotisserie that was on casters, to allow it to be rotated and moved around. But I decided that was beyond the scope of this restoration (and maybe my fabrication skills) so I went out onto the web and looked at what other folks had built. Here are a few of the body dollies I found.

The first is Bob Legere's, but it seemed a bit too robust for what I wanted. But it reminded me that it would be nice if I could build something that would also fit the SportWagon

The others are simple and effective, but I wanted another feature. To be able to "lift" the body so that I could work underneath it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Here are some other dollies. The first is Rudy Nevi's, from Holland, which had the height I wanted. The last one had the adjustable height but I wanted something that was more flexible
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
The first step was to do a bit of design. The design criteria:

1) I wanted something I could bolt together (although the pieces could be welded, as I have a MIG welder), so I could disassemble it and store it in pieces when it wasn't used.
2) I wanted it to fit both the GT and the SportWagon (and therefore other Opels of the era).
3) I wanted it fairly lightweight, yet safe and sturdy. If possible, I liked the idea of having the cross piece removable to facilitate engine and suspension installation.
4) And I wanted to be able to adjust the height, to at least the height required to remove the engine from below (Dave, don't go there :D )

I made up some sketches, which have since been recycled. But the important part of that step was to lay out some dimensions that would allow it to fit the GT and SportWagon. And to figure out what to use for casters and height adjustment. OK, on to the procurement and fabrication.

Tools. First I had to buy a chop saw. I had used a neighbour's in the past, but he moved away this spring. Fortunately, Princess Auto (PA) sells a decent 14" chop saw for only $129 CAD (useful for MANY projects!). I already had a decent floor drill press, and the aforementioned MIG welder (although a small stick arc welder would have been fine, and actually maybe a bit easier than the small MIG welder I have).

Materials. I settled on rectangular steel tubing. I especially liked the 1"X2" tubing that PA sold, but they ran out when I went back for the last few pieces. So I made the front cross member out of 1 1/4" square tubing (a bit heavier wall thickness than the 1X2). The attachment points (photos in the next posts) were made of a piece of 2X2 square tubing and a bit of angle iron. The physical attachment used a 3/4" threaded rod. And the piece de resistance was a trailer tongue dolly, which had a fair caster wheel, and lifted 11" from the low position.

Here are the first photos...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Here are some photos of the dolly in the lowered and raised position. All the bolts are 3/8" Grade 5, and most nuts are Grade 8. The trailer jacks are rated at 600 lbs each, so I am confident that they are strong enough to handle the weight. One nice feature is that they fold up (rotate around a centre axis) but the bad thing is the rotating mechanism isn't wobble free. They have a locking bolt hole, so I just inserted a 7/16" (actually an M12) bolt in the hole to secure the wobble.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
One particular feature of this design is that the casters are located inside the wheel wells, but just barely so as to not interfere with the suspension and hubs. This allowed the side rails and jacks to be mounted at the body width, and also provides some additional fore and aft stability. I want to be able to use this dolly even with the engine and suspensions in place, at least until the car is fully reassembled. And making the dolly shorter (as most of the GT dollies shown above) wouldn't work with the caster jacks, unless the dolly was wider (to clear the jacks from the body).

I had initially built the dolly with the jacks in the wheel wells, but the side rails were further out-board (i.e. the dolly was wider). This didn't work with another of the design criteria, which was to allow the dolly's cross member to be removed for the engine to be installed, as the additional torque on the side rails caused them to flex inwards. And it made the dolly about 12 inches wider, which started to make tripping over the dolly a real hazard

Another feature is how I mount the dolly to the GT body. It uses a small extension of 2X2 square tubing, with a 3/4" nut welded on top at the same angle as the jack points. Then 3/4" threaded rod is inserted through the jack points. To secure the dolly totally to the body, a nut can be installed at the inside end of each rod. This is so secure (since my jack points are virtually rust-free), the cross-rails are really not needed to keep the dolly square to the body

The additional holes you see in the side rails in these photos are the secondary mounting points for the attachment points, which allow them to be moved to fit the SportWagon. I haven't fit it to the SW yet, but the dimensions all work out. And I won't be able to use quite the same method, as the SW jack points don't go all the way through as in the GT. The nuts that are welded on to the angled square tubing will just sit in the recess of the jack point on the SW.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Here are the final photos with the side rails bolted to the jack points (the photos above show the threaded rod just starting to be inserted into the jack point holes) and the cross rails installed. In these photos, the cross rails are installed near the ends of the dolly, but not at the very end, but they could be.

I have also drilled holes to allow them to be mounted somewhat closer to the centre of the chassis, which would allow better access to the rear suspension and engine compartment areas. For security, I feel better about having the cross rails nearer the caster jacks, so there is less chance of them flexing the side rails when the car is being rolled around. But for static work (such as installing the differential, engine and transmission), the cross rails can be removed even when the car is fully raised.

The final photo shows the caster jack handle being turned over to keep it out of the way, and to keep it from being accidentally moved

That's about it. The body dolly moves very nicely when in the down position, and a bit less smoothly in the raised position. I am not as happy with the caster wheels, but if they don't stand up, I will cut them off and weld on better casters. Comments?
 

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Keith,
Looks nice :) . One question..How are you going to remove the cross rails and not put too much stress on the jack points. With the support outboard of the jack point, with no cross pieces, you will put a great deal of moment into the jack point, which it is not designed to take. The weight of the car will try to tear the welds and sheet metal off of the bottom of the car. I like the design tho. I just finished my tear down today and finally put the four pipe bar links onto my jack stands and the caster jacks that I built several months ago, under a thread called custom jack stand. It works like a charm except for one thing, when the caster jacks are in place you can't open the doors :( . Which is why I like your idea of placing those units in the wheel wells.
 

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Keith;
In your second set of pictures, the middle picture of the mount made out of wood. I had this one about ready to build myself as it can be made from wood from a lumber yard and casters from a hardware store. Since a lot of Opelers out there don't have welders, let alone access to one, this is the most viable option and cheapest. This one too can be designed for most Opels, from the GT to the Sportwagon.
Gene
 

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Keith, that really looks neat, wish I'd had that to use on Willit? A minor thing, only because I'm aware of it, you have to jack up each corner individually. I used a pair of 7500 lb trailer jacks on the tilt bed trailer Stephen made for me, and I had to modify what he had initially because the monza proved too heavy for what he had. I don't know if you have room to run a rod underneath the car, but here's what I did on the trailer. I ran an interconnect rod between the two jacks so I could raise and lower them in unison. It took my friendly welder about 1/2 hour to weld nuts on the rotating mechanism in place of the crank handles and he welded a pair of sockets for the nuts to a 1" square tube and on a piece of solld square stock that slid inside the square tube. I located the sockets on the nuts then drilled a hole through the tube and solid stock and put a 10-32 bolt and nut through the hole to lock the tube and solid stock in place. Now, when I put a socket on one jack and turn it, they both extend or retract together. Oh yeah, one jack has a nut on either side of the rotating mechanism. If you want I can take some pics of the setup next time I go to the big rig.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
markandson said:
Keith,
Looks nice :) . One question..How are you going to remove the cross rails and not put too much stress on the jack points. With the support outboard of the jack point, with no cross pieces, you will put a great deal of moment into the jack point, which it is not designed to take. The weight of the car will try to tear the welds and sheet metal off of the bottom of the car.
Actually, that is EXACTLY the load the jack points are designed to take. The factory jack is a simple rod that slides into the jack point hole and lifts it up from a point about 7 inches outboard of the edge of the jack point hole. That was the reason I re-designed the rails to bring them closer in to the body, so they would emulate the factory jack lifting moment arm (the caster jack is actually a bit closer). I angled the threaded rod (well, the big 3/4" nut) at the same angle as the jack points. And the jack point edge rests on the square tubing for about an inch.

Granted, the factory jack is stationary (sort of!) at the base, versus the wheel on the caster. But I have already tried it out, and there doesn't seem to be an undue amount of stress on the jack points from not having the cross rails. I think having the threaded rod snugged up against the inner end of the jack point also helps spread the load throughout the jack point welds, rather than at a single contact point that is often the case with the factory jack.

Good point though, and one reason that I would be cautious of removing the cross rails on a car with rusted jack points
 

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I like it, Keith. It is borderline overkill, though if it were it just a little heavier it would be an actual jig. The tongue jacks are plenty for a shell of a GT, to put a complete car on it you might want to upgrade the jacks a size and use the "double wheeled" casters.
You no doubt have found it to be extremely handy already, it is a real huge plus to have your project that movable!
Of all the different ones you showed, I have to prefer the "rotisserie" one, but would an assembled GT be safe on it? I doubt it.
Good job.
 

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Keith
You are an absolute designing genius!
How much are you selling the plans for??
 

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I happened to be talking with my nephew about borrowing some muscle power to help me in a house move. He is a wrestling coach among other things and he came across 4 mat dollys that were going to be tossed. He gave them to me and they are perfect. Placing one dolly at each corner of the car makes it extremely easy to maneuver the car around.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
BQS4 said:
Keith;
In your second set of pictures, the middle picture of the mount made out of wood. I had this one about ready to build myself as it can be made from wood from a lumber yard and casters from a hardware store. Since a lot of Opeler's out there don't have welders, let alone access to one, this is the most viable option and cheapest. This one too can be designed for most Opels, from the GT to the SportWagon.
Gene
You know Gene, I actually thought about building a dolly out 2x10 or 2x12 side and cross rails and either the caster jacks or just plain casters. I hadn't gotten as far as doing the stress analysis to see what size to use, but there is no reason to think that at least the bare body wouldn't be securely supported by maybe even doubled up 2x8's. Heck, a bare body probably only weighs 600 lbs, and the support points are only 51 1/2 inches apart on the GT (and only 48 inches on the SW), so the math should be quite simple (if I could only do math...)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
namba209 said:
A minor thing, only because I'm aware of it, you have to jack up each corner individually. I don't know if you have room to run a rod underneath the car, but here's what I did on the trailer. I ran an interconnect rod between the two jacks so I could raise and lower them in unison. Now, when I put a socket on one jack and turn it, they both extend or retract together. If you want I can take some pics of the setup next time I go to the big rig.
I remember what you showed me on the trailer at the OMC Picnic; quite innovative! In this case, I think the rods and requisite mechanism would add a fair bit of complexity, and also be a bit "in the way". I can get the car fully raised, by lifting each corner in steps, in about 5 minutes. And by doing each corner individually, I can put a tilt on the body, either right to left or front to back, as I see fit.
 

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You're right Keith, I thought about it after I responded to the thread. I didn't take in the big picture, that you could tilt up, down, left and right. In the words of a "Laugh-In" character, "Never Mind" :D
 

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Keith, that is very neat. I've been racking my brain on how to build something like that for the last month, just couldn't see it in my mind. Now that I've seen it, I hope you dont mind if I copy it. (Remember the frt spring compressor?). My only thought that was a little different, was pneumatic tires so I could roll it out of the shop onto gravel. How much tubing did you use total? I have to go into town today so I'm going to start hunting up parts. Once again a great idea. Jarrell
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
soybean said:
Keith, that is very neat. I've been racking my brain on how to build something like that for the last month, just couldn't see it in my mind. Now that I've seen it, I hope you don't mind if I copy it. (Remember the frt spring compressor?). My only thought that was a little different, was pneumatic tires so I could roll it out of the shop onto gravel. How much tubing did you use total? I have to go into town today so I'm going to start hunting up parts. Once again a great idea. Jarrell
You know what they say: "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery". I thought about pneumatic tires, but hadn't found any that fit the bill. The side rails are 80 inches long, the cross rails 51 inches wide, with some cross bracing, so I think I used six 8 ft lengths (48 feet!). Plus some angle iron for the ends of the side and cross rails provide a bolt-able angle. And a BUNCH of wire for my wire feed welder. I think I have about $250 CAD into it, including the caster jacks. And about 30 hours, including sketches, fabrication, cutting apart and re-welding (I made it too wide the first try) and painting.
 

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Beware of limitations using pneumatic tires. A friend of mine did such a thing for his welding cart to allow it to roll over rough terrain. With the majority of the weight up high and soft compressible tires, on uneven ground the unit tipped over. Wouldn't want your GT to fall off the cart now, would you?
 
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