The Work Truck Magic Carpet

Matthew Randall

 

Arabian Jedi Knights

One of the most enduring images associated with cultures in the world’s desert regions is that of the magic carpet.   Be you a Pharaoh, High Priest, or street rat - they all have been placed on a flying woven chariot though story and song.   Operating these exquisitely decorated and seemingly agile throw rugs appears simple.  Unroll, sit, say a special word or phrase, and hold on.  The imagery brings up feelings of flying off with the dry hot desert air rustling one’s hair. 

Another iconic cultural reference relevant to the art of lifting objects comes from the Star Wars movies.  It is the point where Jedi Master Yoda lifts Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing Fighter out of the swamp on Degobah.    Every kid on the planet sat mesmerized as a three-foot miniaturized cross between E.T. and Mr. Spock waved its hand over the bog.  After a few moments the mass of white metal slid upwards out of the mud suspended in mid-air, without a chain fall or crane in sight.   Youth all over the planet tried desperately to do the same by closing their eyes and waving their hands.  Their goals varied from hoping to lift their bed, to the family car, or the ornery old cat.  Expectedly their efforts were not met with success.  But the image has remained imprinted on our national psyche over decades.

 

Liftoff

The fascination devoted to the idea of lifting stuff into space is strong with humans.   Maybe it is due to laziness?  Or the need to control things heavier than one can lift using their natural strength that drives this curiosity.   Many of our cultural mystics, ancient gods, and wizard-like characters created over time tend to share some universal power that allows them to manipulate objects from a distance.   Superman uses eye beams.  Zeus controls the power of wind.  Merlin waves his staff.  Disney’s Elsa manipulates ice.  Regardless they all can move objects from afar with minimal effort.  

To date humanity has been unable to find ways to propel objects simply by using an outstretched hand.  Regardless of this sad fact, stuff still needs to be lifted and moved.  Enter the lift gate: a hydraulically or pneumatically powered metal sheet with the strength of Popeye the Sailor Man.  Substitute the cans of spinach for some bottles of hydraulic fluid and you can start getting down to business.

 

Power from a Platform

Should you find yourself staring at the side of one of our nation’s massive aircraft carriers it is hard to miss the gargantuan platforms.  Riding on rails moving sailors, planes, and material; lift gates being used to protect our nation.  The famed Crawler-Transporters, which are massive lift gates with a set of tank tracks, have been working for NASA since 1965.  They can lift over 6 million pounds of spacecraft onto a launch platform, aiding our species’ quest to reach out into the universe.  Any hospice or medical transport vehicle you see in your town will likely sport lift gates.  These provide safe transportation to the elderly or infirmed.  Like Dunkin’ Doughnuts - theses machines are everywhere, on every street corner.   

Though its origins are disputed, popular opinion remains that the technology helping to give rise to these levitating plates of iron and steel started a few years after Henry Ford began cranking off the world’s first durable production line trucks.  The wildly popular TT and AA Models served as the first chassis on which lift gate research and development began.  In 1939 the basic the form and function was established.  Through technological improvements in power plants and metallurgy, these machines have remained essential tools ever since.  Civilization had its metal magic carpet, stuck on the rear end of a horseless carriage.   

Is it a “Lift Gate” or a “Tail Lift?”

These apparatus come in many different shapes and sizes and fit onto just about anything.  If the chassis can handle the weight and stresses, a lift gate can be attached.   No van, pickup, box truck, or trailer is exempt from enjoying the benefits of this invention.   On any given moment in any given city 1500 to 6500 pounds of mass can be moved against the will of gravity.  All it takes is the flick of a toggle switch.   The simplicity of these metal magic carpets makes them a very reliable piece of gear.   Throw on some recommended preventative maintenance annually and you can expect decades of service.  Should one fail to operate, diagnosis and repair are relatively minor obstacles to overcome.   In the end, many gates outlive the chassis to which they are attached. 

Whether you call them a “lift gate” as we do in North America or a “tail lift” should you be living across the pond in Jolly Old England, the styles remain essentially the same.  Arms or rails move them up, down, and out.  Gravity, guide posts, and chains aid in the folding and unfolding of the platform.   Electricity or hydraulic pressure provides the energy to force action.  Grease keeps things from binding.  They are efficient and safe.   Employees are able to mitigate some of the wear and tear on their bodies, reduce the chances of being injured, and increase production thanks to the lift gate.

These devices are so plentiful that we tend not to notice them during the coming and going of our daily lives.  But when people are in need, you find a lift gate adorning the newsfeed on your television screen or YouTube app.   Katrina disaster: lift gates moved supplies that the displaced masses of New Orleans desperately needed.   When the Good Shepherd Food Bank is picking up and dropping off groceries to feed the hungry, you see a lift gate saving the day.   Goodwill picks up crates of donated clothing to warm the impoverished riding the rails of a lift gate.   Moving furniture into a Habitat for Humanity house, and a van body truck with a lift gate is sure to be on site.  They are invisible though always in plain sight.  In the forefront at times of desperation, providing sustenance and solace to the people who need is most.  A human made magic carpet, bringing the world hope.

 

Saddle Up

The reasons for having a lift gate are many:

  • There is no access to a loading dock.
  • The vehicle lacks a loading ramp.
  • Moving things on a ramp is too dangerous.
  • Where you work lacks space for a ramp (small parking lot, downtown area, etc.).
  • The product you sell or buy is too heavy for a human to lift.
  • The business can only afford a mid-sized truck.

Regardless of the model vehicle, there is a lift gate that can be put on it.  If you are in the market for your very own metal magic carpet, the sales team at Messer Truck Equipment can help you out.   And we promise, you need no fancy words to make it work.   All that is required is a truck, a job to do, and people ready to do it.  No strings attached.