The Shopsmith Lift Assist is one of the most useful accessories that I have come across recently. In fact I've found that in use it actually encourages you to make frequent changes between horizontal and vertical modes (i.e. Drill Press) because it takes the strain out of lifting the headstock.
With the headstock at the extreme left hand side it is now easy to lift with just one hand and with the headstock on the right, it will lift itself! I'm told that on cut-down Mk Vs the headstock will rise unassisted, wherever it is placed.
The Lift Assist comes as a kit of parts and is easy to fit by one person. The only tools you'll need are a couple of open ended wrenches to tighten the bolts and an Allen wrench to do some minor alignment before you start. You should also aim to ensure that the way tubes are thoroughly clean and free from grease, dirt and debris.
The kit consists of sixteen bolts, nuts and washers and eight half blocks which when assembled make four anchor fixings at the right hand end of the upper and lower way tubes. For extra rigidity, two "tie bars" are provided and these are fitted across the blocks, one on the lower set and one on the upper. The only thing to watch for is that you carefully take note of the instructions, because the bolts that hold the block assemblies together are of different lengths. If you get them wrong you won't damage anything, you'll just have to take them out and start again!
There are three major parts remaining which are two brackets which each hold a ball assembly to connect to the sockets on the third part, which is the gas strut, just like those used to raise and lower the trunk on a hatchback automobile. This is the reason that the Lift Assist works and has been specially chosen for the length of travel and the weights involved. The gas strut sockets simply snap over the ball on each bracket, but can be removed with a screwdriver, although so far I've not found this to be necessary.
Once all of the parts have been aligned according to the instructions, the fixing nuts and bolts are then tightened and you're all set for a fun time.
Just a final check that everything's tight and you can unlock the handle at the left hand end and really find out for yourself what you've been missing. One hand under the left end of an upper way tube and up she goes with ease.
One word of warning: Because it's now so easy to raise and lower the headstock, it is all too easy to get blasé about it, so don't forget to ensure that the headstock is locked before you attempt to raise it!:eek:
The instructions that come with the Lift Assist are quite comprehensive with pictures and text, so you can't really go wrong. They do mention some adjustment that may have to be made, once everything's assembled, but so far I've not found this to be necessary. All the parts went together as expected and the Lift Assist worked first time and continues to make life easy for me.
It's worth mentioning that fitting the lift assist can cut down on the available free space below the Mk V, which might be a problem if you have under machine storage. In horizontal mode, the main arm sits 2 1/2" below the bottom edge of the lower way tubes, and extends 17" from the right hand inside end of the MkV. The gas strut starts at
2 1/2" and slopes to the far right where it joins its bracket at 7" below the lower way tubes. If you have a purpose built cupboard under your MkV, provided that it has no upper drawer, it would be easy to cut a slot in the top to allow the Lift Assist arm to pass below.
You will also loose 2" travel for the table at the right hand end, due to the fixing blocks, but in practice this is rather insignificant unless you want to turn stock right to the limit of the Mk Vs capability.
For what it's worth, my advice to Shopsmith Inc. is that the Lift Assist is a great selling point and for a small increase in cost, should be fitted as standard to all new Mk Vs.
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