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Helping Hand

Luxury that won't break the bank

Jason Walker Feb 10, 2004

When constructing a custom-built car from the ground up, serious consideration and planning of creature comforts should weigh high on the list of important initial details. This statement should be more than obvious to everyone, but sometimes important details get overlooked during the excitement of finishing a project. However, deciding you should have installed some sort of gadget(s), and are now left with the daunting task of installing something in and around new upholstery, and/or paint, can turn a fun project into pure aggravation. Don't let this happen to you. It's nice to be able to bang around and scratch the primer while you work now and again. Once that finished paint is applied, drilling, cutting, and wrenching become a very scary proposition.

With that said, let's take a look at one of the cool aftermarket options available today. Dakota Digital's new Heavy Duty Trunk Lift Kit is actually a compact electric screwdrive actuator. The LACT-kit can be ordered in 6-, 8-, or 10-inch travel lengths. All three are rated to 110 pounds of lifting force and come with all the necessary wiring and mounting hardware. Dakota also offers a 12-inch lift with 250 pounds of lifting force for the extremely heavy stuff. For our purposes, we chose the 10-inch lift, which when fully extended reaches 24.25 inches, and when fully retracted shortens to 14.25 inches. Since these lifts have built-in limit switches, you won't have to worry about someone over-extending the trunk lid by not paying enough attention. With 110 pounds of lifting force, you can imagine a set of hinges being ripped right out of the body, or at the very least mangled into trash without the aid of the built-in limit stops.

As far as mounting one of these lifts, there just isn't much to it. After you have made the most important decision concerning space requirements, the next important step is to determine which lift will operate with the proper extension and retraction lengths. This is where you will need to give or take slightly, with regards to how far your trunk lid swings open. This is why careful planning and consideration are very important before ordering a lift for your ride. Also, we should mention that these lifts are perfect for hoods, doors, or any other swinging parts of your ride. With all that determined prior to installation, physically mounting these lifts requires a drill, a couple of drill bits, an Allen wrench, and a tape measure. Better yet, check out the installation photos and captions to see how easy it is to get a little lift.


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As you can see in this shot, the installed lift, which is placed in the perfect position for optimum lift leverage, fits perfect next to the Optima group 51-R battery. We would love to say we planned it that way, but this was actually just one of those lucky situations. Dakota Digital offers a simple equation to help find the optimum placement to mount the lift inside their instructions. Quite simply the instructions state: "With the trunk closed, the actuator (or lift) should be in its fully retracted position. When the trunk is open, the actuator should be in its fully extended position."

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Mounting brackets are the same at the top and bottom of the lift. These mounts act as pivot points for the lift as it raises and lowers the trunk lid. The flat, threaded bracket necessitates the ability to hold it in position from behind the mounting surface. d

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As you can see in this shot, holding the mounting plate behind the inner skin of this decklid would be almost impossible, unless of course you have dainty slender hands that can reach through one of the existing holes.

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To remedy this, a quick hole was drilled next to the bracket's mounting position. Now the flat plate can be passed through the new hole, and easily held in place.

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Unless you run into the same problem on your floor as we did with the trunk lid, mounting the lower pivot should be a piece of cake. Drill two holes and tighten. Done deal.

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We mounted the Optima battery back in place, and decided this was as good a fit as possible. You don't want anything to interfere with the lift's operation, so make sure to leave a little gap between items for trouble free operation.

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Just to be sure the lift is working freely of any obstruction or undo stress, jump inside the car and watch the lift run through its operation from open to closed. As long as the lift is moving freely, you can sit back and marvel at your very own automatic trunk lid. If you want to go a step further, hook the lift's electronics into a remote entry system.

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