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Jim Patten reveals why classic car heaven is a hole in the floor to
If ever there was a garage fairy and she offered a wish, I reckon that most would close their eyes and, with all their might, wish and wish for a fulllength inspection pit. In reality there’s little need for any type of fairy as there is a fairly easy way of achieving dreams without having a nightmare. Gone are the days too of cement and brick built affairs letting in water. Today we can have a fully enclosed one-piece fibreglass moulding that has stood the test of time - I know, mine went in over ten years ago. The Mech-Mate pit was the brainchild of Chris Praat – his company had marketed the successful Truck-Man covers for the P100 pick-up truck. He soon saw the potential of making a membrane for a pit and was even able to dial in a few convenient extras. Incorporating narrow ridges around the girth as the pit narrows to the bottom, these are used to hold a seat and tool tray. Around the top, sunken areas in the moulding allow the use of bulkhead lighting. Clever stuff and all of this comes preprepared, ready to be popped in
the floor. (Incidentally, if you already have a conventional cement/ brick pit, then Mech-Mate markets an efficient sealer that may interest you.)
A little mental preparation is needed before you start wielding the pickaxe. If you are even remotely thinking about building a garage from scratch, then make sure that a pit is included in the plans from day one as it will make sure life is that much easier. But it’s not the end of the world if you already have a lock up and wish to install one; it just means digging through the concrete. The most important thing of all though is the siting. Getting the hole in the right place is absolutely critical. Most prefer to have the pit nearer the garage door than closer to the back wall; there are more variations on the moving theme with greater space at each end. It’s possible to work under the front of the car with the rear sticking out of the garage, finish off, roll the car forward and then work on the rear. If the pit is at the back of the garage, the car will have to be turned around each time – andthat may prove difficult. If your garage is already built, then unless it’s a peculiar (or very large) shape or you have built in benches, make sure that the pit sits dead centre. Then position a largish car in the garage and look for the optimum point beneath the engine and suspension. Make a rough mark (the pit is big) and use these as datum points for the final location. Be absolutely sure – once it’s in, it’s bloody well in! Look at the product available, there are many options from a basic lay-down Mini-Pit through to a full stand-up 2.5 metre long Motor-Pit. Get the biggest you can afford. Study the option list too, as there’s a host of interesting items like a sliding jack platform.
It’s the pits…
One day, a huge package will arrive looking more like a garden pond than an essential piece of garage kit. As usual, run through the contents and then study the installation procedure – it is informed and logical, taking each step in turn. We’ll be looking at installing a pit during the construction of a freshly-built garage. Much of the information will also apply to an existing garage, only the penetration of the concrete floor will differ. Plans are included to make a wooden template of the pit; it takes the form of a wooden box to be laid in place while the hardcore and concrete are poured in place. Then the hole is dug to the given depth. Once the hole has been dug, installation is spread over at least two days. One is needed for the pit to be set into concrete at the base. If concrete is simply poured in around the edge, gravity has its effect and the pit will pop up out of the ground.
Our pictures give an idea of how to install one of these pits.