[Sean's Jaguar XJS Tech Pages]
The handy-dandy rollabout worktray

Last modified 2005 APR 07 04:40:23 GMT

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I inherited this rollabout worktray from my father. It was of such great utility around his shop when working on the cars that I'd expected to build one once I obtained a scrap height adjuster, but fate had it that I'd inherit this one much too early in life.

There's no secret to this -- it is simply an old (pre-all-plastic) hospital bed table. The type that the attending could slide underneath the bed and adjust to the bed height so that the patient could eat. I believe my father had scored a couple of these ages ago when a local hospital decommissioned some old gear, upgrading to more readily sanitizable all-plastic units.

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The top is a hefty 1" thick piece of wood with formica laminate (which is pretty resiliant against automotive chemicals), measuring 15.5" x 34" (3.7 square feet of surface), and the adjusting crank can adjust the height by as much as 15" -- from 44" down to 29" (as measured from the ground to the underside of the tray surface - the actual ground clearance of the unit). Of course, any particular unit you might glam onto will have it's own characteristics.

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The sturdy metal frame below extends outward underneath the top tray providing significant support to the top, while the bottom of the cart has an extended spread on the wheels (approx 31" shown here), assuring that the cart won't tip over easily, even when weighted on the end opposing the veritcal shaft. The lower frame is low enough profile to slip under cars - even the low XJ-S - with ease. The adjuster comes straight down - the angled bit you see from the side to the bottom isn't a support, but rather excess foam pipe insulation, which I've wiretied to the upper portion of the adjuster frame. This insulation provides a bumper cushion for the cart protecting the side of the car from damage when you push it too close. It simply wouldn't do if you scratched up your fenders while giving the big cat a tuneup.

When I get some time, I have plans to have a local sheetmetal shop fabricate a surround for the top which will be folded over (no sharp edges), and which I'll screw into the sides. This will provide me with a 3/8" or so lip so that small bits don't roll off of the surface, and are not easily bumped and sent sliding off the top. I might actually consider having a shallow metal basin constructed which simply slides over the top, and screws in on the underside at the corners. This same steel lip can provide some slide holes for a heavy gauge steel wire that can be extended from the crank side outwards from the car, onto which I can either clip a small plastic produce bag to use for light waste (old rubber bits, etc), or which I can hang extra shop rags from, etc.

I have considered the possibility of making a two-way sliding drawer underneath the tray top (reducing the maximum underside clearance by a few inches of course, and increasing the height of the top over the workarea), for carting around a small selection of oft-used tools - spares of a few common sized wrenches and screwdrivers, and a pad and pencil for jotting down measurements or other notes (though I'm still fond of a microcassette recorder in a ziplock bag, which protects it from greasy digits). By placing a stop tab and mating pin at the extents on either side, the drawer could be made to open on either long side of the tray (say you bring the tray in from the left side of the car, and a typical one-way drawer is then facing the winscreen instead of towards the engine as it would if the tray were brought to the car from the other fender - a lot of good it'll do you when you're working on the engine bay side of the cart!) without needing to fret about pulling an unanchored drawer all the way out and dumping its contents.

You can figure a Jaguar XJ-S needs about 35" of clearance from the ground to the underside of the tray when working over the engine bay, and the centreline of the cart can be about two feet forward of the windshield wipers if you want (because the crossbar between the two sets of wheels on the cart can be situated right behind the wheel). When brought up against one side of the car, the top surface extends just about to the centreline of the car. I'm considering possibly constructing a small slide-on end tray which can extend it another foot or so when needed (with the understanding that heavy parts shouldn't be rested there), such as when doing work which involves alternating between either side of the car.

When we get some cheerier weather out where I live, I'll take some shots of the tray in action, and then you'll really appreciate how it works.


Sean B. Straw
Post Box 751224
Petaluma, CA 94975-1224 USA

EMail to: Sean.Straw+Jaguar@mail.professional.org

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