An auto rotisserie is an essential tool for auto body shops, mechanics and car restoring enthusiasts.
Working on the underside of the car can be challenging. Laying down on your back or crouching underneath a lift often makes it difficult to do a good job, and the task at hand can take hours longer than it has to. Fortunately, that’s why there exists the auto rotisserie. Still, even the most basic of rotisseries can be very expensive, so it is important to know just what you’re looking for.
Also known as a car rotisserie, an auto rotisserie is an essential tool for auto body shops, mechanics and car restoring enthusiasts. Like its name suggests, an auto rotisserie resembles a cooking rotisserie, only on a much larger scale. Not to be confused with a regular auto lifting rack or auto tilter, an auto rotisserie is a lift that is capable of literally rotating the car so that its underbelly is perpendicular to the ground and can therefore be worked on with ease. For comparison, a standard lift only raises the vehicle from the ground and an auto tilter merely tilts up one side of the vehicle from the ground. Both can actually come with a lot of risks because they tend to not be as stable or as convenient as an auto rotisserie, which is made up of two identical, upright units that are connected together for support. The auto body is held in place on either end by these units and is able to be raised, lowered and rotated to suit the worker’s needs. The elevation and movement of the auto rotisserie also helps to prevent the accumulation of dirt, rust, grease and debris in the vehicle being restored.
An auto rotisserie isn’t something that can be picked up at any hardware store, but rather at stores that specifically sell machinery and vehicle restoration equipment and repair tools. If you don’t live near such a store, some retailers, like Northern Tool, carry such merchandise that can be purchased through their online stores (however, these stores will naturally charge extra for shipping costs). Auto rotisseries themselves vary in price, but a good one will cost you anywhere between 1,000 dollars to around 2,000 dollars. Wherever you end up looking, always be cautious of those priced much lower than 1,000 dollars as they could very well be made of cheaper materials or be in poor condition.
Those who are new to car restoration, or those who only engaged in singular or short-term projects may seek out a used auto rotisserie. But where can someone find a used auto rotisserie for sale? Unfortunately, there is no website that acts as an auto rotisserie craigslist, although sites like Craigslist should of course be checked for local people who may be selling their used rotisseries (again though, be aware of price and quality in these situations). Local auto body shops or professional car restorers should also be sought out, as they may be in the process of getting rid of older equipment or may have an extra auto rotisserie that they wouldn’t mind selling to you.
It should be mentioned, however, that certain people might wish to custom build their own auto rotisserie. After all, building your own rotisserie can save hundreds of dollars as well as be customized to your personal needs. Those who are more inventive and mechanically inclined may build their own from scratch, but if you don’t know how to go about making one, help is available. There are many auto rotisserie plans that provide instructions and list necessary items. You may even be able to find an auto rotisserie kit that would come with all of the necessary components, thus saving you time (although these kits may be more expensive). No matter what, look at several different plans and/or kits before making a decision on which one to follow. Good designs will allow for adaptability to different chassis and auto frames. The type of vehicle you plan to work on must also be taken into consideration. For example, a heavier auto body will require a larger and stronger auto rotisserie.
When engaging in auto rotisserie DIY construction, it goes without saying that you should always practice caution, and having quality equipment helps. The proper tools and materials can be found both in stores and with online retailers like Harbor Freight. Basic components of the auto rotisserie are nuts, bolts, steel tubing, etc. As far as the tools you’ll need for the actual construction, the essential ones are a welding torch, drill, wrenches, layout tools (scribe, soapstone, marker, level, straight edge, awl, etc.) and a saw that can cut through metal (a cold saw, band saw, or at the very least an abrasive cut off saw will all be acceptable). Of course, the auto rotisserie plan will generally have a more detailed list. Regardless of the plan that is followed, however, you’ll already be saving money by building the auto rotisserie yourself so there’s no need to go for cheap materials. Skimping on construction quality can cause later problems that can otherwise be avoided.
Last but not least, you need to consider the space in which you are going to put the auto rotisserie. This goes for both storage space and the area in which you will use it for vehicle restoration. Driveways make excellent workspaces, but chances are you’re not going to complete your work on the vehicle in just one day. Therefore, the rotisserie in question (and possibly the vehicle as well) will need to be shielded from the elements when not being used. Some may wish to use a tarp, but the better option is to store it in a garage or other sheltered area. In this case, you may want to consider an auto rotisserie that has wheels for transportation (the wheels must be able to be locked while the rotisserie is in use).
No matter what vehicle you’re working on, an auto rotisserie can help. Just take the proper steps beforehand to make sure the one you get is right for you.