Stacking saves parking space

Parking is a problem in many places in the UK. Indeed, there are streets in London where you would not drive your car at night, not because of crime, but because parallel parking means there is little or no room for through-traffic.

Unless we are prepared to drive less, and projections don’t look hopeful, the problem only looks to become worse. One parking solution was devised by Andy Speechley in one of those moments of extreme parking frustration, and the finer mechanical details were worked out by the School of Engineering at Huddersfield University.

Although the principle of parking one car above another has been around for some time, it often involves heavy and complex structures and expensive articulation devices. The upper deck of the Carstacker, on the other hand, works on the principle of a lever. As the car drives onto the upper deck, the weight distribution changes so that, in conjunction with a small counterbalance mass, near equilibrium is achieved.

A small hydraulic or screw actuator then tilts the ramp into an elevated position to enable the second car to be parked underneath. The actuator is essential in that it is the motivator which tilts the deck. It is also the elevation controller, it being essential that the ramp is prevented from floating up or down at random. A mechanical detent is applied when the ramp is fully elevated.

Trials showed that 16 degrees was the maximum incline at which the upper deck could rest in the lowered position. Users would only feel comfortable driving up the deck at a shallow angle. On the other hand, a steeper angle would mean a higher pivot point leading to a larger head clearance for the second car as parked underneath. The angle of 16 degrees was the best compromise.

Power is supplied from a 12 V battery which drives a 12 V electric motor/hydraulic pump combination. Actuation is by a small hydraulic ram. A concrete version was designed to be bolted together to facilitate assembly in confined spaces. The upper deck is a lightweight steel structure. The heaviest of the components can be carried by two men.

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