I was told I should ask here. Please note I am not an engineer and I apologize if this isn't an appropriate place, as I suspect this is for engineers to exchange ideas (though I found no "rules" at all).
With no expectation of a high degree of precision, what should I do to mestimate (measure/estimate) the force required to completely close the lid of a large box? It is hinged and latches, much like the hood of a car, and has gas charged struts holding it open. It doesn't take much to get it down - I think the struts only slightly offset gravity - but from there it takes considerable force to fully close/engage the latch mechanism (significant friction plus a strong spring). It is too difficult for the local seniors to get closed, but it is important for theft prevention.
I'd like to put a small motor inside that grabs the latch and pulls it closed that last inch. I realize I'll have a lot to do to design the "grab" and also to consider things like pinch protection... but for now I just want to see if a suitable motor exists. What I don't know how to do is calculate the force.
Can I simply stand on a scale and take the delta when it latches, along with the distance the latch traveled? Intuitively - for my non-engineering brain anyway - I can't really see how the distance matters (if the force is enough to move it an inch isn't it enough to move it a mile?), but the definition for the term "foot pounds" suggests that shorter distance requires less force. So let's say my scale tells me I weigh 200 lbs and when I press on the hood at the point it latches it says I weigh 100 lbs, and it traveled an inch... does that mean I need a motor rated for 8.33 foot pounds? Or am I completely off base?
Thank you for your indulgence.