I got some actuators laying around too, and made a "Most useless machine ever"
Something like this, just bigger.
I just connected relays to it, and made the relays drive the motor in the actuator.
Connected the relays so when not pulled, they gave minus on both poles on the actuator, and by pulling a relay, it would then change to give it 12V, and releasing that relay and pulling the other, it would give 12V to the opposite pole, and make the actuator move the opposite way.
I don't know about the position stuff on the actuators you got, but if I was to make something like it, and wasn't able to get the position, I would use a 3m tape measurer, and a 10k ohm multi turn pot.
Made this once before for my garage door, and it is accurate down to ~5cm, if you need better resolution, you can use a smaller tape measurer, with a smaller roll inside.
To make mine, I just drilled a hole in the side of it, and a hole in the side of the drum, then soldered a piece of solid wire on the pot, bend the end of it, and put that bend in the hole in the drum... job done