Stationary Engine List

Lifting and Loading Engines

| April/May 2003

Stationary Engine

There are patches of snow in the grass and a layer of ice on the pond as I write, but the days are getting noticeably longer and thoughts of which engine shows we'll be attending are running through our heads. With that in mind, I thought this would be a good time to draw together several threads from the Stationary Engine List last year about lifting, loading and securing engines in preparation for the coming show season.

The question of the best way to lift an engine began with a discussion about an engine for sale on the Internet, and a photograph of the engine being lifted with a chain looped through the flywheels. It was generally agreed that lifting an engine that way would either break a flywheel or, more likely, bend the crank. While minds were musing on the worst way of lifting an engine, someone asked for constructive advice on a better way.

I have a question on lifting. I never hook onto the flywheels, because when I bought my first engine I was told NEVER to hook on the flywheels. I always use straps and go below the crank somewhere. But what if you made a spreader bar and hooked onto the flywheels so you could pull straight up on them - would that possibly bend the crank? We use these at work so we do not put a strain on the lifting eye-bolts.

On the smaller engines, I run a pipe or 2x4 through the spoke holes and hook my chains/nylon slings on the out side of the flywheels. I also hook one under the cylinder. All these go up to the lifting device to provide a three-point hookup. On larger engines I do the same thing; I hook my straps around the outsides of the crankshaft and up through the spokes to prevent them from pulling on the flywheel rims. This keeps pressure off the flywheel rims. This has worked for a number of years without ever bending anything.

I always use a double-T spreader bar hooked up to a chain hoist hanging in my portable derrick. At the engine base at each side I have a straight bar with hookup eyes bolted to the engine base. Between the spreader bar and the base bar chains I can lift the engine straight up. Using this method I can do it by myself without messing anything up, especially paint or any breakable parts. I put the engine down on the cart the same way with 1/16-inch accuracy. This portable derrick was one of the first things I made when starting my engine shed.

I pick up my engines by the hopper (but I DO know how good the studs, nuts, and castings are). I have a hardwood cross with a strong eye bolt going through it. I insert it folded so the two bits of wood are together (almost inline - kind of 'x' shaped), then turn one piece to make a cross once they're in the eye bolt receives the chain hook. It works really well - I've yet to have anything break. Note that all my hopper engines are verticals (okay, were verticals, now I have the Cooper/Stover KA so this method won't work with that one it will need another support to the rear of the crankcase somewhere). I customize my lifting cross for each engine.