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 being voiced. So, although there have been several good technical discussions on the Stationary Engine Mailing List recently, I thought now would be a good time to draw together several threads from 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 which was for sale on the internet, and the way in which it was seen in a photograph being lifted with a chain through the flywheels. It was generally agreed that such a method of lifting would either break a flywheel or, more likely, bend the crank. So, while minds were musing on the worse way of lifting an engine, someone asked for constructive advice on better ways.

* I have a question on lifting. I never hooked onto the flywheels because when I bought my first engine, the guy told me NEVER to hook on the flywheels. I always use straps and go below the crank somewhere. My question would be if you made a spreader bar and hooked onto the flywheels so you are pulling straight up on them, would that possibly bend the crank? We use these at work for 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 outside of the flywheels. I also hook one under the cylinder. All these go up to the lifting device to provide a 3-point hook up. 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 from putting any pressure on the flywheel rims. Just my way of doing it and has worked for a number of years without ever bending anything.

* I always use a double T spreader bar hooked up to the chain hoist which is hanging in my portable derrick. At the engine base at each side 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 and don't mess anything up, especially the paint or breakable parts. I put it down on the cart the same way within 1/16" accuracy. This portable derrick was one of the first things I made when starting the 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
through it, I insert it folded so the two bits of wood are together (almost inline - kind of "X" shaped), then turn one to make the cross once they're in - the eye bolt receives the chain hook. Works really well - I've never broken anything yet. Note that all my hopper engines are verticals (ok, were verticals, now I have the Cooper/Stover KA so this method wont work with that one - it will need another support to the rear of the crank case somewhere). I customise my lifting cross for each engine.

* I once bought a 1 ½HP Fuller and Johnson where the guy picked it right up by the hopper with just a hook, hooked in the brim - that made me cringe!


So, you've safely picked up the engine. Easy when you've got the right equipment! But what about loading it when you don't have a handy hoist or you're going to pick up your latest engine acquisition, site unseen?

* Does anyone have a good design and procedure for loading a stationary onto a flatbed truck, ¾ ton bed being 3' from ground. There will be no lifting device available. I'm going to assume that it's not on skids or trucks so the worst case scenario is in effect.

Any suggestions on ramp design and procedure would be greatly appreciated. I don't have a winch, but lots of come-a-longs and stuff. My buddy who will help me says we'll just put out ramp boards and pull it up with a come-along, but this seems to leave a lot of room for disaster.

* I've dragged a 5hp Economy up onto the truck bed with a come-along. I didn't even use rollers in this case. I've got a pair of 3" thick oak planks that are weathered and fairly smooth on the surface from years of use. I levered the leading end of the base up onto the planks and just winched it up, sliding along the planks. Of course, in my case I'm talking about a pickup truck. I pulled the tailgate off and put the planks directly on the step bumper. You may want to anchor the top end of the planks so they don't slide, but it won't take much once the weight of the engine is on them. Maybe just stand on them.


Pipe rollers aren't a bad idea either. The key is to take you time and use your head. I've found that it always seems harder when thinking these things out ahead of time than it is when you actually get down to doing it. You do want to plan ahead, but when you actually do the lift, you will wonder what you were so worried about beforehand.

* A good set of ramps (I'd use 2x10 oak, 8/10' long) with 2" pipe rollers under the base should work just fine. If the flywheels extend below the base just "roll" the engine up the ramps on them - with a come-along, of course.
Slow and easy will get it on your truck just fine!

* A 10' ramp will exhibit a good amount of flex with 800 - 1000 lbs moving up it. Make sure you put something under the ramps to limit the deflection. Steel tubing in mass quantities will make the roll up the ramps quite a bit easier. I don't recommend attaching the come along to the front bedrail of the pickup, however.

Bring as many floor jacks or scissors-style jacks as you can. Jackstands will help to stabilize things, too.

* When we collected my 10 HP Bessemer half-breed, we had a flat-bed that was 3-4' high. We used a winch and come-alongs to load and unload. The planks are oak, 2-3" thick. We put cribbing under the planks to reduce flex. The engine weighs ~3000 pounds.

Like others have said, just remember your simple machines; levers, rollers, inclined planes. And work S_L_O_W_L_Y.

You can move this engine safely.


* In addition to the pipes, ramps, supports, etc., that the other folks have
mentioned, I also carry a few of other things that have proved helpful. One is a slide board I made out of two pieces of plyboard nailed together about 3x4 ft and a couple of 2x4's bolted on either side at the top forming a tee to the plyboard. This makes a great slide for the truck to pull if the engine is not where you can load directly. It is a great tool for smaller engines where you can tilt them over and get the slide under them. I have pulled engines over banks, from in barns, etc., with this. The other is a pulley block and 1" diameter strong nylon rope. I hook the pulley to the front of the trailer frame with a chain and use the rope to pull the engine up ramps onto trailer. You can use another pickup/tractor/car as the tow vehicle. You can also use these to position an engine around a corner in a barn to get it to the door. I also carry a couple of 2x4's to use as temporary skids if needed. These along with the portable drill and some bolts, tilt the engine over enough to get the predrilled board underneath and bolt one on each side. This makes it easier to use the pipe rollers. I carry some extra chains, nylon slings, and other lifting stuff just in case I have to call a wrecker (never have had to do this yet). Of course I have chain saw, prybars, blocks, come alongs, and lots of other goodies in the truck when leaving home. If I have not visited the engine before and evaluated the situation, my truck is usually half loaded with stuff to help overcome most any obstacle that could get in the way, and for this reason have to take a trailer to put the engine on!


The only caution I would add that a nylon rope stretches quite a bit, and if it breaks, the "snap" back is just like a whip and can be dangerous (obviously it depends on the amount of rope and the stretch). That's why most people I've run across who use rope for a living, ie tree cutters, use natural fibers like manila. Very limited stretch, so if it breaks, it basically just drops where it is and doesn't "snap". So I use manila ropes for any pulling activities I need.

* That "slide" sounds like a fantastic idea. With the weight involved in this hobby, overkill probably doesn't hurt, especially regarding the ramps. Being relatively new to it, underestimating the weight of an engine comes easy.

* I have loaded and hauled a couple of 6 HP Fairbanks engines with my ½ ton truck before (one at a time of course). I re-enforced my planks with 2x4's on edge, bolted to the bottom, eliminated almost all flex. I rocked the engines up onto movers carts, 2'x3' platforms with 4 wheels, and rolled them to the truck over 4x8 sheets of plywood. I carry 2 sheets so I can roll the engine on one and reposition the other in front. This worked especially well when we had to move a very heavy antique printing press across a guy's lawn to the driveway. I didn't have a winch so four of us muscled the engines up the ramps, it rolled up easy enough, but wanted to roll back down too. Use a winch so you can go slower and not worry about it coming back down on you.


* I've got a pretty good idea now on what's effective and safe. I do have
access to a 1 ton army trailer. I think I can even get the bed to tilt by removing two bolts up front.
Bottom line I guess, take your time, think it over, work from the ears up, and take plenty of equipment.

* This reminds me of when I first started in the hobby, showing my engines at shows (not all that long ago). I had a borrowed trailer and a come-along. After a season of ratcheting my sawrig on and off and on and off and on and off the trailer, I decided it would be much easier if I had my own trailer and winch. Of course one thing led to another and eventually I needed a bigger trailer and a better winch, meaning one with power out and a long remote. Then I needed an F250 instead of my old F150. Now I need a bigger garage .......... and more money ......... and ....... and ....... oh where will it stop .........

Finally, with the engine on the trailer, what is the best way to secure it for safe transportation?

* I'm building a trailer for hauling engines. It is a kit, 5 X 8, 1500 lb. rating with a plywood deck and wooden stake pocket sides. It has a tilt bed so I should be able to roll the carts on without ramps. I'm thinking of adding a come-along to the front so I can pull stuff up if need be. Looking for suggestions for tie downs. Any ideas? With my Sattley and the Delco light plant on wheels, I will have to anchor them somehow.

* Here's a couple bits of advice gleaned from a few years of trailering engines.

First off, for tie down anchor points, here's a really neat idea I stole from one list member: I drilled ~2" diameter holes in the deck where I wanted my tie down points to be. Then I got some cast iron floor flanges (for black pipe) and some heavy chain that would just slip through the hole in the flange. Take about a 4"-6" length of chain, slip it through the flange, then heat and beat the end links till they're too large to pull through the flange. Mount the flanges under the trailer deck. The advantage is a really solid tie-down that won't pull out AND one that drops neatly out of sight below the deck when you don't need it leaving a smooth deck floor.

I've also decided that I'll never buy anything less than 2" wide ratchet straps. When you're buying them, get the shortest length you can find at the ratchet end. Be very careful HOW you tie your engine down. Avoid sharp edges that will saw through a strap and watch what the strap goes over on the engine. Road vibration will rub the finish right off an engine under the straps. Also DO NOT use your flywheels to tie the engine down. A couple of spring grip gluing clamps are just the thing to hold the bundle of excess strap length.

After you've loaded up and are on your way, pull over after a few miles and re-tighten all your straps. They'll stretch a bit and the load will shift a bit. And any time you stop, check the temperature of your tires and the tightness / condition of your straps.

* One suggestion I can make, use some HEAVY plywood for the decking. Some good exterior grade or marine grade is what I would use. You could get some of the little hoops that you could 'implant' into the decking and then have a very secure tie down point. I would also use the tie down straps with the ratchets on them. Another thing you could do would be to drill a series of holes in the decking, and use blocks with pegs to place in front of and behind the wheels of your stuff. This would help prevent excess movement.

* The handiest tiedowns I ever saw on a trailer were pieces of plate about 5"x5" or so with a keyhole shaped feature burned in the center with the slots pointing towards the center of the trailer. Drop the end of your chain through the hole and slide the link over in the slot where it will lock. Put your binder in the middle of the chain and lock her down..


* This IS slick...you can even buy plates with the keyholes already cut, so those of us without cutting capabilities could use the idea. The only short-coming I can see is keeping track of several short lengths of chain...but I suspect that they could be fastened to the hooks on the tie-downs. Just squeeze the hooks over the link.

Since we are on the subject of tie downs, I will share with you my method, not real fancy but cheap enough. I have ½" thick plates, about 4" square mounted on the underside of my wooden trailer decking. Each plate has a 1/2-1/3 hole drilled and tapped smack dab in the center, and a couple small (¼) holes drilled in the corners. The plates are held in place with ¼" lag bolts. The only purpose of the lag bolts is to keep the plates held in place, they do not carry any "load".
Now, I have holes drilled through my trailer decking so I can take a 1/2-13 eyebolt and stick it through the hole in the wooden deck and screw it into the plate. A bolt used like this doesn't have a lot of sideways shear strength, so I have a flat washer and a nut screwed on the portion of the eyebolt that is "above deck". The idea being that I screw the nut down tight against the deck to keep everything nice and snug.
I also like to use nylon slings to put around the portion of the engine or
trucks that I don't want a chain to come into direct contact with. I prefer to use those nice ratcheting nylon tie downs as opposed to chains. When they get all oily and slimy, I wash them with a little "Shout" stain remover and hang them on the clothesline to dry.

* I like to use the ratchet type straps to hold the engines in place when in the back of my truck. Use two on an engine so it is restricted from falling out the back or crashing through the cab in the event of a frontal impact.

* I have never used the nylon straps with this setup so can't comment. I still have misgivings about those straps and prefer to use chains with padding
where appropriate to anchor stuff down. The other neat thing about using the keyhole plates is you can leave the hooks off the ends of your tie down chains making them much less handy to borrow for these other projects. They seem to stay in the chain locker much more then the ones with hooks.

* I use the nylon tie down straps all the time. There are two keys to using these straps:
a) use a strap rated to your load (note: cheap ones are NOT marked)
b) buy straps with BIG ratchet handles.

You can tighten these straps down quite a bit with a big ratchet, but with a smaller one all you usually end up doing is having a loose load and cut fingers at the destination when you try to undo them.

* Thanks for all the good info on this subject. The floor of the trailer I'm building is held in place with about a dozen self tapping screws, which is OK to hold the floor down but not to secure any load to, so I think I'm going to use the plate idea and mount them under the cross members with longer bolts and spacer, then use long shank eye bolts, nuts and washers. If I put the tapped hole in the plate close to the cross member, this should be strong enough, and the cross member will be taking the load of the tiedown.
Someone mentioned the weak point of the tilt bed can be the front locking device. Well, this unit has two locks. One being a spring loaded release and the other being a plate on each side of the tongue with a draw pin through a hole.
This ought to hold it!


Remember, if your trailer hasn't been used all winter, it needs preparing for show season as much as the engines do. Omitted from this article were various tales of breaking ropes and sliding engines causing widespread death and destruction, so please take care with your loading, transporting and unloading this at the up and coming shows.

stationary-engine@atis.net

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