Budget Engine Stands

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Weve all been there. You need an engine stand and dont want to spend a bunch on it, but will one of the cheap ones really hold up? To find out, we tested three inexpensive Harbor Freight stands to see which was too strong, which was too weak, and which was just right.

We checked out the three stands offered by Harbor Freight: PN 32915, rated at 750 pounds ($54.99); PN 32916, rated at 1,000 pounds ($69.99); and PN 67015, rated at 2,000 pounds, ($139.99).

We wanted to test the actual weight capacity of the stands and also collect some impressions of how they work in regular use. For the weight check, we placed a junk V6 block on the stand, then put the stand on scales. We used our four-post lift to force increasing weight onto the block until we saw a failure with the stand.

The static weight capacity was significantly higher than advertised. The smallest stand, rated at 750 pounds, accepted 2,200 pounds before failure. We thought the casters would be the first point of breakage, but it turned out the mounting plate twisted and stretched. It bent until the block was almost vertical, but it never broke and dropped the engine.

The 1,000-pound stand uses nearly identical construction as the 750 (it only has a fourth wheel for added stability, while the 2,000-pounder is clearly beefier. Therefore, we stopped our weight testing after wrecking the smallest stand, as there isnt a 2,200-pound engine on the planet that will bolt onto any of those stands.

Next, we observed the stands in typical use. Weve never seen budget stands with bearings in the head or with tight enough machined tolerances to make it easy to rotate the engine upside down and back. With moderate weight on these stands, even the biggest one required two men to rotate the engine. The included leverage bars on all three stands are too small and short to help.

Rolling around the loaded stands was not too bad, though. The all-steel casters were good enough to be durable and smooth until you hit any big cracks in the floor. When we did hit a crack, it was nearly impossible to move the large stand loaded with a big-block without help.

We found the smaller stands too small to mount a big-block without having them feel tippy. The 750-pound stand has just three casters, and the 1,000-pounder is more stable with its two casters at the front. We noted that the smaller stands had fixed casters at the rear and swivel rasters at the front, while the 2,000-pound unit had the swiveling casters at the rear.

Clearly, holding the weight is no problem. Wed pass on the smallest stand only because its most prone to tip while rolling. The 1,000-pound unit is fine for holding small-blocks or transmissions. For any big-block, get the 2,000-pounder.

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