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Truck Body and Engine Stand Tech - The Whole World is on Wheels

Posted in How To on January 16, 2009
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A V-6 with all the accessories still attached takes up a lot of space and weighs several hundred pounds. It's too heavy to pick up and carry, and too delicate to skid around across the concrete. A cart was the solution to the storage problem. At this stage of the construction, the base was built and the mounts were being mocked into place before the final welding was done.

If you're like me, you don't have a palatial shop in which to work. That means you have to adapt the space you have to fit the task at hand.

The caster is your best friend. Putting projects and equipment on casters gives you the ability to move stuff to where it's needed, and to stash it out of the way when it's not. Casters come in a variety of sizes, wheel compounds, bearing types, and load capacities. When it comes to casters, smart buying means purchasing casters that are strong enough to support the load they'll be put under, and large enough in diameter to roll smoothly across the work space. Of course, there's no harm in buying casters that are better than needed, but casters can get very expensive so at some point you'll just be throwing money away.

Unless you're bolting the casters to an existing surface, you'll need some sort of mounting plate. Before you spend half an eternity with a Sawzall, drill, and grinder, take some time to see whether pre-made mounting plates are available for the bolt pattern of your chosen casters.

Here's the V-6 cart minus its load.

The best formula is to use fixed casters at one end, and swivel casters on the other. It's worth it to buy swivel casters with built-in brakes. If you don't have built-in brakes, you can also use a floor lock, which is a fixed leg that extends against the floor and retracts away to allow the wheels to turn.

The two carts pictured were made using basic metal fabrication tools, casters purchased from a metal-supply company, and ready-made caster mounting plates.

The first cart was built specifically to hold a '92 Ford 4.0 V-6. Two masts tie into the factory engine mounts, and two bosses at the rear tie into the bellhousing interface. The close-up of the engine mount shows the brackets tacked into place. The seams were completely welded before the cart was subjected to the full weight of the engine.

The second cart was built to hold the cab of the '92 Ford Ranger after it is removed from the frame. Two short pieces of box tubing welded to the top of the main rails will allow the cab to bolt to the cart using a set of body mounts. The corners of the cart were strengthened with short sections of tubing that triangulate the corners. Swivel casters with integrated brakes were used at one end, while fixed casters were used at the other. I am also building a plywood deck for this cart.

With my work and equipment on wheels, I can keep things stored in the garage when I'm not working on them. When it's time to work, I wheel the carts into the driveway, and then work in the just-created open space in the garage. It's important to note that when everything is wheeled into the garage, it's completely full!

If you don't have a shop, or even a full garage to work in, carts on wheels might be the next best thing to create the workspace you need.

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