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Hagerty Employee

Wrenchin’ Wednesday: Floor-jack cradle for lifting an 800-lb diesel engine

Today is a bit of a unique one, but as diesel engines grow in popularity as projects, learning to work around their incredible mass becomes something of a creative challenge. For my GMT400 Suburban with the 6.5-liter turbo diesel, the difference between the 454 cu-in big-block gas engine and the Detroit Diesel was over 100 pounds thanks to the diesel’s beefed-up block and turbocharging hardware, sitting around the 800-pound mark when fully dressed. When it came time to replace what were likely the original 1996 engine mounts, lifting the Detroit was going to take careful planning since the traditional wood-block-under-the-oil-pan trick would still collapse the pan under the engine’s own weight.


To get around this problem, rather literally, I designed a cradle for lifting at the block’s skirt.


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I might have been tempted to add some 45 degree supporting gussets at the bottom inside corners for added safety, but since the pan rail is flat and level it could be considered overkill.  That motor mount does not look like it was easy to access at all!


I have done this job on gasoline V8s and in my limited experience only the driver's side mount fails. With a short length of 2X4 stood up against that pan rail I've jacked blocks up while they pivot on the passenger side. You've done a masterful job constructing a beautiful jack accessory but I wonder if it could've been done with my method, likely using something stronger than wood for the task?

Intermediate Driver

Looks very well considered; I needed to replace the engine mounts on a newly-acquired '62 Triumph TR4, and certainly the engine (2.1 litre 4 cylinder iron block & head) weighs far less than 800 lbs but still, lifting from under the oil pan looked like a plan for disaster. Instead I simply took an available foot-long section of 2 x 12 lumber, turned it on edge and slid it up in the space just to the front of the oil pan where it was snug up against the pan lip, hold-in bolts and the block itself. Then I was able to easily jack up the engine and replace the engine mounts. Sometimes not knowing how to weld is a blessing ??