For first time DIYers, here’s a little brief about tackling your first major restoration project. We have just the information that you need.
If you are reading this, then chances are that you are either a DIY person looking to tackle their first restoration job that involves removing the car engine or, you are a professional who has decided to go from renting an engine hoist to investing in their first one. Either way, you are in the right place.
Despite daunting, removing the engine of your car is one of the most challenging albeit, interesting and exciting tasks that opens you up to a whole new range of skills, if you are up to it. If you don’t mind some grease on your arms and some dirt on your face, you can pull it off with ease.
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The advantages? You save some money, you reduce downtime and you feel charged up as hell. Oh yeah! Nothing can be more satisfying than completing a repair job that was deemed as the most difficult one. But before you fold your sleeves and get those tools out of the cabinets, you need to think about how to complete the job successfully.
Engine removal is one of the most complicated auto repair jobs that you will ever undertake. But it’s not difficult by a long shot.
The key is to think and approach the task as a professional mechanic would. An immaculately planned workflow and having the necessary tools to boot will go a long way in ensuring timely completion and uninterrupted working. From socket sets, screwdrivers, flatheads to cooling hoses, you will need a variety of tools to execute the job successfully. But none more important than an engine hoist.
Your engine hoist will be your worry stone. Also called a cherry hoist, engine crane or a cherry picker, this is the guy that does the serious lifting. The Engine hoist will securely lift the engine out of the car and allow you to continue your restoration work without worrying about a 600-pound machine falling on you.
Types of Engine Hoists
A lot of first time DIYers consider the possibility of renting out engine hoists as compared to buying them outright. The fact is that an engine hoist is one of the most essential tools for anyone who’s looking to learn the ropes or venture into more serious auto restoration jobs. It more than pays for itself after just a couple of uses. And hey, you can always rent your engine hoist out to local DIYers and auto mechanics if money is a concern.
I always recommend buying one rather than renting it because you are not racing against time to complete the job. It allows you to complete it at your leisure rather than thinking about the rent escalating, in the back of your mind.
But you may find that buying one is more difficult than what it seemed like when you originally started. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and navigating the landscape seems daunting. Here’s a small guide to the common types of engine hoists that you will come across and the difference between them.
Hydraulic Engine Hoists
Hydraulic engine hoists are the most versatile variety and the only type that can be installed on the ground than being installed above it. This makes them the most preferred variety of engine cranes as compared to chain or electric hoists, which we will discuss later in the article.
The hydraulic engine hoist contains the main post with two legs which is installed on a level surface. It has a few casters (4 to 6) which allows you to move it around the garage with ease. The main post is connected to a telescopic boom which can be extended up to 4 positions and allows you to reach the main engine block in the compartment. A steel grab hook is used to connect to the engine and a hydraulic jack lifts the engine up with ease. Hydraulic engine hoists usually have a foldable design and can be folded to almost half the size when not in use.
Advantages: Hydraulic engine hoists are preferred by one and all because of their versatility. They can be installed indoors or outdoors as long as you have a level surface. Also, they have a significantly larger lifting capacity as compared to other types of engine hoists. An average hydraulic engine hoist can lift up to two tons of weight. Thirdly, it is one of the easiest types of engine hoists to operate. All you need to do is insert the pumping bar into a socket which is located at the bottom of the hydraulic jack and pump up the pressure to lift the engine.
Disadvantages: Due to the large size, they are shipped as separated parts and may need to be assembled. So, be prepared to spend at least a couple of hours in the assembly.
Is this a good starter engine hoist?
A hydraulic engine hoist is more expensive than a manual chain hoist. But it is less expensive than an electric engine lift. If you don’t mind spending a little extra for the added stability and reliability, then a hydraulic engine hoist is one of the best choices you have.
Manual Chain Engine Hoists
Manual engine hoists are the most basic and cost-effective variety of engine cranes. They usually cost less than $100 (one-ton capacity) and take up very little space, making it a great choice if you are cramped for space in your service station.
A manual engine hoist consists of two grab hooks, one, which is attached to the mount and the other to the load, a gear mechanism, and two chains. The working is equally simple. The operator pulls the hand chain and the force applied to the system is amplified by the gear mechanism, which lifts the load.
Advantages: The main advantage is the low price. If you are starting off and would like to dip your toes in before upgrading to a more serious variety of engine hoist, then the manual chain hoist may be a good choice.
Disadvantages: A manual chain hoist is ridiculously slow in lifting the load. It is slower than a hydraulic system and does not even compare with an electric one. Further, you cannot use it outdoors unless you construct a special scaffolding to install it. When you install it indoors above the ground and you lift the engine up, you will need to immediately move the engine to an engine stand or move the car away from the engine. For the first option, you will need to invest in a trolley system which will escalate the cost of the project.
Is this a good starter cherry hoist?
The cost of a manual chain hoist may make it seem like a great choice for a newbie. But if you compare the amount of time and effort that will be wasted with it, a hydraulic or an electric chain hoist seems like a much better choice.
Electric chain engine hoist
This is, by far the easiest of the three types of engine hoists that you can buy. It is very similar to a manual engine hoist. The only difference is that as opposed to manually lifting the load, an electric motor that is operated by a remote control lifts the engine out from the compartment. An electric chain engine hoist is also the fastest when it comes to lifting speed.
However, they have some disadvantages as that of a manual engine hoist. It cannot be used outdoors unless you have a special scaffolding and you will still need a trolley system to move the engine. The only advantage is that it lifts fast and it is completely automatic. But these cost at least 10 times more than a manual chain engine hoist and can easily cost at least $1000, if not more.
The best engine hoists in the market
If you find yourself staring blankly at the hundreds of different models of engine hoists unable to make a choice, then here are our picks of the right engine hoists in the market currently. We have dug up this information from DIY forums, auto-repair user groups and online retailers. These are the engine hoists that are considered to be the safest and offer maximum value for money.
1. Best Choice Products Engine Hoist
Type: Hydraulic engine hoist
With a 2 ton capacity and solid steel construction, this hydraulic cherry picker from Best Choice Products is the #1 pick in our list of engine hoists for more reasons than one. It is durable, versatile and comes at a very competitive price, which makes it a complete value-for-money package.
- 360 Degree Rotating Wheels
- 4000 lb closed boom capacity
It has a folding design that allows you to store it away in a corner of your garage without eating into valuable space. The working size is 65” x 41” x 37”, while the folded size is 58” x 37” x 22”.
The construction is top-notch. Everything from the vertical mast to the square legs is made of automotive-grade steel. The six 360-degree rotating caster wheels allow easy portability in all directions in the garage.
Further, the boom range of 102 inches is perfect for a personal garage space. With a 4000 lbs. closed boom capacity (telescopic arm not extended) and a 1000 lbs. open boom capacity (fully extended), these two ten engine hoist is more than sufficient for engines of small to medium-sized cars.
Who can buy this engine hoist?
From DIYers looking for a cost-effective but versatile first engine hoist to professionals looking for a backup cherry picker for their garages, this chain hoist from ‘Best choice products’ is a great choice for one and all. It has a stellar customer rating too. Cannot go wrong with this one.
- Made of automotive-grade steel
- Foldable design that saves space
- 6 caster wheels made of steel that rotate in all directions
- 4000 lbs. closed boom capacity
- 1000 lbs. open boom capacity
- 8-ton hydraulic ram
- 102 inches boom range
- The assembly instructions are not very clear
2. Torin T32001 Engine Hoist
Torin or ‘Big Red’ is a brand name that most people will be familiar with. They are known for the durability of their products and this T32001 engine hoist stays true to the brand name. Constructed from high tensile steel and boasting of an 8-ton heavy-duty hydraulic ram, the Torin T32001 Engine Hoist is a beast.
- Lifting range: 1inch-78.75inch
- 6 wheels for added mobility
The Torin T32001 is foldable hydraulic engine hoist that has a 2 ton (4000 lb) lifting capacity clubbed with some of the most durable parts that we have ever seen. This makes it a perfect choice for lifting heavy engines, boat engines, motorcycles, and gearboxes.
It has a folding design in which the boom folds downwards and the legs fold upwards saving on garage storage space. On the side of the mainframe, are two support plates which make it as steady as a rock even when it is lifting to the max load rating.
The pin locking system is easy to secure and enhances the stability of the cherry picker during the lifts.
The Torin T32001 has low profile legs which are just 7.5 inches (19 cm) from the ground and slide under most cars with ease. The 6 casters with high-quality bearings rotate 360 degrees and allow easy portability even when the engine hoist is carrying a heavy engine.
Who can buy this engine hoist?
The Torin T32001 is a great buy for anyone looking for a quality engine hoist for their home garage. You get the added reliability of Torin Jack, which is known for its top-quality customer support.
- High Tensile steel construction
- 8 Ton heavy-duty hydraulic arm
- Perfect for boat engines, motorcycles, and gearboxes
- Pin locking system
- Twin support plates for added stability
- Low profile legs
- 6 casters for easy maneuvers
- Some users may face a problem with the mounting holes not getting lined up
3. Kaixun Lift Electric Hoist
Type: Electric Engine Hoist
If you are looking for a faster and automated way to lift your engines, equipment, and tools that weigh up to 880lbs, then the Kaixun 880 lbs. lift electric hoist is just what you need. This is a fully automatic electric hoist that allows you to lift your engine up to 38 feet in the air within a minute.
The Kaixun 880 lbs. lift electric hoist is such a versatile addition to any home garage. All you need to do is mount it on the ceiling joints or an overhead beam and plug the wired control switch into any standard power outlet. It has a 5 feet long power cable that gives you some play and does not make it difficult or cramped.
You can lift small to medium-sized engines, auto parts, mowers and just about anything that weighs under 880 lbs. The braided high carbon steel 1/8 inch thick cable takes the effort out of the job and gives you the reliability that you desire.
The controls are extremely easy and there is a rocker switch to move the wire up and down. An automatic stop function ensures that the hoist stops lifting the load once it reaches the top. This avoids you from jamming the cable accidentally.
At under $130, this 1.31 horsepower engine crane is a steal and a must-have for any serious DIYer.
Who should buy the Kaixun 880 lbs lift electric hoist?
The Kaixun electric engine hoist is a valuable addition to any serious DIYer. If you own a large farm with a variety of small but heavy equipment or if you are an auto mechanic who deals with a variety of small car engines, then this Kaixun 880 lbs lift electric hoist will be a great addition to your garage. It saves you tons of time and reduces effort. At under $130, this is as good as it gets.
- Completely automated electric engine hoist
- Wired control box
- Rocker buttons for up and down
- Auto-stop function to prevent the cable from jamming
- 1.31 horsepower engine crane
- The motor tends to overheat if you use it continually for more than an hour
4. Dragway Tools Engine Hoist
A two-ton load rating clubbed with premium steel construction makes the Ton Folding Engine Hoist Cherry Picker Shop Crane Lift w/ 8 Ton Hydraulic Ram a worthy contender in our list of engine hoists for 2016. This cherry picker lift can be used for removing the engine in small cars like the Mercedes Benz SLK-Class or large ones like a Jeep Cherokee.
- Dragway Tools 2 Ton Folding Hydraulic Engine Hoist Cherry Picker Shop Crane Hoist Lift
- (6) Fully Rotating 3" Steel Caster Wheels Easily allow you to move this hoist in any direction
Ton Folding Engine Hoist Cherry Picker Shop Crane Lift w/ 8 Ton Hydraulic Ram is a durable and sturdy cherry picker that is fabricated from heavy-duty steel that is coated with an epoxy coating that resists the corrosive elements in a garage. This coating is completely free of lead and ensures that the glossy finish is maintained for long.
It features square tube legs that are crafted from 0.125 steel giving it a sturdy and durable base.
The collapsible folding frames reduce the footprint of the hoist and it takes minimal storage space. It has a boom range of 102 inches and 48″ inches maximum load-lifting height.
The 12″ Forged Steel Chain ensures a stable lift every time and ensures zero slippage even if you leave the load on the engine crane overnight.
Who should buy the Ton Folding Engine Hoist Cherry Picker Shop Crane Lift w/ 8 Ton, Hydraulic Ram?
Considering the features and the price point, anyone looking for a durable and versatile cherry picker should seriously consider buying the Ton Folding Engine Hoist Cherry Picker.
- Two-ton load rating
- Premium Steel construction
- Durable and Sturdy
- Coated with corrosion-resistant paint
- Collapsible design
- High-quality components
- None that we could find
5. Torin TR9010 Engine Hoist
Last but not least, we have a manual chain engine hoist that is the #1 bestseller on Amazon in its category. It is the Torin TR9010 Chain block and it has a 1-ton capacity. If you are looking for a barebones engine hoist for moving machinery in your personal garage, without spending a bomb on it, this is just what you need.
- Manual hand lift chain block hoist features a 1 ton (2,000 lb) load capacity and is fitted with a mechanical load brake that allows for precise operation
- 1/4" diameter chains are constructed from premium 20Mn2 alloy steel with a black oxide finish for added resistance from corrosion and grime; Load-sharing gears makes lifting heavy loads easy
The Torin TR9010 Chain block engine hoist is the easiest and most cost-effective way to set up a lifting mechanism for your engines and other heavy machinery.
Crafted from heavy-gauge steel, the Torin TR9010 is durable and designed for rugged performance. It features load-sharing gears that allow smooth and uniform lifting for even your heaviest equipment. The lifts are slow, which is ideal considering that it is a completely manual chain hoist.
To ensure a secure lock for the engines or other loads, the TR9010 features forged swivel hooks and latches. The operation is really simple too.
Who should buy the Torin TR9010?
The Torin TR9010 is a budget-priced engine hoist solution for newbies as well as professionals. It is a great quality product and has Torin’s reliability to go along with it. Great bundled package.
- The budget-priced engine hoist system
- Extremely easy to install and use
- Durable steel construction
- Load Sharing gears
- 2000 lbs. capacity
- The chain may contain a lot of greases and it is recommended that you use gloves while lifting the engine.
Where do you plan to install the hoist?
While buying an engine hoist, a lot of people make the mistake of opting for the most advanced one, which in this case is an electric one or the cheapest one, which is the manual chain hoist. But it is not always a practical choice for a personal garage. It relies on a winch-based design system and needs to be mounted on something above the ground that can bear the weight of the engine. This makes it a poor choice for a home garage. A hydraulic engine hoist is the best choice for a personal garage space because it can be used just about anywhere.
An engine hoist may have a maximum load capacity of 2 tons. But it does not mean that you can use it to hook your 2-ton engine. Many a time, you can only successfully use up to a quarter of the actual load rating. Let’s say you have a foldable hydraulic engine crane with a one-ton capacity. With the telescopic arm fully extended, this capacity is reduced to a measly 500 pounds. While that may be sufficient for the engine of an average car, it may not be sufficient for engines of large trucks or SUVs.
Last but not least, the price of the hoist is something that you must consider. A manual chain hoist will be the cheapest and you can get one with a two-ton load rating for as less as $200. Hydraulic chain hoists are the mid-range variety and will cost from $200-$400. Electric chain hoists are the most expensive of the lot and will cost at least $1000.
Do not even consider options like building a makeshift contraption to lift your engine. It is not worth the risk or effort. The same goes true for buying a used engine crane. You can never be sure about the safety of a used hoist. If it has been used a few times for lifting a weight that is more than what it is rated for, there is a huge chance of it failing in the future.
Do your research and make an informed choice while buying an engine hoist.