How to Build Your Own Small- or Big-Block Chevy Engine Perch
Words and Photos: Jeff Smith
If you’re a car guy who has been in the hobby for more than a few years then you probably have a spare engine or at least an assembled long block sitting on the garage floor. These engines are difficult to store easily and even more cumbersome to quickly transport. The backyard approach for moving engines in the back of a pickup often comes down to stuffing the engine inside a large tire with nylon rope to prevent it tipping over and spilling oil everywhere. There’s a better way. With a simple engine perch such as the one we’ve built here, you can safely and easily transport a complete engine by just dropping it in the bed of your truck and strapping it down. We’ve tried a couple different universal engine perches and the affordable ones are not only rickety but are almost universally in need of modifications before they fit the engine properly. We grew tired of crutching and wrestling with stands that didn’t fit right and decided to build our own. Our plan was to build an engine perch that was cheap, sturdy, easy to build, and even easier to use.
We prefer engine perches that feature a full rectangular base so that you can bolt it to an engine and drag it across the floor and not worry about the legs buckling. We also wanted a perch that could be installed while the engine was still on the engine stand so we didn’t have to struggle with a dancing engine suspended from an engine hoist chain. After several revisions, we came up with a rectangular base design with four sturdy legs that are fully welded in place and will bolt to either a small- or big-block Chevy engine. We built this to accommodate up to a 9-inch deep oil pan but by adding length to the uprights, you could easily fit a deeper pan if necessary. With some minor tweaks this stand could also be made to fit an LS engine and this same basic idea could be used to make a stand for small- or big-block Fords or Chryslers with a wider base.
By experimenting, we discovered we could build this entire perch out of a single, 10-foot length of 1-inch square 60-gauge tubing (0.060-inch wall thickness) that our local metal dealer sells for about $9. The only other steel we needed was a couple rectangular lengths of 3/16-inch flat steel plate for the front leg tabs. Building this engine perch will require some fabrications skills and access to a MIG welder and preferably a chop saw.
MIG welding might seem intimidating, but it’s really not that difficult. This project is a great way to learn how to MIG weld while building something that is useful. It’s beyond the scope of this story to get into MIG welding except to say that if we can do it, just about anybody can. We’re not great at it, but good enough to get the job done. You might even build a few of these for your friends. We found it doesn’t take much more time (or money) to build three as it does to build one. You might as well built at least two because your friends are going to want to borrow them and you know they will forget to bring them back. We’ve probably built 20 of these stands and yet we never seem to have an unoccupied perch to transport an engine. So we built three more because we have lots of friends.