Updated: Dec 27, 2019
"Engine Run Stand for the Y Block Ford Engine"
Hundreds of you have subscribed to this blog for the work on the 1955 Ford Fairlane Club Sedan. Every week, I field questions concerning parts acquisition, nuances of the Ford Y Block, tips and instructions concerning restoration work, etc. You do not have to read very far from day one in the blog to find that I am not an expert. However, I do enjoy helping others when I can. Lately, I have had a number of questions and references concerning my engine run stand. This is the same run stand shown on the home page of the website here - you can see the full setup of a VS57 Paxton McCulloch Supercharger (with 55/56 Ford Passenger Car brackets and accessories) in the main photo as well.
About a decade ago I decided to purchase an engine run stand. At that time I was rebuilding Y blocks and needed a permanent means of breaking in camshaft/lifter combinations, testing carburetors, and ensuring that gaskets were sealing. No company I knew of back then (or today in 2019) manufactured a run stand. Just to be clear concerning the differences between an engine stand and engine RUN stand, let me state what I was looking to accomplish:
1. Stable mounting of the Y block engine with all accessories and the bell housing
2. Portability - the stand must be able to roll around the shop
3. Gasoline tank
4. Provision/Space for a full size battery
5. Gauges to monitor oil pressure, voltage, and coolant temperature
6. Ignition switch
7. Means of mounting a radiator
If you google "engine run stand" you will find all kinds of examples. DIY videos on Youtube show everything from 2x4 floor mounts to craftily welded tube steel. While I do enjoy DIY, I really desired an engine run stand from a manufacturing company that would help me meet the demands of what I needed without me having to "reinvent the wheel."
After much searching, I settled upon an inexpensive unit (relatively speaking). As I write this blog, I was surprised to find that the company is still making these stands. You can see from the reviews that the perception of quality is mixed.
A few quick observations are in order to give my own review.
1. You can see from the stock photo that the unit is built for a 350 Chevrolet engine. It seems that the automotive world revolves around this engine and most aftermarket tools like this use the block as a baseline.
The major issue would be that the mounts on either side would not match the Y block at all. For most universal engine run stands it is not difficult to adjust the rails for the bell housing or the rear of the block, but in order to mount a Y block to 55/56 Ford Passenger Car engine mounts (seeking to use the hard rubber mounts found when securing the block to the car frame) I had to make a special order. At the time there was a seller on ebay welding up legs made of tube steel. The legs were fabricated so that a mechanic could situate a block several inches above the floor by bolting the plates at the top of the legs to the bosses on the block.
By examining the photo above you can tell that I elected to use the passenger car motor mounts between the legs and the block.
I did have the fabricator sell me just the uprights - no need for horizontal pieces here. I did have to drill holes to make it "adjust" to the upright pins on the Larin stand.
Secondly, if you are paying attention you can tell that the wheels on the stand I put together do not match the stock photo of the Larin stand above. I found out rather quickly after purchase that hard steel wheels made for concrete were not high enough to let the legs of my engine hoist clear (tripod engine hoist with a Y shaped leg system to roll under vehicles). I tried the pneumatic route but these wheels could not handle the lateral load when trying to move the unit across the floor. I settled on higher quality polyurethane wheels (similar to skateboard wheel material) and these worked just fine.
Some other items worth mentioning would be that the instructions were indeed insufficient, the gauges on the low end of quality, and no provision was available for a radiator mounting. Also, I did have to use extra angle iron for the bell housing mount. The Larin included metal straps to secure the rear of the block to the frame, but since the bell housing was being used (because of the Y block starter) this put more stress on that part of the stand.
Eventually I replaced two of the gauges because I wanted mechanical readings (coolant and oil pressure), but the voltmeter and the ignition switch were good enough to use. After a year or so of use, I did end up adding a small tachometer, a "generator" light, and a choke cable.
You can tell by examining some of these photos that items such as a small alternator harness, starter solenoid, electric fuel pump, and fluid plumbing for gasoline and coolant were also added. An electric cooling fan was also installed because I did not like the idea of having a mechanical fan being so open to hands and arms. Not all of these things came at once. Over a year or two of use, I improved different aspects - some were completed to match the Y block or period 50s Ford technology and others were just for convenience and/or safety.
As indicated earlier, there was no provision for a radiator so I did have to fabricate two uprights out of angle iron. This was pretty simple to do - using this stand over several years I even had the opportunity to repair a couple of radiators!
Here is a video that I put together a few years back with different aspects of a 272 Ford Y block, the engine run stand itself, and some things I mention to a customer who had this engine shipped to him several states away.
Anyone with at least a small level of mechanical sense can understand the benefits of such a tool as an engine run stand. Over the past several years I have had the opportunity to test quite a few carburetors. Take this Holley 4000 (teapot) carburetor that I rebuilt for a gentlemen that owned the cars in the movie Loving. This carburetor was on the 1956 Ford Victoria in several scenes throughout the movie. By the way - note the fire extinguisher. You can never be too safe!
The engine run stand was even used to teach a 5th grade elementary class about a 4 cycle engine and its engineering. The kids loved the sound of the Y block - especially with those tube headers I always used while it was on the stand!
Another benefit has been the ability to come to the aid of others who are working on Y blocks and need a helping hand. A friend of mine, Brian Dinardo (1956 Ford Fordor Victoria), used it this past summer to test run a 292 he had freshened up. This obviously helped him go through some things before dropping the engine back in the bay. See blog entry #59 to find out more about Brian and his beautiful 56 Ford.
Brian did a great job on his 292 Y block! When he bought the car some time ago, he had no idea of the mechanical history. Hearing a slight knocking sound, Brian decided to pull the engine and just see what he had. Things looked good inside and he wondered whether or not the engine had rebuilt. When we saw the warranty disc on the core plug it was obvious. Engine re-manufacturers put these on rebuilt engines so that they can tell whether or not the owner let the engine overheat enough to melt the adhesive between the disc and the block/head. Brian is pretty happy with the refresh so far - no more noises!
Since moving to the Cincinnati area I have not had much opportunity to use the stand myself. Most of this is due to not having the shop space I once had, but I did use the engine stand to prep the 292 C2AE Y Block that is in the 55 Ford. If you click the tag word phrase "engine stand" on the right hand side of this page, you will be taken to a list of blog posts where the engine run stand was used. Here is one of the videos I made back then:
Maybe you have found a better option than the Larin as a base model with which to place the Y block on a run stand. If so, do let us know by dropping a comment in the box below.
As always, let me invite you to peruse the rest of the hotrodreverend.com website - you can discover how I got that name, take a look at the CD's of Ford manuals I have for sale (available on thumb drive as well, just inquire), and discover what makes me tick - nope, it ain't old Fords!
The Hot Rod Reverend