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How to Build a Crate to Ship an Engine

You don't want a flimsy crate that falls apart when shipping an engine.
engine image by goce risteski from Fotolia.com

An engine is the most important (and most expensive) component of an automobile. Moving an engine from one location to another requires a very sturdy container. Shipping crates are generally made for a single use and broken down once an engine arrives at its final destination. Instead of paying a company for a crating service, building your own shipping crate at home can be an interesting challenge that will save you some money.

Obtain a wood pallet. Pallets can be purchased new or used from a local distributor. Make sure that your pallet has a maximum weight capacity that supports the weight of your engine. Lay the pallet flat on the ground and cover with a sheet of plywood. Drill holes into each corner and fasten securely with screws.

Obtain an engine cradle. An engine cradle is a steel frame that holds an engine in place during shipment. Select an engine cradle that is specifically designed for the make and model of your engine. Bolt the cradle to the pallet, making sure that the cradle is centered. Lift the engine and fit it into the cradle. Using straps, secure the engine inside the cradle. Use at least two straps in each direction (a minimum of four straps should be used). For extra support, wrap the entire cradle in shrink wrap.

Build a frame around the engine cradle. Using a saw, cut four equal lengths of a 2 x 4 stud and secure in an upright position, one piece in each corner. Fasten securely using screws. Construct walls around the wooden frame using the plywood. Drill holes six inches on center along the outer perimeter of the crate and fasten with screws.

Complete the shipping crate by lining each of the four upright walls with pieces of 2 x 4. Cover the walls by sliding a sheet of plywood over the top of the crate. Attach the plywood using screws to completely seal the crate. Finally, run plastic banding along the outside of the crate and tighten using metal clips.

Things You'll Need:

  • Wood pallet
  • Engine cradle
  • Screws
  • Straps
  • Shrink wrap
  • 2 x 4 studs
  • Plywood
  • Saw
  • Electric drill
  • Plastic banding
  • Metal clips


  • Do not use an engine cradle made of anything besides steel, as the engine may be damaged during shipment.
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