Materials in Motion

The Benefits of an Aluminum Gantry Crane Over an Engine Hoist

One common tool found in many automotive garages is the engine hoist. A typical garage engine hoist consists of a wheeled base, a post, and a cantilever arm. The base uses two legs extending forward from the post past the end of the cantilever arm. These legs fit underneath a vehicle to allow the arm to reach over the engine, and they provide stability to the hoist when lifting a load.

The arm is equipped with a chain and hook at the end of the cantilever, and some hoists use a telescoping arm to allow it to reach farther. The post is typically equipped with a hand-powered jack or a hydraulic piston that raises or lowers the arm. The hook and jack are used to lift and lower an engine into or out of the engine bay.

This kind of engine hoist is usually sufficient for many types of engine swaps. With capacities up to four or six tons, they can easily provide the required lifting capabilities. But there are some jobs that a standard engine hoist just can’t do, and users are forced to look for a different solution.

The Problem with Engine Hoists

An engine hoist can run into problems when the user is trying to work on certain kinds of vehicles. If someone is trying to take an engine out of a car that has a long hood, such as a classic Chevrolet Monte Carlo, the arm on the engine hoist might not be long enough to reach the engine. This problem will force the user to find a completely different solution or risk damage to the vehicle by trying to make the hoist reach.

A similar problem arises when trying to remove an engine from many pickup trucks. Most typical engine hoists simply aren’t tall enough to reach over the hood of a pickup truck, especially any fitted with an aftermarket suspension lift kit.

Standard engine hoists can also become difficult to move when loaded. They are typically equipped with small wheels that slide underneath the engine for the hoist to operate. If any pieces of hardware—such as small washers—get dropped while working on the engine, they can get in the way of those wheels, which can struggle to move even with just a small obstruction.

A Universal Solution

One way to solve all of the problems caused by a typical engine hoist is with a mobile aluminum gantry crane. An aluminum gantry crane with a 10-foot span can easily fit around the sides of a car to reach over the full length of any hood. With a 10-foot beam height, it can fit just as easily over the tall hood of a pickup truck. The cranes reach makes it easy to access the engine of any vehicle without risking damage to the vehicle’s body.

A Spanco Aluminum Gantry Crane is also very easy to move across a garage floor. The frame is constructed with lightweight aluminum components, making it light enough for a single person to move it by hand. Every Spanco Aluminum Gantry Crane also comes equipped standard with low-friction polyurethane casters that can move easily, even under a load, and are less likely to get hung up on small hardware that might end up on the floor.

More than a Hoist

The benefits and uses of an aluminum gantry crane go beyond its ability to replace a standard engine hoist. When used in a mechanic’s garage, the crane can be used to move heavy parts or components around the garage or to load and unload heavy objects. If the crane is equipped with optional pneumatic tires, it can also operate outdoors to move heavy objects in and out of the garage.

An aluminum gantry crane can make a great replacement for an engine hoist, but it also does much more. A tall reach and a wide span make it easy for the crane to handle any engine removal job, but the greater versatility makes it easy to use for a wide range of other tasks as well.

The versatility and ease-of-use of an aluminum gantry crane make it ideal for any automotive garage. To read about a real-life application of a gantry crane working in place of a standard engine hoist, check out this case study, where we talked with a Pennsylvania automotive garage, and they explained to us how they use the gantry crane and the ways it has benefited their business.