Tips for the junkyard

My freind needs an engine block for his college project and I told him I would help. He just needs the block anyone have any tips or tricks to make this quick and easy? I contacted the yard and they said they would hoist it out after I disconnect everything and put it in the bed of my truck. I have never taken on something of this size only some basic small engine stuff.

It’s unclear to me exactly what kind of help you’re looking for.

Are you wanting advice on a complete engine tear down?

What kind of project is this ?

If someone was going to go pull the engine from a vehicle in a junkyard for the first time what advice would you give them?

I belive it’s art.

Hire someone who knows what they are doing and watch closely. Doing this in a salvage yard is a good way to get injured.

Edit: Does your friend even realize just how heavy this thing is ?

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I think I’m mechanically inclined enough to do this. I just have never walked in to a junkyard to pull and engine.

Secure the engine removal procedure for the vehicle you are getting the engine from, and read through that carefully. That’s should clarify all what needs to be disconnected before they can hoist the engine out. For example you may need to remove the transmission first. And you’ll probably have to remove the hood. You’ll need a pickup truck with a thick piece of plywood in the bed probably to bring the engine back to where you want to work on it. Safety first for this job, never put yourself between the engine and something that you could get crushed if it swings or drops unexpectedly.

If you don’t want a specific engine, just any engine, tell them that, as they may have one already out and ready to go.

Why the plywood? Will it damage the bed of my truck if they just put it in?

They guy I talked to on the phone was not very helpful I’m hoping they have some thing pulled or really picked over since we are going needing the block.

Because we are talking about 300 to 500 lbs. of nasty metal and fluids.

The guy on the phone probably was not helpful because he doesn’t want someone to stop after they find out how difficult this is or get hurt on his property.

Just think for a minute, you will have to get at all sides of this thing and crawl underneath on the dirt plus having tools and stands so the stupid car doesn’t fall on you.

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I didnt think about jack stands. That’s the one thing I didn’t bring to school with me. I packed ever tool I own but the power tools, jack, and jack stands. The guy I talked to was happy to sell a block just didn’t know what he had.

This kind of project can turn out to be a headache. A few years back some guys I know who run a salvage allowed me to pull a 60s era Switch Pitch transmission out of Buick. The engine had blown badly and had a fw rods sticking through the block. The engine was frozen solid and not coming loose.

That presented the problem of how to access the torque converter bolts…

Why not just go on Craigslist and buy a motor already pulled?

This is going to be a work of art? I’m curious about where and for how long a 500 pound hunk of scrap metal is going to be allowed to linger.

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Self service salvage yards get phone calls all day long inquiring about inventory and price, the response is usually to come out and look.

You may have better results if you visit the salvage yard ready to buy and explain what you want. If you are not looking for a guaranteed running engine they may have engine cores for less money ready to be loaded.

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Craigslist is your friend… Look around on CL and I’d bet you could find a cheap ($50) engine block you and a friend could just pick up load into your truck. Certain blocks (and engines) are worth nothing but scrap value but are perfectly serviceable. The 305 Chevy V8 as an example… NO one wants these. They all swap them for 350’s

A V8 cast iron block weighs about 140 lbs bare. 350 lbs + assembled with no accessories.

If you must get one from a junkyard and you only want the block, you don’t have to be very kind to the donor vehicle. You can cut things you might otherwise carefully disconnect.

A small 3 or 4 cylinder block is a lot lighter. There aren’t many 3 cylinder blocks (Geo Metro), but there are a lot of 4-cylinder blocks. Two of you could handle a small 4 without much effort.


Many years ago, I knew an engineer who was doing some subcontracting at Ford’s Dearborn Engine Plant, and I accompanied him–after hours–into that facility where they were beginning to manufacture the engines for the soon-to-be-introduced Ford Escort. There were a considerable number of those engine blocks sitting around, and out of curiosity, I decided to find out how heavy they were.

All by myself, I was able to lift the Escort’s cast-iron block. Of course, if I had wanted to heft it into a pickup truck I would have needed help, but the bare block was actually light enough for me–alone–to lift it several inches off the floor of the factory.

When I was in college, we removed and replaced the 4-cyl 1275cc engine. We use a half keg of beer (empty) and a 2x6 to lower and raise it. Two of us hand carried it from the parking lot to the house and back again. That was about 100 feet both ways.

We removed the valve cover and discovered that two of the valves were burned. It turned out the head was warped, which was SOP for British Leyland at that time. I got a used head from a junk yard and had a top end job with new valves and springs done at a local machine shop. Oh, and had the head shaved, of course. It ran better after that.

Modern EPA requirements force junkyard owners to drain all fluids and properly recycle them. This being the case, the boneyards in my area pull all engines after draining the fluids and stockpile them, selling them complete… with the hoses, wires, etc. all cut for the removal.

Perhaps you can find a boneyard in your area that does this.


I’m with jtsanders and the_same_mountain bile. And I would pick a small displacement aluminum block. Maybe locate an older Corolla. If you want the pistons, rings, cranks, etc the usual term is “short-block.” The block itself is a casting without any of the goodies.