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How To Crate a 356 Motor

May 12, 2012 | Troubleshooting & Repair

By Adam Wright

In the global economy we live in today most of the 356 parts we sell get shipped. While this is not big deal when you are selling a switch or a knob when you sell a complete motor it can get complicated. When I sell a motor I always crate it for free, for two reasons. The first being it is good customer service, the second being a damaged motor at the other end doesn't do anyone any good, me or the buyer. Years ago I had to crate my first motor and my first few crates were not very impressive. Big John commented once early on that I must be a graduate of the Dr. Seuss School of Crate-Building, because my crates were rather cartoon like, but they worked! Over time I have perfected a quick method for crating a 356 motor. I have never had a crate fail me and I have sent them all over the world, so this is a tired and true method.

Step 1

You have to first get a pallet, I normally get one from Bargain Outlet, they put them out when they are finished with them, so they are free. Selecting a pallet is important. Most pallets are 48" X 40", which is really too big for a 356 motor, so you end up having to make the crate bigger than you need it. I like to find a smaller pallet, like the one I used today, it was 3" X 40", a perfect size for a 356 motor. See pics 1 and 2 to see how well it fits.

Step 2

Strapping down the motor. I use two rachet straps to strap the motor to the pallet, by using two I minimize the chances of the engine breaking free. You can also use a banding machine if you have one, but rachet straps are more readily available to most people. See pics 1 and 2 to see how I strap the motor.

Step 3

Choosing your tools. You will need the following:

  1. Drill
  2. Saw
  3. Screws. I use 3” inch ones to make sure they bite.
  4. Safety glasses
  5. Gloves
  6. Magic Marker or Sharpie

Step 4

Building the framework of the crate. One of the drawbacks of using a pallet is the wood is weak for screwing to. I have found if you screw a perimeter of 2 X 4's around the edges you then have a very solid frame work to build from, a foundation of sorts. Once the perimeter is done you want to do your upper framing. With a small pallet like the one I am using today I use two uprights, inverted C's, with a cross-brace between for strength. See pics 4, 5, and 6. If using a bigger pallet I do three C's (see pic 7).

Step 5

Attaching the walls and top. One trick I have learned that really helps when doing this by yourself is to pre-screw the screw a little, that way you don't need your hand to hold the screw (see pic 9), because your hand will probably be holding the wood, unless you have a third hand, I don't. Since my crates are sometimes perfectly square and sometimes not I put the plywood against the side I am doing and trace the piece I need, that makes up for any imperfections. Also, this is important, leave room for the forklift on the front and the back. (see pic 10) The sides can go all the way down but the front and the back wall have to stop before the bottom so the forks can pick up the crate. Take it from a guy who has both driven a forklift and ran a dock crew, you want to make it very easy to pick up your crate, make it hard and the crate will suffer. Also, by having the crate only being able to be picked up from the front or the back you control how the crate will be picked up, this will make up for lazy forklift drivers and in- experienced ones who might pick it up sideways. I remember when I first starting driving one it was early Decemeber, I had a whole skid of Dell computers, I took a corner to fast, the shrinkwrap broke, and they all went everywhere, my boss was behind me and said in his best little girl voice, "Mommy, mommy, the computer Santa brought me doesn't work!" A bad forklift driver can be a bad thing indeed.

Step 6

Get crazy with the screws, crates are like college, you really can't have too many screws! Start putting them everywhere you can. Sure, it will be a pain for whoever has to take the crate apart but it will make it a very strong crate. If you follow these five steps your crate will get wherever it is going, I know, I have sent them to all points on the globe, and never had an issue.


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Dave Erickson
July 09, 2014 at 5:16 PM
IT should go without saying, but if you ship a motor, drain the crankcase and filter. Add some big arrows on each side of the crate that point up. I once bought a 912 motor from a seller in New York, to be shipped to CA, and not only was the motor not secured in the crate, it still was full of black dirty oil. The shipper put the crate on a side to transport it, and there was oil everywhere.
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Doug Mc Donnell
September 04, 2014 at 12:20 AM
I thought that I had made a great crate following these instructions but my pallett cross boards were too weak and "bowed" down from engine weight. Make sure the pallett cross boards are strong enough or reinforce them.
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Doug Mc Donnell
September 04, 2014 at 12:23 AM
And shippers now will tell you that if even 1 drop of oil leaks out. They leave it where it happens and it is up to you to pick it up wherever.