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Dolly improves shop organization

Building a dedicated dolly to hold heavy components can help maximize available shop space

Man moving engine on dolly.

The trouble with working on long-term mechanical projects in the farm workshop is they often interfere with the day-to-day jobs that need to roll in and out the doors. The large components removed from a big project can tie up a lot of floor space, and it seems the spot you chose to place them almost always ends up being in the way when working on other things, especially if you’ll be working on that project machine for a few months.

Constantly moving heavy components wastes a lot time and effort. But spending a little time beforehand to fabricate a dolly for them can be the answer to maximizing floor space in the shop. Having the ability to easily move parts around makes it easier bring in other machines for regular maintenance or quick repairs before you’re ready to bolt your long-term project back together.

When we removed the engine, transmission and transfer case from Project CJ3A, there was no good spot to place it so it wouldn’t be in the way when other jobs need attention. Because we knew the CJ3A restoration would take several months to complete and floor space in the shop was limited, we spent a little time and fabricated a dolly that would accept the engine assembly and allow us to jockey it around as needed. That kept it out of the way and made it easy to bring it back close to the CJ3A chassis when we were ready to reinstall it.

More from the Grainews website: Frame-off restoration, part 1

4-wheeled, steel-frame dolly.
This simple dolly, made of 2-inch square tubing and inexpensive castors, was built specifically to hold an engine and transmission assembly. photos: scott garvey photo: Scott Garvey

We measured the distance between mounting points on the engine and transmission and built the dolly to match them, opting for the simplest design possible to save time and materials but still not risk damaging anything.

In all, we used about 10 feet of two-inch square tubing to fabricate a simple frame then drilled holes in all four corners to accept castor wheels, each rated for 250 pound loads. That capacity rating was ample for our needs. Next, we sprayed a little rust-inhibiting paint on it so we didn’t have to look at an ugly, rusted piece of steel.

The steel and castor wheels were already lying around the shop; but overall, the cost of materials is around $40, and it took about one and a half hours to build and paint. Now, the engine assembly can easily be moved whenever necessary. It’s proven to be time and money well spent.

At the end of this project, the dolly can be modified or repurposed for another task.

About the author


Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey is a freelance writer and video producer. He is also the former machinery editor at Grainews.



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