Although the engines may be small, a small engine shop doesn’t have to be cramped. Working on small engines requires space, plenty of ventilation and light. Working on small engine parts requires attention to detail, and fumbling around in shadows looking for light wastes time. In addition to space, air and light, a small engine shop will need an inventory of tool and work aids. Although your small engine shop can be as comprehensive as imaginable with metal lathes, welding tables and CNC milling machines, a more basic requirements list is what’s needed to get started.
You’ll need a full array of mechanics tools: wrenches, sockets, drives, screwdrivers, mallets, wedges (for prying apart frozen parts) and wire brushes for cleaning corrosion off parts. A parts cleaning tub (for submerging and soaking parts in solvent) is also a good idea. Other tools to consider necessary are either electric or pneumatic drivers for quickly disassembling engines and component parts. A good sized air tank for the compressor with at least 200 pounds of air is essential. Also, an accurate drill press is needed for boring perfectly parallel and perpendicular holes.
An optional tool for a small engine shop is a metal lathe for turning parts. There are shops doing metal-turning work, and you will have to determine if you want this capability in house or to farm it out. The same goes for expensive, computer-controlled milling machines (CNC) for creating original parts from computer drawings. Again, there are CNC shops for this kind of work.
You will need space for working on the small engines. Not only will you need space to place the engine but also to layout parts, layout replacement parts, your tools and any accessories needed to do the job. If you are going to have help in your shop so you can work on multiple engines simultaneously, enough room for each work station would be ideal. Each work space should have a vice for holding parts and racks for tools and disassembled parts.
Arrange the shop so workers can get to and from tooling machines (lathes, drill press, etc.) without interfering with other’s work. Constant foot traffic around a workstation can be frustrating and distracting.
Light and Air
Plenty of windows and overhead lighting are what you should strive for in your small engine shop. Not only does it make working on the engines less of a strain, it’s easier to find a small part you drop on the floor.
A good ventilation system is needed to pull gasoline, oil and solvent fumes from the shop. Whether you have climate control in your shop is a personal choice, but constant headaches and watery eyes interferes with getting a job done well.
- Servicing Electrical Appliances (NRI) Fundamentals of Small Engines, Servicing Small Engines, Your shop equipment and business practices; National Radio Institute; 1973
- M&D Mower: Small engine tools
Wesley Tucker is a lifelong southerner whose politics are objective, whose sports are many and whose avocations range from aviation to anthropology to history and all forms of media. With a master's degree in mass communications from the University of South Carolina College of Journalism, Tucker has been a writer for more than 30 years, with work ranging from news reports to feature stories.