EngineLabs’ Tool Of The Month: Summit Geared-Head Engine Stand

The unsung hero of any shop that deals with engines outside of a vehicle is the simple engine stand. There are many options when it comes to these handy devices, from inexpensive, lightweight, light-duty three-wheel T-shaped stands, to heavy-duty six-wheeled monsters designed to hold the heaviest engines on the road. For most of us, however, our needs fall somewhere in the middle.

The three-wheeled light-duty stand might be fine for those working on an aluminum four-cylinder with a shoestring budget. But, at the very least, the four-wheeled H-design is worth the extra money for the stability offered by the additional wheel, alone. But, after doing this for a while, you start to see the shortcomings of the cheaper designs. At least, we sure did. With the recent shop remodel, we started looking for something that was a bit nicer than the discount store stands all over the shop. Enter Summit Racing’s Geared-Head Engine Stand.

The Gear Adds Muscle

Summit Racing’s Geared-Head Engine Stand (P/N: SUM-908300GA) has a lot of features we need to talk about. But the main one, that’s right in the name, is the geared head. Instead of a hollow mandrel with eight holes in it to match up to the single hole in the receiver, the Summit stand features a self-locking geared head with a hand crank. There’s a lot to unpack with that feature alone.

The star of the show, and what really differentiates the Summit Racing Geared-Head Engine Stand from other stands on the market, is the geared-head. With a 63:1 gear ratio, turning the engine over, even fully dressed is a simple, one-handed affair.

First, the self-locking feature allows for more than just the 45-degree locking options found in the typical engine stand. Besides the ability to lock in far more positions, holding the engine in a less-than-balanced attitude is an overall safer option. Additionally, the self-locking mechanism is more robust than what a lot of us are guilty of with a traditional engine stand, and that is replacing a lost or misplaced pin with something less substantial. (Personally, I head to the local Tractor Supply to get the red-handled hitch pins, but somehow those go missing and a screwdriver ends up taking its place. Don’t lie, we’ve all done it.)

The next feature of the geared head is the gear mechanism itself. The internal gear ratio is 63:1, which provides a significant mechanical advantage, making rotating a fully dressed engine an incredibly simple task. Personally, I’ve experimented with longer handles and cheater bars (in fact, the stand this replaces had my latest iteration – a 3-foot long handle with a four-foot cheater pipe on hand, to handle flipping an imbalanced iron long-block) trying to accomplish what the geared head does with simple gear-train physics.

By removing a single bolt and then pulling two pins (similar to an engine hoist) the engine stand folds flat when not in use. This is a very nice feature not often found in engine stands. This is especially true when used in a small shop.

Another benefit of the geared-head stand is that the lubrication system for the gear train, is actually a lubrication system, not just some bearing grease on the outside of a shaft. While that simple setup works, it is both messy and susceptible to external contamination. The Summit Racing system is much more enclosed, and utilizes multiple Zerk fittings to inject additional grease into the gear mechanism during maintenance.

Strong, Stable, And Svelte

While the geared head design is a huge advantage over a typical engine stand, the Summit stand offers a bunch of other benefits in its design as well. First is the “H” layout. Similar to the wheel layout of most stands on the market, what isn’t apparent in the photos is that the Summit stand has a significantly wider stance for improved stability. The heavy-gauge steel makes for a 1,000-pound capacity, which is more than enough capacity for any of our project engines.

Summit Racing geared head Engine Stand

With two swivel casters up front and two fixed wheels out back, all four wheels lock, for added stability.

Additionally, the stand features locking wheels at all four corners. The two rear wheels are fixed in place, while the front two wheels are swivel casters for increased mobility. Being more mobile is nice, but being more stable really is a nice benefit, especially when you are torquing large main and head studs with torque values in the triple digits. Add in that the whole assembly will fold nearly flat when not in use, and you have an incredibly attractive package, perfect for our smaller shop.

Now, there is one detail to note, that can potentially save you the same headache we encountered. The mounting tubes on the geared-head stand are longer than other typical engine stands. That is no big deal, until you head to your local hardware store to find mounting bolts of the appropriate length. Since LS5.0 will reside on this stand, we needed to find some Grade 10.9 (metric “Grade 8”) M10-1.5 bolts that are 130mm long. The issue is, most hardware stores, even those with an amazing fastener selection, will be quite light on bolts of that length, especially in grade 10.9 (or 12.9).

geared head engine stand bolts

The standoffs are longer than most other stands, so you’ll need longer bolts than usual. We found them difficult to acquire locally, but Summit sells both metric and SAE bolt kits specific to this stand, for far less than you’ll pay for the hardware locally.

Fortunately for you, we learned (after driving all over the quad-city area with limited success) that Summit actually sells both SAE (P/N: SUM-G1012GA) and Metric (P/N: SUM-G1012GA-M) bolt kits, specifically for the geared-head stand. Not only is it one part number for the Metric kit of the appropriate pitch, length, and grade, but for four bolts and four washers, it’s only $6.99. We paid $6.00 at the local Ace Hardware for a single bolt and washer (not to mention they only had three bolts in stock).

If you’re interested in the stand, make sure to check out our Power + Performance YouTube channel, as the LS5.0 videos that will be going up will feature the engine stand pretty heavily as the engine comes to life.

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Greg Acosta

Greg has spent nineteen years and counting in automotive publishing, with most of his work having a very technical focus. Always interested in how things work, he enjoys sharing his passion for automotive technology with the reader.
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