What exactly is a crate engine? It’s not a term we hear everyday, let alone speaking of engines or wanting to buy an engine. Lets spend some time defining the various ways crate engines are supplied in and for what purposes one might use one.
Crate engines or motors are ‘turn key engines‘, fully assembled long blocks or short blocks either brand spanking new or fully rebuilt and blueprinted to specifications for a custom application ready to go.
The original term crate engines applied to engines purchased from the dealer. These were brand new engines, or rebuilt and packed in a ‘crate’, a convenient way to store the fresh power-plant. Often coated in a substance called cosmoline, which does not allow rust or corrosion to form, even if stored for a long period. Cosmoline is a waxy greasy substance originally used for military weapons, soon adapted for other purposes such as vehicle components engines.
The military packs everything that will be shipped and or stored for future use in cosmoline.
A crate motor is basically a ready-built (and ready to install) motor. It can be stock, or over-sized.
The definition has changed over the years, at least in terms of what it means in today’s marketplace. Now crate engines applies to rebuilt engines too. If you want to split hairs, it usually applies to custom engines. In most cases the term is used widely by hot rodders or vintage car owners. Although, if you call and ask for a crate engine for sale, you will be asked if you want new original equipment, which might cost a lot of money because it may be an older new engine left over from the factory. It will be packed in cosmoline or the equivalent to keep it fresh.
Crate engines today usually refer to some sort of modified or custom rebuilt engine for a specific purpose. Perhaps your truck needs a replacement engine and you want more power this time around. Buying an updated version of the same engine where it has been modified for more power and efficiency would categorize it as a crate engine.
The idea of ordering a ‘mail-order engine’ would never occur to some hot rodders, any more than buying a finished hot rod would. For such people, building a car at home–including the engine–from collected parts is the very definition of hot rodding. Anything less is just slacking. But mail-order engines have increased many times over the last 10 years.
An engine from a reputable manufacturer that has built thousands of engines, and hundreds of different specific combinations, is less likely to suffer from human error than your home-built engine, or even an engine from a small engine shop. Specifics like proper clearance, valve size, ring gap, proper carburetor size, cam specs, and other considerations that may slip past, or hard to perform for an amateur engine builder.
The market for crate engines has increased greatly as the definition changed up over the years. It is the most complete engine assembly you van buy for replacement purposes. The whole idea is to get a complete engine of your configuration in a ‘turn key’ crate engine drop in package.
Terminology is not as important as choosing the engine that suits your needs. One of the most important jobs we do is to educate our consumers in enginology. Without have a rudimentary idea of what you are dealing with, it is impossible to decide. Allow us to assist you in any engine replacement decision. I have to mention that while our focus is quality, we know you need your engine fast.