Engine carts are steel cradles, often equipped with wheels, where an engine can be stored. In the case of automobiles, engine carts provide a safe place where an engine can be safely kept while awaiting installation in a vehicle or rebuilding. The engine carts have provisions to bolt an engine in place, thus keeping it in a proper position and preventing fluids from escaping onto the floor. Engine carts provide an easy mode of moving the engine in complete state of assembly or any stage of dis-assembly throughout a garage.
While bolted to the engine carts, mechanics are able to remove parts that require attention and service them. This allows the mechanic to roll the remaining engine off to the side where it will remain out of the way until the time of reassembly. In some assembly plants in Europe, an automobile engine is assembled entirely by a single mechanic. Engine carts allow the mechanic to build several engines at once and keep them all separated in many stages of build. When the engine is completed, it can be rolled to the engine installation area and kept until its chassis is ready for it.
Engine carts also make it easy to clean an entire engine prior to disassembly and rebuilding. When restoring antique automobiles, it is imperative to clean each part to determine its condition. Often, years of accumulated dirt and grime must be removed in order to examine the part. Engine carts allow the complete engine to be rolled into a cleaning booth where the engine can be steam cleaned and degreased as an assembled unit. This makes disassembly and inspection much neater, easier and orderly.
There are types of carts that allow an engine to be started and run while bolted to the stand. This type of cart is especially helpful for aircraft engines, which are not easily diagnosed by a test drive. The engine is bolted to the cart and wheeled into a diagnostic room. The engine is then connected to fuel supply lines, radiators if needed and many diagnostic gauges and monitors. The engine can then be run in a number of simulated conditions and the results of the test can be interpreted. This is much safer for a pilot, crew and mechanic and a less expensive way to diagnose the aircraft engine than a dangerous test flight.