Monday, August 23, 2010

Engine block coffee table: Diamond in the rough?

Click here for the completed table.

I went to check out the potential engine today.  I think it's got potential.  The engine's owner and I brainstormed a bit and it may just work.  We're still working out the details.  If it works out, I will post more pictures of the transformation.  *Fingers crossed.*

So we start off with a Maserati Biturbo engine.  (I know, that is a Lancia Montecarlo/Scorpion in the background.)  We are not sure if we are going to use this engine block or the much cleaner one that the owner also has.

Here's another view.  That's a Fiat racer in the background.  The very tentative plan is to just have a block, heads (x2), cam towers (x2), and either black or red "Maserati" valve covers (x2).  I won't need any of the extra doohickies you see attached here.

A few issues came up, and I think these are worth considering for anyone who wants to build a coffee table.

  • Weight: It's not just about shipping/transporting a heavy object home.  Once it's home, it has to be relatively easy to move.  If you have company over and you want to whip out the Twister game, are you going to need four people just to budge the coffee table four inches?
  • Center of gravity: V-shaped engines are inherently unstable.  Is a kid running at full steam going to be able to knock over the table?  You may want to do all you can to widen the base and/or concentrate the mass towards the bottom.
  • Level: I plan to pick up a glass top from the local recycler.  Once you place the glass on top of the engine, is it going to be level?  This is going to be an issue with this engine, as the oil filler opening on the valve cover (the stripped engine's highest point) is half an inch taller than the other side of the valve cover.  Also, make sure the bottom of the engine block sits flush with the floor.
  • Dirt/grime: It's filthy.  I am debating whether a once-over with a high pressure hose will do the job.  Or, will I have to spend my weekends with a gross of toothbrushes and a 55 gallon drum of brake fluid, like Edvin?


John L said...

You could put casters on the bottom. You could also use these to adjust the level. An acid bath is the best way to clean it.

Edvin said...

I'd fabricate a frame with engine mounts and wheels for it. Also I wouldn't lay the glass straight on top of the valve covers, but fabricate legs for glass, perhaps with suction cups on the end?

If you're not going to paint the engine, then I too would use something more effective than brake cleaner. The block may still look a bit tatty because of oxidation and pitting, so I'd consider painting it.

Check out this finn's BMW M20 turbo coffee table: