Pemberton, Inc.

Equipment Spotlight

Engine Pullers
Manufacturers List

The automobile recycling business runs on the knowledge that cars that have outlived their usefulness as a means of transportation still have value as sources of recyclable materials. But while nearly every junked car is worth something, some parts of the car are worth more than others.

Engines and transmissions are among the most valuable parts of many older cars, so scrap yards commonly remove these large components from automobiles for separate sale or processing before crushing or shredding the bodies and other parts. The problem is that engines and transmissions are exceptionally hard to remove. And that’s where today’s engine pullers come in.

Engine pullers are attachments for wheel loaders that use the vehicles’ weight and a hydraulic system to pin down a car, grapple the engine and then forcibly yank it loose from motor mounts and other attachments. The concept seems brutally simple, yet the development of today’s engine pullers has required decades of trial-and-error experimentation.

Pemberton

Recyclers initially removed engines from scrap vehicles the same way they were installed, with wrenches. Some tried burning through connections with a cutting torch, then prying the engines out with one tine of a wheel loader’s fork. “It was real primitive methodology,” said Paul Secker, president of S.A.S. of Luxemburg, Ltd., an engine puller manufacturer in Luxemburg, Wisconsin.

Primitive or not, cutting with a torch and prying with a fork did remove engines and transmissions, and it was faster than detaching the components with a wrench. But the process was cumbersome, resulting in low production throughput. It was also dangerous and costly.

“You have fire hazard, and you have risk of injury to the people if you have someone lying under a car torching motor mounts,” said Secker. “It’s a very expensive method to remove the motors, because you’re buying oxygen and acetylene.” The technique was hard on equipment and required multiple people to get involved with every engine removal.

SAS of Luxemburg

Later, recyclers tried skipping the torch step and simply prying at the motor and transmission with a wheel loader fork until the connections snapped and the desired parts fell out. Some still do it this way, despite the low production level, clean up problems and requirement for two operators – one on a wheel loader and one on a skid steer – required to remove and transport the motors and transmissions.

In the 1970s, recyclers began using forks modified with a set of claws or teeth that were used to reach down and snag the engine before using the wheel loaders’ weight and hydraulic force to jerk the motor from its attachments.

Next, the vertical engine puller represented a dramatic improvement over previous technologies. These devices grabbed engines with claws operated by hydraulic pressure, then pulled the engines straight up from the car body. However, installation required major modifications to the typical wheel loader hydraulic system, forcing recyclers to take their wheel loaders out of service for a week or more. “Just physically installing it carried a huge price tag,” said Secker.

After a few more incremental improvements, S.A.S. came out with its Scorpion engine puller. A recycler can install this attachment at the yard, with no modifications to the hydraulic system, and be pulling engines in a few hours, Secker said. The design features high operator visibility, because the support pillars are widely separated, allowing a straight view into the workspace.

The improvements allow a single operator to pull an engine in seconds, rather than minutes. And the machine works equally well with transmissions. Once removed, the component is securely clamped in the jaws of the puller, ready to be placed in a pile or carried across the yard and loaded into a trailer.

“The desire is to get the motor and transmission out the first time,” said Secker. “You don’t want to have to go back to that car a second time.” The Scorpion’s serrated clamping jaws and hinged pulling action remove large, valuable car parts in one tug, with minimal mess. Operator training is minor, Secker said, and the entire operation can be carried out by a single employee.

Since introducing the Scorpion, Secker has seen the market embrace it more enthusiastically than the company’s other engine puller models. “The one with the highest level of interest is the Scorpion engine puller,” he said. “That’s gotten the most positive response out of any engine puller we’ve ever built or seen on the marketplace.”

C&C Machining, Inc.

Secker sells S.A.S. engine pullers to scrap yards and other customers in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Australia. While the acceptance of the new model, which was eight months in development, has been encouraging, he said S.A.S. is forging ahead with plans for a second edition.

“We have a mini-Scorpion in design right now,” he said. “It’s basically going to be a mirror image of what you see now, but it’s going to be built for smaller wheel loaders.” The present Scorpion weighs over 6,000 lbs. by itself and is intended for wheel loaders that are 28,000 lbs. and heavier. “It’s a heavy attachment, but it’s built for long-term use,” Secker said.

The smaller Scorpion was conceived because many potential customers have smaller wheel loaders. “They want this tool, because they can see it’s going to increase their revenue dramatically,” Secker said. “But the full-size one is much too large to use with a smaller wheel loader. So we’re hoping in the next 30 to 90 days to roll out the mini-Scorpion. That’ll open up a lot more opportunities.”

 

C&C Machining Pemberton, Inc.