DIY Dyno Frame

The design for the Dyno’s frame is around the idea that everything is moveable and modular. Because we plan to test different engines and they come in different sizes, the parts of the dyno move along the frame to the best location for the motor being tested. Also it makes changing motors easier. For example, the radiator, fan and oil cooler unit comes off with 2 bolts. That gets those components out of the way during a motor swap. The same is true for the control panel and fuel system. We plan to test 1-2 liter BMC, Lotus/Ford and Miata motors. So, lets start there.


To calculate the frame size, I started by lining up the components in the order they needed to go and measuring everything.  See photo 2. That gave me a general width that the frame needed to be. Then it was trip to the metal supply depot for several 10’ (I discovered that is the industry standard size for raw steel) lengths of 2” square steel tubing. Another stop for some heavy-duty steel casters. Once I got that home it was a kind of a “now what?” moment. I really didn’t know what to do next.

I remembered my dad had an old Craftsman stick welder out in his garage under 20 years of dust. I borrowed that. Bought a helmet, gloves and other supplies at Harbor Freight on the way home and was off to the races.

No, I wasn’t. I learned I knew absolutely nothing about welding and you just don’t pick one up and lay down nice bead weld. There are about 100 ways welding can go wrong and I must have hit 99 of them.  And no, you can’t learn it from just watching some YouTube. I tried that too. In truth it’s an art that takes years to get right and after 4 years of trying I still suck. But a friend that did go to welding school came over and showed me how to start a bead and a few of the basics. On a good day, if all is in aliment, I only have to grind off half of what I weld and start over. On a good day. Welding is a skill and one I may never possess. I have accepted there are some things I’m not good at (my taxes, singing, all musical instruments) and I should just hire those out. But I did learn enough that with trial, and error, and lots of grinding that I can get non-critical metal parts to sick together. It will never pass inspection but I’m not taking it on the road.

Look for the next few articles on the Dyno Pump and Dyno Load cell. Happy workshoping.