Predator Engines: Inexpensive Options to Resurrect Old Equipment

The Takeaway: Recently, I got a good deal on a log splitter. The kicker: It had a bad engine. Still, it was such a score that it made sense for me to buy it and a brand-new engine and do the installation myself. There were several options, but few available to purchase and install the same day. A quick check on Harbor Freight’s website revealed their local store had the right Predator engine in stock. With my wallet just a little lighter and only a couple of hours invested, the log splitter did what it was meant to.

  • Comes fully assembled with gas tank and pre-wired ignition switch
  • Available in several sizes for many different applications
  • Often available for purchase in local Harbor Freight stores
  • One of the least expensive options to re-power equipment

    8-HP Horizontal Shaft Engine

    Shop All Predator Engines

    Buying a New Engine: An Exercise in Frugality

    My new-to-me- log splitter with a non-operational engine.

    Bradley Ford

    My hunt for a log splitter had been going on for a while—years, actually. There were plenty to be found, but I wasn’t willing to spend $1,000 or more for one. Not that they weren’t worth it, just more than I wanted to pay for a machine I would use only a couple of weekends a year to split firewood. So I watched and waited for a used one. But they rarely came down to the amount of cash I was willing to part with.

    A few weeks ago, someone posted a nice log splitter to Facebook Marketplace for “best offer,” with a bad engine. I saw the post within five minutes of it going live, so I quickly made an offer of $250. The seller hit me right back, accepting the offer, and I made arrangements to pick it up on the way home from work. I had a spare engine at home that might work, but I also had the idea of Predator replacement engine in the back of my head.

    new and old 8 horsepower engines

    Tired 8HP Briggs & Stratton engine on the left, new Predator 8HP on the right. The crankshafts were the same size, and the bosses on the side were oriented correctly for mounting the hydraulic pump.

    Bradley Ford

    My engine didn’t have the right mounting bosses for the hydraulic pump. So I measured the crankshaft and keyway, as well as the position of the holes for the hydraulic pump, and compared them to the Predator. I had to go into the store to physically measure the pump mount, but everything matched, and I walked out of the store carrying the 8-horsepower engine that would render my machine operable.

    The engine was $299, and I had a 10 percent coupon, so it cost me around $285 with tax. That put me at $535 for the log splitter, a lot less than I would have spent for one that worked.

    Replacing the Engine

    Every engine swap won’t be as easy as mine was, but many will. There were only eight bolts to deal with, plus the coupling to swap onto the crankshaft. Four bolts held the engine on the frame, and four fastened the hydraulic pump and coupling to the engine. Once I removed them, I pulled the coupling from the crankshaft on the old engine, put it on the new engine, and bolted it together on the log splitter. The last thing I did was put a quart of oil (purchased separately) in the engine. The whole project, from start to finish with the engine running, took less than two hours—and that included scraping a lot of oily crud off the log splitter frame and putting a trailer hitch on my utility vehicle to tow it around the property.

    There was no break-in period specified, so I ran the engine for 15 minutes, checked the oil, and tested out the hydraulics. I’ve used it a couple of times now, and it starts right up, first pull with the choke on. I’ll be installing an hour meter, like this one from Amazon, and when I hit five hours of use, I’ll change the oil and call it good to go.

    There are better, more expensive engines. However, the immediate availability, reasonable price, and the amount/frequency of use it will get made this Predator the perfect candidate for me.

    Why Re-Power Old Equipment?

    Power equipment is seldom maintained well. Often, the only maintenance comes in the form of repairs, as parts break or it fails to start. You never know when the last snow of the season will be, so a snowblower can sit half full of gas until next season. You might check and top off the oil, but when was the last time you actually changed it? Engines in these machines often suffer more than other parts, from the lack of maintenance. People discard or sell perfectly good equipment all the time, due to troubles associated with the engine.

    new and old log splitter engines

    The engine on this log splitter appears to have been both neglected and abused.

    Bradley Ford

    Now, engines can often be repaired, which I am all for—if you have the time, money, expertise, or right combination of those things. If you don’t, a new engine can be a quick, affordable way to make your machine useful again. And the good news is that replacing these types of engines generally isn’t all that difficult.

    What Can Be Re-Powered

    Replacement engines with horizontal crankshafts are available for a wide array of equipment. The list includes but is not limited to:

    • Edgers
    • Rototillers
    • Snowblowers
    • Log splitters
    • Mini-bikes
    • Go-carts
    • Leaf blowers
    • Cement mixers
    • Water pumps
    • Generators

      Generally, horizontal-shaft engines have standard sizes, and you can match them up for replacement pretty easily. The simplest way to identify a horizontal engine is by looking at its recoil starter, which will be on the side, not the top. Beyond that, you just need to know the engine horsepower or displacement, crankshaft diameter, and the size of the keyway in the crank to be able to select a matching new engine.

      8-HP (301-cc) OHV Horizontal Engine



      • Same-day availability
      • Ready to install with gas tank and ignition switch

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