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After selling my car for salvage recently I began to wonder if I could repurpose my next car's engine for anything. Can old car engines be made into generators or other useful machines?

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Basically the sky is the limit. If you can dream of something which it can connect to, you could utilize it. There are limits, of course. I mean, you couldn't pull out a 400lb engine and expect to put it in an RC car. If you can devise a way to mount it and attach it to an object which needs power, you can make it happen.

Things which I've seen engines used for outside of cars:

  • Airplanes (or other flying things)
  • Air boats
  • Generators (though, this use is abusive to a car engine due to the constant RPMs needed to run the gennie)
  • Larger water pumps
  • Tractor engines (replacements when the original has bit the dust - takes some work, but it can be done)
  • Other cars
  • Chain Saws
  • Snow Blowers
  • Motor Cycles
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To add to Paul's answer - conventional boats are a very common application for old car engines, a good example of this being the 'long-tail' boats found in South-East Asia, which often use them: see This wikipedia page for example...

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