The endplates are essential to assembly a large proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell stack, whose deflection is negative to its uniform contact pressure distribution and large electrical contact resistance. The endplates with assembly clamping belts are proposed as an equivalent mechanical beam model consisting of elastic beam element with clamping forces. The deflection curve equations of endplates with 1 to 5 clamping belts are studied which allows investigating endplates deflection for uniform contact pressure distribution. Based on this equivalent mechanical model for fuel cell stack, the effects of the thicknesses of endplates, numbers and positions of clamping belts are discussed, and show the optimal thickness of endplate with different clamping belts, and moreover the optimal position of intermediate and outer clamping belts on the endplates. Finally, a three-dimensional finite element analysis (FEA) of a fuel cell stack clamping with steel belts and nonlinear contact elements is compared to what the equivalent mechanical beam model predicts. It is found that the presented model gives good prediction accuracy for the deflection behavior of endplates and the clamping force. Results showed that the equivalent mechanical modeling is effective and helpful for the design of a large fuel cell stack assembly.