Machine Maintenance: When Spring Is In The Air, Cleaning Is In The Shop
Stand back and look over your shop. Are you impressed? If you are, chances are your customers will be as well. Your employees will be, and the end result is no comebacks
By Dave Monyhan
It's that time of year again. The racing season is underway. Spring is here and hopefully your shop is getting busier. Before it gets too hectic, it's time to do some spring cleaning in your shop.
The first stop is the first place your customers will see - the front counter. Get rid of any old magazines and replace them with new ones. Clean off the counter, take out the trash, wash the windows, replace any burned out light bulbs. It doesn't need to be spotless, but it's your only chance to make a good first impression.
Teardown & Cleaning Department
Now for the shop itself, the first stop is the teardown and cleaning department. Clean the floors and organize all of your tools in a way that makes teardown, inspection, and cleaning of an engine and its components faster and easier.
Make sure all of your air lines are free of moisture by checking or installing a water separator. Lubricate all air tools according to manufacturer recommendations. Clean your air hoses and double check the fittings to be sure they don't leak and are easy to hook and unhook from the various tools.
Check your glass bead machine - empty the dust bag and examine the viewing glass for scratches or deterioration that may obscure your ability to see what you're working on. Also check your nozzle for wear, then test the air pressure. Most machines should be set at 80 psi; any more than that and you will pulverize your beads prematurely and spend unnecessary dollars on glass bead replacement.
Test the strength of chemicals in the hot tanks or jet washers. You might want to clean out the build-up of sludge in the reservoir. In most machines this can be done without completely draining the water. You can fabricate a scoop with drains to get the crud out but leave the water in. Add water and chemical as required.
Check your stock of parts tags and metal markers and order a fresh supply if necessary.
Cylinder Head Department
In the cylinder head department check the air lines, adjust the air regulator to the minimum requirement for the machines or tools they feed to and check the water separators to ensure they are doing their job. Clean out the reservoir of your valve refacer and add new oil. Check the diamond and the wear on the grinding wheels and replace as necessary. This is also a good time to check the drive belts and pulleys.
Your seat and guide machine should be clean. Dump the chip tray and vacuum out all the nooks and crannies that attract and hold the chips that don't make it into the chip tray. Inspect all the slides, gibs and tables for any nicks or burrs and remove as required. Make sure your level is level then level the machine (for more on this, check out the "Machine Maintenance" column in the May 2003 issue of Engine Builder).
When you've inspected all of your tooling for wear, call your favorite shop supply company and order new tooling as required. Send out tools that can be resharpened. If you have a seat grinding kit, look over your stone and pilot inventory and replace as necessary. Check the point on your dressing diamond.
If you have a wet grinder, inspect the coolant reservoir and clean and replenish the coolant as required. Check underneath the table and fill the oil cups. Inspect the under rollers and ensure they rotate without obstruction. Remove the tooling and examine the table and tooling for burrs and nicks. As with the seat and guide machine, make sure your level is level then level the machine.
Inspect your valve spring compressors to ensure the jaws are not worn or broken. Add lubrication oil to the air spring compressors. Look at your head assembly bench, clean it up and deburr as necessary. Note the tool board to ensure it is not only organized but also easy to reach. Do you have protective bags or boxes in which to put the finished heads and other components?
Inspect the boring machine, checking all tooling for wear. Recalibrate your micrometers and re-level. Again, inspect your set up tooling for nicks and burrs and fix as needed. Clean up all the chips, and if you have an air float machine check the water separator and automatic oiler to ensure function; adjust as needed. Check your drive belts and pullies. Inspect the column and confirm the seals are doing their job. Make sure all of your control knobs and speed dials are in good shape and not broken; replace as necessary.
The honing machine should have clean honing oil; the filters should be fresh and any sludge should be removed from the reservoir. This would also be a good time to install a new filter mat on top of that expanded grate under the rollover fixture.
This is where you really need to be organized! A clean, well-lit assembly department is your key to a properly assembled engine. Don't let an unorganized department create a comeback or warranty claim for your customers.
Wipe down the assembly bench. Organize all of your measuring tools. Create a special place to organize all of the components that are a part of the assembly procedure for either cylinder heads or the short block.
There are several really cool organizers available for cylinder heads, pistons and rods and now there's even one for organizing overhead cam components. Make sure your assembly lubes are sealed or covered when not in use. Also, make sure you are using lint-free assembly wipes.
Have some nitrile gloves for the assembler to wear during this process. It's best to do the final painting away from the assembly department. You don't want paint floating around this area to coat other components.
Make sure you have plenty of protective storage bags for all of your finished work. Cylinder head boxes are great for shipment, and of course mark everything so it stays with the job. Put the customer's name on the gasket kit, as he will need the balance of the gaskets from a master gasket kit for the valve covers, water pump, etc.
Stand back and look over your shop. Are you impressed? If you are, chances are your customers will be as well. Your employees will be, and the end result is no comebacks. Keep it clean!
Dave Monyhan is national sales manager with Goodson Shop Supplies, located in Winona, MN. email@example.com