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Opening The ‘Guy’s’ Toy Box
When your toys need machine work, can you perform it in your shop? Do you have to take it to the other guy? Why is that? You have your own shop, so you have a place to work on it. You have invested many thousands of dollars in the best machinery you can buy.
By Dave Monyhan
We all know the most important “Guy” rule: “He who has the most toys WINS! I hope you are in the game. I am and I PLAY TO WIN!
Boy’s toys are nothing new. We all started acquiring toys as kids. As we grew older, our toys changed, and our toy box is now called a garage. These toys are our prized possessions, and we take care of them very seriously. We spend our hard earned money on them not because we have too, but because we want too!
Let face it, it’s no fun to get ready to play and your toy doesn’t work. In guy world that is sacrilegious. If my toy is broken I want it fixed, I want it fixed now, and I am not as concerned about the cost to get it fixed. Why? Because it’s my toy.
Why is a toy different from anything else you own? I’ll tell ya why. Our toys are extensions of our selves. These toys are our enjoyment, we are passionate about them, we care for them, and we treat them better than our wife, kids, girlfriends, etc. Well, hopefully not to that extreme, but you know what I mean. We own these toys so we can escape the real world.
The neatest thing about our toys is when we are playing with them they are just about all we think of. If you off-road, all you think about is the next trail. If you’re a boater, it’s the next river or lake, or running faster than the other guys. Racecars take all of our attention when racing, as do airplanes, street bikes, jet skis, snowmobiles...well you know the drill.
Let me ask you a couple of questions. When your toys need machine work, can you perform it in your shop? Do you have to take it to the other guy? Why is that? You have your own shop, so you have a place to work on it. You have invested many thousands of dollars in the best machinery you can buy. You have years of experience working on various types of engines. So, why did you take your toy down the street to that other shop?
I’ll tell you why! You are dimensionally-challenged. (No jokes here, please!)
Let’s face it, our toys are dimensionally different from the regular types of machine work you traditionally perform in your shop. You need to get “right sized” for this toy market. Let’s look at some of the different dimensions.
Today the engines in ATVs, personal watercraft, off-road motorcycles, street bikes, outboard engines and snowmobiles are mostly four-cycle, which means lots of valves, seats and guides for us to work on. However, the valve seat is down to around 1/2˝ in diameter and the guides are from 4 mm to 7 mm in diameter. Disassembly and reassembly is something of a challenge due to the incorporation of the over-head camshaft. This configuration puts the retainer almost out of reach because of its locations in the lifter bore.
Taking Things Apart
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, “You can’t machine until it’s clean!” And you can’t clean unless it is taken apart. So here we are, we’ve got little valves, little springs little retainers and little, if any, room to get at these components, and, if you’re like me, very little patience.
You have several options for disassembling these small diameter parts. Some will cost a lot, some won’t. It’s kind of your call as to how deep you want to get into the small dimensional tooling. Here are some of your options:
You can use your drill press with a special foot to compress the spring;
You can add an adapter to your C-frame spring compressor;
You can buy a spring bench;
You can have 3 or 4 of your buddies help you; or
You can use the “Keeper EEZE” tool. It covers most applications, is easy to use and is very affordable.
Cleaning is pretty much the same as with any aluminum application, but keeping track of all of the components is a challenge. Various organizers are available from your favorite shop supply company to keep track of all of those components.
Special wire brushes for aluminum must be used, but be careful. Wire is abrasive and those little wires fly everywhere. Wear your safety goggles.
Now that everything is taken apart, you’ll find yourself up against another challenge. The valve stem diameter is only 5.5mm or .216˝. Most valve refacers have a chuck capacity of 5/16˝ (.312˝) to 9/16˝ (.562˝). Your valve is .216˝ so how do you grind it? You’ll need an adapter for your valve refacer. Most of these adapters use a collet system to hold the smaller diameter stemmed valves all the way down to 4 mm! The adapter goes directly into your existing chuck allowing you to machine these small diameter valves safely and effortlessly. They are available for around $300.00.
Pilots are the next investment. Keep in mind that as the guide gets smaller the weak link is the pilot. I suggest that if you can afford it, invest in carbide pilots. They will allow a more concentric seat when cutting or grinding. Make sure your pilot length is correct. These applications often place the guide a good distance from the seat and extra long pilots may be required.
Keep in mind these heads will generally have knock-in, knock-out guides; generally made of some type of bronze material. Mini guide drivers and extra long mini guide drivers are available. Reamers down to 3.98mm or .1565˝ are also available. Here is a tip when installing new valve guides, heat the cylinder head to about 200 degrees F (93.33 C) and then freeze the valve guides. This way when you drive the new valve guides in there is less impact to the workpiece and less chance for distortion.
To cut or to grind, that is the question. It really depends on what you already have in your shop. If you grind seats, then all you need are smaller pilots and smaller seat stones. Seat stones are now available down to ?” in diameter. Be VERY careful when grinding with these smaller stones. Light pressure and bounce springs are the keys to success. Cutting is becoming more popular in a lot of shops around the country. Neway offers very small hand driven seat cutters that get the job done.
All the newest seat and guide machines incorporate the multi-angle carbide blades for machining seats. The cutter systems generally offer a range of 1˝ to 3˝. Micro tooling is now available which enables the operator to get to that 1/2˝ diameter seat. However, to do that the manufacturer had to make the pilot smaller at the top. This top size is only 6mm in diameter, and to control concentricity they are made of solid carbide.
Also available for this system is an adjustable counter bore cutter that makes cutting out the old seat fast and simple. You do a partial cut of seat ID two times. By eliminating the crush factor, the seat can easily be popped out with a simple pick.
Here is where we really need to stay on top of the changes. Bore diameters range from around 1-3/4˝ to about 3-1/2˝. Not bad most of you have a hone for this dimension. But what about boring? What about familiar nickel-silicon carbon matrix coated parts? Can you bore it? Can you hone it? Well you can actually do both. It’s a coating just like on your chrome bumper and is generally about .003˝ to around .010˝ in thickness. If you hone or bore through the coating you will have to have the bore re-coated. There are various shops that offer this service.
However, when we’re tuning our toys to play, we generally just need to re-ring. This means removing the glazed build up from the cylinder. This glaze build up is mostly piston skirt mixed with the ring material and some combustion gunk and, voilÀ! You have glaze. A flex hone with 240-grit aluminum oxide abrasive is a quick and effective method for de-glazing. You’ll need clean honing oil, about 250-300 RPMs and about 8 to 12 strokes. You must be diligent with your dial bore gauge. Too much time in the bore and you will make the hole too big. Deglazing stones are available for popular honing machines and also for the rigid portable hones you use with a drill.
The best part of doing this work yourself is the satisfaction of knowing the job was done right and on time. By doing your own work on your toys you can, as we say, “enhance” them to the max; allowing you to beat the pants off your buddies or own the bragging rights in any conversation.
But the best part is doing this work for other people. You actually get to charge when you work on somebody else’s toy. I know. I am a toy owner, and when my toy is broke, I want it fixed. I want it fixed right. I want it fixed right now.
I don’t want to miss a play day with my toys. I will pay you serious money to get my toy back in operation.
Now, I don’t want to be overcharged or screwed, but I will pay a premium. Let’s face it; you have the facility, you have the equipment, you have the knowledge, and now you are dimensionally correct. You’ve just carved out a new niche and it’s one that will pay you very well, which means you can probably afford another new toy for your toy box.
Most of these applications are going to be in metric dimensions. Yeah, I know we were all supposed to be fully metric-sized by the time we finished high school. Well high school was a long ways back for me and we still live in a fractional world.
Invest in some actual metric micrometers and indicators. Sure, you can do the math. It’s simple and doesn’t take all that long, but it’s far too easy to make a mistake. So just do it right and invest in the metric measuring tools. It’s better in the long run when you are in the world of metric dimensions.
Oh, and don’t forget to play with your toys this weekend. You worked hard all week, and you deserve to have fun!
READY, SET, PLAY!
See ya in the shop!