Engine Builder Shop Solutions: December 2009
Keeping Your Parts Washer Clean
I was having difficulty keeping my parts washer clean, and the fluid/solvent was not lasting long enough. By utilizing an old oil filter housing from a 390 Ford motor, I found a way to keep the parts washer clean and increase the longevity of the washer fluid. I keep my 390 oil filter and housing in the parts washer; every few days I will recirculate the fluid through the filter. The fluid outlet connects very easily to the filter using a short rubber hose plugged into the 390 filter housing. I then change the filter every few months when the flow becomes restricted. Parts washer stays clean, fluid lasts a lot longer, and I suspect that the pump will have a longer lifespan, too.
Laniers Speed Shop.
Colorado Springs, CO
When grinding cranks I make a note of the counter weight increment in my spec book. Usually, setting the weight one time by doing minor adjustments is quicker than having to find and set up the specs every time.
Automotive Machine Services
I had a customer who needed a timing belt for a 3.5L Mitsubishi. He had purchased a core engine to complete the build. There are a few different setups for that engine depending on the vehicle model. I did not want to order three different belts to find out which would be correct so I asked him to count the teeth on the old belt. “I threw it out,” he said words I’ve heard far too often.
When you sell a rebuild you write a work order or at least an invoice of some kind. There are usually numbers on such an invoice. There are also these nifty little stackable plastic bins available at your local Whatever Mart; they are perfectly suited for the temporary reposting of SOON TO BE disposed of parts. Get a paper tag and write the invoice number on it and attach it to an empty bin. Disassemble the engine and place the old parts in the bin. Do not throw away old parts until you have received the new ones and made sure they are correct. This makes everyone’s job easier and, your parts guy probably won’t hate your guts and charge you for the aggravation.
Engine Rebuilders Warehouse, Inc.
Dania Beach, FL
Insurance In a Bottle
An easy way to increase a machine shop’s gross profit per sale and provide a level of insurance on every engine build is to sell the customer some good oil or at least an oil additive. Most shops have dealt with an angry customer who experienced a flat cam failure due to improper break-in.
For years we blamed the cam or block manufacturer for producing sub standard castings. But, as we now know, zinc levels have been lowered and detergent levels increased in SAE oil, which reduces the protective barrier on mated machined surfaces resulting in unwanted friction and engine damage. Most savvy machinists are now building engines using a hi-zinc assembly product and are then dyno’ing the engine with an oil designed specifically for break-in. Problem solved.
But engines often leave the shop without assembly and testing. To combat the problem of a customer using improper lubricant, you might include break-in oil and a case of your favorite hi-grade motor oil or oil additive with every job. Build some profit into the price and sell the feature as an “extra.” This “insurance in a bottle” will reduce break-in related engine failures, will extend the life of the engine, and, will make for a happy customer.
Finally, encourage your customer to use the correct oil. High-performance engines need race oil. Muscle cars that sit in a garage for months need oil that won’t drain off critical surfaces. Passenger cars and light trucks, either flat tappet or roller, need an oil additive package that is mixed with SAE oils to reduce friction and extend engine life.
High-zinc assembly lube, race oil and oil additives shouldn’t be overlooked as a great insurance policy (and profit builder) for every machine shop.
Kansas City, MO
Keep Your Old Catalogs
Not too long ago a parts guy like me with 100 inches of catalog rack could easily fill up a 55 gallon drum changing out new catalogs, price sheets, and supplements. In years past catalogs just kept getting thicker, providing not only corrections to previous issues, but nice, fresh print to replace their work-worn and torn predecessors.
Those days are gone. Today, catalogs are getting thinner as more manufacturers are printing only the newest listings, rarely duplicating previously published material, the price sheet having being laid to rest. What once seemed endlessly plentiful has become a rare and valuable resource.
Do not throw away catalogs when you receive their presumed replacements and baby them like they were irreplaceable, because they are!
Engine Builders Warehouse
Dania Beach, FL
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