Machine shops and custom engine rebuilders are, and always have
been, a resourceful group. Our industry was founded on the principal
of bringing component parts from a condition of disrepair to one
that offers equivalent performance to that of a new part.
Rebuilt engines offer cost savings and performance benefits that
can not be found with any other products, new or used. But it
often takes more than a little creativity and ingenuity in the
business management and production practices employed by rebuilders
to achieve these benefits.
To showcase this creativity, each year the Engine Rebuilders Association
(AERA) solicits problem solving ideas from its machine shop members
as part of its annual Shop Kinks contest. Sponsored by the Martin
Wells Valve Seat Co., entries to the contest are presented at
AERA’s annual convention.
Do you have any idea that you have used around the shop to make
a job more efficient, easy or accurate? If you do you could win
one of the following three great prizes!
First Place: FREE registration to AERA’s Tech Show ’98,
Saturday night dinner and an all expenses paid trip to Tech Show
’98 which will be held April 24-26 in Nashville, TN. The first
place winner will also receive a $750 check and an award plaque.
Second Place: $100 and a certificate.
Third Place: $50 and a certificate.
Each Shop Kink entry is automatically eligible for the contest,
provided it has not been used in previous contests. Photos, slides
or a video must be included with your entry. Everyone is encouraged
to enter. If you have a tip that other machine shops could benefit
from and would like an entry form, or if you would like more information
concerning the contest, contact AERA at 330 Lexington Drive, Buffalo
Grove, IL 60089-6933, or call 847-541-6550 or FAX 847-541-5808,
or use the association’s Internet site at www.aera.org/aera/library.
All entries must be received by AERA no later than Monday, February
To help stimulate your creative juices, here are the Shop Kinks
that were entered in this year’s contest.
A New Use For Bicycle Gloves
Thomas Chatleain of TC Automotive, Madison Lake, MN, uses bicycling
gloves with a padded palm area to prevent digging in and causing
pain in the palm area. He uses bike gloves because they are without
Porosity And Crack Testing
Don Fedak of RPMS, Inc., Brantford, Ontario, Canada, uses a fast
test for block porosity and cracks. He suggests cleaning and drying
the block and then mounting it in a cylinder hone. Fill it up
to the deck surface with honing fluid, a low viscosity combination
Small internal and external casting defects are revealed within
minutes, as well as any leaky expansion plugs. The photo shows
a 7.3L Navistar being checked for porosity.
Heli-Coil Bushing Tool
Leo Croisetiere of R & H Engines, Dover, NH, took second place
honors with his Shop Kink for a Heli-Coil bushing tool (top right
photo). This tool speeds up the task of thread repairs. Not only
does it speed up the process, but it keeps the drill squarely
aligned and won’t let the drill walk off into softer aluminum
when you are drilling out a broken stud. The tool uses the two
most common sizes – 3/8" and 5/16". A piece of 1"
square low-carbon tool steel is slotted and the drill bushings
are inserted at either end.
Cylinder Head Assembly Bench
Croisetiere also submitted a Shop Kink describing a cylinder head
assembly bench. Croisetiere improvised an assembly bench by extending
the table length of an ordinary drill press with a standard pair
of V-type head holders. The 16-valve head shown is assembled in
10 to 15 minutes with these simple tools.
TBI Block Conversion Kit
The last Shop Kink from Croisetiere is a TBI block conversion
kit. This is used to convert TBI 4.3L and 5.7L blocks to carbureted
marine applications and is a relatively simple tool to make. A
different one is required for 350 GM and 4.3L V6 engines.
The 4.3L version is shown in the photo to the right. Align a master bushing
off an original marine block fuel pump bore. Bolt the plate to
the block with no clearance on the bolts, and then TIG weld it
to the master bushing. Use two bushings. The first is a 31/32"
x 2" long drill bushing. They slip fit into the master bushing
and are held in place with a set screw. The 31/32" drill
is step ground with a 1/2" drill motor. The reamer is 1/2".
Jig Plate For Fitting Valve Guides
Bryan Schuster of Bryant Engineering Works, Brisbane, Australia,
created a jig plate for fitting valve guides in heads at various
angles. Cut a piece of flat plate 26" long x 12" wide
x 3/4" thick. Also cut out the area in the middle of the
plate so as to be able to use an arbor press normally.
Bolt the plate to a number 3 or 4 hand-operated arbor press with
a ratchet handle. Bolt the plate to the press base making sure
you have a smooth flat surface.
Weld a 3/8" edge to prevent slipping for the head. Angle
the plate on an adjustable angle plate with 45 degrees of movement.
Simply set the angle required to fit the valve guides and away
Sealing Water Cooled Guides
Peter Sattler of Sattlers Supply Co., Eunice, LA, offered the
next six Shop Kinks. His first is on 0-ring guides. Have you had
problems sealing water cooled guides that were driven out the
wrong way, or just leaked when pressure tested? O-ring them! A
stock big block Chevy guide, for example, can be machined .312"
and 1.125" up from the combustion side to accept small O-rings.
If the guide is loose in the head it can be knurled and glued
into the head; the O-rings will seal the guide.
Improving Surfacer Mounts
The next Shop Kink from Sattler is an idea on surfacer mounts.
Manifolds and other objects that are hard to clamp into a surfacer
can be clamped by welding threaded rod to the object and bolting
it to the universal mounting plate. Multiple section manifolds
can be tack-brazed together, surfaced, and then the welds can
be ground off. The barrel in the picture (below left) has expanded
iron on top; it is used to catch slag from a torch while cutting.
Modified Freon Tank
Sattler’s next Shop Kink pertains to a water trap. This is an
old freon tank with three or four pipe collars welded to it. One
collar on the top is used as an inlet from the air supply, the
other one or two are for dry air outlets. The collar on the bottom
is used for attaching the drain valve to drain water from the
tank. When used overhead, a hook is welded to the tank to secure
the air hose.
Functional Balancer Clamp
Sattler’s next Shop Kink has a balancer clamp made from plate
steel with a nut welded to it. The threaded rod has a tee welded
to it. The tee is screwed down to the crank to secure it so that
bobweights can be attached or the crank can be drilled.
Head Repair Stand
Sattler also submitted a kink on head positioning. An engine stand
is modified with a right angle attachment. Heads and other objects
can be mounted and then swiveled into almost any position for
crack repair, welding, or simply to perform a valve job. It makes
moving large heads easy.
Bearing Cap Holder
Sattler’s final Shop Kink is a main and rod cap holder. Sometimes
a cap is not machined 90 degrees from its side, or the side is not
machined at all. When you machine a cap that is out in a cap grinder
you end up with a tight thrust bearing, or an oil pump mounting
surface that is not true.
The threaded rod is welded to .375" x 1" flat bar. This
secures the cap to an angle plate in the mill. A level is used
to true the cap and the mill takes an exact amount of material
in one pass. Caps too large for a cap grinder can be mounted in
the mill or into the head surfacer by using the universal mounting
Adjustable Bench Vise
Rex Rasmussen of Action Machine Shop, Seattle, WA, submitted three
Shop Kinks. His first is an adjustable bench vise, bench-mounted
under a car trailer hitch receiver. Used with square tubing drilled
in 6" increments lengthways. It can also be rotated into
four positions, and locked in position with a trailer hitch pin.
Valve Guide Work Station
Rasmussen’s second Shop Kink concerns the construction of an efficient
and productive valve guide work station. The station consists
of a steel bench with side and back splash. It holds tooling visibly
on a rack with specific holes drilled for the tooling. There is
a sliding catch drawer under the grated bench top for retrieving
tooling, machine debris, etc.
Fixture For Bolting Work
Rasmussen’s last Shop Kink is a raised parallel fixture used with
machine tables with t-slots (above photo). It allows work to be
direct bolted. It’s tooled for VW Type 1, 4, or waterboxer cases
and heads. It’s also used with their EDM for securing miscellaneous
Solving Lower Seal Problems
Mike Hed of Torvinen Machine, Menhaga, MN, provided a Shop Kink
on repairing lower seal areas on blocks. When repairing a lower
seal area in a block that is rusted out, forced pressure will
need to be applied, which could cause problems. To make sure no
problems occur, Mike came up with the following procedure. He
cuts a small counter bore at the repair sleeve bore from the top
of the highest irregularity to about .030" down from where
the cutter cuts all the way around the bore. That area gives the
sleeve a pocket that is concentric and square to the bore.
With a leading edge chamfer on the sleeve, the sleeve can then
start in the bore by hand, making sure that it is concentric and
square to the bore. This procedure can also help bring out-of-round
sleeves back to round. Repair sleeves can now be driven the rest
of the way with a suitable driver without any worry. Mike says
this method is almost fool proof.
Easier OHC Valve Spring R & R
Dave Marshick of I.D.J. Automotive, Roseville, MI, offered a Shop
Kink which resurrects the Vega cylinder head tool. On certain
OHC cylinder heads such as the 2.0L Plymouth Lazer, valve spring
R & R can be made easy with the use of the old Vega cylinder
head tool after a few simple modifications are made.
Cut the attaching rod to a 3-1/2" length. Drill a .25"
hole approximately 1" deep and tap with a M8 x 1.25"
tap. With the use of different lengths and the configuration of
studs (bending the ends of some) valve spring R & R can be
fast and easy.
Useful Flywheel Rack
David Schwartz of Bud Kunkel Auto Parts, Allison Park, PA, created
a flywheel rack from angle iron and roundstock to hold the flywheel
before and after machining. It has a tool tray in front that holds
collets for the dial pin puller and hooks for the puller. He was
tired of everyone leaving flywheels against the machine and scraping
OHC Valve Spring Compressor
Glenn Linville of Big Wheel Auto Parts, Seattle, WA, described
the following Shop Kink for making a valve spring compressor for
compressing valve springs on OHC cylinder heads. It works on most
heads with recessed valve springs such as Volvo, Saab 16 valves,
Geo Metro 3 cylinders and many others. A piece of masonite was
placed on the table of their seat and guide machine using spacers
to hold the valves in position (core plugs of various sizes). The head was
placed on the table, and the tool inserted in the drill chuck.
The drill press feed handle is used to compress the spring. Linville
used one inch electrical conduit with a length of 3/8" steel
rod welded to the outside. He also used valve spring shims under
the tool to compensate for various size spring seats.
Quick Valve Guide Level
Edmund Hickey of Metropolitan Auto Parts, South Ozone Park, NY,
offered two Shop Kinks. The first is a quick level. Level valve
guides by using a bubble level and the valve. Rotate the valve
slowly, taking the average because the bottom of the valve is
not perpendicular to the stem. It’s like leveling a level.
E-Z Tang Cutter
Hickey’s second Shop Kink is an E-Z Tang cutter. Instead of discarding
old cut-off wheels save them. Use them on an arbor and in a 90 degree
die grinder. With a pair of safety glasses and a steady hand,
cut slots for bearing tangs.
Fixture set up
Alternative Sharpening Option
Robert Tetro of R.T. Cylinder Head, Grand Rapids, MI, offered
a method for sharpening Serdi and Mira cutters on a Kwik-Way bar.
For Serdi, install a tool holder in the post fixture backwards,
loosen the thumb screw, rotate the tool holder so the rear set
screw is parallel to the lap wheel scribe post fixture, remove
the set screw, drill a 3/32" hole in the center of the screw
and tap a 3 mm x .50 pitch. Reinstall the set screw and install
the Serdi cutter to set screw and sharpen.
For Mira, machine 5/16 SAE x 1-1/2" cap screw 3/4" long
x 1/4" diameter under head of cap screw. Machine sleeve 1"
long x 1/2" O.D. x 5/16" I.D. Remove set screw. Install
bolt, washer and sleeve to tool holder. Install cutter and sharpen.
Cummins Clearance Solution
Peter Burrows of Motive Parts Co., Port Washington, NY, provided
two Shop Kinks. The first can be used to resolve insufficient
clearance between the crankshaft timing gear and the camshaft
gears, and/or the idler gears between crankshafts and camshafts
on a V1710 Cummins (above photo). The process will work in almost
all engines. In this application, the block had been previously
align-bored and the centerline of the crankshaft was moved up
into the block – too close to the centerline of the idler gear
The gears in this application are hardened during the manufacturing
process and are of a helical tooth form. Because of the hardness,
the gear teeth cannot be reshaved, but must be ground, which is
very expensive and time consuming for a one-time setup.
The crankshaft gear was removed from the crankshaft, mounted in
a lathe with a four-jaw chuck, dial indicated in to less than
.001" TIR, in both radial and axial planes. Next, a spare
idler gear stud was mounted in the lathe cross slide and dial
indicated to less than .001" in the "x" and "y"
axis. The gear bushing was heavily lubricated with wheel bearing
grease and set up in the lathe as shown.
The lathe bed was primarily protected with cardboard from the
solution of the valve grinding compound and motor oil. The idler
gear was brought up against the crankshaft gear slowly until no
backlash could be felt. Then the cross slide dial was zeroed to
provide a starting point reference. The lathe was run at 150 rpms
and the compound applied alternately with oil.
During the process the lathe was run alternately in forward and
reverse, changing about every three minutes. The cross slide was
brought in slowly, .025" over a period of 30 minutes. After
that time both gears were removed and cleaned thoroughly. This
step is very important to remove the compound from the gears.
Failure to do so could result in catastrophic engine bearing failure.
Next the gears were installed in the engine and the backlash was
checked – .006", well within the manufacturer’s specifications,
not to mention perfectly mated gears. The two gears were electroscribed
"special undersize" and noted on the work order. A very
expensive cylinder block was saved with less than two hours labor.
Counterweight Clearance Solution
Burrows second Shop Kink is on insufficient counterweight clearance
between the crankshaft and the top of the vee in a Ferrari V12
block fitted with a replacement, later production crankshaft (bottom
right photo). Select a standard industrial side milling cutter
of the proper outside diameter on radius for the application.
Select one with the proper hub bore or refinish the bore to fit
your align-boring bar.
Fasten the cutter to the bar by welding a proper fitting shaft
collar to the cutter. Use a bronze set screw in the collar to
prevent marring the align-boring bar. The cutter can be moved
from cavity to cavity by uncoupling the bar and sliding it back,
and can be moved up and down by raising or lowering the towers
to suit your needs. Total setup and machining time is one hour.
Straighten Side Of DOHC Head
Bill Woods of Decker Machine Shop, Fresno, CA, has a solution
for heat straightening one side of a DOHC head. He had a head
that was warped .010" on one side. He took two .010"
shims and placed them, one on each side of the head, lengthways
from the end of the head towards the center just past the second
cam journal. He then torqued down the shims to 45 ft. lbs. and
heated the head to 450F for four hours, letting it cool over night.
Flywheel Grinder Rinse
Todd Smith of R & L Engines, Dover, NH, provided a Shop Kink
for a handy flywheel grinder rinse. This Safety-Kleen parts wash
brush is commonly found in most shops
today. By attaching this to the end of your existing coolant nozzle
it makes rinsing and cleaning your grinder a breeze.
Slide Hammer Rocker Stud Puller
The third place Shop Kink winner was Mack David Stewart of Auto
Engine & Crankshaft, Meridian, MS. Stewart provided a video
which demonstrated a slide hammer rocker arm stud puller. He received
a check for $50 and a certificate.
Stewart says to use a good grade of heat treatable steel that
will not get brittle once hardened for the puller head.
The puller head: Use a 4" long piece of 1-1/2" diameter
heat treatable steel and drill a 3/8" diameter hole from
one end to the other. Then drill a 9/16" hole from one end
to the midway point. Then thread the 9/16" end 5/8"
standard threads (See Figure A).
Now drill a series of 3/8" diameter holes from the 3/8"
drilled end to the midway point and let the one closest to the
midway point be 5/8" diameter (See Figure B).
Now work out the holes drilled with a die grinder to make a slot
that a rocker stud will fit into. Use a grinding wheel that mounts
into a hand drill and work out the 5/8" drilled hole so that
a rod nut will fit loose in this slot (See Figure C).
Heat treat the puller head. Make a slide hammer from cold steel
6" to 8" long and 1-3/4" in diameter. Drill a hole
that will allow the slide hammer to slide smoothly on a 5/8"
diameter rod. Make a stop of 1-1/4" steel that screws onto
a 5/8" rod. The slide rod should be about two feet long.
You may want to drill and pin the puller head to the shaft (See
Old rod nuts work best for the stud puller. If there are not enough
threads in the stud sometimes welding the nut to the stud will
work. If there is not enough stud remaining or the stud has broken
off, drill and tap the remaining stud to 5/16" standard threads
after grinding the stud even with the stud boss; use a 400 Ford
rocker bolt screwed into the tapped stud to hook the stud puller
Some studs can be difficult to pull; you can use some heat on
the stud boss but heat evenly around the stud boss. If they don’t
pull after heating it is best to go ahead and cut the stud off
and drill and tap to 5/16" standard threads then pull the
remaining stud. When pulling the 5/16" studs, double nuts
sometimes work best.
Cam Bearing Installation Tool
The winner of the 1997 Shop Kinks competition was Brad Hartmann
of Hartmann Bros., Inc., Abilene, TX. He received a complimentary
AERA Expo ’97 registration, a ticket to the Saturday night dinner
party and an all-expense paid trip to EXPO ’97 International in
Las Vegas this past April. He also received a $750 check from
Martin Wells Valve Seat Co. and an award plaque.
Hartmann Bros. submitted a video explaining the creation of a
cam bearing installation tool for the DT466 Navistar. If you have
ever installed the cam bearings on this engine you know that the
cam bores are completely enclosed and it is very difficult to
locate the oil holes on the cam bearings in the block.
Hartmann Bros. machines the cam bearing driver and installs two
3/16" ball bearings with ball point pen springs under the
balls. The balls locate the slot of the bearing. The driver is
then attached to a 1" bar with a 1/4" keyway milled
in the bar and 1/4" key stock in the slot.
Hartmann machined a housing that fits the number 1 cam bore of
the engine and installed a 3/8" ball bearing to locate the
housing in the block with the 3/8" ball catching the oil
hole in the number 1 cam bore. Hartmann Bros. has two lines scribed
on the 1" bar so that it can drive the cam bearings to the
All that’s left is to just put the cam bearing on the driver and
install the complete assembly into the block. Rotate the assembly
until the ball locks into the oil hole and hammer the cam bearing
in and the oil holes will be lined up.