Valves, Retainers & Springs - Engine Builder Magazine

Valves, Retainers & Springs

New materials, improved designs and lower prices (at least for some valves). That pretty much sums up what’s going on with valves, retainers and springs today. These are extremely important parts in every engine because of their impact on engine performance, durability and cost.

Satisfying demand is the key. Rick Simko of Elgin Industries, Elgin, IL, says his company is focusing on more late model engines that are in demand, such as the Chrysler 2.7L in 1998 and newer Dodge Intrepids and other models, the Chrysler 4.7L in Durangos and Jeeps, plus Ford’s 5.4L and 6.8L V8s, and other engines. These are all engines that are being rebuilt so there’s a growing demand for parts for these applications.

“We’re not abandoning the small block Chevy by any means, but there’s only so much you can do with new valve materials and designs for the older engines. We do have performance valves but we’re not getting into titanium,” says Simko.

He says Elgin has plans for other new metals for spring retainers. As for springs, the company specifies “valve grade” wire which is better quality than the “commercial grade” wire many spring manufacturers use. It’s more durable than ordinary wire. “We are also doing conical beehive springs for the newer Ford and GM engines that require these type of springs.”

New Or Reman Valves?

“You can now sell a reman cylinder head with new valves for about the same price as a head with reclaimed valves,” says Hunter Betts of Enginetech, Carrollton, TX. “That’s why we are seeing more rebuilders moving away from reclaiming valves and buying new valves. The prices have really come down and are very competitive with reclaimed valves.

“You don’t have to clean, sort, rechrome or grind valves if you use new ones, and you don’t have to install guides or liners either. All you have to do is ream out the guides to accept a new valve with an oversized stem and drop in the valve. It’s a much faster and easier process for most people,” Betts continues.

“For many years, production engine builders were the only ones who were buying new valves in significant numbers,” Betts says. “Now we’re seeing the smaller five- and six- man shops buying a lot of new valves.”

Why the change? Betts says it eliminates a bottleneck in the shop and speeds everything up. Rebuilders can turn jobs around faster, lower their labor costs, and be more productive and profitable.

“It’s the same with springs,” Betts says. “New springs are so cheap why would anybody waste their time cleaning and checking old springs? It’s easier just to replace them. You also reduce the risk of comebacks caused by spring failures.”

Jeff Richardson of Federal-Mogul, Southfield, MI, echoes those same sentiments. “Most production engine builders today buy new valves and ream out the old guides to .015 oversize, then drop in the new valves with oversize stems.”

Today’s engines also require higher quality valves that contain more nickel to withstand the heat. Federal-Mogul recently changed the alloy of its exhaust valves to a 21-4N which contains four percent nickel, says Richardson.

Exhaust valves require tougher alloys because they’re exposed to much higher operating temperatures than the intakes. They receive little cooling from the incoming air/fuel mixture. Consequently, exhaust valves typically see temperatures of up to 1,400

You May Also Like

LS Intake Manifolds

LS swaps are popular for many reasons, but there are a lot of variations and details to sort through – more of them than you may expect – and many of them are associated with the intake manifold.

When it comes to trying out new methods and theories to improve upon performance, often times, we’re learning using the old-fashioned way through trial and error. After any type of modification, the butt dyno is only good to a certain point. You could usually feel a difference any time you made a change in tuning, such as a different accelerator pump cam or distributor advance weights, but you really didn’t know for sure – without a dyno or track time – what type of difference you made.

Choosing the Correct Block for Your LS Engine Build

Whether you’re scouring junkyards, ordering cores, investigating factory options, looking at aftermarket cast iron or aluminum blocks, or spending big bucks on billet LS blocks, you’ve probably noticed it’s been harder to find exactly what you want for the foundation of your LS build than it historically has.

Open Loop/Closed Loop and Learning

Closed-loop control can be programmed to either add or subtract up to a certain percentage of fuel in order for the engine to reach the target air/fuel ratio.

Top 10 Ken Block Gymkhana Films

Who doesn’t like a little bit of burnt rubber?

America’s Best Engine Shops 2022 | H&H Flatheads

Despite not being a fancy, state-of-the-art set up, Mike and his team at H&H have a great thing going. The equipment does exactly what it needs to, his team is experienced and the shop has built thousands of vintage engines for customers everywhere!

Other Posts

America’s Best Engine Shops 2022 | Choate Engineering Performance

This shop’s dedication to quality engine work, its growth, its machining capabilities and its impact in the diesel industry, all make Choate Engineering Performance well deserving of Engine Builder’s and Autolite’s 2022 America’s Best Diesel Engine Shop award.

America’s Best Engine Shops 2022 | 4 Piston Racing

The 4 Piston Racing facility in Danville, IN houses two buildings – one is 12,000 sq.-ft. and the other is 2,500 sq.-ft. The shop is very heavily focused on Honda cylinder heads and engine work to the tune of 300+ engines and 1,000 cylinder heads annually!

Randy Bauer Shares His Experience as PERA President

We recently spoke to Randy about his PERA presidency and what some of the biggest hurdles are facing the engine remanufacturing industry right now.

Women in Motorsports: Mattie Graves

Mattie Graves competes in the Outlaw Diesel Super Series (ODSS) dragster class, and is the only female doing so in a class that already has very few competitors in general. Find out more about this up and coming diesel drag racing star.