Engine Builder Shop Solutions: October 2008 - Engine Builder Magazine

Engine Builder Shop Solutions: October 2008

Top 10 Machine Shop Business Tips

Engine Pro recently held a series of 8 focus-group meetings in the Midwest. Each meeting consisted of 8 to 10 machine shop owners and a moderator. Three questions were asked during the meeting.  What’s working? What’s not working? What do you need most to help you “make it” for the next 10 years? After talking with 70+ machine shop owners, the Shop Solutions Top 10 owner tips was created. Here is Tip #3.


Tip #3 – The Tailgate Fee

Have you ever lost your shirt on a job because you didn’t get money up front to cover your estimated expenses?  One of the smartest machine shop owners I know, a guy from Omaha, NE, presented the idea of a “tailgate fee.”  He says, “If the customer lowers the tailgate, I stop him right there and institute my tailgate policy before his engine hits my floor.” The $250 non-refundable deposit rolls into the entire package price (see next month’s Tip #4) to cover costs associated with estimating the job.  

Many shops undercharge for machine operations because they don’t add incidental fees to cover their TIME for non-machine operations like unloading, discussing, phone calls, billing, bad debt, loading and follow-up. The Tailgate Fee helps cover these non-machining costs AND it keeps you from losing your shirt if the customer decides to walk.

Please note that the Tailgate Fee does NOT replace the need for prepayments once the job starts.  Smart shop owners get enough deposit to cover ALL expenses.  Smarter shop owners get ALL the money up front.

Steve Rich

Sterling Bearing Warehouse

Kansas City, MO



Push Rod, Guide Plate Clearance And Alignment Problems

Many stock cylinder heads need to be machined out for pushrod clearance when running guide plates. Some aftermarket heads have also been known to need additional clearance.

I have seen many claims of  “soft guide plates” when the real cause of failure was not checking for adequate clearance and alignment of pushrods. It also may be necessary to confirm that the customer is not trying to use a self-aligning rocker arm with a guide plate or slotted head. If this is done, binding is likely to occur.

Valve length, push rod length, block height, overly milled cylinder heads, aftermarket rocker arms, different rocker arm ratios and even different make guide plates can all have an effect on push rod and guide plate alignment and clearance.

Dave Sutton

Sterling Engine Parts

Minneapolis, MN



Error In Year Range On 4.7L Dodge/Jeep Timing Kits

Borg Warner, the O.E. manufacturer of the Dodge/Jeep 4.7L timing kits, recently informed us that the original year split they gave on these kits was incorrect. They originally stated that the later kit fits all makes and models starting in model year 2002.  That is not correct.  Here is the correct information.

Part Numbers:

C6083S (Engine Pro); 9-0393S(Cloyes); 3-393S (Melling); and  76083 (S.A. Gear) contain the JTEC (S854) cam sprocket.


1999-2001 Dodge Dakota

1999-2002 Dodge Durango and Ram Pickup

1999-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Part Numbers:

C6110S (Engine Pro), 9-0393SD (Cloyes), 3-393SC (Melling) 76110 (S.A. Gear) contain the NGC (S870) cam sprocket.


2002-2006 Dodge Dakota

2003-2006 Dodge Durango and Ram Pickup

2005-2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Both kits have the same components except for the cam sprocket. The cam sprockets are also a target wheel, and either sprocket will physically fit all vehicles. If the incorrect sprocket is installed, the engine will not run.

Engine Pro Technical Committee



Aligning Cylinder Hone With Cylinder By Using Laser Guide

A laser guide, such as sold by Harbor Freight or other tool suppliers as a “Laser Marker” for under $5, saves quite a bit of time when cylinder honing by allowing the hone head to be easily lined up with the cylinder.  The line it projects is easily seen in even the brightest shop environments.  Battery life is good. So far I haven’t had to replace them.

Timm Jurincie

Tuf-Enuf Racing Engines

Avondale, AZ



Saving Money On Chevrolet Small Block Valve Springs

I save my customers money on Chevrolet small block valve springs by selling them the old style Chevy 350 valve springs in place of the more expensive ones for use in late model 4.3L and 350 Chevys.  The specifications are identical with the exception that you must remove the damper from the old style spring before installing them.

Harris Crowley

Engine Rebuilders Warehouse

Dania Beach, FL



Engine Builder Shop Solutions is sponsored by Engine Pro,
a consortium of 14 engine parts specialist WDs operating 33 branch
locations serving engine builders/rebuilders across the U.S.
Solutions published in each issue of Engine Builder Magazine are
awarded a $100 Visa Gift Card. Winners will be chosen by
the staff of Engine Builder Magazine and the Engine Pro Technical

To submit a Shop Solution simply mail your entry
to Engine Builder Magazine, Shop Solutions, 3550 Embassy Parkway,
Akron, OH 44333; or email to Shop [email protected]. Shop
Solutions may also be
emailed to [email protected].You must include
your name, shop name, shop address and shop telephone number. Submitted
Shop Solutions not published will be kept on file and reevaluated for
publication with each month’s new entries. If you include your email
address you will be emailed notification of publication if your Shop
Solution is chosen.


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Engine Builder and Engine Pro present Shop Solutions in each issue of Engine Builder Magazine and at enginebuildermag.com to provide machine shop owners and engine technicians the opportunity to share their knowledge to benefit the entire industry and their own shops. Those who submit Shop Solutions that are published are awarded a prepaid $100 Visa gift card. Submit your Shop Solution at [email protected]. You must include your name, shop name, shop address and shop telephone number. Submitted Shop Solutions not published will be kept on file and reevaluated for each month’s new entries.

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