Engine Builder Shop Solutions: February 2009 - Engine Builder Magazine

Engine Builder Shop Solutions: February 2009

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 #7:


Tip #7 –  If a short order cook won’t fry your egg… Why do you pin-fit his pistons?


A shop owner in the Dakotas used this analogy to encourage his fellow focus group members not to install carry-in parts. Would you have the guts to carry three eggs, some mushrooms, onion, cheese, ham, a raw potato and two pieces of wheat bread into your local Denny’s and ask them to mix the ingredients, scramble the eggs, fry the potatoes, toast the bread and serve the meal on their plate? And then guarantee that it will taste great and not leave you with heartburn?


If Mr. Denny had grown up in an automotive machine shop business his menu would probably look like this:


•Power Scramble:  $.75 cents per egg


•Knife-edge cubing:  $.35 cents per potato


•Gas-Fired Toasting:  $.25 cents per slice


Note: all ingredients sold separately.


Denny’s does not scramble carry-in eggs. Why do you install carry-in parts?


The Denny’s example is hard to swallow (Don’t tell Denny) but we’ve seen most of the profitable shops make the tough decision and walk away from a job requiring them to install the customer’s parts. Smart shop owners have learned that the loss of profit and potential risk involved in installing customer’s parts is not worthwhile. However, you don’t have to lose the sale! Be like Denny and sell the package (see Tip #4). Hopefully your parts and machining pricing package will be a “Grand Slam!”


Steve Rich

Sterling Bearing Warehouse

Kansas City, MO






Forgot to Check Piston to Valve Clearance?


If your engine is fully assembled and you forgot to check piston to valve clearance, or you have changed the camshaft, or maybe you are changing the advance of the camshaft, there is an easy way to check this clearance. This check is only attainable with an adjustable valve train.


First back off the rocker arm one full turn to loosen the rocker. Next, slip a .120? feeler gauge between the valve and rocker. Tighten up the adjusting nut the one full turn from the first procedure. This will open the valve .120?. Now turn the engine over and if the piston doesn’t hit the valve you are in great shape!


Glenn Olsen

Olsen’s Race Engines

Hanford, CA




Multi-Fit Engine Rotator


The cheapest, easiest way I have found to turn any engine over during disassembly, or assembly is to use an old Superior or Grant style steering wheel. All you will need is the balancer bolt. The center hole of the steering wheel may need to be modified for larger crankshaft bolts. This can be very helpful in providing a constant feel during rotation of the crankshaft.


Glen Myer

Myer Performance Engines

Roscommon, MI




Cryogenically Treated Cutting Tools


When heat treated metals are cooled to temperatures of -120 degrees Fahrenheit or below, it creates a metal that is very stable at normal temperatures. This is performed by cooling the metal slowly to a desired temperature, then returning it to room temperature. The process creates a metal with very low distortion, which makes it very strong. Cryogenic treatment triples the life of drill bits, mills, and carbide inserts. This will give a better surface finish while lowering operating costs. Tools could last up to 10 times longer!


Rick Diekman

Controlled Thermal Processing


Antioch, IL




The Main Cap Catch-Up Trick


Occasionally when you are finish line honing the main caps after installation and boring, you may get one or two caps that hone a little slower than the rest. This is a common condition with billet inner and stock outer caps.


To get them to catch up, simply back off the stone pressure and slide a four inch section of backed or hook-it type 220-grit sandpaper over the stone section on the mandrel. Next; increase the cutting pressure, back up and hone the cap for a few strokes. This action will remove .0005? to .0001? fast and straight without removing any material from the remaining caps. Finally; remove the sandpaper and readjust the stone pressure to complete the final hone to finish.


This method is much easier, faster, and more accurate than loosening the caps and running the mandrel out of the block to try and balance the metal removal from main cap to main cap.


Rev. Ron Flood

Cedar Machine Service/ Toxic Cycle Inc.

North Branch, MN





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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