Engine Builder Shop Solutions: March 2009 - Engine Builder Magazine

Engine Builder Shop Solutions: March 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

Tip #8:  Don’t get technical with me!

How does the average automotive machinist learn the trade? This question led to an entertaining discussion at a Missouri focus group meeting. Most claimed to be self-taught. Arnie learned to fix stuff on the farm. Wayne worked on jet engines in the Air Force. We all joked about earning a degree in “bore job.” But where do you go to learn the trade? Where does an experienced machinist turn for technical assistance?

The fact is that training centers are rare but not unavailable. In fact we learned at this focus group meeting that CMSU in Warrensburg, MO, offers a degree in Automotive Technology Management, and they have a machine shop on campus. A simple Google search reveals that there are similar programs in colleges and technical schools across the country.

But where does the veteran or rookie machinist look for technical assistance? Often, your engine parts specialist warehouse has technical people on staff. If they can’t help, they can normally direct you to a tech guru at a manufacturer. Trade associations are also a great source of technical expertise. Some shop owners subscribe to one of the automotive technical database services such as AllData. The machine tool manufacturers usually offer advice and extend their service to a personal visit to your shop.

And finally, the best source for tech help might just be from your competition. Progressive shop owners develop a relationship with their neighboring machine shops that allow the exchange of information and services. Let’s face it: we are in this thing together. From the Custom Engine Rebuilder’s (CER’s) perspective, the real competition is the dealership that offers new, low-interest vehicles OR the salvage yard that maintains an inventory of low mileage pull-outs.

There is plenty of technical help available for those who take the time to look. And one of the best resources for help may just be the shop down the street!

Steve Rich

Sterling Bearing,

Kansas City, MO



Oil Pump Torque Simulator

When line honing blocks with a main cap mounted oil pump, make sure you torque a dummy oil pump to the main cap before honing. I have seen as much as .002? distortion after installation. Be sure to leave the dummy pump on if you are going to slip a block-true ring into the main for decking, or you could have trouble getting it in place properly.

Rev. Ron Flood

Cedar Machine Service/ Toxic Cycle Inc.

North Branch, MN



Engine Pre-Oiling

Enough cannot be said for engine pre-oiling. Many new engines are damaged in the first few minutes of operation due to oil starvation.

All of the internally lubricated parts of the engine must be installed with an assembly lube and receive immediate lubrication or damage may occur. Keep in mind that many of today’s engines use an oil pump that is not self priming. So even if you remove and replace the pump for whatever reason it must be re-primed.

The oiling system for any engine can be primed by using a bearing leak detector, or oil primer which can be connected conveniently in most cases, and needs to hold at least 2 to 3 quarts of oil. Force oil through the galleys at normal engine oil pressure; about 40 psi to prime the system, for about 5 minutes before fire up.

Bill Crum

Engine Pro Technical Committee



GM Gen IV Rear Main Seal Leaks

Warranty and oil leaks are in our future for the GM Gen IV car and truck engines. From 2006 on, the GM L92 and LS3 have a one piece rear main seal that was installed backwards compared to traditional engines, and may leak under heavy load or turbo boost.

It comes from GM (p/n 1261566) with housing and seal installed. Careful inspection will show that the seal lip is facing outward. Disregard the printed “this side out” on the side of the seal. The lip should be on the inside, or on the reluctor side of the crankshaft. The aftermarket followed the same prints when they developed a replacement. National Seal p/n 100085 and Victor p/n JV1657 are installed in the housing the same way.

The seal should be removed and turned around BEFORE engine installation.

Tim Schwanke

Tim’s Automotive Center LLC/Schwanke Engines LLC

Springfield, 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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