Engine Builder Shop Solutions: January 2011 - Engine Builder Magazine

Engine Builder Shop Solutions: January 2011

Keeping Gaskets In Their Place

Can’t get a hard to reach gasket to stay in place even using various types of sealers? Try this trick that worked for me.

Simply tie the gasket in place with sewing thread through available bolt holes/studs and/or any area that can be used for a temporary tie off. Once the gasket has been securely bolted in place, trim off the excess thread as close to the gasket as possible. While the thread left under the gasket is not a problem, you should use the thinnest thread you can find. I’ve used this method and it really works.

Jim Kovach

Kovach & Assoc. Performance

Engine Building

Parma, OH


Oil and Water Don’t Mix in Ford FE Engines

Every once in a while you will run into a Ford FE engine that has oil going into the cooling system.This is usually caused by a crack in the overhead oiling passage in the block – and is a very easy repair. When the local Ford authorized rebuilder was in business in my town it used this procedure on all FE engines that were rebuilt.

Use a 5/16? X 4? roll pin (readily available at any fastener business), with the split in roll pin toward the valley of the block and drive it into the galley passage. No machine work is necessary and usually the roll pin will be completely installed in the passageway with no trimming necessary.

Bob Mitchell

Engine Parts Group

Wheat Ridge, CO


Cam Bearing Tips

Here is an engine assembly tip I have used for over 45 years. I saved one of each type of used camshafts that still have accurate journals and are straight. I use them to verify fit when installing cam bearings. A big help is to put the cam in a lathe and knock the lobes down to make fitting easier and to have less chance of gouging a new bearing. I keep them stored like fine instruments.

Another cam bearing installation tip is to chamfer the inner ends of the new cam bearing with a sharp knife or bearing scraper, just enough to make sure no burrs or rough edges are left.

And most know this but some do not:Press/pound the bearing in from the thickest flat side.

James Feurer

Animal Jim Racing

Lacon, IL


Don’t Sweat the Gap

We have found over the years that if you have a minimum end gap for the piston rings do not push it to minimum spec. My saying goes like this: if the gap is too big nobody will know, but if it is too small everybody will know.

Often filing rings is required, so be sure to clean the filed area with sandpaper to smooth the burr then wash with soap and water. Little horsepower is lost through the increased gap and what good is horsepower if your rings come together and break a piston or two.

Gary Askins

Napa Saratoga Machine Shop

Saratoga Springs, NY


Got Cam Bearing Problems?

After hearing about a fellow sprint car racer’s bearing troubles with two of his engines, I asked a few questions and thought I might know his problem. Upon looking at his block (GM 3970010 Chevy), I knocked the cam bearings out and found what I expected.

The oil passage drilled from the main bearing bore to the cam bearing was a 1/4? diameter passage like always but the passage from the main galley to the cam bearing bore was only 3/16? diameter. This, I believe was a contributing factor in his bearing problem.

Our shop has always checked this passage during disassembly and taken a 6? X 1/4? drill bit and drilled that passage on every Small Block Chevy, whether it was street or race application. Most early 265, 283 and 327s have the 3/16? diameter passage. Some 307, 327 and 350s also have the 3/16? diameter passage. Just make sure which diameter that oil passage is while you have the cam bearings out and if it’s the small one take that moment to take a drill and 6? X 1/4? dia. bit (as it will reach all the way through from the main bore) bit to open it up to 1/4?.

I also check the depth of the groove that passes the oil around the cam bearing at that time. If it’s a race engine I like it to be at least .200? wide X .125? deep for adequate oiling.

Norm Johns

Norms Auto Machine

Petaluma, CA


Quick Test For Water in Methanol

We all know that methanol sucks water in the day you break the seal! Most racers don’t carry a specific gravity gauge to the track. What I tell my customers to do is once the motor is up to full temperature with the motor off take the air cleaner off and open the throttle wide open and hold it open for about 30-45 seconds. With the throttle open take a light and look through the carburetor to the floor of the manifold. With the motor being “hot” the methanol evaporates quickly and if you have water in the fuel you will see drops of water sitting at the bottom of the manifold. This is a quick way to tell how good your methanol is.

Brian Benson

Dakota Parts Warehouse

Rapid City, SD


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