Engine Builder Shop Solutions: May 2011 - Engine Builder Magazine

Engine Builder Shop Solutions: May 2011

Editor’s Note:  In March we printed a Shop Solution titled, “Oil Pump and Engine Priming” supplied by Melling.  Here is

another opinion suggesting an alternative method of pre-oiling a newly rebuilt engine.  


Alternative Method to Pre-Oiling Tip

I respectfully disagree with the published tip on how to properly prime a new engine’s oiling system.  Employing the method depicted will not only pre-oil the engine but, more importantly, it will serve to wash off all or most of the assembly lube that we carefully apply during engine assembly. We spend about $60 per gallon for assembly lube and we prefer that it remains where we put it for the initial startup. The label says, “Clevite 77 Bearing Guard is specially formulated with an extreme pressure rating to provide proper lubrication for internal engine components during assembly and the first crucial moments of operation on startup.”  

I believe that continued priming after the oil pump is primed, the oil filter is filled and the main galleys are filled, will only serve to dilute and wash away the assembly lube from all the bearings and valve train. Leakage around the lifter bores will also wash away or dilute the cam lube on the lobes, lifter faces and bodies, causing increased likelihood of cam/lifter destruction of flat tappet cams upon startup. We feel that the assembly lube will do its designated task of keeping the engine internals lubed properly until full oil pressure and volume are attained.  

Our preferred method and the method we instruct our customers to use for pre-oiling is as follows: Before filling the oil pan with the prescribed amount of oil, plus an extra quart for the filter and any cam break-in additive, premix additives into the oil in a clean container before putting the oil into the engine.  The additive should be in the oil at the first instant of startup, not waiting until it mixes in the pan later, possibly leaving critical areas without protection.

With Chevy style oiling galleries, use an empty distributor housing or a commercially sold timing tool to seal the lifter galley on the passenger side before priming.  Insert the priming tool, spin it, and you will feel it spin freely until the pump picks up oil and drags down the drill motor. (You prelubed the pump with bearing prelube before installing it, didn’t you?)  Now continue spinning the tool.  When you feel the priming motor drag down again, the oil filter is filling.  

Now the critical part.  When the drill motor is dragged down for the third time that indicates that the oil filter is full and the main oil galleries are also full. Now, Stop priming the engine. Any further priming will only wash off the prelube.  I prefer allowing small bubbles of air in the galleries to washing off the prelube!  

We didn’t come up with this priming method by accident.  We assembled a long block and primed it for several minutes using the accepted method of the day. We then removed the oil pan and found only small traces of the assembly lube remaining on the bearings. Much of the assembly lube was also washed from the pushrod ends. We have been employing our current priming method and recommending it to our customers on all engines that we machine and manufacture for over 25 years with no problems. 

There may be assembly lubes on the market that are for assembly only and that don’t contain extreme pressure additives, but I can’t think of a reason to use one. When in doubt, read the label or contact the manufacturer.  There is more than one way to accomplish anything, but this method works for us.

Timm Jurinche

Tuf-Enuf Auto & Marine

Avondale, AZ


Learn The Firing Order

Generally you can determine an engine’s firing order by checking your manual, or in some cases, you’ll find the numbered sequence cast into the manifold or block.  But what if you are working with an uncommon or rare engine and can’t find the firing order?

Here’s what you can do: Loosen the spark plugs slightly and squirt a little oil into each spark plug well.  Crank the engine one turn at a time and watch the order in which the bubbles appear in the oil. The bubbles indicate the compression stroke. Follow this through all the cylinders and you have the firing order.

Jim Kovach

Kovach & Associates

Performance Engine Building

Parma, OH


Quick Easy Out

Have a bolt with the head broken off flush? Before going through the trouble of drilling it out, weld a washer and nut onto the bolt stump and then use a wrench to back it out.

Darren Karleskint

DK Motor Services

Girard, KS


Keep Cutting Burr Clean on Aluminum Grinds

An easy way to keep your cutting burr clean when grinding aluminum is to grind a wax candle for a second before going on to aluminum. The embedded wax helps keep the aluminum from sticking to the burr. Just hit the candle as necessary to complete the job. A little wax works wonders.

Jeffrey Myers

MAR Automotive

Philadelphia, PA


Manufacturer Shop Solution: Identifying Performance Pistons

As a piston manufacturer, we receive calls on a daily basis from people looking to identify what applications their pistons will fit. Most often their pistons were purchased secondhand from someone’s abandoned project or were separated from the original spec sheet at some point. To help answer this question, many piston manufacturers include some form of identifying mark on each piston sent out the door.

On all JE and SRP pistons you’ll find a six digit JOB number laser engraved on the wrist pin boss that can provide the salesperson at JE with the complete order details. In addition, all off the shelf products include a six digit PART number that can be used by anyone to locate product specs online or in the printed catalog. A third marking, the FORGING number, is usually located on the underside of each piston. Although this number may narrow down the possibilities, it does not identify the specific piston application since multiple dimensions can be manufactured using the same forging.

Sean Crawford

Marketing Manager

JE Pistons


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