Engine Builder Shop Solutions: January 2012 - Engine Builder Magazine

Engine Builder Shop Solutions: January 2012

Finding Better Ways to Clean Fasteners

I work on all brands of American classic cars, and mostly rebuild their engines.  Most of my clients desire the preservation of original parts as much as possible, especially exposed fasteners. Here are the ways I clean and detail head, pan, front cover, valve cover, intake and exhaust manifold and other fasteners.

First, for the smaller fasteners I learned a method from a former Engine Builder Shop Solution winner. I put them in a 20 oz. plastic large mouthed  bottle and fill it 3/4 full with solvent. Then I let is soak a bit and shake the bottle hard frequently.  This quickly gets all the goo off, but the hard crud, rust and old paint are still there. Normally the next step if you don’t have a tumbler or time is to use a glass bead or soda blast machine. But, WOW – what a pain blasting all those small individual parts!

Here is an idea that will help. Take a flat hunk of aluminum or steel about 8? x 10? and 1/8? thick. Drill and tap the required sizes of fasteners to be bead or soda blasted. Make enough tapped holes to accommodate all the fasteners you need to clean. Space far enough apart to get good access while blasting. Screw the fasteners into the tapped holes flush to the bottom side of the plate, leaving as much thread area exposed above the plate as possible. Then blast while holding the plate, turning as needed to get good cleaning.  This way you can blast a set of pan fasteners in minutes. The plate can be reused forever. For larger fasteners such as head bolts, you may want to use 3/16? or 1/4? aluminum plate.

The next step is more time consuming.  You will need to use a wire wheel to clean the area of the fastener threads that were not exposed. Also, the wire wheel will polish and dress all the threads. If you want to keep them the natural color, wire wheel polish the fastener head as well and paint it with clear engine enamel. For painting, cut crosses in a cardboard box, stick your fasteners in them and paint.

I find painting the fasteners before hand makes it easier when complete painting and final detailing of the engine is done.  To be American factory correct, engines should be painted after they are assembled, fasteners and all. Some engines came from the factory painted after bypass hoses and clamps were already installed.

Granted, the labor, materials and preservation of parts may cost more than ordering new or reproduced parts, but hey – you know the car collectors, they want to be period correct. Besides, the customer is always right!

James T. Feurer

Animal Jim Racing, All American

Brand Classic Car Service

Lacon, IL

Saving Time on GM Vortec Intake Manifold Gasket Replacement

On early GM Vortec engines, the accessory bracket for the power steering pump must be removed to replace the intake manifold gasket. At least one to two hours can be shaved off the time required by using a hole saw to make a round hole in the bracket over the top of the forward most intake manifold bolt on the left bank.

This hole doesn’t compromise the strength of the bracket. Anyone who has removed a power steering pulley and put it on again will appreciate not having to remove accessories from the front of the engine for room to work on the power steering pump.

Timothy Brown

Durkee Automotive Inc.

Claymont, DE


Guerilla Marketing:?Firewood and Valve Jobs

My log pile ran dry a couple of weeks ago.  My regular supplier, “Axe,” retired last year, so I was shopping for seasoned firewood. So what’s this got to do with valve jobs? It used to be if you wanted a “deal” on a product or service you’d turn to the classified section of your local newspaper. You’d find pages full of listings for yard work, plumbing, machining, and of course, people who deliver and stack quartered oak. Today’s newspaper classifieds don’t include much. Where did the classifieds go?

A quick internet search led me to a popular website where individuals and small businesses list products and services. Sure enough, loads of people were selling seasoned firewood. I couldn’t decide which one to call. I finally came upon an ad that talked about a family operation that had been cutting firewood for 4 generations. It included photos of stacks of wood and one of a pudgy young boy who was visual evidence of the 4 ft. height of a cord of wood. I called the guy. Like the ad said, he delivered good burning wood for a fair price.

As I thought about this guy’s entrepreneurial spirit, I realized that many machine shop owners could benefit from this kind of zero cost promotion.  I searched the same online site and found a machine shop in my town that was already promoting their business this way.  The shop owner had included a long list of the services he provides, along with his company phone, cell phone and business hours. He made a big deal out of the fact that he accepts all major credit cards. The only thing missing was a photo of his pudgy 9 year old standing next to the guide and seat machine!

So, the next time you “surf the net,” look for free classified advertising opportunities.  You’ll find lots of places where you can post a free resume  about your company.  One of the most popular sites is Craigslist where you can post info about your company, including photos.  While you’re thinking about free internet advertising, don’t forget about the social networks such as Facebook, too.

Steve Rich

Sterling Bearing, Inc.

Kansas City, MO

Manufacturer Shop Solution: Oil and Piston Installation

We don’t encourage dunking an assembled piston in oil before installation. This practice can get oil where it doesn’t belong and cause detonation on initial startup. We do recommend oiling the skirts, pin and outer ring surfaces before assembly. When in doubt, call the manufacturer for recommendations regarding your specific applications. Specifications supplied with pistons are fairly general and technical advisors are on call to help you get the best performance and reliability possible from your combination for free.

Randy Gillis

Technical Sales, JE Pistons, Inc.

Huntington Beach, CA


Engine Builder Shop Solutions is sponsored by Engine Pro,
a group of 9 engine parts specialist WDs in the U.S., and one in Australia, operating 35 branch
locations serving engine builders/rebuilders across the U.S and Australia.
Solutions published in each issue of Engine Builder Magazine are a free one year membership to the Engine Rebuilders Council and a prepaid $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.

You May Also Like

Shop Solutions September 2023

Engine shop tips and tricks.

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.

Shop Solutions August 2023

Engine shop tips and tricks.

Shop Solutions July 2023

Engine and machine shop tips and tricks.

Shop Solutions June 2023

Engine and machine shop tips and tricks.

May Shop Solutions 2023

Engine and machine shop tips and tricks.

Other Posts

April Shop Solutions 2023

Engine and machine shop tips and tricks.

Shop Solutions March 2023

If I’m not using torque plates, I tape up both sides and trim out the bores. I use painter’s tape, which comes off easily and doesn’t leave any glue residue. I get much less oil in the spray washer this way.

Shop Solutions February 2023

Check out February’s shop tips and tricks.

Shop Solutions January 2023

Next time you have set of large journal small block Chevy connecting rods to resize, consider honing the big ends of them for a +.002” outside diameter bearing that the LS engines with fracture cap rods use.