Shop Solutions March 2016 - Engine Builder Magazine

Shop Solutions March 2016

When vacuum checking 4-valve-per-cylinder heads, it’s hard to tell if it’s both or just one valve that’s leaking. Use your vacuum tester and one of those long inexpensive BBQ or candlestick lighters. Hold the lighter close to the valves and the leaking vacuum will pull the flame in, making it easy to tell which one is leaking.

D&D Mach valve leaker

Let in the Light(er)

When vacuum checking 4-valve-per-cylinder heads, it’s hard to tell if it’s both or just one valve that’s leaking. Use your vacuum tester and one of those long inexpensive BBQ or candlestick lighters. Hold the lighter close to the valves and the leaking vacuum will pull the flame in, making it easy to tell which one is leaking. Just make sure there is nothing flammable nearby.

Dan Matton

D and D Auto Machine

Bloomington, MN

Steves 20 ton press

Balancing Act

I installed pulleys at the top of my 20-ton press. I ran cables from the bed up and over the top. I welded up the ends of two pieces of 4” square pipe to form two buckets which I loaded with enough lead tire weights to act as a counterbalance to the bed. Now I can raise and lower the bed with one finger. I also use an air jack to make life easier.

Steve Potz

Steve’s Engine Shop

Cocoa, FL

Lap It Up

Allen head bolts get stripped out easily. If one is showing signs of wear, before trying to remove it, fill the recess with lapping compound then install the proper allen bit. This will make it a little tighter and have better grab so it doesn’t strip as easily.

Here’s a similar tip for removing dowel pins in flywheels that are extremely stubborn. We use lapping compound on the pin so it grabs in the collet better. If you need a little more bite, or if your collet is a little bigger than the pin, use a small washer around the pin. This way the sleeve will go further down the collet making it tighter.

Chris Canale

C3 Automotive Machine

Foxboro, MA

Roger Corn in Tank

Corn in the Gas Tank

I left my 2007 Harley-Davidson sitting in storage with a half tank of gasoline without an additive to combat the effects of Ethanol fuel. Despite all the press releases and articles warning about the corrosive effects of condensation and Ethanol, especially on carbureted engines, I was hoping my fuel-injected engine may not be affected.

Roger Borer1

Unfortunately, the pump and pick up show extreme levels of corrosion when compared to the new unit in the pictures above. The moral of the story is there are thousands of vehicles being affected by this everyday. Be prepared and have products readily available to service customer’s needs to fix problems like this.

Roger Borer

Engine Performance Warehouse Inc.


Handling Unhappy Customers

You can often tell whether a customer interaction will be a tough one in the first few seconds. The caller’s tone of voice, accusatory language and high volume all say, “I’m going to let you have it.” How you react in these first few seconds will set the tone for the entire communication, and probably either turn the customer into a hater or a lifelong supporter.

We train our staff to take a methodical approach from the start. Listening is the key to understanding the customer’s problem. You should focus on the customer’s words and make notes during the interaction, while providing feedback to let the person know you are paying attention. When it’s our turn to respond, the first thing we always say is, “I’M SORRY YOU’VE HAD A PROBLEM. I’LL DO MY BEST TO SOLVE IT FOR YOU NOW.” It’s also a good idea to use the customer’s name and to ask questions to clarify the issues. Ask the customer how they would like to solve the problem. Speak in positives. Once you’ve decided on a resolution, review the agreement. Be explicit about the next steps. Attempt to exceed the customer’s expectations.

According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, a dissatisfied customer will tell nine to 15 people about their experience. Happy customers who have their problems resolved will tell four to six people about their positive experience.

It’s hard to replace a customer, even an angry one. With a little effort and pre-planning, you can turn an unhappy customer into a lifelong supporter.

Steve Rich

Sterling Bearing Inc.

Kansas City, MO

You May Also Like

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.

Engine and Machine Shop Tips and Tricks


For proper block cleaning, the oil bypass valves in Gen 5 and 6 big block Chevys need to be removed. We made a couple different sized “hook” tools for a slide hammer. This tool will easily pull the valves out of the block and sometimes without damaging them.

Top 10 Ken Block Gymkhana Films

Who doesn’t like a little bit of burnt rubber?

America’s Best Engine Shops 2022 | H&H Flatheads

Despite not being a fancy, state-of-the-art set up, Mike and his team at H&H have a great thing going. The equipment does exactly what it needs to, his team is experienced and the shop has built thousands of vintage engines for customers everywhere!

America’s Best Engine Shops 2022 | Choate Engineering Performance

This shop’s dedication to quality engine work, its growth, its machining capabilities and its impact in the diesel industry, all make Choate Engineering Performance well deserving of Engine Builder’s and Autolite’s 2022 America’s Best Diesel Engine Shop award.

America’s Best Engine Shops 2022 | 4 Piston Racing

The 4 Piston Racing facility in Danville, IN houses two buildings – one is 12,000 sq.-ft. and the other is 2,500 sq.-ft. The shop is very heavily focused on Honda cylinder heads and engine work to the tune of 300+ engines and 1,000 cylinder heads annually!

Other Posts

Shop Solutions December 2022

Everyone misses occasionally, and this helps avoid dents and damage.

Jesel Certified Performance Rebuilds

Engine components are serious investments for any racer and maintaining that investment could be the difference between winning a championship and losing it.

Randy Bauer Shares His Experience as PERA President

We recently spoke to Randy about his PERA presidency and what some of the biggest hurdles are facing the engine remanufacturing industry right now.

Going the Extra Mile with Cylinder Head Porting

It’s not just the port work alone that creates spectacular cylinder head performance. The most critical areas of a cylinder head are those which pass the most air at the highest speed and for the longest duration. Your bowl area, the valve job, the throat diameter, and combustion chamber are all crucial parts.