September 2017 Shop Solutions - Engine Builder Magazine

September 2017 Shop Solutions

In our shop we seem to constantly be moving cylinder heads around. First, from arrival at the door to a tear down bench, then to the jet wash, to a storage shelf, to benches to be worked on and then to benches to be assembled. To do it all efficiently, we have three 34” tall 4-wheel carts.


I use a drill bit extension and a variety of abrasive flap wheels to clean up cam bores and cam bearings to help make more clearance for those camshafts that will not fit or turn. A quick pass through the bores is all it takes.

Stve Potz

Steve’s Engine Shop

Cocoa, FL


In our shop we seem to constantly be moving cylinder heads around. First, from arrival at the door to a tear down bench, then to the jet wash, to a storage shelf, to benches to be worked on and then to benches to be assembled. To do it all efficiently, we have three 34” tall 4-wheel carts, which match our 34” high work benches.

With them matching our benches we can easily unload heavy heads by simply sliding from one surface to the next. Heads are placed on a non critical side, not the head gasket side. When finished, bagged, and taped to cardboard they slide on easily on the head gasket side.

We do have overhead hoists, but sometimes it’s more practical to cart the heads to benches, tables, etc. Our newest addition is a cart with a hydraulic ram to raise and lower the table. This is our new go-to cart, which has a 20” by 40” platform and the ability to go down to our lowest mini van delivery truck bed, and up as high as a flat bed truck. It has helped us get loaded and unloaded fast when a forklift wasn’t available.

Brad Luck

Weaver AP

Sauk City, WI


You’ve heard the expression about “assume?” It will make an “ass” out of “u” and “me.” Here’s a simple tip that goes back to Marketing 101 – Don’t assume your customers know what they need, and don’t assume they know what you know.

The best way to build profit is also the best way to give great service. Giving the best possible service requires that you ASK the customer about the overall job to determine the best possible repair. Most of the time you’ll have to dig for the information you need to give the proper advice. Don’t be shy to ask how the vehicle is used, their time frame and their budget. Armed with this information you can make a sincere recommendation about the job. Here’s your chance to advise the customer about repair options and to offer possible upgrades to parts and labor services.

There are lots of other ways to ensure your customers know what you do. Inexpensive methods include: printing a list of your services, indoor and outdoor signage, direct mail and personal visits to your customer’s shop.

Steve Rich

Sterling Bearing, Inc.

N. Kansas City, MO.


When I build big cubic inch engines, I never leave all that weight hanging from a few bellhousing bolts. A screw jack under the front oil pan takes a lot of stress off of the engine stand. Place a piece of wood or heavy cardboard on top of the jack to disperse the weight and protect the pan from scratches. Avoid over tightening the jack screw. I just turn it by hand until it’s nice and snug.

Dennis Hackenberger

ADB Machine

Anchorage, AK



1) COIL BIND – When a spring compresses solid before or during full camshaft lift.

2) RETAINER-TO-SEAL BIND – The distance from the top of the valve seal to the bottom of the retainer must be greater than the valve’s lift.

3) IMPROPER VALVE TRAIN CONTROL – Any weak link or incorrectly matched component can cause harmonics and pound parts into junk. Incorrect springs or weak pushrods are often the culprit. Too much lash or plunger preload can also cause damage.

4) IGNITION-CUT REV LIMITERS – “Banging off the rev limiter” is rough on all valve train parts.

5) IMPROPER CLEANING OF ROLLER LIFTERS – Debris is the number one cause of roller lifter failure. Since roller lifters rely on oil flowing through tiny passages, pieces of debris can clog and stop the lifter from pumping up and cause excessive noise.

6) INSUFFICIENT OILING OR HIGH OIL TEMPS – The “Four Rs of Proper Oiling” are: the Right oil, at the Right place, at the Right time in the Right amount. ZDDP wear additives need heat and pressure to release the zinc molecule and form the protective phosphate coating in an even and calculated amount. With excess heat, the chemical reaction that forms the film doesn’t occur and the additives then become antioxidants and get consumed.

7) IMPROPER BREAK-IN OF FLAT TAPPETS – A properly-formulated break-in oil is essential to coat and protect wear surfaces. Coat all contact surfaces with the proper assembly lube after a thorough cleaning. Prime the oiling system before starting, and rotate the engine in the process to assure all surfaces are coated. Set timing and prime the carb for a fast startup. Run at 2,000-2,500 RPM to allow oil to splash on the valve train. Vary the engine speed between 1,500 and 3,800 for 20-30 minutes. Replace the oil and filter after the break in and again after 500 miles.

8) OTHER AREAS THAT NEED ATTENTION – An ideal break-in seat pressure of around 80 to 100 lbs. Dual springs may be run-in with just the outer springs or replaced with “softer” break-in springs. Low-ratio rocker arms that reduce spring loads during break-in are available. Never mix new and old parts since they wear, or “mate in” together.

9) MECHANICAL INTERFERENCE Carefully inspect pushrods and rockers through the full range of motion for signs of contact, improper rocker arm geometry and pushrod length. Make sure rocker arms clear all stands, valve cover rails, girdles and springs. Check the camshaft position of the lobes in the lifter bores. Some very-centered lobes might not put enough spin on the lifters.

10) IMPROPER BREAK-IN OIL FOR ROLLER CAMS Dedicated break-in oil has two jobs: protect the valvetrain and allow the rings to seat. Friction modifiers that are in regular oil may not allow rings to seat, while an aggressive break-in oil may cause the rings to seat too quickly and generate higher levels of particulate wear metal, which is bad news for roller bearings.

Engine Pro Technical Committee

with special thanks to COMP Cams

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