Shop Solutions – April 2019 - Engine Builder Magazine

Shop Solutions – April 2019

Industry tips and tricks


A customer brought in a Wisconsin cylinder head with a stripped 18mm spark plug hole. I didn’t have the 18mm thread repair kit to fix it and time was a problem. I installed a 1/2˝ cast iron pipe plug in the spark plug hole. I drilled and tapped this insert for a 14mm spark plug. We used a cross reference to find the 14mm plug that would replace the 18mm plug. It worked “mint” and the owner says it runs fantastic.

Alan Lincoln | Lincoln Automotive | Mauldin, SC


We had to do a combustion chamber repair on some CNC machined LS3 cylinder heads that dropped an intake seat. We wanted it to perfectly match the other CNC chambers. After the new seats were installed and the valve job was cut to the proper height, we popped in a couple valves and a spark plug that had the electrode removed to seal the holes. We sprayed the chamber with liquid silicon spray as a release agent and then filled a good combustion chamber with body filler. To make it a little easier to hold, I stuck a bolt in the filler before it hardened to act as a handle. Now, as I’m grinding and reshaping the newly welded up chamber, I can use the mold to test fit and I’ll end up with the exact same shape and volume when it’s done. If you can’t quite tell where its tight towards the end of the job, you can use dye-chem or Prussian blue in the chamber and rub the mold against it to leave a witness mark. Leave the valves out of the chamber you are reshaping so that if there is a slight difference in seat height it won’t interfere with the fit of the mold.

Jake Sampson |Sampson Race Engines |Inver Grove Heights, MN


 Removing valve stem seals in some import heads can be trouble. It’s really a problem when you can’t get pliers on it because it’s deep in a tube or just not accessible. First, get a sample valve seal and then find a deep 12-point socket that fits snug over the outside of it. Take the deep socket and tap it down over the valve seal in the head. Put a ratchet on the socket and turn it like you’re removing a bolt. Pull the socket out and the old valve seal will be in the socket.

Jimmy Casares |Hubbard Machine |Hayward, CA 


Removing stubborn open dowels is easy with a spiral bolt extractor. Just give it a light tap, twist and gently pull up. The force is evenly distributed all the way around and most of the time, the dowel can be reused.

Dave Matton | D and D Auto Machine | Bloomington, MN


When cutting the parting faces on rods and caps for resizing, make sure the bearing locating tang is facing the same way for both on the cap grinder. This way, if the parting surface is not perfectly 90° from the side, cutting the cap and rod the same will cancel any misalignment and there will be no taper in the bore to have to deal with when honing. Crooked caps will affect side clearance and flex rod bolts. When cutting rods and caps for resizing, always deburr with a file on the face and sides first so they seat properly in the clamp.

Ron Flood | Cedar Machine | North Branch, MN


When you need to shorten or chamfer a bolt, it can be difficult to mount it in a lathe chuck without boogering up the threads. An easy solution to this problem is to take a nut of the same size and pitch as your bolt and make a slot in it with a hacksaw or cutoff wheel. After the nut is slotted, thread it on the bolt and clamp in the chuck. The nut will grip the bolt tightly and will not damage the threads.

Ben Hoitink | BES Racing Engines | Guilford, IN

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Engine Builder and Engine Pro present Shop Solutions in each issue of Engine Builder Magazine and at 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.

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