April 2020 Shop Solutions - Engine Builder Magazine
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Shop Solutions

April 2020 Shop Solutions


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On some blocks that you may not have main bar rings for, there is often one that is very close to one you do have. I simply make precision spacers from shim stock and run them through slip roll to make them round. For example, the 400 Chevy ring plus a .020˝ thick shim makes up the .0394˝ bore difference you need for a 392 Chrysler Hemi. On some, they’re so close that a single wrap of scotch tape or packing tape is dead on. Either way, just lay the bar in with the rings and spacers and snug them down.

Ron Flood, Cedar Machine, North Branch, MN


When I find the need for a little more press on a cup expansion plug, I use a modified spring retainer with a taper to lightly expand them in the press.

Randy Torvinen, Torvinen’s Machine, Manahga, MN


We made our drum fans serve a dual purpose.  There are no more 12-volt fans with switches and wiring for our engine test stand. Do you need to change a cam or fix a timing cover leak? Just roll the fan/radiator assembly out of the way to make your repair. This unit even follows the test stand when you need to move it. It is made from 1.5˝-diameter, thin-wall tubing and hardware store castors.  

Jim Wright, Motorheads Garage & Machine Shop, Elyria, OH


This saves a lot of time when centering the mandrel on blocks with bed plates. Using an indicator on the mandrel with stone pressure against the mains, zero the indicator and release pressure with lever. Turn the mandrel 180 degrees, put pressure back against mains, notice what direction and how much the indicator moved. Now roll the mandrel back to zero spot, retract stones via adjustment knob, move the shoes in the direction the indicator went, and half the distance. Roll the mandrel to make sure the mandrel is within .010˝ runout. I do this on every block we line hone. It saves time from removing cap to use the centering pins.


Nick Jones, Automotive Machine, Fraser, MI


When assembling push lock style fittings, we have found that clamping an old male fitting in the vice with the new push lock hose end tightened to it, prevents the new fitting from becoming scratched or marred.

Adam Cofer, Salina Engine, Salina, KS


I recently had a customer that had possibly the biggest mishap one could make on a fresh engine. He got excited and forgot to install the intermediate shaft to the oil pump before dropping in the distributor on his Ford 300 L6. During the first 10 minutes of raised rpm camshaft break-in procedure, nothing got lubricated. I use a high-quality assembly grease on all bearings, camshaft, lifters and timing components. The rod bearings were untouched. The mains had minor scuffing and I was able to lightly polish the crank to save it. The timing gears were not affected and even the cam bearings were ok. The cam looked fine, but since it did not have the proper break-in, it was replaced along with the lifters. The pistons did not have “good” lube on them and were severely scored. I believe the high-quality grease passed the extreme test. I have always used a grease due to its ability to stay put no matter how long an engine sits before fire-up. I have since started attaching tags to my engines with simple notes such as: “needs oil,” “full of oil & primed,” or “don’t forget oil pump shaft.”  Those little things can be forgotten during the excitement of first fire up.

Josh Mitchell, Mitchell Machine Works & Custom, Neligh, NE

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