Shop Solutions February 2021 - Engine Builder Magazine

Shop Solutions February 2021

If you work on any high-power adder or high-rpm engines, chances are you will see some fretting on the bottoms of main caps and the backside of the upper rod bearing.


If you work on any high-power adder or high-rpm engines, chances are you will see some fretting on the bottoms of main caps and the backside of the upper rod bearing. Even when the tune is right, you will still see minor signs of movement between the parts.

To help combat this, we coat the bottoms of main caps, the backside of the upper rod bearings and both main bearing shells with an anti-friction spray. There are a few companies who offer this – Dow Corning and Seymour to name a couple. We also like to prep the surfaces with red Scotch-brite and clean with lacquer thinner prior to coating.

Nick Jones, Automotive Machine, Fraser, MI


An expedient method of checking and verifying both lifter bore wear and size is with a “go-nogo” gauge. This is not meant to replace the use of a dial bore gauge, just as a quick check. They are easily machined on a lathe. They can be machined from any hard material. I prefer stainless steel due to the material’s oxidation resistance. I have made a number of these in specific sizes for some customers as well.

Archie Frangoudis, Archie’s Racing Service, Merrimack, NH


I took a big block Chevy crank socket and drilled and taped (3) ¼˝-20 holes for set screws, 120 degrees apart. You can now use it on Mopar, Pontiac or just about any crankshaft with a 3/16˝ keyway.

Paul Pionessa, Pionessa Automotive, Lancaster, NY 


Keep a roll of kitchen aluminum foil handy in the shop. It is useful for many things including shimming chuck jaws, wrapping parts to keep shavings out, protecting parts from weld splatter, covering mill or lathe ways when machining abrasive cast iron, or using it as a shield against grinding dust.

Tom Nichols, Automotive Machine & Supply, Inc, Cleburne, TX 


When you are not sure which way the 2nd rings go in or cannot figure out the markings, remember, they are oil scrapers and have a tapered face. I hold one down to see which way it leans vs. a square. The side that leans towards the square is the top and is quite evident. This is a good test that I learned from a ring manufacturer and felt it is worth repeating. I had a customer who assembled his engine and brought it in as a dyno job only. It blew oil out the headers and upon disassembly we found all the 2nd rings were in upside down. They scraped the oil into the combustion chambers.

Randy Torvinen, Torvinen’s Machine Shop, Menahga, MN


This is a simple handle I made for blocks to support them while setting them up in machines that require you to level or tram with a jack screw. It threads into a cylinder head bolt hole. I use it on the surfacer, lifter true machine and it is also effective at the boring machine where the block will rise to a deck location fixture. It reduces the chance of the block crashing down if the jack screw were to slip while you are setting up. And the extra mechanical advantage makes the block much easier to handle.

Ron Flood, Cedar Machine, North Branch, MN


It is not uncommon for the Volkswagen 1.8L, 20-valve cylinder head to require several if not all new intake and exhaust valves once it reaches your shop door. A failed belt, water pump and tensioners can provide quick and devastating havoc inside the engine and some valves will always come in contact with the pistons. Improper assembly may also create havoc if the assembler is not cautious. The valve springs may be installed, but not seated correctly in the spring pocket. It can be difficult to catch this, but may be observed through the cylinder head. Should the engine run for even a short time in this configuration, the resulting side load on the valve as it travels up and down the valve guide will cause the valve to flex and break at the weakest or narrowest point within the valve keeper grooves. When this happens, the broken valve will fall free from the retainer and drop into the combustion chamber causing massive failure. Double and triple checking that the valve spring is properly seated may help save the shop from a very expensive warranty situation.

Engine Pro Technical Committee

You May Also Like

Shop Solutions February 2023

Check out February’s shop tips and tricks.

Engine and machine shop tips and tricks.

Dowel Removal

This is an easy and clean way to remove hollow dowel pins found in connecting rods or mains. Start tapping the I.D of the dowel with an NPT tap. Once it starts to cut, it will spin the dowel, and with upward pressure, the dowel can be removed and reused.

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.

Shop Solutions December 2022

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

November 2022 Shop Solutions

November tricks and tips for the shop!

Shop Solutions October 2022

When machining on the CNC mill, it’s necessary to blow the flood coolant and chips off the parts for inspection. I tried a tool holder mounted fan, but it wouldn’t get all the chips and coolant out of the deeper areas.

Other Posts

September 2022 Shop Solutions

September tricks and tips for the shop!

Shop Solutions
August 2022 Shop Solutions

August tips and tricks for the shop!

Shop Solutions July 2022

When the timing cover or block has no dowel pins, or the dowel holes do not fit snug on the pins. Take an old damper and hone the center so that it is now a slip fit onto the crank snout. Use it to hold the cover in place while tightening the bolts.

Shop Solutions June 2022

I needed a narrow grooving tool to quickly clean carbon from piston ring grooves for an engine restoration project. All the usual grooving tools were too wide.