Shop Solutions February 2022 - Engine Builder Magazine

Shop Solutions February 2022

Whether you own a shop or work in a shop, take care of your investment in measuring tools.


When setting up a block for surfacing, depending on the machine used, it may not be possible to use the dial indicator that’s attached to the head of the surfacer (if there even is one). Creating a bar shaped like an L as pictured and mounting a cheap dial indicator to it to “sweep” the deck with the cutter head giving the user the ability to completely level the deck to the cutter head. You’ll have to remove it and use the dial indicator on the machines head to set “touch point” of the tool bit again, though. This cheap fix will also work for large blocks or cylinder heads as well.

Alexander Riggers, C&P Machine, Fort Wayne, IN


When cutting valve margins down, we use this simple rubber doorstop as a damper to help reduce chatter as we cut the face. We keep various size guides, and washers with it to clamp the valve in the lathe. Using the tail stock, you can press the valve in before tightening to put more pressure on the damper.

Adam Cofer, Don Ott Racing Engines, York Springs, PA


Using 1-2-3 blocks to fixture manifolds or heads on a Bridgeport Mill may sometimes require joining a pair of 1-2-3 blocks. While some 1-2-3 blocks have a few threaded holes, these thread holes don’t always line up where needed. These simple to make “connector pins” slide into the holes of the 1-2-3 blocks, allowing the blocks to be securely fastened together with socket head cap-screws (SHC) in just about any configuration required.

In this example, the 1-2-3 blocks have 10mm holes, so 0.343″ diameter pins were made slightly shorter than 1″. Using pins slightly smaller than the hole diameter allows some movement for positioning adjustments, if needed. One pin is drilled through 0.199″ so a SHC slips through; the other pin is threaded 10-32 to fit the SHC. Longer SHCs can be used to allow several different configurations of the 1-2-3 blocks. An advantage of using these “connector pins” is there are no external fastener bolt heads or nuts to interfere with 1-2-3 block positioning.

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


This trick got me through a job that I didn’t have the correct tooling for. I don’t have a keyway rod hone mandrel in 1.375″ so I cut a piece of 1/4″ key stock in half to keep the shoes and stone on my mandrel from catching and sticking in the keyway slot in this damper hub. I had to dimple the sides of the key stock with a center punch to make it a snug fit in the keyway of the hub. This new “tool” is going in my rod hone box for next time! I also attached a piece of rod that I had laying around as a handle to put on the steady rest bar in the rod hone. 

Jake Sampson, Sampson Racing Engines, Inver Grove Heights, MN


Whether you own a shop or work in a shop, take care of your investment in measuring tools. If you’ve ever damaged one you know what I mean. I always set them on shop rags in an old valve box while using them. They stay cleaner and don’t get banged up. Also, they are not influenced by cold workbench tops.

Randy Torvinen, Torvinen’s Machine, Menahga, MN


When balancing a crankshaft for heavier parts, often you must add metal in an existing hole. If the hole was drilled with a regular drill bit, versus a spade drill, the hole can be irregular and oversized. It can be time consuming to try to make a slug that fits the irregular hole. I cut an appropriate piece of cold rolled steel of the closest diameter, for the weight to be added. Next, heat it up cherry red. Drop it in the hole and use your air hammer with a blunt round end to work the piece from the center out, to fit the hole snugly. Finally, weld it in place. Always add a little extra for “fine tuning”. 

Ron Flood, Cedar Machine, North Branch, MN

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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.

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September tricks and tips for the shop!

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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.