Shop Solutions January 2023 - Engine Builder Magazine

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.

Engine and Machine Shop Tips and Tricks


For proper block cleaning, the oil bypass valves in Gen 5 and 6 big block Chevys need to be removed. We made a couple different sized “hook” tools for a slide hammer. This tool will easily pull the valves out of the block and sometimes without damaging them.

Nick Jones

Automotive Machine

Fraser, MI


Different brands of hydraulic lifters can have varying travel. Here’s how to measure plunger travel easily. We use a short length of pushrod chucked in our drill press and a block of soft wood to not mar the lifter face or roller. Take the slack out of the pushrod to plunger, lock the spindle, set a razorblade on the top of the lifter, against the pushrod, and turn the couch by hand until you have a good line around it. Blackening the rod with a sharpie first makes the line easier to see or use a blued pushrod. Next, using the drill press as an arbor press, and with a steady down pressure, compress the plunger and wait until oil stops flowing from the side port. Pump it a few times until all the oil is released. Now bottom out the plunger and lock the spindle again, and mark as before. With the oil cavity empty, you can take your time running a pattern on the valve tip without worrying whether the plunger has moved or using light checking springs. We bolt the finished head to the block before we collapse the lifter, and it doesn’t need to come back off. Subtract the plunger travel from the checking pushrod length and add .025” to .050” for desired preload.

Timm Jurincie

Tuf-Enuf Performance

Avondale, AZ


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. You will save yourself a lot of time cutting the rods and caps and you will maintain the same center-to-center lengths. Be sure to mark them +.002” so the next person to handle them after you will order the correct bearings. 

Dave Matton

D and D Auto Machine

Bloomington, MN


When removing small dowel pins from driveshafts such as an ignition distributor drive gear or a machinery assembly, it can be awkward holding the part steady, while also holding a drift pin and striking it with a hammer. You need three hands. Instead, use a spring-loaded automatic center punch, adjusted to its strongest setting.

Tom Nichols

Automotive Machine & Supply, Inc

Joshua TX


When installing head studs, lube the threads in the block instead of the actual stud. This will ensure proper lube to the entire threaded area, instead of the lead threads stripping the oil off as they go in. It also mitigates the oil that ends up on the deck surface and prevents head gasket sealing issues from that contamination. 

Ron Flood

Cedar Machine

North Branch, MN


When I straighten a crankshaft that just needs to be polished, I protect the journal surface from the chisel bouncing. Make a pad with seven or eight layers of masking tape and stick it on the journal where you are peening. It protects the journal from the bouncing and ruining your machined surface.

Randy Torvinen

Torvinen’s Machine

Menahga, MN

You May Also Like

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.

Engine and Machine Shop Tips and Tricks


After surfacing heads, I like to chamfer the bolt holes and chambers. For the bolt holes, the common chamfering tool in a hand drill is great. For chambers, I’ve found that while a razor blade works excellent for aluminum, a file works best for iron. I use a chainsaw sharpening file with the end radius'd and polished. This way, if you inadvertently contact a seat with the blunt end, it won’t leave a mark. The same file works excellent for chamfering the bottoms of cylinder bores as well, without the risk of scratching a bore should you slip a little.

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.

Other Posts

Does Connecting Rod Length Matter?

Over the years, we’ve gotten asked numerous times about connecting rod length and the impact that has on an engine’s horsepower and durability. As it turns out, this question is often overthought. It’s not so much the connecting rod length that matters as much as it is the correct piston pin height. The connecting rod

Compound Turbo 5.9L VP44 Cummins Engine

Drew Carter is one of those guys who just won’t let the 5.9L VP44 die out! With this build, he’s another guy who has shown that it still has some staying power in the diesel racing world. Check it out!

Race Winning Brands Strengthens MGP Connecting Rods Team

As a leading manufacturer of performance components for the automotive and powersports markets, Race Winning Brands (RWB) is proud to announce a new member of its dedicated team to further support customers and racers with the addition of Ross Clark in a Technical Sales role, focused on the MGP Connecting Rods brand with supplementary support

434 cid Small Block Chevy Nitrous Engine

Competing in the High 5 class at the 2022 Builder’s Brawl, Kyle Needham and his 1979 Camaro were relying on a 434 cid small block Chevy nitrous engine to help get the win. Check out the details of this build!