Shop Solutions February 2023 - Engine Builder Magazine

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.

Nick Jones
Automotive Machine
Fraser, MI

Repurposed Stud Puller

Back in the day, we did camel hump SBC heads by the dozens, and we really used our hydraulic stud puller. We recently did a 1944 flathead Jeep engine. There is no clearance to drive the guide out easily, so we took a short length of grade 8 all-thread rod and a coupling nut with the points turned off just enough to clear the inside of the head, and an SBC balancer washer on the deck and we were good to go!

The internet shows how to pull the guide with just all-thread rod, a washer and a top nut. Not happening! Not one of them would budge, not even with an impact wrench on it! The hydraulic puller worked fine until halfway pulling the second guide, then the all-thread snapped, and launched the puller! And that explains the grade 8 all-thread.

Timm Jurincie
Tuf-Enuf Performance
Avondale, AZ

Double Your Strength

Lifting heavy objects is an everyday occurrence in machine shops. To prevent injury, it’s a good idea to install small, inexpensive wire cable hoists over equipment that can hold castings in place while mounting to machinery. Small hoists that lift a few hundred pounds are perfect for installing over cylinder head equipment. Some diesel heads weighing hundreds of pounds can be difficult to lift with a small, single cable hoist. 

To double the lifting capacity of any single line hoist, simply add a pulley hook to the cable and attach the free end to the hoist to create a loop. By looping the cable around the pulley you’ve constructed a block and tackle to increase the mechanical advantage, effectively doubling the lifting capacity.

Steve Rich
Don Gross/Sterling Bearing, Inc.
N. Kansas City, MO

Chip Remover

Often when tapping blind holes, chips pack in the bottom of the hole. This easy-to-make tool quickly removes them. You need one panhead screw with the threads turned down (alternatively, a short screw with a length of rod can be substituted), one wood deck screw with the head diameter reduced, and a 1/2″ aluminum rod (knurl optional).

Drill thru the aluminum rod to allow the deck screw’s shank to just pass through. Next, counter drill to accept deck screw’s head, to a depth 1/4″ short of going thru. Next, it is tapped for panhead screw’s thread. Insert the deck screw, install and tighten the panhead screw. Different deck screws can be swapped if needed for cleaning smaller blind holes.

Tom Nichols
Automotive Machine & Supply, Inc
Joshua, TX 

External Balancing Act

When balancing a crankshaft that has a flexplate or flywheel, make sure it fits snuggly and there is no lateral movement. Any play can cause the balance not to repeat when the flex/flywheel has been removed and installed. I like to center them up as best I can, and then stake the perimeter so there is no play when it’s removed. I’ve seen the balance change 20+ grams on sloppy parts, if allowed to shift. Flywheels are the worst because of their greater mass. Same applies with pressure plates. Always use shouldered bolts that positivily locates it and stamp it for installation position.

Ron Flood
Cedar Machine
North Branch, MN

No Bounce

Most everyone straightens camshafts with a rounded chisel. Your efforts are more productive by supporting the cam. I lay it on a piece of carpet runner and it makes it quicker and easier. I used to do it on the V -blocks, but this is much more effective. Try small taps so you don’t go too far. 

Randy Torvinen
Torvinen’s Machine
Menahga, MN

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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.


Solid, smaller-sized dowel pins can be stubborn sometimes. One of the most useful ways I’ve found to deal with the really stubborn ones is to start by putting a heavy chamfer on the outside edge of the dowel with a grinder. Then, I run a die on it. In this case, the dowel is 1/4” OD and the die used was a 1/4-20 NC. Run the die on it as far as you can and then remove it. Lay a washer over the dowel, turn a nut on the dowel until it stops. Take the nut back off, add another washer and repeat until the dowel comes out.

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