April Shop Solutions 2023 - Engine Builder Magazine

April Shop Solutions 2023

Engine and machine shop tips and tricks.

Valve Keepers Can Go Flying

I use my magnetic screwdriver with a small diameter Phillips bit to collect the valve keepers as I compress the springs on overhead cam cylinder heads. The small Phillips bit becomes magnetized when it is inserted into the magnetic screwdriver, and it is small enough to reach into the retainer and remove the keepers from the valve stem before they have a chance to go flying.

Jerry McLain
McLain’s Automotive Machine Shop
Cuba Missouri

Oil Passage Cleaning

When the passages are needing a little extra cleaning, I cut the eyelet off the end of the metal oil galley brushes so I can chuck them into a drill. I have found this method to work much better than by hand.

Bruce Serene
Hillsboro Racing Engines
Hillsboro Kansas

Damper/Valve Guide Install Tool

We are a two-man shop, so sometimes wrestling a large cylinder head in the shop press is a bit sketchy.
To reduce risk of injury or damage, we installed the guides using our harmonic damper installation tool.
It may not be the quickest method, but we feel it is the safest for a large cylinder head.

Jimmie Wolfrum
Jim’s Automotive Machine Shop, Inc.

Magnetic Tool Holder

I’ve had this inexpensive magnetic welder’s square for years and have never found a good use for it, until now. This red magnetic square saves time spent bending over to retrieve the tools off the floor after blowing off chips from drilling and can be used to hold tools on other machines too.

Tom Nichols
Automotive Machine & Supply, Inc.
Joshua, TX

Flash in the Drain Pan

I see a lot of people struggle with iron parts flash rusting after spray washing and rinsing with hot water. If you finish rinse with cold water, and blow it off, it pretty much stops the flash rust before it can start. You can then spray some rust inhibitor on it if you choose.

Ron Flood
Cedar Machine
North Branch, MN

Rottler HM3 Hone Repair

Here is how you can repair your Rottler hone head since Rottler does not service this any longer. Use a Regis part number RSI218. You will need to drill out the top of the pinion to remove the expander nut. Then, cut the top of the shaft and drill and tap it for a small bolt. Then, put on the bolt and washer and you are ready to go.

Charlie Corria
Charlies High Performance Machine
Tracy, CA

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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.

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September tricks and tips for the shop!

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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.

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