Shop Solutions July 2023 - Engine Builder Magazine

Shop Solutions July 2023

Engine and machine shop tips and tricks.


To precisely shorten bolts in the lathe, I made slotted collets for each bolt diameter. They are fractional in length to measure off the end, so you know where to cut for your length. I’ve used large O.D. valve guides and aluminum round stock. Just make the collet big enough to clear the bolt flange, hex or socket head.

Randy Torvinen Torvinen’s Machine Shop Menahga, MN


Improve the grip on cast parts or multiple parts in a milling vise by inserting gasket paper between the vise’s moveable jaw and the part. Gasket paper is thick enough to conform to irregular cast surfaces and/or compensate for small differences in multiple parts, yet it still compresses tightly to grip the work piece(s). Plus, it withstands coolant and cutting fluids. We pre-cut business-card sized pieces from gasket paper rolls, so they’re handy and ready to use.

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


When installing aftermarket rod bolts, in addition to checking the under-head radius clearance, if the nuts are flanged, always check for clearance on the cap where it seats. On some rods, the O.D. of the flanged nut will hit before the face does. It will stress the fastener and distort the housing bore when torqued. A simple piloted spot face is all that’s needed to fix the issue. A slight radius edge spot face is best, if available. 

Ron Flood Cedar Machine North Branch, MN


I can’t be the only one who opened a brand-new can of carb or brake cleaner, set it on a workbench and it gets knocked off and “snap,” the nozzle is broken and it’s useless. I started taking the nozzles off the popular yellow and blue canned WD40. Remove the red nozzle off the brake cleaner, gauge the hole with the back of a drill bit. Then, by hand, just bump the hole in the new nozzle out to fit. No more broken aerosol plungers and the straw is always there. Once it’s empty, I just switch it to a new can.

Big Don Kincaid Big Don’s Racing Engines  Point, TX


Many older, inline engines have water pump bolt holes that go all the way through the front of the block and can easily contact the front cylinder, if the incorrect bolts are used. I have seen a few engines ruined from having the incorrect length bolts pressed against the outer cylinder wall. It’s important to verify that there is bolt-to-cylinder clearance or add this to the required checklist if the customer is assembling the engine’s accessories.  

Dave Matton  D and D Auto Machine  Bloomington, MN 


This helps save me time, money and storage space. Honing oil is not just for honing, it is a cutting fluid. I use it on taps and dies, for cutting lifter bushings and machining on my lathe. I also use it for surfacing aluminum heads on my CBN surfacer for a nice finish. 

Darrin Anderson Don Gross Warehouse Kansas City, MO

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