Shop Solutions

I have been taking photos of projects as customers drop them off. A picture from all sides will show any sensors, brackets etc. that the customer didn't remove. A couple times a year a customer will tell me I forgot to give them back a sensor or bracket. I can then go back to my camera or pictures downloaded to my computer and find out whether or not it came in with them. I can let them know that whether they were here or not, and remind them that they were there when I took the pictures. If I really did forget to give them back at least I would know what to look for. I can refer to the pictures if I have any questions upon reassembly as well. I also take pictures of the finished product showing details of all the valve keepers being properly installed, oil galley plugs, etc. I haven't had any trouble with this yet, but you never know how competent the installer may be and this could save your rear end if someone else makes a mistake.

Dan Matton
D and D Auto Machine
Bloomington, MN

I took these broken off valve stems and ground the tips to a point to mark valve centerlines on pistons for flycutting valve reliefs. Just install the head on the block and insert the stem in the guide point down and with the piston at TDC, give it a slight tap and you now have a reference point for machining

Rich Jones
Redline Automotive Competition Engines
Davie, FL

I see a lot of pipe plugs today that don't get removed or are all butchered up from guys struggling to get them out. I use a torch to heat up the tapered pipe plugs in the block until they glow red. Then I let it cool for a minute or so before I hit it with parafin, bees wax or even a candle. The heat sucks the wax in and once it cools you can almost remove the plugs by hand.
Also, many plugs that come out of the big block Chevy today are drilled for an air bleed. Most aftermarket plugs are not. I drill them with a #52 drill bit (.060”) to allow air to bleed out of those oil passages.

Lewis Andrews
Andrews Automotive
Savannah, MO

We do quite a few small single cylinder engine, re-bore and power hone jobs in our shop. Usually going to the next available oversize is all that is needed. However, when cylinders are badly damaged or have already been re-bored to the limit, we install an aftermarket sleeve to save the engine case. When fitting the new sleeve we usually chill the sleeve in the freezer for a few hours while we are preheating the engine case. We have found that an Electric Roaster Pan works really well for preheating the engine cases. We set the temperature control to 375 and let the engine case soak for several hours. Next we simply and very carefully line up the ports and slip the sleeve into the case, as quickly as possible. You can pick up an electric roaster pan for about $20-$25 at the local re-sale shop. If the resale shop doesn't have one just leave a note and they will call you when one does become available. I also use the electric roaster pan to preheat small parts like aluminum timing covers before I weld them. And it works well to dry out stick welding rod.

Jerry McLain
McLain's Automotive Machine Shop
Cuba, MO

I always mark the flywheel when I'm done balancing so the customer will install it in the exact same spot as where I balanced it. I always shift it full right on the slop in the mounting bolts, opposite crankshaft rotation. Testing with a counterweighted flywheel shows the balance can change many grams when turned the other direction, depending on the bolt hole clearance.

Randy Torvinen
Torvinen's Machine
Menahga, MN

I have an assortment of common valve guide sizes that are precision honed on the I.D. that I use for
quickly setting up the valve guide dial bore gauge. It takes much less time than using the fixture and
you can easily add or subtract from them to get the exact size for the job you’re doing. Bonus tip. I have a billet block with different size lifter diameters as well. I set up the dial bore gauge for honing using that standard. Same procedure, over/under depending on the final size I need.

Ron Flood
Cedar Machine
North Branch, MN