Shop Solutions

Valve LeakerEASY RISER
II call this my “Easy Riser” for Harley cylinders. It is a 2.5L GM block that I have bored to two different sizes to accommodate different cylinder bottom sizes. I use bolts installed into head bolt locations to prevent rotation of the cylinders. I only hone cylinders on this, boring is still done on parallels. This is way easier than horizontal honing on a Sunnen rod hone with a cylinder hone adapter.

Jeff Kroger
Sturdevant's AP-Machine Shop
Sioux Falls, SD

Certain times of the year we get hit with several requests to bore and hone, or just hone ATV or motorcycle cylinders. We found that we don't have to remove the block we're working on in the honing tank to sneak in a quick cylinder hone or two. Bolt on or toggle clamp the jug to the deck. Even 2 at a time. Back to honing the block in no time.
Mike Schmelzer
Bay Speed Center
De Pere, WI

During the winter months, I enjoy the heat from my wood stove that I have in my shop. I don’t have a flywheel ring gear heater, so I utilize the wood stove here as well. I put my ring gear on top of the stove (direct heat) for 10 minutes or longer if necessary. This heats the ring gear and allows it to drop right on. If you need to remove valve seats and guides on aluminum heads, put the head on the stove for easy removal or installation. If you still have to press pistons on, warm the rod ends on the stove for easier installation. This trick works on many interface jobs – use your imagination.
Gary Wolfe
Gary Wolfe Automotive Machine
Middletown, CT.

Sometimes when we repeat a task over and over, we don't look at the details as much as we should. We trust the customer, the parts manufacturer or simple circumstance. The opportunity for problems presents itself when we become comfortable, building the same engine we have done dozen's of times. We know how the parts are supposed to fit and don't pay close attention to the details. The time saved by skipping a few step can come back to bite you in the end.
It reminds me of the story about a skydiver with thousands of jumps who walked to the plane, “bs'd” with his buddies all the way to altitude and jumped out. Sad part was that he forgot his parachute, and no one else noticed either!
As the last person to handle the parts, the shop has the responsibility to make sure they are correct, fit correctly and are installed correctly, no matter what the circumstances, or where they came from. We need to treat every job like the first or only job, to prevent a bad landing.
Mark Sarine
Sterling Engine Parts, Inc.
Dania Beach, FL

Clean FuelBLAST IT
We've all had problems with plain shank tooling “turning” in a key-less chuck. I have found that bead blasting the end of the tooling where it goes in the chuck can provide enough grip and end the spin.
Dale Beran
The Parts Bin
Ord, NE


The best form of advertising is word-of-mouth. The old studies showed that a satisfied customer will tell 2-3 people about their good experience with your company, while a dissatisfied consumer will share their experience with 8-10 people. In today’s social media dominated society, these numbers have grown by a factor of 1000. These same people now post comments on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Foursquare, etc, that reach literally thousands of people.
You can see why focusing on excellent customer service if more important today than ever. Here’s an illustration of some great customer service that happened to me just a few weeks ago: I’ve been a member of AAA for many years. I use the discounts when I travel, but I’ve never needed roadside service until that week when I got stranded in a parking lot with a (10 year old) dead battery. My first instinct was to call a friend, buy a battery and install it in the parking lot. Instead, I gave AAA a call. The operator was very friendly and helpful and dispatched a service tech right away. It took about 30 minutes for the truck to arrive. During my wait, they called 3 times and sent two texts with updates on the ETA. The service tech, Kyle, called when he left the prior job. He took time to ask me about my F150’s symptoms and he even asked if I was safe. He showed up right on time, arrived in a AAA truck, a bright uniform and with a great helpful attitude. This guy was well trained. After cleaning the battery terminals and running a compete battery and charging system check, he said the battery needed replacement and he had one on the truck! I had already shopped battery prices at a couple parts stores and found prices ranged from $107 to $180 depending on amps and warranty. So I expected to pay AAA at least $200. I was surprised when the total bill, including a 5-year warranty came to $116.
This story illustrates the concept of word-of-mouth and more importantly, this tip is on the importance of great communication. AAA has honed their communication skills and customer service training to a fine art. We can all learn a lesson from this well established service company. In today’s electronic world, great (or poor) service can lead to thousands of comments which can have a huge impact on your business..
Steve Rich
Sterling Bearing, Inc.
N. Kansas City, MO