Shop Solutions

Valve LeakerLet in the Light(er)
When vacuum checking 4-valve-per-cylinder heads, it’s hard to tell if it’s both or just one valve that’s leaking. Use your vacuum tester and one of those long inexpensive BBQ or candlestick lighters. Hold the lighter close to the valves and the leaking vacuum will pull the flame in, making it easy to tell which one is leaking. Just make sure there is nothing flammable nearby.

Dan Matton
D and D Auto Machine
Bloomington, MN

20 ton PressBalancing Act 
I installed pulleys at the top of my 20-ton press. I ran cables from the bed up and over the top. I welded up the ends of two pieces of 4” square pipe to form two buckets which I loaded with enough lead tire weights to act as a counterbalance to the bed. Now I can raise and lower the bed with one finger. I also use an air jack to make life easier.

Steve Potz
Steve’s Engine Shop
Cocoa, FL

Allen Screw StippedLap It Up
Allen head bolts get stripped out easily. If one is showing signs of wear, before trying to remove it, fill the recess with lapping compound then install the proper allen bit. This will make it a little tighter and have better grab so it doesn’t strip as easily.

Here’s a similar tip for removing dowel pins in flywheels that are extremely stubborn. We use lapping compound on the pin so it grabs in the collet better. If you need a little more bite, or if your collet is a little bigger than the pin, use a small washer around the pin. This way the sleeve will go further down the collet making it tighter.

Chris Canale
C3 Automotive Machine
Foxboro, MA

Clean FuelCorn in the Gas Tank
I left my 2007 Harley-Davidson sitting in storage with a half tank of gasoline without an additive to combat the effects of Ethanol fuel. Despite all the press releases and articles warning about the corrosive effects of condensation and Ethanol, especially on carbureted engines, I was hoping my fuel-injected engine may not be affected.

Unfortunately, the pump and pick up show extreme levels of corrosion when compared to the new unit in the pictures above. The moral of the story is there are thousands of vehicles being affected by this everyday. Be prepared and have products readily available to service customer’s needs to fix problems like this.

Corn in TankRoger Borer
Engine Performance Warehouse Inc.
Denver, CO


Corn in TankHandling Unhappy Customers
You can often tell whether a customer interaction will be a tough one in the first few seconds. The caller’s tone of voice, accusatory language and high volume all say, “I’m going to let you have it.” How you react in these first few seconds will set the tone for the entire communication, and probably either turn the customer into a hater or a lifelong supporter.

We train our staff to take a methodical approach from the start. Listening is the key to understanding the customer’s problem. You should focus on the customer’s words and make notes during the interaction, while providing feedback to let the person know you are paying attention. When it’s our turn to respond, the first thing we always say is, “I’M SORRY YOU’VE HAD A PROBLEM. I’LL DO MY BEST TO SOLVE IT FOR YOU NOW.” It’s also a good idea to use the customer’s name and to ask questions to clarify the issues. Ask the customer how they would like to solve the problem. Speak in positives. Once you’ve decided on a resolution, review the agreement. Be explicit about the next steps. Attempt to exceed the customer’s expectations.

According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, a dissatisfied customer will tell nine to 15 people about their experience. Happy customers who have their problems resolved will tell four to six people about their positive experience.

It’s hard to replace a customer, even an angry one. With a little effort and pre-planning, you can turn an unhappy customer into a lifelong supporter.

Steve Rich
Sterling Bearing Inc.
Kansas City, MO