Monday, October 20, 2014

Repair Work for a Big Block Chevy

Every now and then we get a request to repair the thrust area on a block. What happens is that all the aftermarket companies that sell cams and the related hardware to guys that need to have a roller camshaft sell a cam button that keeps end play to a minimum. What happens is the customer puts in the cam button and does not check cam end play. Then when the cam binds up when the front cover is installed  the cam machines a large groove in the thrust area and sends chunks of cast iron though out the entire engine. I figured out a way to repair this a long time ago and have done quite a few over the years. Here is our way of fixing a damage cam thrust on a typical cast iron engine block. First we install a bushing turned up in the lathe to hold a pilot for our seat cutting machine. (this machine is from the 1940's and is built like a tank, It was originally designed to cut seats in flathead engine blocks. we still use it for that but it also has other uses.) I bolt the seat cutter right to the block and machine away the damaged area. Next step was to machine a mild steel insert to fit in the new bore. Normally we would reestablish the height to where it was. The customer wanted to add a Torrington bearing to the mix. The manufacture tells us the dimensions required for this. So adjustments where made to the steel insert and also the cam gear on the timing set has to be machined to a certain spec also given by the manufacturer. After all of this is done we set end play of the new cam button with a straight edge and surface grind the cam button to the required height. The block is now ready for use again. We have saved alot of vintage and racing engine blocks over the years using this method of repair.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Tach Housing for Barn Find 32 Ford

We finished up the Corvette tach housing for the 32 Ford in the prior post. The Housing started out as a solid bar of 6061 aluminum round stock. It was bored in the lathe then split in the saw to create the bezel, a spacer to perfectly adjust the height of the tach inside the housing and the housing itself. Some milling was done to mill slots for the tach cable and mounting screws. We used slotted pan head screws to be more period correct. The entire assembly was polished and a small bracket was welded together after hammer forming two strips of steel to the required radius for the tach housing and the steering column. The bracket was mig welded to give the bracket an appearance of being gas welded.(tig was not available to the average hot rodder in the 50's). I think it turned out cool. Alot of people just can't figure out where that tach came from. What brand is it? What car is it from.It's fun to hear what people think it's out of. We have done our job if people can't figure out if it's real or not.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Shop Update, New Labor Rate and New Hrs.

Been awhile since the last post. Been working on a variety of interesting jobs thoughout the last part of winter and spring.We have been working on parts for a traditional chopper build that is going to California for Born Free-6 Which is a custom motorcycle show which features amature builders who are hand picked to show. Now don't let the "amature" fool you. The people involved in this in my opinion are far more talented than what you see on TV. This is my second year involved in this and it gets cooler every year.Also been working on another "barn find" 32 Ford 3 window coupe. We again built many of the details for this car. We built the aircleaner assembly for the fuel injection unit.(this was documented in a prior post) We built a horn housing for a vintage indian motorcycle horn. We are finishing a Tach for the steering column. The mech. is a vintage corvette tach. These tachs where dash mounted. Customer wants a column mount so we are machining a pod for it that appears vintage. Some of the early construction photo's are posted here. Compare to later when it's done. This car is also going to California for the 50th LA Roadster show on fathers day weekend.

As of June 1, 2014 are labor rate will increase from $50 to $65. We have tried to keep this rate as low as we can but we just can't do it anymore. Hopefully it won't cause any problems. Also we have set hrs as of June 1. Monday-Tuesday-Wedsday, 4pm-9pm. Saturday 10am-1:30pm. Call (630)710-3977 for information or a job quote.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Reading Camshafts

The 428 Ford that has been a long term project in our shop is in it's final stages of the build. We have to depend on other vendors for certain item's and camshafts are one of them. Most of the cams used here are a custom grind to our specs. The habit we have gotton into is checking the work of our vendors to avoid any problems later. When the cam arrived it was slid into the mocked up engine and one of our cam reading tools( this tool is custom made in our shop) was installed in the lifter valley. The next step is to check lobe lift. The process is simple. We start by zeroing the dial indicator on the base circle of the cam. The cam is rotated around and is read at max lift. The cam card provided by the grinder tells us what the lobe lift should be. After this is verfied as correct we can then put the degree wheel on the crank and reverse engineeer the cam. All event openings and angles are checked to prove they are mathamaticlly correct. It is rare that the grinder screws up a job but you just can't take any chances at this point. We also measured our pushrod length so we can send the dimensions to our pushrod vendor. We used a tool that was also built right in our shop. It is really just an adjustable rod that can move up and down to find the best rocker arm geometry. Take a look at the rockers and shaft assembly. These were made for us by Harland And Sharp. A company that has been in business forever and builds some of the best rocker arms for racing engines. These are a real work of art. Final assembly is next.

Monday, January 6, 2014

My Christmas Bonus

Just before Christmas I attended the 2013 version of The Performance Racing Industry Trade Show. This year the show moved back to Indianapolis after a 5 year run in Orlando Florida. This show is THE best trade show bar none in regards to showing what kind of technology is available to the racer or shop equipment that is available to the machinist/fabricator. Everyone in the all facets of racing are here for the week. This show also showcases racing that may be off of most peoples radar. Like the sprint car in the pictures. This car was built to go land speed racing at Bonneville or El Mirage. The goal was to reach 200mph. That is quite a feat with an upright style dirt car. Also on display was the new USAC national midget engine produced by Honda. Honda has always made first class equipment from lawn mowers to Indy car engines. The new Midget engine is an inline 4 cylinder, naturally aspirated with electronic fuel injection. The engine is a piece of artwork and makes about 450-500 HP on methanol. Plug that into a 1200 lbs race car and you have a rocket ship. I would love to see this run on pavement like Indianapolis raceway park. Also of interest is the amount of technology that is now available to the little guy racer like the rest of us. A few short years ago alot of this stuff was only available to F-1 teams. Things like rapid prototyping services, high tech aerospace coatings and metal treatments, computer machining like porting and crankshaft lightning and most of all components are available that in the past took knowing people in the right places or unlimited funding are now available to everyone. walking around the show taught me that the entire industry is healthy and despite the bad economy is still making it happen. We will see what happens next. One thing I noticed is that the nostalgia/vintage racing rage is getting even bigger and is becoming a major market. Lots of cool stuff was on display. It is a cool blending of old looks with new technolgy. That's just what appeals to me and what Rocket Engineering's business is based on. Hopefully it only gets better.