Tech Solutions: Tips for Engine Performance Builders

Nov 23, 2009

Tech Solutions is a section that runs in select issues of Hotrod & Restoration, providing an opportunity for our readers who are professional performance engine builders to share their expertise with other builders. To submit a Tech Solution, email Mike Mavrigian at Tech Solutions is sponsored by MAHLE.

Don’t Over-Seal!

When installing a cork-rubber oil pan gasket on a vintage engine (or any application for that matter), you may be tempted to “help” the gasket by applying a bunch of RTV to both sides of the gasket. A light film used to glue the gasket to either the block or to the pan can ease the installation in some cases to keep the gasket registered to the bolt holes. However, if you apply too much RTV, this can act as a lubricant and can easily cause the gasket to extrude (into the outside of the pan). The result: you’ll have a misplaced and/or split gasket that will leak, that otherwise would have sealed just fine. RTV has its place, but don’t get carried away with it.   Jeff Lance Alan M & S Auto Machine Wadsworth, Ohio

Prevent Blown Head Gaskets

On engines with multi-layer steel head gaskets that have tabs around the outer edge, bend the tabs out before installing the gasket. The tabs make the gasket one layer thicker on the edges, resulting in less clamping force on the fire ring in the center. We had no more blown head gaskets after discovering this problem.   Darrin Vader Vincent’s Quality Engine Rebuilder Modesto, California

Easily Adjust Hydraulic Cam Valves The easiest way to initially adjust the valves on a hydraulic cam is to place the engine in the number-one firing position. Tighten the adjusting nuts to take out slack, then rotate the engine 360 degrees. Adjust the remaining valves to zero lash, then tighten all nuts one-half of a turn. Don Reed RPM Big Spring, Texas

Warming Up Seals Eases Installation The installation of solid Teflon PC-type valve stem seals is much easier if you first soak them in hot water or hot oil to soften them up. The seals can then be installed using the correct stem sleeve and installation tool.   Bob Stephan Sun Valley Performance Sun Valley, California

Let the Stress Settle When honing any engine block using torque plates with head gaskets, torque the plates and other hardware to spec, and then let the block sit for at least 24 hours to “stress settle.” This method does make a difference in terms of cylinder geometry.   Mike Riley Mike’s Restoration New Freedom, Pennsylvania