Some 'Tricks' Of The Hobby

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Page HC 61, Box 596 Sallisaw, Oklahoma 74955

Although I've never submitted anything for publication before, in answer to Mr. Johnson's request in the January issue of GEM, I felt that it may be the time now to share some of the tricks I have used in 24 years of resurrecting old iron.

One of the prime headaches apparently the novice has been forced to enjoy is the removal of stuck pistons. I have found this to be relatively simple, since I usually try to soak them for a week or two in automatic transmission fluid before attempting their removal. But when that fails, and it often does, I have found that by brazing the grease fitting into the shell of a defunct spark plug, that one can fill it as much as one possibly can with something similar to secondhand 90-weight gear grease, screw in the plug, and then, with an ordinary grease gun, pump in grease on top of it until such time the hydraulic pressure will push the piston out. I have never as yet damaged the piston, cylinder, or rings with this method. However, it is necessary to make certain the valves are closed before attempting this movement. It's a good thing anyway to point out that before one cranks an engine that's been in storage for quite some time, it's a terrifically good idea to make certain that the valves are not stuck. When somebody ignores this advice, damage to push rods and tappets occurs. Another thing that I have found to be very effective and relatively inexpensive is the use of used automatic transmission fluid cut one-third with kerosene, as it seems to be as good a penetrant as can be bought, even in competition with Liquid Wrench and other chemically compounded compounds sold for that purpose.

Now I'd like to move on to the interesting subject of broken bolts imbedded in the casting. The one thing that I have discovered that has caused more trouble than they ever could be worth is the use of an ease out. From a generic standpoint they are a faulty idea, at the very least, and can cause more trouble than they could save one. My method has been to place a nut over the broken studs and to reach through the nut and weld on the stud with 447-A Hobart welding rod, which has given me the best results in a 3/32 size. I have found no competing welding rod that will match its performance in this area.

In the case of bolts that have broken off subsurface, I have also found that a short section of the appropriate size of copper fuel line dropped down in the hole bringing it up flush with the top of the casting, will prevent the welding rods from adhering to the block, and will facilitate removal. Another thing that is a great time saver is to, whenever possible, drill a hole through the offending bolts to approximately half the size of the bolts, such as a inch hole in a inch bolt, before you start the welding process. Thereby the bolt can expand and compress the molecular structure of the bolt and once it cools slightly it facilitates its removal. The copper, although it gets cremated, seems to provide a seal between the weld and the exposed threads, in the hole that one does not wish to modify. It also keeps the arc from modifying the threads. In the case of a bolt that is semi-hard, such as a grade 5, I would suggest using a cobalt drill to drill it out, in preference to the high speed, due to the fact that the hardened center of these graded bolts tends to run the drill off into the threads causing further problems, whereas the cobalt seems to bite down through that hardened center without that tendency of getting off in the threads.

The next thing that I have discovered, that apparently a lot of people do not realize, is that when soldering, such as gas tanks or anything else for that matter, the metal being soldered has to arrive at the temperature that will melt the solder, regardless of the heat source, in order to get a good adherence and good soldering job. Of course it is necessary to clean the metal to raw metal, free of rust, grease, paint, etc., before attempting to solder. I have personally soldered many a gas tank loaded with gasoline fumes but have never blown one up yet, due to the fact that I keep all open flame far away from the tank and the offending hole, using a soldering iron, or sometimes known as soldering copper, to apply the heat. And thereby with the absence of an open flame one can do that in relative safety. Another thing that I have run across with friends and neighbors-they have a tendency to beat up ball and roller bearings in replacement on shafts. They tend to beat them into place, whereas if they were dropped in a can of used motor oil and raised to a temperature of 240 degrees the bearings will expand sufficiently to slide on the shaft without a battle. The same thing can be applied to removal of the bearings, but that is more of a trick, in that the center core should not be heated in order to loosen the bearing race itself.

The removal of old bearing cups, when access to the rear is limited or impossible, is very simple, actually, if one was to weld two or three runs of arc weld around the bearing cup and allow it to cool. One can normally pluck it out with one's fingers without the use of a puller.

Now I'll move on to gasket replacers. I have found that a bunch of my customers have created a terrific amount of trouble for themselves with this silicone gasket replacer, which I feel should not be advertised in that manner. The small balls of gasket replacer that squeeze out from under the castings tend to migrate and plug small holes that are intended for lubrication, causing part failure. There is really no good reason for this practice to continue.

I would like to move on now to spark plugs. In the past few years, apparently the porcelain of the spark plugs has been altered in some way, so that when and if they ever get flooded with gasoline or other fuels they will short out in the porcelain, and although they appear to be sparking well when laid on top of the head and cranked over, they will not perform under pressure. There has been many a blister arisen from people cranking and swearing the spark plugs were good when they were faced with this problem. Another thing that I have found on the very elderly engines where head gaskets are not available, I have found that sheet lead flashing, such as was used many years ago around brick chimneys, will make a viable replacement for the factory head gasket. And of course other gaskets for other purposes can be carved out of the same stuff. I'll admit that it is sometimes a hard item to find, but it works when you find it.

The next thing that occurs to me that seems to be a large headache to a lot of people is the matter of degreasing. I have found that Cascade dishwashing soap dissolved in a bucket of hot water will do a very creditable job in this area.

Another thing that I wish to pass on is the fact that the usual 90 weight gear grease that is used in most automobiles and trucks is water entraining, in that condensate over the winter months water from other sources will unite with the grease and separation is virtually impossible. If one uses mineral grease, which is incidentally is more economical, this emulsion will not occur. After the winter season one can simply pull the plug, drain off the water, top up the grease, and get on with the program without having to flush and replace the entire contents of the gear case.

That about runs me out of ideas at the moment.