Some ‘Tricks’ Of The Hobby

By Staff

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

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

That about runs me out of ideas at the moment.

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