Stationary Engine List

Making Shims


| July/August 2002



Stationary Engine

With my last article split into two parts, I've actually had a month off! But traffic on the mailing list has been heavy, including lots of mail on the subject of safety regulations and insurance coverage at shows. The most stringent rules appear to be in Australia, but the way things are moving the experience from down under could serve as a warning to all of us. With insurance companies withdrawing coverage, clubs in Australia are spending vast amounts of money on safety fencing, resulting in visitors to shows being kept strictly separated from working exhibits.

We are all aware that these engines were manufactured in a time when health and safety issues were not of primary importance, and they DO have the potential for serious injury. But somewhere, common sense has to be given consideration. Admittedly, aluminum fencing and rules allowing only club-members and spouses in engine enclosures are, at present, only guidelines, but they are guidelines that are being so strictly adhered to that club membership, and therefore liability insurance coverage, are being withdrawn for those who do not abide by the rules. Take this as a warning not to let rules take over from common sense and ruin the hobby.

Other than safety and insurance issues, the list has been full of the usual identification requests, tales of acquisition and restoration, and plenty of 'how to' questions, including the following thread on shims, which I think GEM readers will find useful. As ever, the following comments reflect a variety of opinions that surfaced during this discussion.

When rebuilding engines, I have seen them come with both metal and paper bearing shims. For that reason, I also use both, and I reuse the metal and paper shims that come with the engines where possible. When I need to add shims or make my own, I use anything from metal, head gasket material, dense poster board, sheets of paper, and plastic shim stock.

The plastic shim stock in various thicknesses is easy to handle, but somewhat expensive. 1 have found the paper sheets (around 0.003) quick and easy for making final adjustments. Dense poster board will split easily to make various thicknesses.

My problem with using all metal is the need to have on hand a large selection of different thickness material, and also the time involved in cutting, filing or drilling it to the shape needed. This is especially true for the smaller thickness where it is hard to punch holes and cut to shape. When using paper, plastic or other gasket material, I can use my exacto knife and in a few moments have it cut to shape and installed.