Ahten Racing Communications
Johnny Ahten - LODRS Pacific Division Phoenix Regional Event Preview
Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park
PR Contact: John Rogers - firstname.lastname@example.org
Ahten Looking Forward to a Long Weekend in Phoenix
CHANDLER, Ariz. (March 4, 2017) – Johnny Ahten rolled into Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park for the NHRA Pacific Division opener with a sense of relief. Gone was the stress of daily life. Not a care in the world. All he has to do is assemble and run his racecar without a full crew, battle tire shake, lost cylinder combustion and face a contingent of racers that include a previous world champion. It all makes for a relaxing weekend at the drags.
“We might be a little short-handed, but we are a feisty group,” said Ahten. “A couple of our guys couldn’t make it here this weekend but being a small team we will get the job done. We like running here at Phoenix. It’s a great track and we are looking to go fast.”
The opening Winternationals at Pomona was just a few short weeks ago, but much had to be done in the weeks preceding this Regional race. Parts and pieces have been replaced and repaired and crew chief Al Ahten and racing partner Howard Katano have a game plan in mind.
“We have reviewed the data from Pomona and we made some changes in the valvetrain that we believe will allow us to step on it harder and keep the parts in place,” added Ahten. “It’s the challenge that makes it exciting. We are looking for consistency, and that takes time and effort. This weekend we are going continue to tweak the tune-up and make the Island Renovations / Combust Filters dragster go down the whole quarter mile. Finding the sweet spot this car wants is our mission.”
Riding onboard with Johnny Ahten will once again be highlighted associate sponsors DJ Safety and EPHA Inc. Nothing would make Johnny Ahten happier that working all the way through Sunday – because that’s what drag racers do.
DJ Safety was founded in 1996 by Navy Lieutenant Commander Joseph Hansen Retired and his wife Darlene (Deist) Hansen. Their goal was and continues to be a niche for high-level design engineering applications in specific Industries. In 2000, the company expanded its operations to include the manufacturing arena to complement Joe Hansen’s engineering services. Safety is a major public, commercial and government concern affecting product design, manufacturing and usage. www.djsafety.com
EPHA products have symbolized high quality manufacturing for over 30 years - and for a good reason. The EPHA brand not only stands for effective products, but also for conscientious service to our customers. When you partner with EPHA, you partner with consistency, integrity, and effectiveness. www.epha.com
Release courtesy of John Rogers
Photo courtesy of Ahten Racing
RR-58T : Factory-Style GM Steel 58 Tooth Reluctor Ring
RR-24T : Callies 24 Tooth Billet Steel Reluctor Ring
• Fits Generation III engines : 4.8/LR4, 5.3/LM7 and 6.0/LQ4
• Aligns GM# 12559353 and 12586768 sensor rings on the crankshaft in the correct phased position
• Indexes the dowel hole of the flange to the dowel hole of the sensor ring
• US Patent No. 7,716,827
Removing the reluctor ring when reconditioning crankshafts is important as cleaning media and debris can become trapped between the ring and the crankshaft counter weight. You may also need to replace the reluctor ring if it has become damaged or if it hangs up.
Heat the reluctor ring to 450 degrees F, then slide it onto the casting. Be sure to deburr all components before beginning assembly. Any sharp edges will cause the reluctor ring to catch on the casting, making assembly impossible.
By Dave Monyhan
We're getting close to the end of our series on Rod & Piston Work. So far we've talked about Connecting Rod Basics, Measuring, Machining and Removing & Installing Pins and Bushings. In this edition of Tech Notes, we'll be looking at Piston Ring Fitting. A lot of science goes into the design and manufacture of piston rings. We don't have the time (or room) for that in this post. We will, however, try to get a piston ring expert to share some of his knowledge with us in the near future.
Okay, we all know that piston rings and pistons have always been a part of the internal combustion since its inception way back in the 1800s. We also know that piston rings are designed to seal the cylinder to create compression so the ignition can light the air fuel mixture. And we know that the piston and the cylinder wall must have a specific clearance for oil.
But what about the piston ring? Why can’t you just take them out of the box and put them on the piston and finish assembling the engine? Well actually you can take the piston ring right out of the box and yes, you can install them on the pistons and yes, you can then finish assembling the engine and for the standard “stock” or “grocery getter” engine you will probably be just fine. However that theory will only work for the older style cast iron engines with standard oversize bores. For example, a Small Block Chevy has a 4” bore. If you bore and hone to .030” oversize, the out of the box ring and piston set will not have to be end-gapped. I do recommend, though, that with every engine job you check everything including ring gap even for a stock or grocery getting engine.
But, if you are doing any kind of performance work or adding custom pistons with file-to-fit rings or varying bore sizes you must file to fit. Also if you are changing the fuel delivery system from carburetion to fuel injection, adding nitrous, blowers or turbos then YES, you need to file to fit the piston rings. It is essential that you follow the ring gap directions supplied with your piston and ring packs when you buy them.
What about piston ring gap?
The standing theory is that the piston ring gap is supposed to be .004” for every inch of cylinder bore diameter. We all knew that from high school auto shop.
So how do you file a piston ring to the proper gap?
Chart courtesty of Mahle-Clevite.
Goodson Manual Piston Ring Grinder (PRF-500)
Goodson Manual Piston Ring Grinder (PRF-250)
Goodson Powered Piston Ring Filer (PRF-812DW)
At Goodson we offer both manual and electric piston ring filers. But, before you can gap the ring you need to first…..square the ring in the bore. I recommend our newest Ring Squaring Tool (photos below). The squaring tools come in a variety of bore sizes and have a range of .300” of an inch per tool.
Once the ring is squared in the bore and you have the correctly measured how much material you need to remove from the gap, it’s time to load the piston ring into the ring filer. I will show the electric piston ring filer as an example.
We also need to deal with any “burrs left on the ring gap by using the de-burring wheel on the right side of the PRF-812DW
So as you can see piston ring gaping is very straight forward and actual pretty simple with the correct tools.
Like any procedure there can and will be exceptions so if you get in a bind just call the Goodson Tech Department (800-533-8010) and they will help you fully understand this A to Z procedure.
Is formulated for general purpose automotive machine shop honing. Excellent for connecting rods, piston pins, king pins or general shop honing. Compatible with most popular honing oils. 5 gallons (18.93L).
We’ve spent the past few weeks talking about measuring and machining connecting rods but we may have put the cart before the horse. This week we’re going to correct that by talking about removing and installing piston pins and bushings.
In order to prep your con rods for machining, you will need to have a few items. First, you’ll need a shop press. Goodson Tech Services Manager, Erik Shepard, recommends when looking to add a shop press ask yourself a few questions.
- What’s your budget?
- What do you plan to do with the press?
Erik said, “Usually when someone gets a press, they find all kinds of things to use it for. From pressing out pins and bushings to straightening pieces, etc.”
- How strong of a ram do you need?
For pressing piston pins and bushings, you’ll need a minimum of 5 tons of pressure, but you’ll probably want to go up to 20 to 30 tons if not higher, depending on what you plan to do with it.
- How much room do you have for a press?
Presses are available in lots of sizes from bench-top units to large free-standing ones. Depending on what you plan to do with the press, you will also need room around the unit so keep that in mind when choosing a press.
- What’s your power source? Is it hydraulic or air over hydraulic? Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
For pressing piston pins and bushings, you’ll need a minimum of 5 tons of pressure, In our experience, most pins should break loose at 1800 to 2200 PSI. If you’re still running into resistance at this point, you have other problems. If all you’re going to do with the press is work on con rods, you can use a bench-top model but as Erik said before, you’ll probably find all kinds of uses for a press. He also added that you need be sure it is rigid and durable. Look for quality welded joints and heavy gauge metal. When deciding which press to add to your shop, you will also want to check out the machine’s warranty. Remember, a shop press is as important an investment in your business as any of the other shop machines you use.
Now that you have the press, you’ll need some fixtures and tooling with which to work. Goodson offers several units for piston pin pressing and for pressing pin bushings, particularly tapered pin bushings. We’ll look at each one separately.
Piston Pin Removal & Installation Fixture (PPE-7082)
This fixture is composed of several parts that combine to take some of the guess-work out of removing and installing interference fit piston pins. It was designed to protect high dollar pistons from damage since the piston itself is NEVER under pressure. One of the key features is a series of support inserts that you use to keep the connecting rod aligned properly. Several standard sizes are available, plus one that is ready to be machined to your exact needs. For a complete run down on how to use the Piston Pin Removal and Installation Fixture, check out the product instructions.
In addition to the standard instructions, Goodson Techxpert, Chris Jensen gives these key tips:
- Use the fixture with the press plates that came with your press
- Always select the proper insert. Be sure it fits the piston and pin properly
- Always use Press-Fit Lube (Goodson PFL-200) during the removal and installation process
- Verify alignment, verify alignment and verify alignment
- The piston must float during installation
- The rod must be centered on the pin for proper installation
One last warning that applies with all of these operations: If you run into excessive resistance, do NOT keep applying pressure. You can easily cause damage.
Universal Piston Pin Press-Out Tool (PPE-1)
A universal tool set to use with your shop press, this tool is made of high quality steel and is sized to work with most applications. This set is for basic removal of pins without damage to the piston. Using the Piston Pin Press-Out Tool is pretty self-explanatory, but you can check out the product instructions for more details.
As with the Piston Pin Removal and Installation Tool, always be sure to use correctly sized support fixtures, use press-fit lube and verify your alignment to avoid damage to the work piece.
Universal Tapered Pin Bushing Press Kit (TB-KIT)
One of our newer additions to this class of tooling, the Universal Tapered Pin Bushing Press Kit is designed to work on common light to medium duty diesel applications. It can be used to remove and install tapered pin bushings.
When asked why a shop should invest in the Universal Tapered Pin Bushing Press Kit, Erik Shepard gave these five points:
- It’s the best tool for removal and installation for tapered connecting rod bushings up to 2″ in diameter.
- The tool is designed to prevent piston damage during use
- With the number of bushing drivers included in the kit, it can accommodate many sizes of tapered rods
- Specially sized bushing drivers can be made to order
- You never have to make-do with different methods when installing or removing tapered bushings.
For more specific information, check out the product use instructions.
As always, if you have any additional questions about these or any Goodson products, contact the Goodson Techxperts by email or call 1-800-533-8010.
Over the past few weeks we’ve been talking about Connecting Rod Reconditioning in Tech Notes. Thanks to our friends at Sunnen® Products Company, we’ve been able to share material from their book, Sunnen’s Complete Cylinder Head and Engine Rebuilding Handbook. Unfortunately, this book is now out of print. If you’re looking for a copy of the book, they’re pretty scarce but you might be able to find one on Amazon or eBay. We also did a short search and found that it is available as an e-book, but a membership is required in order to read or download the text.
As we move into our last section on Connecting Rod Reconditioning there’s a lot to cover. If you’ve been working on engines for any length of time, you already know most of it. With that in mind, we’re just going to cover a few basics here and give you some links to additional resources.
Cap and Rod Cutting
As we’ve talked about in previous articles, all connecting rods have a parting edge. Most are flat surfaces machined into the cap and rod sections. These surfaces must be straight and perpendicular to the rod sides. If they aren’t, cap misalignment can reduce clearance between the rod and the crankshaft journal.
In most rebuilding cases, you will remove .003” (0.08mm) from each mating surface for a total of .006” (0.15mm). This small of an amount of reduced center-to-center distance won’t interfere with the compression ratio significantly and general doesn’t compromise the deck-to-piston clearance; even when the deck is resurfaced.
You will, of course, need to remove rod bolts when getting ready to work on the mating surfaces. To do this, you will probably need a press and disassembly fixture. Be sure the surfaces are clean as well before doing any machining.
A Few Important Tips
- Be sure to identify the type of parting edge you’re dealing with as each is handled differently. More on this later.
- When machining your rod(s), be sure to clamp them into the machine firmly. If they are at all loose, the grinding wheel may push the rod up so that you are removing less material than you planned.
- Always machine the full set of rods and caps the same.
- When finished grinding, clean bolt holes to remove any chips or debris that may have accumulated then install new bolts.
As stated before, most of the connecting rods you will deal with have a straight parting edge. You may also come across rods with Tongue & Groove (T&G), Serrated or Fractured parting edges. Due to the many irregular edges common in serrated and fractured parting edges, there isn’t much you can do to machine these.
Tongue & Groove (T&G) parting edges can be machined but there is a very specific way in which to work. First off, it’s essential to note that most manufacturers incorporate a slight clearance between the tongue and bottom of the groove. When grinding these rods, be sure the amount of material removed does not exceed the amount clearance or you will need to grind the tongue to restore proper clearance.
“To grind tongue, place parting edge of gauge rod so tongue surface DOES NOT rest in any of the grooves of the gauge rod and place a shim under the groove surface approximately equal to the thickness of the tongue. Clamp tightly, remove shim and grind as normal.” – page 301-302
The most common way to recondition connecting rod housing bores is through honing. Machines can be set up quickly and produce a round straight bore that is often equal to or better than the OE manufacturer’s. Interchangeable mandrels of various sizes reduce set-up time so you can produce more in less time. Connecting rod mandrels use a double-wide stone arrangement designed to increase the stone surface area to better alignment and faster material removal.
As with most honing operations, be sure to use enough honing oil. Always use a honing oil that is specifically formulated for this type of honing such as Goodson’s Rod Honing Oil (RHO-10 or RHO-50) or Sunnen’s Mineral Based Honing Oil (MAN-845). Also, keep your supply of honing oil clean by filtering it and changing it regularly. This will enhance its performance and improve your finished product.
Most rod honing is performed with a horizontal honing machine. These are available in manual, power-stroked or CNC options.
“Let’s examine some of the capabilities of manual horizontal honing machines. They can be used to size connecting rod housing and pin bores, small engines and motorcycle cylinder assemblies, and to fit steering king-pins, just to name a few. Any bored hole used for a bearing surface or alignment purposes can benefit greatly from honing. Closer tolerances can be maintained with greater ease and productivity.” – page 303
Common Bore Errors
There are ten common bore errors associated with machining, heat treating or holding the part. These include:
- out of round
- boring marks
- reamer chatter
Honing can correct all ten of these errors. Honing is characterized by “large areas of abrasive contact; low cutting pressure, low velocity, floating tool or part and automatic centering of the tool by expansion inside the bore.” – page 303.
Key considerations when Rod Honing:
Select the proper stone composition. There are generally four stone compositions from which to choose; roughing, general purpose, finishing and for steel. Both Goodson and Sunnen stones use the same numbering system. Roughing stones are 5s (for example: Sunnen’s KL-5 or Goodson’s HK-5), General Purpose stones are 7s, Finishing are 13s and Steel at 14s).
Select the correct housing unit. Honing mandrels are available in a wide range of bores. Depending on the part you’re honing, select the most suitable mandrel size. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for assembly and set-up.
One final thought
A final step when reconditioning connecting rods that is often overlooked is demagnetizing the parts before you start putting the engine back together. This is critical to prevent premature engine failure. Heat and friction from engine operation and the machining process can induce magnetism which must be removed. Check out this previous post on the importance of demagnetizing.
This has been a brief overview of connecting rod reconditioning. For more information, check out Engine Builder Magazine’s “Back to Basics: Reconditioning Connecting Rods” and “Connecting Rod Reconditioning: More To It Than You Might Think”. You can also read the entire section from the Sunnen Engine Rebuilding Handbook here.
As usual, if you have any additional questions about this topic, contact the Goodson Techxperts by email or phone at 1-800-533-8010.