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Technical Doing a valve job the old way

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by squirrel, Mar 31, 2018.

  1. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 45,313


    Working on an old LaSalle, for an adventure this fall. My brother got this car in the 1980s, and started working on it, but stopped. He says the engine would not turn, so he pulled a bunch of parts off it including one head, and never did anything else. I got the car hauled down to my place about 25 years ago, and it's sat in so-so covered storage since then. The plan was to swap in a newer Caddy motor, but that never happened. Now that we have a reason to get it going, with it's original engine, it's time to get to work.

    We pulled the motor, since it was already almost completely disconnected. Two head bolts had broke when he pulled the first head, and three more broke off when we pulled the other one. But there was not water or rusty in the side that still had the head on it, and the side that did not, was not as bad as it could have been. I was able to pull 6 of the pistons, then removed the crank and drove the other two in. I eventually got the rings off the the pistons, only braking two top rings in the process. The cylinders honed out pretty nice, no taper, and they were already bored .030. The bearings and crank and cam look nice, the crank is .010 already, and plan is to reuse everything we possibly can.

    But the valves that were open to the environment for all that time were kind of rusty looking. Fortunately it's a flathead, so the valve seat is not the lowest point in the ports. This means it didn't store water against the valve seats, so they will clean up easily.

    I got to modify my spring compressor to get the valves out, the bottom end of the spring and the keepers are hidden away pretty well under there. Only one of the valves was stuck, and it didn't take much tapping to get it out.

    First I put a couple valves in the lathe and dragged a file across the face, to see what they looked like. The first couple exhaust valves I tried seemed to have a low spot, so I decided it needed a valve job. I recalled having read an old South Bend lathe book about doing various engine machining operations, so I googled it, and found this

    The South Bend Method for Refacing Valves in the Lathe - Bulletin No 86

    If it was good enough in 1925, it ought to be good enough for a 1942 engine that has to last 5000 miles, right? Hmmm....maybe, maybe not. But I figured I'd give it a try. I also had an old old tube of valve grinding compound, so I could lap them and see how the contact looks when I'm done.

    Anyways, here's a before picture of a couple valves and seats, and an after picture of a couple (different) valves and seats. I think it'll work. For a little while, at least.

    valve before.jpg

    valve after.jpg

    note that since the engine had been rebuilt not too long before all this happened, the seats are still nice and narrow. If you are working on a typical worn out engine, the seats will be way too wide, and will need to be touched up with a seat grinder or reamer.

    But I was able to "grind" the valves enough to get this thing going again, without spending any money.
  2. So it's running now?
  3. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 4,876


    I've got a Ford flathead that's probably in better condition than this one, never having been apart. I have been thinking of doing exactly this, so I guess I'll hang around and watch.
  4. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 45,313


    oh, hell no. Lots more work to do. I just wanted to have a little fun, and have lots of guys tell me I'm crazy and it'll never work :)
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  5. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 3,262


    I've an old hand valve refacer, the valve lays in a sort of a V block, you strap it in and there's a cutter on the face end. Rotate the valve and shave some off.

    I guess it'd be a poor mans lathe;)
    Stogy and squirrel like this.
  6. Petejoe
    Joined: Nov 27, 2002
    Posts: 10,411

    from Zoar, Ohio

    Old school rebuild. Of course it’ll work. :)
    We will definitely need some pics of this project or it didn’t happen.
    Valves and seats look good with the cleanup. I hope to see a video of it running.
    chryslerfan55, Stogy and dana barlow like this.
  7. pigfluxer
    Joined: Feb 15, 2006
    Posts: 207


    Jim always specializes in the impossible,and is kind enough to bring us along.
  8. I like these getting stuff functioning again projects. I don't think there's a high demand for this kind of work where I live but if I ever ran a shop this is the kind of stuff I love doing. Just making the old stuff work again. I think I had more fun on my first Hudson project than anything else I've done getting it running and driving again after it sat for 30+ years.
  9. love the fact the manual shows the lathe being turned by a line shaft.
    now i need to find a grinder for mine......
    Bowtie Coupe and Stogy like this.
  10. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,068

    Rusty O'Toole

    Genuine old fashioned valve job. They used to hand lap em even after truing with a machine. To check the contact and get a perfect seal. Now they say let em pound themselves in. Your way is better. I have hand lapped valves that had a valve grind, you could see the chatter marks before I lapped them .

    That engine with new low tension rings, new bearings etc. running on modern oil should run better than ever and last 100,000 miles easy. Especially if you protect the valves from modern gas, by adding a little Marvel Mystery Oil or your favorite top end lube.

    I know you won't be surprised but prepare for others to be surprised at how slow it idles down how quiet and smooth it runs and how much punch it has from low RPM.
  11. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 45,313


    Too bad it's getting it's old rings back in it! they make new 3 ring pistons, but this one has the 4 ring pistons, and I think we can make them work. Found some of the right sized new rings to replace the ones I broke, on ebay, nors, for a Y block 239 :)

    There's another brochure from South Bend from 1936, showing how to grind valves on the lathe, with a grinder attachment. I don't have one of those, so I'm using the 1920s technology. But my lathe (from 1946) does have an electric motor driving it.
    Woogeroo, Baumi, Bowtie Coupe and 6 others like this.
  12. saltflats
    Joined: Aug 14, 2007
    Posts: 9,908

    from Missouri

    Your crazy and it will never work :D
  13. partsdawg
    Joined: Feb 12, 2006
    Posts: 2,615

    from Minnesota

    Rad trad!
    Woogeroo likes this.
  14. dana barlow
    Joined: May 30, 2006
    Posts: 3,777

    dana barlow
    from Miami Fla.
    1. Y-blocks

    Jim,I may of left my valve seater in one spot too long,cleaning a shelf the other day,I see the old rubber cup on the wood handel,is not round anymore ,an as soft as a rock. Plus the grinding tube next to it seems to also be turned to rock,could be I need to clean the self more often. LOL A few little new thing an I'm good !
    pitman and chryslerfan55 like this.
  15. dumprat
    Joined: Dec 27, 2006
    Posts: 2,540

    from b.c.

    We used die grinders as a stop gap tool post grinder when in need. Just fab up a bracket to mount it in the tool post. I can take a pic of my bracket if you like. Good mounted stones and you are in business
  16. patsurf
    Joined: Jan 18, 2018
    Posts: 333


    lucky to find parts for that 239-it was 1 yr only!!
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  17. Tickety Boo
    Joined: Feb 2, 2015
    Posts: 1,091

    Tickety Boo
    from Wisconsin

    Salty, you spreading salt again.:p

    Blue em up and lap them in, then look for low spots, (repeat if necessary) I have used a 3/8 drill to spin them in the head on a sbc, on a flat head might work putting a shank on a rubber stopper, then push against the top of the valve and spin slow. (safety glasses recommended)

    czuch and chryslerfan55 like this.
  18. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,068

    Rusty O'Toole

    Theres such a thing as being too cheap. I bet you never thought you would hear me say that lol. Modern rings don't cut the cylinders like the old chrome or iron rings. They have less friction. Last longer. But you knew that.
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  19. drtrcrV-8
    Joined: Jan 6, 2013
    Posts: 1,245


    X2 on the new rings on all pistons!!!
  20. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 45,313


    It has to last 5000 miles, and it has to consume less than 1 qt per few hundred miles. I think it'll work ok with the old rings. The thing is that the 4 ring sets are pretty expensive, and new pistons with 3 rings are also kind of expensive. Of course, a gasket set is also expensive, and if it doesn't work, we might have to reuse the new gaskets when we go in and fix it!

    the cylinder surface finish is also pretty rough, so I think it'll be able to seat the rings again. Should be a fun experiment in cheapness.

    I got all the valves on the "bad" side done, they all came out looking decent. One of the exhaust valves had been replaced with a new one, it had lots of margin, TOLEDO STEEL stamped on the stem, and cleaned up real easily.
  21. Jim it's not cheapness, it's frugality! o_O:rolleyes:
    6-bangertim, belair, chiro and 2 others like this.
  22. pitman
    Joined: May 14, 2006
    Posts: 4,864

    from Hampsha

    Scots All! :D
    firstinsteele and belair like this.
  23. upspirate
    Joined: Apr 15, 2012
    Posts: 2,177


    Sounds like new candidate for this yearsLeMons
  24. scotts52
    Joined: Apr 7, 2008
    Posts: 2,040


    Maybe I missed something. What's with the 5000 miles? Wouldn't you want it to last as long as possible?
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  25. Jim, I used my 12 inch engine lathe to grind valves for years. I made an adaptor that holds a 1/4 inch die grinder in the tool holder to do the faces, and it worked flawlessly. I was reluctant to drill a center in the top of the valve head, so that the valve could be turned with a cutting tool, and I found that so little material has to be removed that using the stone made quick work of truing the face. I was grinding dry, but that just meant I had to make lighter passes.
    For the seats, I purchased the Souix stones, pilots, and the arbour that the stones are mounted on, and made a driver that adapted to my side grinder. Worked flawlessly.
    I have a home made stone truing tool to make certain that everything stays true.
    About 10 years ago, I traded a 55 truck frame for a Souix grinder, and after spending the necessary time to true it up, it is now the goto machine.
  26. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 45,313


    LeMons Rally....route sucky suck. From Joliet IL to Santa Ana, the week of Halloween. Which is why we had to get the hearse running for it....

    Seriously, who will ever put over 5000 miles on a flathead cadillac motor in anything these days? maybe one or two guys? everyone wants to build their motors to last forever, but these days, forever means 500 miles a year for a few years, then it sits.
  27. henry29
    Joined: Sep 5, 2007
    Posts: 2,833


    Any pics of the car?
  28. noboD
    Joined: Jan 29, 2004
    Posts: 7,099


    Jim, why not hold a Dremel in the tool post to grind the valve?
  29. khead47
    Joined: Mar 29, 2010
    Posts: 1,594


    Did over 30 yrs in Toolrooms. Whenever I needed to use a toolpost grinder on a lathe ( even though they usually belonged to Uncle Henry ), I always covered up the ways with sumpin ! Grinding dust is not good for ways !
    Bearcat_V8, chryslerfan55 and j-jock like this.
  30. flatford39
    Joined: Dec 3, 2006
    Posts: 2,449


    Are you still building the Barracuda or did I miss something?? You are ambitious to say the least.
    chryslerfan55 likes this.

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