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Hand Boring Cylinders - Old School

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 34FordConv, Apr 14, 2010.

  1. 34FordConv
    Joined: Oct 31, 2007
    Posts: 185


    I've heard and read a little that Old timers used to Hand Bore Cylinders.
    Anyone seen it done or know about the tools they used?
    Must have been a real talent.
    I have some old blocks I'd love to try that with, I think it would be interesting.
  2. A Chopped Coupe
    Joined: Mar 2, 2004
    Posts: 1,133

    A Chopped Coupe

    I've been around for some 65 years and never heard of "hand boring". Back in the day we did hand honing, but not sure how many honing stones you'd go through trying to "bore" one cylinder, let a long 6/8.
    We hand honed to break the glaze so we could use oversize rings and get around the very expensive boring/buying new pistons..........................I just don't see how you could hand bore a block!

  3. f1 fred
    Joined: Apr 29, 2005
    Posts: 514

    f1 fred
    from mn

    I have never heard of that, you aren't thinking of ball honing to deglaze the cylinders are you?

    Sorry not much help here, but if it's been done someone on here has done it or knows someone who has.
  4. gary terhaar
    Joined: Jul 23, 2007
    Posts: 656

    gary terhaar
    from oakdale ny

    Sunnen makes a A/N style hone for use with a 1/2 inch drill.It is a rack style stone with alum wipers acurite to .0005.With 100 grit stones you can easily take .010 out of a cyl.
    I have used one often in the past on m/c cylinders before i got my rod hone.I have bored a block and finished it by hand with the an hone but never went a full .030 with it.
    They show it used with a overhead bar with a spring to support the drill while you push it down to override it it aids you on the up stroke.
    Either way its a real workout trust me i know.

  5. Tman
    Joined: Mar 2, 2001
    Posts: 34,893


    I have been after an old boring bar that may be what you are taking about. Looked like an oversized drill, mounted to the head surface and was used in a tub for the lube to collect. Really the same as a big machine but on a smaller scale. I have several articles iin old magazines showing the equiptment.

    Clarify, this was for boring engine cylinders.
  6. Yep, my V8 Cleveland 302 was done this way by an barefoot old school bush mechanic ( the late Edwin Stratford ) in '98 using an old 1940's Sydney- made rig which attached to the block. I was gopher on the rebuild and I don't recall these over- boring details too well, however I do remember that Edwin took lots of time to get all 8 right (+020) and was very patient. This was done on a dirt floor with he sitting on a little stool. I think it took perhaps two days to do this. The revs were steady & moderate, no rushing, I recall not what finer techniques were employed- I only vouch for the proof of these old ways. Sorry.
    Incidentally he also set the front wheel alignment on the car by eye (perfectly)- And I also watched him scoop honey from a wild bee hive). He told me he had also repaired with arc weld a petroleum fuel tanker which still had fuel in it. He also divined water. A mystic mechanic, repairing D8's barefoot in the boiling dust.
    p.s I've got 70,000 on this engine now and it runs smooth & strong with lots of compression ( It pulls to slow down most any hill, and hauls sweetly up 'em.).
  7. 34FordConv
    Joined: Oct 31, 2007
    Posts: 185


    I know what deglazing/honing is and I know about the boring bars, I saw an old add for GM that showed a Bore to hand bore cylinders, was told farmers, and old timers used to bore cylinders by hand with these to save time from pulling the block and sending it out to be machined. Told it worked well too. It had a bore and a guage for accuracy.
  8. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,221


    Saw pics from the late 20's, showing a guy standing over/stradling the motor like riding a horse, with a big drill with attachment bolted to the block. It said reboring in the car. Other pics shows a "in the car crankpin grinder".
  9. Dave50
    Joined: Mar 7, 2010
    Posts: 1,751


    I would like to see how round you get them after you do this BY Hand...........
  10. 34FordConv
    Joined: Oct 31, 2007
    Posts: 185


    Ever use a ridge reamer by hand? They make round holes!
  11. As a machinist I believe it could be done. i had never thought about it before tonight.
    Basically a human being replacing the motor on a boring bar. A 944s bar has only a 1/4 hp motor so?
    Using a sunnen hone and a 1/2 slow speed drill is if you are good at it very acccurate. I have gone 010 on several occasions since we always left .003 in the block for honing anyway. Beyond that I used the Van Norman bar. Boring is the rough work. The final hone seperates the men from the boys. It takes skill to hone without producing a taper. You also have to watch the stroking as if you go too deep you can break your wirsts when the stones hit the main webs. I did the first two honing steps dry and the fInal wet. I use three dfferent sets of stones. Stones once used wet can never be used dry again.
    A lot of this stuff is hard to explain if you havent done it. A boring bar is a rather crude device or so it sees to me but a necessary one. Boring is boring!. I used to use my bar 2 or 3 times a week I dont miss it now . Darn thing weighted a ton and you were constantly lifting it on and off the block. I can do straight sixes on my milling machine as it has vertical feed.
    Could one make a hand operated tool that would bore a cylinder accurately. The answer can only be a definate yes. Followed immediately by "why would you want to." Here I can get the few I need now that i am retired, punched and power honed for $200 to $250. not really a bad deal.
  12. pauls fords
    Joined: Jul 7, 2009
    Posts: 183

    pauls fords

    I have a Van Norman boring bar about 60 yrs old still works fine and bore engines within .002 [ .030 piston to .028 ] then my hone tightens in the cylinder and takes out the rest to custom fit the pistons, this type hone has two sets of stones, a course stone for cutting and a fine stone for finishing, it hand tightens with a fine thread wheel on top of the hone, it can easily take out .010 with a 1/2 inch drill but just taking out .002 is quite a chore, .010 could be done but would take forever especially 8 cylinders. Hope this helps.
  13. PackardV8
    Joined: Jun 7, 2007
    Posts: 893


    Try generating a steady 1/4hp for an extended period of time. It is like pedaling a bicycle up a steep hill. One's tongue will be hanging out in short order.

    Yes, a hand-powered boring bar could be devised. I've seen a hand crankpin turning device. These pre-date the automobile and were first used on line shafting and steam engines.
    No, hand-powered machining of cast iron and steel is not easy, reasonable nor practical. That is why steam engines and electric motors took over the hard work early on.
    Maybe, our OP can give us more info on where and what he is referencing.

    thnx, jack vines
  14. 34FordConv
    Joined: Oct 31, 2007
    Posts: 185


    Joined: Nov 22, 2005
    Posts: 7,591

    from SIDNEY, NY

    Interesting. However, I'd put it in the same category as scraping newly babbitted bearing surfaces to size----they did what they had to do at the time, but today, I'll go with the improved version.
  16. Algon
    Joined: Mar 12, 2007
    Posts: 1,216


    Yes but when you drill a crooked hole the reamer still follows it....even on a lathe. A deck mounted boring bar is more likley to follow the current shape of the cylinder than one in a fixture and a hand held one only has the bore to go by. So if it is crooked or out of round it generally stays that way even though you bored it a larger size. For a bucks down farmer, trucker, hotrodder or better yet a general repair shop back then sure. You use(d) what you have access too but it doesn't make it correct or better. I'd almost want one myself for low dollar driver projects with the quality of machine work most places send out locally. Just the same I'd rather do it right and have it last longer.
  17. Lobucrod
    Joined: Mar 22, 2006
    Posts: 4,122

    Alliance Vendor
    from Texas

    You'll wear out a hone and your arms trying to bore a block with a hone. It takes me about 2 minutes to hone out the first .001 with my micrometer hone after boring it and about 7-8 min per .001 after that. Also keep in mind that you would be honing tapered cylinders and it would be next to imposible to end up with a cylinder that wasnt tapered by honing it.
  18. gary terhaar
    Joined: Jul 23, 2007
    Posts: 656

    gary terhaar
    from oakdale ny

    If i was better at pictures i would show a sunnen An style hand hone,I have used it to go .030 on m/c cylinders several times.Useing 100 grit stones it takes a little but not a eternity.
    Step up to 320 and remove the last .0015 with 500 grit.
    Results are as good as the operator,let it cool between mesuring and i have regularly have achieved less than three tenths out of round and taper on a 5 inch tall 3.625 bore cyl.
    I have finished a few car blocks this way only because i own a boring bar and not a power hone.
    When i do automotive stuff i copied a tool i saw in a goodson catalog that goes on the top of the shaft and stops the travel on the deck.This keeps the stones from exiting through the block and stopping quickly when it hits the mains.
    Now i have a aircraft hone shop in my building complex,they always need some sort of welding or machine work so in trade i use one of there three sunnen cv-616 anytime i need to.
    Great for me i dont have to house it and its a short walk away.
    Yes ,its a bunch easier to use a cv-616 instead of a hand hone but my point is ,With the wrong operator someone can easily screw up with the best equipment man can offer.
    With the right operator,exelent results can be had even with the machines that are obsolete and worn out.Any short commings the person can make allowances to get incredable results.
    The only thing i cant stress enough is good mesuring equiptment is a must,the one place you cannot skimp.
    Sorry for the ramble ,too much coffee.
  19. windjammer
    Joined: Mar 17, 2010
    Posts: 24

    from Illinois

    My grandfather was a machinest, he made a hand boring set up for boring cylinders.
    How it worked there was a large plate that was bolted to the top of the block centered on the bore. On top of the plate was bolted a fine thread , for a better word "nut". Running down through the nut was a long threaded "screw". At the top of the screw was a double handle like a tap wrench. At the bottom of the "screw" was a bit holder for a bit like was used on a lathe.
    He would position the tooll and crank it down the bore, then hone and you had a fresh cylinder.
  20. Just the same I'd rather do it right and have it last longer.

    Just because something is done slowly or by hand does not make it wrong or in accurate. It simply is not as fast. I am fanatical about cylinder size and taper when doing an engine.
    A block mounted boring bar centres off the original hole but doesnt follow the error. The cats paws on set up centre in the unworn part of the hole. (below ring wear.) and that is normal proceedure however if you had a severly worn rare engine that had just one bore left in it you can centre in the worn part for that last bore in the probable and likely hope the the cylinder will bore clean on a minor cut thereby saving a rare engine that with an unskillled or uncaring machinst would wind up as scrap. . (ie .040" to .060 since they dont generally make .050 pistons. The tool the last posters grandad made I believe would work well but not fast. But there is absolutley no reason to believe it would not be "RIGHT" when done. Right means accurate not $$$$$$$.
  21. Algon
    Joined: Mar 12, 2007
    Posts: 1,216



    I generally agree with your statements here so don't get me wrong. $$$$ and speed is not accuracy, agreed. The difference is just as much the person doing it as the tools used, certainly. Yet a crooked hole is still a crooked hole after it is bored and honed... I am referring to core shift which off setting it is a large point to using a seasoned block to start with. You can be perfectly round with an exacting taper and still not have a cylinder that is dead on in relation to the spacing of the bores or crankshaft centerline. The hand method listed will follow the current bore, while deck boring being the most accurate listed method can vary. Many don't even deck the block before boring or use a deck plate when honing. Boring in a large soild fixture is the only way I'm aware of to correct a cylinder consistantly and that is what I expect.

    For example take a brand new Harley Jug pre machined by Screamin' Eagle say it is as perfectly round as it gets:rolleyes:. Now set it dead square in your mill, with a mic in the chuck drop down on the bore and see what you get. Now compare it to the next. Now can you make it .020 oversize but lets say you actually want the bore at 90 degrees to the block so now it's say .040 on a good day or last week it took just shy of .090 on one.

    V-8's are all over the place,even new race blocks "close", "good enough", better than factory, sure. Have I, will I hone a junk SBC with drill? (or a hand bore if I had one) if need be absolutely. When I'm paying for something to be right that I'm going to beat on this is simply not good enough. The difference is much more important in a race motor than a weekend toy sure. It is a case by case basis that may be the difference of a moot point to contributing factor of why that $27,000 off the shelf big block locked up solid on the 60 foot line again. It comes down to I expect more from a so called professional shop than a guy in his garage.
  22. Saxon
    Joined: Aug 9, 2008
    Posts: 2,157

    from MN


    Flatheads are a different breed. You have the valves in the block, babbit bearings, harden valve seats.... an expensive rebuild.

    My flattie ran for months after 47 years sitting, a rebuild was comforting.

    Hand boring could be as good as a machinist that doesn't care.
  23. dabirdguy
    Joined: Jun 23, 2005
    Posts: 2,404

    Member Emeritus

    I had a bolt on the deck type boring bar back in the 80's.
    I did a number of '35 and '36 Chevy 216's an Edsel 360 and a few small blocks of varoius sizes.
    Never had any issues. The thing worked great. I wish I still had it.
  24. Dave50
    Joined: Mar 7, 2010
    Posts: 1,751


    IF one was a accomplished machinist and knew how to use a Hand held hone 1 might be able to have a straight bore when done hand honing straight before but its most likely worn and has a ridge etc, as stated by others your hone,drill whatever you desire may burn up in the process I know your hands will and your back will not forgive you:p Hand honing 3-5 thousandths is the norm come back and post after you do that but if you use 100 80 grit its quick. I have a 2 sunnen 777 and a berco boring bars. It could be done like anything but not likely from a non experienced non equipped person.Iknow when it comes to body work i will pay the body guy, a engine is a pump and it will run and run decent to a normal person or the most part and with a zillion miles and worn out, but performance effficiency will not be obtained.

    I have heard of people honing by hand and using dial calipers to get the bore size:eek: :eek:
  25. I dont know I was pretty fussy boring and honing all my blocks. My old boss used to laugh at me when I would fret over a couple of tenths but I believe a good cylnder is the basis of a good race engine. but we were not talking about race engine building .. We were talking about can you or has anyone had or seen or made a machine to bore a block by hand. Not a race block etc etc but can it be done? Sure it can. I think you would agree. Why would you want to I believe i asked.
    I have had blocks bored on a berco machine tooo,in fact I have a pal with a brand new medium sized berco machine standing in the middle of his shop unused because he doesnt have 220 3 phase. Someone could steal it I think for about $1500. I used myself a Van norman small bar.(944s) I was never really in love with it but it did the job. I always left .003 at least and concentrated on a good hone. i kinda of enjoyed the honing. I used to stand the block up on its end to hone it. It for some reason eliminates the web hitting and the double stroking was for me much easier that way. Ideally I like a block done on a CK 10 but I could never afford one. I had a good reputation and produced some pretty decent motors. Many of which are still around in one piece sevaral years after the fact. It took a lot of time and a lot of care and a lot of measuring. Probably far more than it was worth $ wise but i wouldnt trade those years for anything. There is something satisfying about machining to as little a tolerence as possible in the quiet of your own small shop with the doors locked and the phone off the hook. I think i most enjoyed the rod work though on my ancient sunnen rod hone.
    I worked to zero and enjoyed the challenge emensley. I think in the end a person needs a reliable accurate tool and they need the right atitude. Even though i worked in the machine shop end of things during my apprenticeship I am more mechanic than machinist at heart. (I have both tickets) I bought my own machines later in my career when the demand for my motors grew because i could not get machine shops to do the machining the way I wanted it. Maybe the bigger shops with the $$$$$$ machines were better but we have the trophies and results over the years so it is hard to feel too bad. Anyway it is an interesting thread or we wouldnt all be here reading it. I sold all my automotive machine stuff after the lemans classic engine . Sometimes i miss having it but I think now i am too old and cripppled to consider doing it anyway. Time to play and enjoy life a bit.
  26. gonejunking
    Joined: Sep 15, 2008
    Posts: 50

    from NW USA

    Rottler made a hand turned boring bar back in the teens. I found one with all the cutters, and the original box. Sold it back to Rottler about 30 years ago. it still was in working order, but took almost an hour to do the first cut. I tried it on an a Plymouth flathead engine that I had. After I cut the first hole, I took the block to a machine shop to finish it!
  27. no55mad
    Joined: Dec 15, 2006
    Posts: 1,891


    Seems like that Sunnen An style hone is what I remember being called a 'ridged hone'. I've used one of those to take out a few 1000ths.


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