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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, I am attempting to put together a tool kit of all the measuring devices I will need to build engines properly. What are good ones to have?

All I have now is calipers and feelers. what is the next step?
 

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You could of course go bonkers on this, but at a bare minimum I would add:

  • Dial indicator and magnetic base
  • Machinist's straight edge
  • Degree wheel
  • Snap gauge set
  • Time with a real machinist to show you how to correctly use them all for repeatable accuracy.
A wish list to make it go faster or easier would be very long and expensive. ;)

David

PS: Oops - measuring tools would also include measuring torque - both ft/lb and in/lb. Be sure they're calibrated new or at a local shop or buy a calibrated torque meter to check 'em. If you're doing high-end stuff, you should have a bolt stretch gauge to go with them, and a bunch of other tools. LOL
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you!

any hints on a 'good enough' brand? harbor freight stuff doesn't scream quality, but I don't think I quite need top of the line $$$$ for my personal toolkit.

also what about a bore scope? that's how you measure bore taper right? Or would the Dial indicator be a multi purpose tool for that as well?

I assume that the dial indicator you are talking about is a guage with a small 'button' that comes out of one end and is used to measure differences such as cam lift and such?
 

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any hints on a 'good enough' brand? harbor freight stuff doesn't scream quality, but I don't think I quite need top of the line $$$$ for my personal toolkit.
Actually, the cheapo brands can do fine for basic work, but need calibration. Calibration is a printout that you tag to your wrench that shows at X reading you actually get Z torque. So, for example, my TW is tagged that at 35 reading it actually gives 38.5 ft/lb. Readings are in steps of 10 ft/lb for most wrenches, depending on scale.
also what about a bore scope? that's how you measure bore taper right? Or would the Dial indicator be a multi purpose tool for that as well?
A bore-o-scope is a fiber optic viewer to see inside through little holes like spark plug holes. A bore mic measures bores directly, or snap gauges (telescoping gauges) can be used as well. They are expanded to just over bore size, locked, and then 'swiped' through the bore to get very accurate readings - if you know how to use them. It's easy, but ya gotta know. They are useful in many places, like installed valve spring height. Expand between the retainer and seat at a slight angle, swipe, and read with your calipers. Sure, there are specialized tools that do the same thing faster, but you said minimum to do the job right, and these do lots more than one job.
I assume that the dial indicator you are talking about is a guage with a small 'button' that comes out of one end and is used to measure differences such as cam lift and such?
Yep. And cam end play, and crank play, and roundness of mains or throws, and valve timing, and actual TDC for using the degree wheel, runout of various parts, and... and...

Hit the local library or buy more than one engine rebuilding book to get a good handle on what you're facing, and be sure one is about engine blueprinting. While you may not be doing all the blueprinting pros do on big-dollar engines, it will help explain what you're trying to accomplish and why - even for basic procedures on a basic Mom and Pop rebuild. Rather than saying "do this" it explains "do this because".

David
 

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Here's a pic of the 1/2" drive over-center (clicker) torque wrench I use most often for engine work. Although the tag pouch is rubbed pretty bad from years of use, you can probably see this calibration was done 3 times at each setting from 30 to 150 ft/lb, and is consistently close to spec at any setting. Many wrenches that test this well don't have tags, and are just engraved as 'calibrated on X date' to indicate they are within acceptable spec's at any setting - perhaps 1%. Most cheapo brands will need a tag, as they often test right-on at some torque, they will be off quite a ways at other settings.

Do you really need to calibrate torque wrenches? Many engines run well for a long time guessing if the torque is 'close enough'. That's called luck. Ask the guy scratching his head after spinning a bearing at the track what tools he used to assemble with, and if they were reasonably accurate. You can't know unless you know.

David

 

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any hints on a 'good enough' brand? harbor freight stuff doesn't scream quality, but I don't think I quite need top of the line $$$$ for my personal toolkit.
Several years ago, late one Saturday night, I dropped my good 0-1" dial indicator on the floor. Don't remember what I paid for it many years before but it was a Made In USA brand. :frown: Next day I went to Harbor Freight and bought one for, IIRC, $13. Took it to work Monday to check calibration, it was/is every bit as accurate as the $175 Brown & Sharpe indicator I use at work. Maybe I just got lucky, dunno. Whatever you get have the accuracy verified so you know what you have. If I was a professional builder and used the indicator everyday I would have gotten a better one, but that's not the case.

HF torque wrenches that I've seen pretty much suck.
For micrometers, some of the best deals are ones imported from Czechoslovakia. Very well made and accurate.
I have a Fowler dial bore gauge, made in China, it's accurate enough for me. Doesn't do real good measuring rod bearings, I guess due to the small diameter and bearing crush eccentricity. Very accurate on main bearings and cylinder bores. Got it on sale for around $80 some years ago.

Sometimes on eBay and Craigslist you can find old machinists selling their tools when they retire and get some good deals. And you know they took care of their stuff. I recently bought a cross slide off Craigslist for $75. I mounted it on my radial arm drill press so I can mill small parts. The guy was a retiring machinist and had a whole shed full of tools, cutters, bits, etc. He also had the keys to the tool crib at his former place of employment and he knew how to use them. LOL
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Actually, the cheapo brands can do fine for basic work, but need calibration. Calibration is a printout that you tag to your wrench that shows at X reading you actually get Z torque. So, for example, my TW is tagged that at 35 reading it actually gives 38.5 ft/lb. Readings are in steps of 10 ft/lb for most wrenches, depending on scale.
A bore-o-scope is a fiber optic viewer to see inside through little holes like spark plug holes. A bore mic measures bores directly, or snap gauges (telescoping gauges) can be used as well. They are expanded to just over bore size, locked, and then 'swiped' through the bore to get very accurate readings - if you know how to use them. It's easy, but ya gotta know. They are useful in many places, like installed valve spring height. Expand between the retainer and seat at a slight angle, swipe, and read with your calipers. Sure, there are specialized tools that do the same thing faster, but you said minimum to do the job right, and these do lots more than one job.
Yep. And cam end play, and crank play, and roundness of mains or throws, and valve timing, and actual TDC for using the degree wheel, runout of various parts, and... and...

Hit the local library or buy more than one engine rebuilding book to get a good handle on what you're facing, and be sure one is about engine blueprinting. While you may not be doing all the blueprinting pros do on big-dollar engines, it will help explain what you're trying to accomplish and why - even for basic procedures on a basic Mom and Pop rebuild. Rather than saying "do this" it explains "do this because".

David
Ah, yes I have looked through a dozen bluprinting and building books, but they were not highly specific on what you needed. they didn't have a 'master list' of the (measuring) tools. And sadly most of them show the use if plasigauge, and or say 'let your machineist worry about that' if it gets very hard to measure :(

Would you say a snap gauges or bore mic is better? (more versitile). I assume they would be pretty useful to a builder...?
 

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... And sadly most of them show the use if plasigauge, and or say 'let your machineist worry about that' if it gets very hard to measure :(
You need a better book, one that explains how to do it all correctly, even if you're not doing it yourself. PlastiGauge is like any other tool - it can be very useful to confirm other tools, but again needs to be very carefully used exactly to directions. Many folks don't do that and get poor results. Well, duh. This is precision building (or should be) and it takes a precision mentality. If someone has a 'good enough' general mentality, they will fail at engine building and assembly sooner or later.
Would you say a snap gauges or bore mic is better? (more versatile). I assume they would be pretty useful to a builder...?
Bore mics and bore gauges are better, or at least easier to use in production. They are VERY expensive for anything more accurate than snap gauges and good calipers with a little training. The other downside is that they are limited to only doing round bores withing a very small range, whereas snap gauges can do any inside dimension you can get the appropriate gauge into - square, round, oval, etc. Bores in engines are often not round (on-purpose or not), and a bore gauge can't tell the out-of-round nearly as well as multiple measurements with snap gauges, whether it's cylinder bores or rod ends. The only exception is very expensive data-holding two-point bore mics. You could sell a kidney to get one though. ;) I would learn snaps and start there with a more useful tool and skill, and move up as money allows.

While we use bore mics for some final dimensional quality checks machining precision nuclear submarine parts (often tighter tolerances than Space Shuttle parts. Really.), we use snap gauges and calipers for roughing operations, and snap gauges with calibrated outside micrometers for final finishing to specs. The bore mics and gauges show-up only on final inspection. Considering how versatile they are, I would have snap gauges even if I had a full range of other bore gauges.

BTW - how accurate? I would suggest for most building up to pro-level, accuracy to 5/10,000" (half a thou) will do the job. Minimum. Better is better. Even Ford factory specs are that tight and we would like better.
:tup:
David
 

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You need a better book, one that explains how to do it all correctly, even if you're not doing it yourself. PlastiGauge is like any other tool - it can be very useful to confirm other tools, but again needs to be very carefully used exactly to directions. Many folks don't do that and get poor results. Well, duh. This is precision building (or should be) and it takes a precision mentality. If someone has a 'good enough' general mentality, they will fail at engine building and assembly sooner or later.
Bore mics and bore gauges are better, or at least easier to use in production. They are VERY expensive for anything more accurate than snap gauges and good calipers with a little training. The other downside is that they are limited to only doing round bores withing a very small range, whereas snap gauges can do any inside dimension you can get the appropriate gauge into - square, round, oval, etc. Bores in engines are often not round (on-purpose or not), and a bore gauge can't tell the out-of-round nearly as well as multiple measurements with snap gauges, whether it's cylinder bores or rod ends. The only exception is very expensive data-holding two-point bore mics. You could sell a kidney to get one though. ;) I would learn snaps and start there with a more useful tool and skill, and move up as money allows.

While we use bore mics for some final dimensional quality checks machining precision nuclear submarine parts (often tighter tolerances than Space Shuttle parts. Really.), we use snap gauges and calipers for roughing operations, and snap gauges with calibrated outside micrometers for final finishing to specs. The bore mics and gauges show-up only on final inspection. Considering how versatile they are, I would have snap gauges even if I had a full range of other bore gauges.

BTW - how accurate? I would suggest for most building up to pro-level, accuracy to 5/10,000" (half a thou) will do the job. Minimum. Better is better. Even Ford factory specs are that tight and we would like better.
:tup:
David
bore gage can only measure a round hole ???

I got the bore gage's that can measure a squre hole to .0001"

snap gages are in the same class as a yard stick .
 

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bore gage can only measure a round hole ???

I got the bore gage's that can measure a squre hole to .0001"

snap gages are in the same class as a yard stick .
I didn't say they couldn't, I did not say they were not accurate, and I'm not going to get into a classic "DanH pissing match" thread. Read it again, know the difference in 2 and 3-point bore mics and gauges and how they are used, and what they can do, and how snap gauges are used for precision machining before making yet another bully challenge. I am a professional machinist, I work contracts for the US Navy creating parts that make pro-racing engine parts look like Leggo crap, and until you can gain the same qualifications, knowledge and skills to use snap gauges to build pro-level engines and make precision nuclear parts - you just sound silly. Your mis-representation and obvious lack of knowledge in this particular case just causes you to lose face and respect. In a 1.5 acre billion-dollar government machine shop I can use most any tool known to man. Why do all the machinists use snap gauges far more than bore mics or gauges?

On my side, while having decades in pro-engine building; I don't know everything, nor do I always say things clearly. I sometimes mis-understand questions, or make incorrect assumptions. I often just get things backwards in my brain or have out-of-date info. That's being human, and I encourage folks to correct me or explain errors so we can get the best factual info out to those that need it. If I'm not sure about something, or there are other ways to do it - I'll say so. I encourage you to do the same. You say snap gauges are 'yardsticks', and I'd appreciate if you would explain why that is, when machinists use them to generate x/10k tolerances, let alone much looser engine tolerances.

You have a enormous pool of great knowledge Dan, and I highly respect your experience, but you cancel the benefit with truckloads of childish slurred BS that serves more to confuse than to aid. You'll take a gem of your knowledge and bury it in inflammatory BS. I generally let silly stuff just go by, but I am tired of everyone showing due respect to you, while you show little or none in return. For that reason, over the years I have lost most of my respect for you, and while you often have fantastic info or perspective to share, I'm having an increasingly hard time finding it your distracting BS. You will no longer receive respect from me until you show some of of your own.

You answered my last post with a mis-statement, a bragging fact, and a false one. I will respect a polite re-phrasing if you wish to do so, and you can even add some relative content to the OP's question for bonus points. That would be helpful. If not, I can not respect you or your answers, and will call them out in blunt fashion so the forums can move on in a productive way.

David
 

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PSIG , the classic DanH p/match ! You know the outcome then . Your Wrong .

Yes , very easy to misunderstand a question ,

how does one mis understand his Own reply ?
You did say "limited to doing only round bores" , the posted that a snap gage can do a square.

Ok , your saying you mis-understand your self .

engines are built to .0001" , today race engines (pro) , .oooo1" and tighter on some parts .

BTW , I understand what I say and why its said .
P/match starts only by those trying to cover up they are wrong/don't know

Also ,don't need to tell me about 2 or 3 point

forgot , I made a false statement ? Like to see you prove it .

Bragging , read your own post , I'll save it for you . say you just become the king of bragging
 

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I didn't say they couldn't, I did not say they were not accurate, and I'm not going to get into a classic "DanH pissing match" thread. Read it again, know the difference in 2 and 3-point bore mics and gauges and how they are used, and what they can do, and how snap gauges are used for precision machining before making yet another bully challenge. I am a professional machinist, I work contracts for the US Navy creating parts that make pro-racing engine parts look like Leggo crap, and until you can gain the same qualifications, knowledge and skills to use snap gauges to build pro-level engines and make precision nuclear parts - you just sound silly. Your mis-representation and obvious lack of knowledge in this particular case just causes you to lose face and respect. In a 1.5 acre billion-dollar government machine shop I can use most any tool known to man. Why do all the machinists use snap gauges far more than bore mics or gauges?

On my side, while having decades in pro-engine building; I don't know everything, nor do I always say things clearly. I sometimes mis-understand questions, or make incorrect assumptions. I often just get things backwards in my brain or have out-of-date info. That's being human, and I encourage folks to correct me or explain errors so we can get the best factual info out to those that need it. If I'm not sure about something, or there are other ways to do it - I'll say so. I encourage you to do the same. You say snap gauges are 'yardsticks', and I'd appreciate if you would explain why that is, when machinists use them to generate x/10k tolerances, let alone much looser engine tolerances.

You have a enormous pool of great knowledge Dan, and I highly respect your experience, but you cancel the benefit with truckloads of childish slurred BS that serves more to confuse than to aid. You'll take a gem of your knowledge and bury it in inflammatory BS. I generally let silly stuff just go by, but I am tired of everyone showing due respect to you, while you show little or none in return. For that reason, over the years I have lost most of my respect for you, and while you often have fantastic info or perspective to share, I'm having an increasingly hard time finding it your distracting BS. You will no longer receive respect from me until you show some of of your own.

You answered my last post with a mis-statement, a bragging fact, and a false one. I will respect a polite re-phrasing if you wish to do so, and you can even add some relative content to the OP's question for bonus points. That would be helpful. If not, I can not respect you or your answers, and will call them out in blunt fashion so the forums can move on in a productive way.

David
.who's bragging .?

don't want your qualifications on being wrong .

snap gage and a yard stick . go to quality control and ask them what they (bottom line) have in common
 

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My thoughts: My tool box: Feeler gauges in brass (if you can find em), snap gauges, mics(one digital), torque wrences,1-in ftlb's, 1- Beam type Inch pounder(dial type if you can afford it) plastigauge, straight edge.All things that have been listed already. My opinion differs slightly though because I have never built a race engine, ive always been on a tight or nearly non existant budget, and my "good enough" standards that have been ragged on a bit have not cost me and engine thus far. I wont make any more "good enough" suggestions here, except to say ive assembled (personal)engines with only a beam type ftlb torque wrench and 3/8 drive ratchet. But, that was in high school.

Bless you PSIG! You have time ane eloquence that i do not. Thank you for expressing my similar frustration in such a polite way.

That said:

What parts on an engine have .0001" clearance? Is that a part that rotates? And what about .00001"? Im currious, honestly, ive never seen a tollerance that tight, not that i would have had the oppertunity.
PSIG , the classic DanH p/match ! You know the outcome then . Your Wrong .

Yes , very easy to misunderstand a question ,

how does one mis understand his Own reply ?
You did say "limited to doing only round bores" , the posted that a snap gage can do a square.

Ok , your saying you mis-understand your self .

engines are built to .0001" , today race engines (pro) , .oooo1" and tighter on some parts .

BTW , I understand what I say and why its said .
P/match starts only by those trying to cover up they are wrong/don't know

Also ,don't need to tell me about 2 or 3 point

forgot , I made a false statement ? Like to see you prove it .

Bragging , read your own post , I'll save it for you . say you just become the king of bragging
 

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Damn, Dan, you're funny! Just digging your hole deeper with every word. You're obviously speaking from opinion rather than knowledge or experience, and you're dead wrong. I've explained why, and how I know. You haven't because you can't. Pack some facts in your bag of BS or go away.

David
 

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Damn, Dan, you're funny! Just digging your hole deeper with every word. You're obviously speaking from opinion rather than knowledge or experience, and you're dead wrong. I've explained why, and how I know. You haven't because you can't. Pack some facts in your bag of BS or go away.

David
keep[ it up , The end will show your not funny but a joke .
the HOLE , will be to bury you .

not an opinion , a fact what I said .

your just telling me your limits .
 

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My thoughts: My tool box: Feeler gauges in brass (if you can find em) ... I have never built a race engine, ive always been on a tight or nearly non existant budget, ..
Brass feelers is a good one. Eventually (and depending on how much you do certain procedures) I'd plan on round-wire feelers too. A set of blade feelers in brass and a set in hardened steel, and a small set that have been magnetized are useful. Magnetized are just for convenience and certain sensor testing, so not a basic kit item.

Not having built a racing engine is not important to good input. Building engines with minimal budget tools that work for the intended purpose gives a good perspective to this thread. Thanks.
:tup:
David
 

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Brass feelers is a good one. Eventually (and depending on how much you do certain procedures) I'd plan on round-wire feelers too. A set of blade feelers in brass and a set in hardened steel, and a small set that have been magnetized are useful. Magnetized are just for convenience and certain sensor testing, so not a basic kit item.

Not having built a racing engine is not important to good input. Building engines with minimal budget tools that work for the intended purpose gives a good perspective to this thread. Thanks.
:tup:
David
your last paragraph , I have to agree

with correct info on the tools used to get the job done .

no need for a novel on tools outside of budget/level of the OP's question .
case of less info is better
 

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HF has a pretty cool dial indicator that uses a vicegrip instead of a magnet. Their 6" digital caliper seems pretty consistent and is just barely wide enough to measure a piston - just barely. I got a set of bore gauges there, they work fine though measuring them with just a digital caliper can be challenging. I got the compression gauge there but it broke after a couple of uses. I got their digital scale. Got their $15 triple gauge set for my run stand, the oil pressure gauge (mechanical) is better than my Autometer. Got their torque wrench but don't trust it so I switched to a Great Neck needle one.
 

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Six inch piston???
 
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