Hey guys, I thought I would address a silly rumor that is starting to circulate online for some apparent reason. In short, it seems some people who also build small block fords apparently like to tell people or potential customers of mine that I (Fordstrokers) don't have machinery and don't do any of our machine work in house. I find this humorous and childish at the same time. According to some, I contract out my block and machine work and do nothing more than assemble my engines in house at my shop. The funniest thing about these rumors is one of the guys who keeps telling people this does exactly what he claims I do all while telling people he has a full service machine shop. I figured it was best I took some pictures of various machinery in my shop to quell these silly, childish rumors.
The pictures below will show my various pieces of machinery that I use on a daily basis to turn out some of the finest quality Ford engines sold to the public. Let's not forget to mention the dozens and dozens of customers that have been to my shop to pickup or drop off parts and engines, and these are people that have come from all over the midwest. Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin etc etc...
Let me also touch on some keywords that some engine shops throw around to make themselves sound like the best thing since sliced bread, this being CNC. While CNC machinery is great in alot of ways, it really comes down to the operator and program engineer, because CNC machines do nothing more than what you tell them to do. So it's very easy to repeatedly turn out product that is no good, just because it was done on a CNC machine means nothing. If I had millions of dollars I would entertain certain CNC machinery, and I very well may in the near future, but as of now, I am a hands on type of machinist. With that said, let me go over in detail the pictures of my machinery below. Remember, if you are buying an engine from someone online whether its a private party or a shop, ask for pictures of there shop if they don't openly show any, and if they don't show any, there's a reason why
First up is my new Hines Dominator XP Crankshaft balancer I bought new last year. I contacted Hines and had them custom build me a balancer based upon my specific needs. This piece of equipment does nothing more than balance crankshafts. I was previously using my old Stewart Warner Pro-Bal balancer but it had some inherent flaws, not in so much the end result but it just took an incredible amount of time to balance a single crankshaft. So 26,478 dollars later I took delivery of my new balancer, total weight is just a hair under 4,000 LBS. This cancels any residual vibration and harmonics thus ensuring very accurate and repeatable balancing. As you can see, by the name on the front, it was custom build just for me and specific options I wanted and needed.
Next up is my Peterson Powerstroke Cylinder Hone, this is in my opinion the most important machine operation when building an engine. If the cylinders are not round and straight, ring seal will suffer and thus power output will suffer dramatically. Alot of people don't fully understand cylinder honing. It's not very complicated after you have honed a few thousand cylinders. What you are looking for is a cylinder that is round and does not have any taper in it from top to bottom. Taper is best described using pictures for the general public, you can NOT tell anything by looking at a cylinder with the naked eye. Unless you measure the cylinder with a bore gage, it may appear to look like a work of art, but could be out of round and have half a thousand taper in it from top to bottom, thus ring seal and power output will suffer. Here is a good picture of a cylinder in a 2D model.
Now the above example is dramatized to make it easier to understand the effects of sloppy cylinder honing, and sloppy cylinder honing is everywhere, simply because the end user (you) can not accurately measure it without spending alot of money on instruments to measure it. This is why it's very important to talk with and get to know your machinist and make sure you are not a victim of clever marketing and double talk. Anyways, here is my cylinder hone that I use daily, I have honed thousands of cylinders and bore sizes over the years. EVERY single block I hone is done with torque plates which simulate a cylinder head being bolted to the block, if you have your block honed without a torque plate, ring seal will suffer dramatically on any performance type of engine. Again so may shops will tell you they do this, but you have no way of knowing without actually standing there or trusting your machinist, this is why I take all the time needed talking with my customers so they are confident and comfortable in the plan we both put together. Keep in mind it's the operator behind the machine that ultimately determines the outcome of your engine.
Up next is really nothing real special, just a quick photo of my small blast cabinet we use to glass bead blast small parts, like main caps, spider trays, dogbones, intake manifolds etc.. The small mill next to the blast cabinet is used for piston milling and any small milling parts that are obscure and making any custom tooling I may need that is not commercially available. This ability has helped me tremendously when that cetain small piece of tooling can't be bought.
Next we have my old faithful Winona Van Norman CBN block surfacer. We converted this milling machine to a CBN equipped mill. To make a long story short, this allows us to mill the block deck and meet certain Ra finishes needed for the use of Cometic / MLS type head gaskets. We use BHJ Blok-Tru Fixturing when surfacing the block decks. This allows up to maintain no more than .001 deck height difference over the entire length of the deck. This surfacer has been very good to me and has surfaced 100's of blocks in the last 20 years, you take care of your machinery and it will take care of you. Good Ole' Italian made machinery.
In the hands of a capable machinst that knows what he is doing here is the finish this great machine will provide.
Next we have my boring bar and table, nothing real dramatic, used for rough boring before moving to the cylinder hone for finish honing. The table was from my old air float Serv-Equip boring bar, upon the Serv-Equip bar breaking and having a horrible time finding parts for repairs, I simply opted to put a kwik-way boring on the Serv-Equip table. The boring range is 3.00 inch to 5.5 inches, but spends most of it's life at 4.025 and 4.115. It has the ability to do inline cylinders as well such as the very long Ford 300 Inline six cylinder engines. Again, more tried and true quality machinery.
Here we have a run of the mill Sunnen CH-100 Align Hone Cabinet, this simple machinery is used for correcting the main bearing saddles, this is very important when switching from stock main bolts to Arp main studs. Keep in mind main studs have a far different clamping load than main bolts, so you need to correct any taper that is introduced when switching to different hardware. All engines we build have the main saddles correct and align honed. Not a fancy piece of machinery, but pretty much the industry standard. This machine has honed 1000's of blocks over it's lifetime.
Next in line is another industry standard piece of equipment, this is a Sunnen rod hone. This particular piece of machinery is used for rebuilding and or correcting the big and small end of connecting rods. We don't rebuild any stock rods anymore since its far more cost effective for a customer to buy an aftermarket rod fitted with quality hardware and a superior design as compared to a stock rod. Now we use this rod to make small corrections in the big and small end of aftermarket rods we use in our engines. I bet this machine is older than alot of people reading this, but when you take care of quality american made machinery it will last a lifetime, remember, it's all about the operator.
Next is a very important part of our process and if your an eco friendly type of person this may make you happy. Long gone are the days of old "hot tanks" that used caustic acid to clean blocks. This is my washer I have used and abused for many years. It uses a detergant based cleaning solution at over 200 degrees and cleans virtually anything, therefore no more nasty, stinky acid and 24 hours of soaking a block to clean it. Like I said also, you can simply drain the tank in a common drain and not worry about the EPA police hunting you down. We wash our block for 1 hour during it's final wash stage before assembly. I couldn't live without it.
Here we have an Oliver lathe I have converted with a frequency drive and use for my crank polishing. Did you know Oliver made lathes before they made high end connecting rods. I put a frequency drive on it to control spindle speed. You can see in the picture the many, many different belts I use while polishing the cranks. Most cranks come with a good polish on them already but I always go over them again to ensure quality.
Here is a picture of one of my personal cranks for my many different engines I own, this was done on my polisher
In closing I will leave you with a few left and right shots of the shop and machinery, I didn't bother taking any pictures of the assembly room and the various tooling we use for engine assembly, because according to the silly rumors we do actually assemble the engines but don't do any machine work, which would explain all the machinery I own :) I encourage you to give me a call should you have questions about a project you have or would like to start on, I will take all the time necessary to help you plan accordingly and build a successful engine package. Thanks for taking the time to read this page, I would love to hear from you........