Machine shop 440 Mopar questions?

Big Block A body Tech

  1. BigBlockBanjo

    BigBlockBanjo BigBlockBanjo

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    Hello all!
    Long time no see here, still have my ol 72 Dart though. I would like to get a temp check on my engine situation as it stands right now. Just had some machine work completed on my 76 440 short block. It's taken over a year, but I told the guy I wasn't in a hurry, so no worries there. They call and tell me it's ready to pickup. This confused me a bit, because when the engine was dropped off, the plan was to get pistons in hand for the final hone. I brought this up, and the shop owner says that modern high end pistons like I would use have clearance "built in", and if I order .30 over pistons, they would fit fine. He said when I got the pistons he would check clearance to be sure. -I thought- clearance was determined by piston material and intended usage, but I don't have a machine shop. I ask how much I owe, and he tells me $1200. That cost is for: Hot tank trips/sonic check/magnaflux, square decks, bore and hone cylinders, cam bearings, freeze plugs, galley plugs/bushings. No line hone, etc. And turning the crank, which I did not want done, as this was going to be a stroker build. (This was discussed when the motor was dropped off also.)
    Also, he didn't have a torque plate, so there's that. I was planning on getting one to him when I brought the pistons in, but as stated, I never got that call.

    So my questions are:
    Boring AND finishing cylinders without pistons, is it acceptable in this instance?

    Is it too late to get a torque plate for this block? I know I'll need measurements first, but .

    Is $1200 for this work an average going rate for this in the rural southeast area? I don't mind paying good money for good work, but I don't like feeling like I am not getting what I asked for, or what was discussed up front. This is a performance engine shop, and he has a good reputation in the area, but he is a Chevy guy. I've known him a long time, and there aren't any other viable options within 2 hours any direction. I'm not bashing, just haven't had a block done in a long time so I'm asking those with more expertise. The block (and nicely turned cast crank, lol) are still at the shop now.
    Thanks ahead for any info/reflections/help/"your stupid" comments.
     
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    • RustyRatRod

      RustyRatRod I was born on a Monday. Not last Monday. FABO Gold Member

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      "WHERE" in the southeast are you? I would not pay for something I told them not to do. But then......why did you leave the crank if you didn't want it turned? That will be their out right there. No torque plates? Meh, I guess it depends on what you're doing. Just a knock around street motor, I wouldn't sweat it. You said stroker though, so were it mine, I would have opted for torque plates. One of the guys JUST recently showed the clearance difference with and without. It was more than you would think.

      The piston and bore thing, now that really bothers ME. The shop I use(d) although very small (now closed due to retirement) even wanted pistons for my stock and very mild builds. It is true however that modern pistons are very tighter tolerances than they once were, but for any performance level build, my motto is "mic a piston, bore a hole". Rinse and repeat. You'll pay more but it's worth it to get it RIGHT.

      All this is just one idiot's opinion.

      I would like to know the shop though, please. If you don't want to post it here, please send me a private message. I just lost my machine shop I had used for years. If this place is nearby, and NOT S&M Machine Shop in Fort Valley, Georgia, I might go talk to them. I can write instructions in Braille if I have to.
       
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      • Demonic

        Demonic Well-Known Member

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        For a rebuild on the mini van, that sounds fine. But by most folks standards for a performance build, you picked the wrong shop. What's your piston to wall clearance vs piston spec?
         
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        • BigBlockBanjo

          BigBlockBanjo BigBlockBanjo

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          Thanks for the reply, I'm in West TN. The crank is there because I dropped the whole shortblock off, they pulled the crank.
          Yeah I read that post about the plates before I posted initially, kinda of like lemon to the eye lol.
          I know that's a great way to do it, measure and bore, but I think I AM paying done right price, and not getting done right. I'm going to get a cost breakdown, but right now I think I got charged 75 per cylinder, no speed shop considerations given.

          I hate to give the shop name, as I really am not trying to bash a business, I just want to know if I should be A-OK with these prices/procedures or if I should take my next build elsewhere.
           
        • RustyRatRod

          RustyRatRod I was born on a Monday. Not last Monday. FABO Gold Member

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          Ok, you're in Tennessee, that's actually really good. You need to contact Hensley Motorsports, IMO. @1Badcolt has used them. He can tell you more. He's in Georgia, but uses Hensley for everything now. 75 pre cylinder to bore is highway robbery. We used to get 6 a hole when I was doin it......like forty years ago. I know it's gone up and all but that's ridiculous. Chris will chime in since I tagged him.

          I don't know what to tell you about your current situation. How far was the block bored? Maybe it can be salvaged.
           
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          • RustyRatRod

            RustyRatRod I was born on a Monday. Not last Monday. FABO Gold Member

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            Well, IMO you should think on that. You can give the name without bashing. So far it sounds like all you've done is told the truth. Remember, you can help the same thing not happen to someone else. Your call.
             
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            • jbc426

              jbc426 Well-Known Member

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              From what I have heard over the years, using torque plates and having the mains torqued down when boring and finish honing the cylinders makes for a lower percentage of leakage past the rings. Depending on how close the tolerance is between the pistons and cylinders now, you may still be able to have "another" final finish hone for the block with the torque plates on.

              I don't know enough about machine work to know if that would improve your ring seal, but it may make a worthwhile improvement, or it may not make a noticeable or measurable improvement. Perhaps someone who actually knows will chime in.

              Are you planning on running a ring package that allows for file fitting them? Do you also plan to have your cam degreed? Who are you using to help you select an appropriate cam. These are all important processes too.
               
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              • RustyRatRod

                RustyRatRod I was born on a Monday. Not last Monday. FABO Gold Member

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                That's a very good point. He probably also is planning on forged pistons and they can "stand" a bit more clearance, so he may can still get what he has right if that's what he wants to do. Good point!
                 
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                • BigBlockBanjo

                  BigBlockBanjo BigBlockBanjo

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                  Hey Rusty, I appreciate it. I'll PM you once I get everything settled with the shop and get my motor back. Should be next week sometime, work permitting. Shop said block was bored .030. I'm looking at Probe/Icon pistons.

                  Jbc426,
                  File fit moly metric rings, I can degree a cam, I have all that stuff under my belt a few times. Cam choice is still up in the air, I want a roller platform, but mopar roller lifters are so heavy lol. I may just put a solid flat tappet and call it a day. I wanted a stroker, but I may have to make lemonade with this motor now. All that will change my desired cam specs. This would just be a weekend bruiser so I can live with big cam hassle in this one.. After I pick it up I'll get back with clearances and more details.
                   
                • RustyRatRod

                  RustyRatRod I was born on a Monday. Not last Monday. FABO Gold Member

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                  Either way you go on the camshaft, I highly recommend solid, regardless. And good on the pistons. You might have a little leeway. That'd be great.
                   
                • Oldmanmopar

                  Oldmanmopar Going left turning right FABO Gold Member

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                  I only have one question. Did He use Vaseline?
                   
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                  • Max1196

                    Max1196 Well-Known Member

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                    This is a pic of a SBC that was 030 over, done who knows where. I put the plate on it to see IF it had been finished using a plate. NOPE. Dark blotches near the base of every head bolt is the non contact point. The bore at that area will take on a "pentagon" shape, (5 head bolts/ cylinder). A SBC changes shape on average about .0008 thou.
                    It all depends on what your making. Words like Icon pistons and stroker indicate the need for a Great job, not just a good job or it'll work type of job.
                    100_3301.JPG
                     
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                    • Craig Burriss

                      Craig Burriss Well-Known Member

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                      Not trying to change the subject, but Scott’s Auto Machine in Fayetteville Ga has been good to me. I just recently dropped off one of my 440s with them.
                       
                    • Oldmanmopar

                      Oldmanmopar Going left turning right FABO Gold Member

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                      My son does 440's Oiling is the trick and use a girdle unless you have a mega block. We were just discussing this last night . He is building a 68 440 for us out of extra parts. .060 over with 915 heads and 12-1's, 630 312 roller cam. He drills into the pressure feed and supplies the lifter galley and also puts a .040 oil feed to the back of the thrust bearing and grooves the block on the rear main.

                      Now don't ask me the reason. I just watch . He has done alcohol Hemi funny cars and big blocks for bracket race cars. Also big cube pulling mopar engines . There are 4 here right now. I never see any come back destroyed. They last for a long time.

                      Many shops say they do them all the time but how many are the same motor over and over again.
                       
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                      • Dana67Dart

                        Dana67Dart The parts you don't add don't cause you no trouble FABO Gold Member

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                        Here is another shot of lemon in the eye.


                        Get everything in writing. "If it's not in writing it never happened"

                        How much do you have in the short block?

                        If you think you are not going to be happy with the work, pay with a credit card. That way you have some recource in the event you take the block to another shop and find the work was not done correctly.
                         
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                        • BigBlockBanjo

                          BigBlockBanjo BigBlockBanjo

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                          Thanks everyone who has replied so far. I traded for the block years ago, I have 600 in the entire engine. Plus this machine bill now. So that's $1800 for a clean block that'll likely need honed again and a .010/.010 cast crank, plus boat anchor rv heads and intake. Sound about right? I'm gonna ask him face to face about it when I pick up the motor.
                          If he had just called before honing like we talked about three times over the past year, I probably wouldnt even have blinked. But the fact that what happened wasn't what we agreed on makes me gun shy on the whole thing, and I can't build a motor involving that much eventual coin, when I doubt the foundation. Hopefully there is good financial justification for that seemingly -very- basic block bore job. I almost popped a buddy when he suggested an LS swap, but at least those blocks dont feel like precious metal in a strangers hands...I've always had an old mopar, but darn they cause me the most headaches. Don't know why I can't quit em.
                           
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                          • Rat Bastid

                            Rat Bastid Dunamis Metron

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                            Your machinist was 100% correct on the pistons. The bore size is nominal. The piston has to be smaller than the nominal bore size. The manufacturer makes the piston under nominal bore size for the clearance the piston needs.

                            So your guy was correct. You should never tell your machinist how to do something. If you have to do that, you need a different machinist.

                            BTW, let’s talk about clearance a bit. Let’s say you have a 4 inch bore (nominal) and the bores are finished at 4.0010. Thats .001 over nominal. The pistons show up and they are designed to run at .002 clearance because the piston measures 3.9980. By finishing the bores at 4.0010, you have effectively added 50% percent more clearance. 50% more. In terms of actual numbers .001 doesn’t seem like much until you do the math and realize you added 50% more clearance.

                            Another way to think of it is this. Using the same 4.0000 nominal bore size and the piston shows up and it measures 3.9960 which tells you the manufacturer wants .0040 clearance. To get to 50% more clearance than what the piston guy wants, you’d need to finish the bores at 4.0040 and no one would do that. So in the first example the actual numbers are smaller but the percentages are the same.

                            Your machinist is correct on that.

                            He should have used a torque plate. Most likely you can’t bolt a plate on and not makes the bores too big to save it. See the above discussion on clearance.

                            The good news is millions of times these engines were finished honed without torque plates and they all ran. Better that he used one, but it is what it is.

                            Here’s the thing on torque plates. You can have 2 different torque plates and they will distort the bores differently. The head gasket used under the plate affect distortion. The fasteners change the distortion. The amount of torque on the fasteners changes the distortion.

                            And then you add in the main caps, which does what? Yep, changes the distortion. Now bolt on the engine mounts. Yep. Changes it. I’ve seen blocks where bolting on the bellhousing distorted 7 and 8, with 8 changing more because the fasteners are closer to that bore.

                            Now take all that and add heat to the deal, and the firing cycle. No two blocks will ever change the same under heat and load because they are castings. So they all distort differently with all those other loads added to the block.

                            It’s a wonder they even run at all.

                            I’d be chaffed that they didn’t use a plate, but it’s not the end of the world. The plate just reduces SOME of the influence of the cylinder heads when the engine is at ambient temperature.

                            You can lose your mind trying to get thing “perfect” because there ain’t no perfect in this world.
                             
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                            • mopowers

                              mopowers Well-Known Member

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                              One thing I never got is - isn't actual bearing clearance half of how it is referred to? In other words, when someone says a piston has 0.002" wall clearance, that's just the difference between the bore size and the piston OD, right? So wouldn't the 0.002" actually be 0.001" of clearance around the circumference of the piston? I'm sure there's a good reason for it, but it's always puzzled me none-the-less.
                               
                            • Rat Bastid

                              Rat Bastid Dunamis Metron

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                              Yes, that would be .001 per side if you have .002 clearance on diameter.

                              If you think about it, the piston grows half of what ever it grows on each side. Of course that is considering the piston is made correctly.
                               
                            • 92b

                              92b FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                              I could say that increasing the bore size by .001" is increasing the clearance by 50% and that sounds like alot. I could also say increasing the bore size by 001" on a 4" bore makes the bore .025% larger and that doesn"t sound like much. Math is crazy.
                               
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                              • Rat Bastid

                                Rat Bastid Dunamis Metron

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                                Yes, math is crazy Yang diabolical.
                                 
                              • my68barracuda

                                my68barracuda Well-Known Member

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                                Your motor do it your way, but for me things are perfect when things are done the way that I ask them to be done.
                                And I always tell the machine shop how I want the work to be done. And when I say I tell the MS how I want the work to be done, what I actually do is, ask plenty of questions, dig into the answers so we actually have a discussion of what will be done and how it will be done. If it is a shop I have not worked with I will want to review the equipment and gauging. I always get a written estimate that describes what is to be done and the price and the timeframe.
                                To the OP, you discussed with them, not once, not twice but three times that you wanted the pistons size matched, that you wanted the final hone done with a torque plate and you never agreed to the re sizing of the mains.
                                I would be having a face to face with the MS owner and what I would be expecting is for the MS to replace the block. I would definitely take the work on that replacement block else where.
                                It’s not a question of ‘will the motor run?’ It certainly will. The question is, why do folks do as they want and then expect top dollar payment, especially considering the fact that the OP gave the MS at least three opportunities to explain why a torque plate is not needed and final bore hone does not need to be sized matched to the pistons.
                                 
                                Last edited: Jan 29, 2022
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                                • Ironracer

                                  Ironracer Gearhead

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                                  Cause they're The Best, in my Humble opinion...
                                   
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                                  • Ironracer

                                    Ironracer Gearhead

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                                    I've seen galled pistons after not clearances were not right... burned up, popped ring lands... grrr
                                     
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                                    • RustyRatRod

                                      RustyRatRod I was born on a Monday. Not last Monday. FABO Gold Member

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                                      Oh LAWD! lol
                                       
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