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Affordable Engine-Building Tools

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Pro Magnetic Deck Bridge
What it Does:
Provides a solid base from which to mount a dial indicator or dial calipers to check the travel of a piston in its bore. Perfect for checking piston deck height and rock, and also handy (along with a degree wheel) for finding true TDC when degreeing a cam.
Powerhouse Part Number:
POW101315
The Price:
$49; There's also a standard $19 bridge (POW101310), but it's not magnetic
Extra Stuff You'll Need:
At least one dial indicator, but it'll mount as many as three
How to Use It:
With the cylinder head removed, mount the bridge to the deck to span one of the cylinders. A dial indicator slips into any of the three holes in the bridge and is secured lightly with a thumbscrew. The dial indicator is generally placed to contact the piston inline with the piston pin, though two indicators may be used to check piston rock from top to bottom. To determine piston deck height, zero the dial indicator on the block deck, then move it onto the piston and read how far the needle travels counterclockwise to see how far below the deck height the top of the piston sits; the needle will travel clockwise if the piston is above the deck.

Ring Endgap Filer
What it Does:
Makes quick work of filing rings to set the endgaps, and makes the ends square with more accuracy than a file
Powerhouse Part Number:
POW105050
The Price:
$65-a bit cheaper than the Powerhouse Ringmaster Filing Jig (POW105080) we showed you in the Sep. '98 issue ("Ring Filing How-To")
Extra Stuff You'll Need:
A tiny Allen wrench is needed to assemble the filer. Replacement carbide wheels (POW105055) are available for $14.95, but you'll probably never need one. A blade-type feeler gauge will be required.
How to Use It:
Learn the optimum ring-endgap from your engine builder or piston/ring manufacturer. To make sure the gaps are within spec, put a ring in the cylinder and use an upside-down piston to square it about a half inch below the deck. Powerhouse also makes eight sizes of piston-ring squaring tools if you want to spend $24 on one. Next, use a feeler gauge to judge the endgap. If it's too big, the ends of the ring can be carefully filed with the Powerhouse tool clamped into a vise or bolted to a workbench. Go slow as the carbide wheel works quickly, and recheck the gap until it's right. Keep each ring matched with the cylinder it was checked in.

2- to 3-Inch Outside Micrometer
What it Does:
Measures the outside size of stuff like crank journals
Powerhouse Part Number:
Tons of mics are available, but we chose the 2- to 3-inch version from the least expensive line-it's POW151003
The Price:
$32
Extra Stuff You'll Need:
You may want other sizes or quality levels-Powerhouse has anything you need. Even mic stands are offered.
How to Use It:
Good question! Using a mic takes a lot of practice to develop the right feel for accurate measurement. A 2-inch standard for calibrating the mic was included, and it can be used to develop that feel since it's a known size. The photos show mic-reading basics.

Pro Connecting Rod Vise
What it Does:
Clamps up to two connecting rods at once without nicking or galling like regular vise jaws. Makes it easier to remove rod caps on freshly machined rods or to torque caps in place with the rods out of the engine.
Powerhouse Part Number:
POW351180
The Price:
$129
Extra Stuff You'll Need:
A regular vise, preferably with soft jaws. You can also bolt the rod vise to a solid work surface. An Allen wrench is needed to set the opening size of the jaws.
How to Use It:
Adjust the jaw opening with the Allen screw on the underside of the top jaw (arrow) so that the vise firmly grips your rods without chewing up the vise jaws. Once it's set, the quick release arm is used to get rods in and out fast.

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