Backyard Engine Builders

mikey56

New member
As mentioned in another post, i'd be interested in finding out about people who tinker with their own stuff in the garage to build their own motor. What do you do? Do you just buy the stuff and slap it in or do you grab the dremel moto-tool and do you own brand of porting and polishing? Do you send your parts out to be machined or do you do a lot yourself? I'm not talking about the commercial engine builders who will sell you a race ready motor, but the true backyard builders who do it for fun....
 
Thats a good question Mikey, I guess that I'm a back yard engine builder but its just to dang cold out there right now ! I'll get back with ya in the spring. lol :D
 

racer47

New member
I haven't built an engine yet, but will soon. I have an engine built by a "Known" builder and I plan to freshen it up during the off season. I bought it used from a guy that said it had 8 races on it. I have ran it another 15 or so. I posted a thread on here asking for clearances and tolerances for the cylinder and rod to crank. Seems as my post was received as I was looking for speed secrets. Hell, Im just looking not to screw it up !! I was pretty disappointed with a couple of responses to my post, but there were also a couple that were helpful. SOOO, this was a lot of words to say.... I will start out by replacing rings and springs and hope I can learn a little along the way. I still don't know how much is too much clearance at the rod and crank or too much clearance in the cylinder, but I am going to make an attempt to freshen it up.
 

fastbraden11

FAST N LOUD
did you post it in the clone forums?...tons of good info in there for the rookie builder
I haven't built an engine yet, but will soon. I have an engine built by a "Known" builder and I plan to freshen it up during the off season. I bought it used from a guy that said it had 8 races on it. I have ran it another 15 or so. I posted a thread on here asking for clearances and tolerances for the cylinder and rod to crank. Seems as my post was received as I was looking for speed secrets. Hell, Im just looking not to screw it up !! I was pretty disappointed with a couple of responses to my post, but there were also a couple that were helpful. SOOO, this was a lot of words to say.... I will start out by replacing rings and springs and hope I can learn a little along the way. I still don't know how much is too much clearance at the rod and crank or too much clearance in the cylinder, but I am going to make an attempt to freshen it up.
 

PD Power

New member
No one can explain, on a forum, what to do to your engine. Whatever anyone says, there is always a lot more.
You likely should go about the business of engine building, backyard, front yard, or garage, with the same sequence as you would, if you wished to become a heart surgeon.
You would not start out by cutting out someone's heart, and trying to figure out how it worked.

1st thing you do is study, then study some more.....as to how engines work. Look up (Google has lots of this stuff) about air and fuel flow, and their relationship.
How do cams do, and how do you make choices between them.

Take a machining class at a local vocational hi-school. That is a basic necessity.
You will need a valve grinder, mill, lathe, geared hone, measuring tools and other "stuff"and plenty of patience.


Engine building is not a hobby.....and a hobby is not engine building. Engine building requires considerable knowledge of the makeup of material, a LOT about
air and fuel flow, and their relationship to compression, bore/stroke ratio's and a ton of other stuff.

This is not "easy" stuff. Well....I've got to go now, cause I need to close a deal on another, larger lathe than I currently use.
Oh yes....did I mention a sizeable investment in tooling? It IS satisfying tho. Go for it!!
 

team25

Member
No one can explain, on a forum, what to do to your engine. Whatever anyone says, there is always a lot more.
You likely should go about the business of engine building, backyard, front yard, or garage, with the same sequence as you would, if you wished to become a heart surgeon.
You would not start out by cutting out someone's heart, and trying to figure out how it worked.

1st thing you do is study, then study some more.....as to how engines work. Look up (Google has lots of this stuff) about air and fuel flow, and their relationship.
How do cams do, and how do you make choices between them.

Take a machining class at a local vocational hi-school. That is a basic necessity.
You will need a valve grinder, mill, lathe, geared hone, measuring tools and other "stuff"and plenty of patience.


Engine building is not a hobby.....and a hobby is not engine building. Engine building requires considerable knowledge of the makeup of material, a LOT about
air and fuel flow, and their relationship to compression, bore/stroke ratio's and a ton of other stuff.

This is not "easy" stuff. Well....I've got to go now, cause I need to close a deal on another, larger lathe than I currently use.
Oh yes....did I mention a sizeable investment in tooling? It IS satisfying tho. Go for it!!

with all this being good info you should always incourage a person to do what thay want never discourage. i am sure some of the big builders didnt have all the tools when they started out but got them as needed if some one has the need to do it they must jump in feet first to feed the need or they cant learn anything as this has been said dont take it the wrong way its just my opinion on the subject
 

alvin l nunley

Premium User
I haven't built an engine yet, but will soon.
That’s the sprite, but do you know what you’re getting yourself into? I never paid anyone to rebuild my Mc’s when I first got started, but I had a lot of V8 engine building experience when I got started in karting so I knew a little about what needed to be done, and the tools to do it. It took me some time to get good at it, but even a blind squirrel finds an acorn in time.
Main thing is; do you have the tools you’ll need?
There are books you can buy to tell you how and what to do, but without the tools, you’re going to be butting your head against a stone wall.
Assuming you have all the tools you’ll need, I think it’s great that you’re going to give it a try, it’s what I did. Good luck.

Comments, compliments, criticisms and questions always welcome.
 

jhucks03

Member
There is a difference between building and assembling. It takes experience. Experience means mistakes and stuff. I'd say dive in with some clones since they are relatively cheap. Past that your gonna be into a lot of machine work.
 

PD Power

New member
with all this being good info you should always incourage a person to do what thay want never discourage. i am sure some of the big builders didnt have all the tools when they started out but got them as needed if some one has the need to do it they must jump in feet first to feed the need or they cant learn anything as this has been said dont take it the wrong way its just my opinion on the subject
Please notice my last sentence....where I mention it IS satisfying....Go for it.
I just think that a person like myself can give the prospective builder a little "map" of the road to being successful.
Hope this helps. ......PD
 

Rickwilson6

New member
engines

Please notice my last sentence....where I mention it IS satisfying....Go for it.
I just think that a person like myself can give the prospective builder a little "map" of the road to being successful.
Hope this helps. ......PD
we have built all our engines with great success but as PD mention mechanical knowledge is a must me and my son are both gm master techs but we don't port our own heads we build the short blocks and either by blueprinted stock heads or for our mods by heads already ported,we believe the head is wher most of your power comes from so we pay someone with the proper tools to do ours
 

mikey56

New member
all good knowledge and advise guys! but i'm not asking for specifics, more just a general question about what little things a backyard builder does....one who can't afford to send the parts out for machining or jsut does it for fun. i know that the right tools and the knowledge to use them is a must, but a lot can be said for the guy that works out of a three drawer craftsman tool box and what he does to get that little extra out of his motor. big horses come with big bucks, but showing a guy or telling a backyard racer the proper way to install a cam or smooth out the flow a little with a simple pass with a dremel, this is what i was thinking. investment in anything takes time unless you jump off the bridge head first, then you start small and work your way up. every engine builder on here did this exact thing....they didn't start out with all the tools and all the knowledge. so, how about it? what do you do with a limited budget, limited tools and no help? simple things like gasket matching to the intake runner so the gasket isn't acting like a restrictor.

we all want to buy the latest and greatest, but for some that race out of the back of a pickup with a 5 gallon air tank, three drawer wal-mart tool box and three spare tires (one of which isn't mounted), they have to start somewhere....how can we (and i'm learning myself!) help them to get more out of thier motor?
 

racer47

New member
Maybe my idea of "Backyard Builder" is different from others. Just to explain where my comments come from .... I see a backyard builder as a guy that can or will replace his own rings, springs, and maybe even hone a cylinder or rod end. I don't see this person as a guy that has the machining tools to bore or deck. Maybe he buys one of the kits and puts it together himself.

I have assembled race winning car engines that run at 6700 RPMs and they have held up well. I had the machine work done to my specs and put it together. So I feel that I am capable of being a "Backyard Builder" for a clone motor. I just need some direction. I was the same way when I started with my first car engine. But luckily I had someone that was willing to show me and teach me.

Yes understanding how an engine works is a big benefit, but the person that I see as a "Backyard Builder" isn't probably ever gonna take a drill to a carb, or port a head. Maybe some will...... I just don't wanna get that far into it. Too easy to buy a good carb from Dover.
 
I order a clone engine, get the machining done at big name shop and then I assemble it very carefully. I send it back to the name shop to have it dyno tuned. Last season we kept up with the front pack at our asphalt oval and took home the class points title. I can't say the engines are national class but for our club they are very competitive. Yes, I still have a lot to learn and secrets are hard to come by but our engines are much better this year than last year. Lets hope the trend continues.
 

alvin l nunley

Premium User
Let me tell you a little story.
I purchased a new Mc91, set the timing and put it on my home built kart with my home made pipe and header. There was a regional race that weekend. I ran Reed Heavy.
I ended up with 2nd place. The guy who won was quite a bit ahead of me, but there was no one even close to me in third place.
In those days fuel was open. Most ran alky as did I, and some used other additives, but I used no additives, just straight alky and Super Klotz.
This showed me that setup, handling and driving are very important if you want to finish well.
Now I know all those little engine building “secrets” you get with a professional engine builders engine are important, they add that little extra when all else is equal, but you can race, and do well, with a home built engine. Assuming you do it right!!
Least I forget; there wasn’t much you could do to a Mc engine that was legal.
Comments, compliments, criticisms and questions always welcome.
 

mikey56

New member
this is what i'm talking about! not the tires, tires, tires.... of whether you should buy the latest and greatest, but just doing your best with what you have and how we can help that guy! well said al!! i feel the same way...i would prefer the win, don't get me wrong! but consistency is better! i've been toying with the idea that i need to check all the intake and exhaust gaskets to make sure they aren't creating a restriction in the flow...simple to do and it could provide a little more power...not much, but a little!! doesn't take a rocket surgeon or a brain scientist to figure out that the smoother the better!

sometimes even ordering a put together motor from say dover isn't in the cards for some. i like to learn and at the same time, i like to help....even if the racer runs dead last, if i can help him finish next to last, then i feel just like the guy that wins....
 

Bonanza

New member
I have assembled race winning car engines that run at 6700 RPMs and they have held up well. I had the machine work done to my specs and put it together.
That is why I buy my engines from Jimbo. (shameless plug here :) ) http://www.fastermotors.net/
I've learned that lesson.
Back in the day I was "saving money" by building my own for a street stock. I'd have the machine work done and assemble in my garage. They would run awsome for a race or two, sometimes a lap or two. When I finally decided to save my pennies and get a engine by a real builder it lasted the entire year and wasnt short on power. I wish any home builder the best but it isn't for me anymore.
 

fastbraden11

FAST N LOUD
x2...............
with all this being good info you should always incourage a person to do what thay want never discourage. i am sure some of the big builders didnt have all the tools when they started out but got them as needed if some one has the need to do it they must jump in feet first to feed the need or they cant learn anything as this has been said dont take it the wrong way its just my opinion on the subject
 

sCREamnClones

New member
Engine building is not a hobby.....and a hobby is not engine building. Engine building requires considerable knowledge of the makeup of material, a LOT about
air and fuel flow, and their relationship to compression, bore/stroke ratio's and a ton of other stuff.

This is not "easy" stuff. Well....I've got to go now, cause I need to close a deal on another, larger lathe than I currently use.
Oh yes....did I mention a sizeable investment in tooling? It IS satisfying tho. Go for it!!
If ur not doing it for 'the money'....it's a 'Hobby'! (What money?) :)
 

paulkish

old fart
Starting out the least expensive thing you can buy is an engine, prepared for you by who ever does the most engines where you race and a clutch. It will eliminate a lot of frustration about what you need to do to get closer to the front.

Every other thing which effects you getting to the front, will cost far more. Things like a chassis, the total cost of seat time for your driver to gain skill, the total amount of time it takes both you and your driver to recognize on track problems and what to do to cure them and your tires and their preparation, far out weight the cost of an engine and clutch.

When your skills both on and off the track improve to a level of understanding and at least semi skill, then look first at doing your clutches and then on to engines. Compared to other things, your engine and clutch, usually only need to be close to others you compete with on a local level.
 

Bumpy

Member
When we started karting last year, I bought a clone because I wasn't up to speed on what was legal and what wasn't and wanted to race - now.
I put a few races on a flathead that I rebuilt just to get seat time for the grandson and I wasn't worried about being fastest.
That said Mikey, I would not hesitate to put my own engine together. Watch your tolereances/clearances, buy a few tools as you go.
I would not recommend you port/polish your own heads unless you have a flowbench.
Slick, big and purdy ain't always fast.

"...some that race out of the back of a pickup...."
Hey! I didn't realize you had seen us at the track. :)
 
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