midman

Babbitt Engine Rebuilder in Pennsylvania Area

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Hey Everyone,

 

Are there any recommendations for a decent Babbitt engine rebuilder in Pennsylvania. I ran my 31 Buick hot and wiped the bearings :-( at a minimum.

I dropped the pan and pulled a cap and sure enough.

I know there are a couple of places in New England and the Mid West but I'd like to be within reasonable driving distance if at all possible. I am in South Central Pennsylvania.

 

Any leads would be appreciated.

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There is a company in Cazenovia NY called Reeve enterprises . They rebuild any engine and do all their own babbitt work. They rebuilt my Franklin engine.Nice people to deal with. 315 655 8812   

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Automotive Restorations, Rte 22 West, Lebanon, New Jersey does all manner of vintage and classic engines.   908-236-6400, ask for Steve Babinsky.

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Although not in Pennsylvania, Hart's in not too far away in Cecil, Ohio and does a great job. Their prices are very competitive and their turn around time is relatively fast. They are a good, professional shop with a great reputation:

 

http://www.hartsmachineservice.com/home.html

 

Another possibility is Schalwms in Pennsylvania. I know they specialize in Model T/A Fords, but they might also do other engines. Again, a great shop with a great reputation. If they can not help you, they might be able to refer you to someone in PA.

 

http://www.schwalms.com/

Edited by motoringicons (see edit history)

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I talked to most of the recommended shops. I decided to go with Reeve Enterprises in NY. They are 4 hours away but they seemed very knowledgeable and were OK with just doing the babbit and head work. They also walked me through pressure testing my block to check for any cracks.

 

I'll post how it all goes.

thanks for the help.

Chuck

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On ‎4‎/‎23‎/‎2017 at 5:59 PM, 29 franklin said:

Glad you went with Patrick and his Dad . You will not be disappointed. 

 

 

I'll second that. I've used Reeve's shop for 20 years. Patrick and Mike have decades of experience and all the equipment to completely rebuild any engine - gas or diesel, antique or new, street, race, stationary, or marine. Everything but aircraft.

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FAILED BABBIT CONNECTING ROD BEARINGS:

 

First question - bad news - when rod bearings fail, they usually damage the crankshaft.  Have you resolved the condition of your crankshaft journals?

 

I recommend using a "poured babbit" style connecting rod bearing if you have access to a time machine, to insure your long-stroke engine will be limited to driving with the engine speeds consistent with the roads of the era when your car was in service.

 

For an interesting article on what happens to cars equipped with poured babbit bearings when driven on later roads in later driving conditions,  I recommend researching what happened when the first stretches of the PENNSYLVANIA TURNPIKE opened in the late 1930's.  Hint - tow trucks got a lot of business those first few days...!

 

Let me qualify the above - perhaps your car is a "show-car".  In that event,  it need only run far enough from its trailer to where it will be parked for viewing, and, perhaps, in the case of the PEBBLE BEACH event, a few miles of driving on two-lane curved roads at very modest speeds.    "Poured babbit" rod bearings would be appropriate if you can limit your use for that purpose.

 

Should you want to actually drive your pre-World War II "long stroke" style motor on modern roads,  even at speeds modest by today's standards......   I recommend  "insert type" connecting rod bearings  (that came into common use in the mid 1930's. )

 

When I was a kid in the early 1950's....we used to go 'hunting" in wrecking yards for then current era wrecked Buicks (to get their connecting rods)   ,  (Buick was one of the last hold-outs - I believe 1952 was their first year for "inserts"  - so 'insert" style connecting rods were popular for those of us with older Buicks who wanted to go fast, and not have to hitch-hike home..;.....!)

 

 

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Update on my engine rebuild:

 

Reeves found a small crack in the block. He said it did not show up under pressure until he hit 70 psi. He said it would "probably" be OK. I told him to have it repaired. $$$

 

As suggested earlier he is going to machine the rods for insert bearings. The crank is OK, cam is OK.

 

Getting the cam bearings redone.

 

Need oversized pistons. I've been looking for more than a 2 months, nothing so I have to get them made. $$$$$

 

Head is good so just getting redone and new seats installed.

 

When Reeves is done I am going to do the final assembly.

 

I'll post the assembly as I go.

 

 

 

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As long as you're up , talk to Arias or Ross and see if you can get your compression ratio up to 7.00 : 1 , or even 7.50 : 1. Since you MUST go the new piston & ring route , balance and blueprint , cc it , and you will enjoy it so much that you will rationalize the entire event to have been a blessing ! And thank you for the update. Along with the other guys and gals , and as a driver of ancient iron , I have been interested to see how you are getting on. Very best of luck with your rebuild !   - Carl

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Aries and Ross are not that expensive, you get Pistons, ri Gus, and pins all for about 125 per piston. If a very fair price.

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Reeves orders Ross pistons for me. Both the Aries and the Ross are very strong and well made, but the Aries are much more expensive.

 

Paul

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You guys with much more experience than I have in these matters : what would be an ideal and feasible compression ratio ? In order to match the engine to run far better and more efficiently on modern 87 octane , could the piston tops be contoured to go to 8 or 8.5 ? This is why I suggested consulting with the manufacturers , who have vast engineering knowledge. Talking to the Stutz Tech Advisor at Hershey in 2013 , he said they bring Stutz up to 7 or 7.5. In the case of this '31 Bu' , with new high quality pistons and insert bearings , a significant boost in compression seems to be an opportunity not to be wasted. Naturally , cam profile is a huge factor , as compression pressure is not the same as compression ratio. This will still be a relatively slow turning engine , and would not have the duration and overlap , nor scavenging & volumetric efficiency characteristics of a modern high revving mill. I wish I could get my old Cadillacs up from 4.5 and 4.7.   - Carl

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On 8/5/2017 at 9:35 AM, midman said:

 

Reeves found a small crack in the block. He said it did not show up under pressure until he hit 70 psi. He said it would "probably" be OK. I told him to have it repaired. $$$

Need oversized pistons. I've been looking for more than a 2 months, nothing so I have to get them made. $$$$$

 

Where is the crack?

Nobody suggested sleeving and standard pistons rather than spending a fortune for custom pistons?

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The cylinders need to be bored, and I cannot find any pistons for this motor, standard or otherwise. If we could have found some standards than sleeving probably might have been the choice. So pistons need to be made anyway.

 

I hadn't thought about upping the compression ratio. I'll talk to them about it on Monday if it is not too late.

 

I am getting it balanced.

 

Thanks for the feedback.

 

Chuck

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Chuck , the first thing you will need to know is the combustion chamber volume , cc's. I do hope it is not too late to take advantage of an opportunity you are paying for anyway. Who are you having make the new pistons ?  I called Arias , and spoke with Steve Montrelli , who has been with Arias for going on 40 years now. He is one of the great old school guys , even older than I am. He is at extension 44 , 310-532-9737 for the record , and benefit of anyone needing the service of this esteemed company. See if you can take a little extra time in order to make the most of your situation. Flat top ? Dome ? Dish ? Dimples ? Hey ! You are getting FORGED Pistons ! Break out the clay !   - Carl 

 

P.S. : Also for the record , perhaps an overbearing spellcheck is trying to turn the name of Arias into some sign of the Zodiac. And I don't think it is Leo , or Capricorn. No it is not a goat. Ram , niether.  - CC

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On ‎4‎/‎30‎/‎2017 at 11:05 AM, SaddleRider said:

FAILED BABBIT CONNECTING ROD BEARINGS:

 

First question - bad news - when rod bearings fail, they usually damage the crankshaft.  Have you resolved the condition of your crankshaft journals?

 

I recommend using a "poured babbit" style connecting rod bearing if you have access to a time machine, to insure your long-stroke engine will be limited to driving with the engine speeds consistent with the roads of the era when your car was in service.

 

For an interesting article on what happens to cars equipped with poured babbit bearings when driven on later roads in later driving conditions,  I recommend researching what happened when the first stretches of the PENNSYLVANIA TURNPIKE opened in the late 1930's.  Hint - tow trucks got a lot of business those first few days...!

 

Let me qualify the above - perhaps your car is a "show-car".  In that event,  it need only run far enough from its trailer to where it will be parked for viewing, and, perhaps, in the case of the PEBBLE BEACH event, a few miles of driving on two-lane curved roads at very modest speeds.    "Poured babbit" rod bearings would be appropriate if you can limit your use for that purpose.

 

Should you want to actually drive your pre-World War II "long stroke" style motor on modern roads,  even at speeds modest by today's standards......   I recommend  "insert type" connecting rod bearings  (that came into common use in the mid 1930's. )

 

When I was a kid in the early 1950's....we used to go 'hunting" in wrecking yards for then current era wrecked Buicks (to get their connecting rods)   ,  (Buick was one of the last hold-outs - I believe 1952 was their first year for "inserts"  - so 'insert" style connecting rods were popular for those of us with older Buicks who wanted to go fast, and not have to hitch-hike home..;.....!)

 

 

I find this post not to be in the same line with Reality. From the first beginning of racing, all cars had Babbitt bearings, on up into the   1950's never had trouble with Babbitt.

There is a Guy on the Ford Barn that Posts, he runs the salt flats with a Model A , I think his last run was 196 MPH, and he has always run on Babbitt.

My Babbitt shop has Spun poured, Jig Poured, and machined over 33,000 Model T Rods, 38,000 Model A Rods, and Thousandths, and Thousandths of all other makes, Cars, and Tractors.

 

In 53 years this year, we have NEVER got a bearing back.

When you have a bearing, where the Babbitt falls out, it just about always bad workmanship.

 

Inserts in main bearings started in the 1920's, into the 1950's.  They were made of solid Babbitt, Bronze, steel, and light tin, such as Chevys starting in 1932. All the medal shell are first lined with Babbitt, roughed out,  grooves put in, if any, and finished to semi, that is .070-00 thousandths under your shaft size.  Then sent to the machine shop for them to finish Align Boring, or if the block was shipped in, we do it.

 

Herm.

 

KohnkeRebabbittingService.com

Buick Bearings, 1930 003.jpg

Buick Bearings, 1930 008.jpg

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Buick Bearings, 1930 016.jpg

Buick Bearings, 1930 017.jpg

Buick Bearings, 1930 017.jpg

Buick Bearings, 1930 018.jpg

Buick Bearings, 1930 019.jpg

Edited by herm111 (see edit history)
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On ‎8‎/‎11‎/‎2017 at 11:13 AM, C Carl said:

. This will still be a relatively slow turning engine ........ modern high revving mill...

 

You have it backwards.    Modern engines at any given speed spin far slower, due to their much "higher" ( lower numerically) gearing.

 

Even as later as the late 1930's (such as is the case with my own "collector car")   rear axle gear ratios of 4.5 or "lower" (meaning higher numerically)  were common.  

 

Modern cars have final drive ratios of about half that.    

 

For example,   even at the very slow  ( by today's standards...! )  highway speed of 60 mph,   if  it still had "stock" gearing,  my 'collector car" motor, including all the parts attached to it, would be thrashing around at about ONE THOUSAND RPM FASTER than my modern cars.

 

The "longer stroke" motors of the pre-war era put MUCH more stress on their crank pins and rod bearings at any given motor rpm than modern "short stroke" practice.

 

If you want to keep a typical  pre-war car "slow turning",   as slow as a modern car doing 60 mph,   then you wont be able to take it over 35 mph.  That's going to make you a hazard even on city streets these days.

 

 

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On ‎9‎/‎12‎/‎2017 at 8:43 PM, herm111 said:

I find this post not to be in the same line with Reality. From the first beginning of racing, all cars had Babbitt bearings, on up into the   1950's never had trouble with Babbitt.

 

Looks like this 'herm" does very fine work.    Of course he is correct - the practice of "poured Babbitt" worked well within the  reality / constraints of earlier eras. As I suggested earlier,   if you are going to run your collector car within the limitations of the driving speeds of earlier eras.....,   the poured Babbitt insert concept will work just fine. ( for a while...!).

 

He is in error tho, in his stating that prior to the 1950's there was no trouble with the poured babbit concept.

 

By the early 1930's,  vastly improved roads enabled people to start driving much further, at much higher speeds.   Complicated by the horrid shock-loads of the long-stroke motors of the era,  failed rod-bearings (often resulting in catastrophic engine break up)  became common.  So common the phenomena of con rod bearing failure appears in American literature - read Steinbeck's novels describing automobiles of his era.   I respectfully suggest the  "reality" of this "herm" may support his shop practices,  but is far different than what was experienced in the real world.

 

I have some background in how the Packard Company, in the early 1930's TRIED to make the poured babbit rod bearing concept work in the new environment of much faster driving.   They failed.   As a side note, their unsuccessful attempts included full-flow oil filtering and cooling ( great idea - particularly helpful in making any motor last longer)  and finned "caps" on the connecting rods themselves.  Another good idea to dissipate heat from higher speed operation.   Trouble was,  it didn't stop poured Babbitt bearing failure when cars were driven at the higher road speeds.

 

Packard pioneered with Federal Mogul the idea of the so called "precision steel backed insert".  In late 1934,  Packard demonstrated the dramatic superiority of the then new "precision steel backed insert" by running its smallest engine available for the 1935 model year,  WIDE OPEN for 25,000 miles.   My recollection of reports at the time, was the average speed of this 1935 Packard Standard Eight was over 90 mph.  

 

Packard noted that upon disassembly at the end of that "run",  its engineers concluded "the motor could have been re-assembled and run the test again".

 

Again, I cannot fault a restoration shop for its recognition that the typical pre-war collector car will never see sustained driving at modern speeds. SO no reason to go to the extra expense and effort of up-dating connecting rods to take "modern"  (meaning starting with 1935) precision inserts.

 

Let me also note that if the "poured Babbitt" contains appropriate amounts of either copper and/or silver,  they will be more durable, superior to the way they typically did it in earlier times ( and, regretably, the way some shops still do it today).

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, SaddleRider said:

 

You have it backwards.    

 

 

 

I have nothing of the kind. The technical term for the automobile engines developed for use after WW2 is aptly : "The Modern High-Speed Internal Combustion Engine". Able to be so by means of short stroke , low reciprocating mass , and sophisticated highly evolved engineering.

 

Now look man : As you well know , the old long strokers in stock form , used as intended , operated over a much narrower and slower RPM range. They are relatively slow turning engines by definition and operation. Post #15 above still stands as accurate. Yes , my modern engines are loafing on down the line at our domestic legal max freeway speeds. However , my mid '20s engines would be turning less revs if I was nuts enough to try to push them that insanely hard. They would have thrown rod and self destructed trying , and would be turning zero at 75 mph. However , my current very fastest cars were designed to be able to scoot along the Autobahns at twice our legal max speed limits. They easily sustain vastly more rev's maintaning design high speed cruise (say 130 mph), than their ancestors do at design high speed cruise , say 40 - 45 mph. Oh yeah ! And they handle and brake better at 150 than the oldies do at 35.

 

Hey ! That gives me an idea ! A public challenge : Let's run our respective V-12 cars title for title ! Check ? No , Daddy - O ! Check Mate ! To quote a line out of "Little Deuce Coupe"  :  "You don't know what I got"........................... Come  ON  !!!!   - Cadillac Carl 

 

P.S. I always enjoy your postings. Especially your high speed exploits in old iron. You are extremely lucky to have been born early enough to purchase these crates for middle class (or even high school kid) prices. You sit high in the list of the top ten forum guys I would like to by a beer for and enjoy your tales of old time antics !

 

P.P.S. How did O.P. get on with the rebuild ?

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I am still waiting to get the motor back. They sent the block out to have the crack repaired. Waiting for that to come back and for the pistons to arrive. After that it will get final machining done and I'll bring it back to my shop for final assembly. Reeves is saying end of October. I'll post the assembly here as I go once I have it back.

 

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4 hours ago, SaddleRider said:

 

Looks like this 'herm" does very fine work.    Of course he is correct - the practice of "poured Babbitt" worked well within the  reality / constraints of earlier eras. As I suggested earlier,   if you are going to run your collector car within the limitations of the driving speeds of earlier eras.....,   the poured Babbitt insert concept will work just fine. ( for a while...!).

 

He is in error tho, in his stating that prior to the 1950's there was no trouble with the poured babbit concept.

 

By the early 1930's,  vastly improved roads enabled people to start driving much further, at much higher speeds.   Complicated by the horrid shock-loads of the long-stroke motors of the era,  failed rod-bearings (often resulting in catastrophic engine break up)  became common.  So common the phenomena of con rod bearing failure appears in American literature - read Steinbeck's novels describing automobiles of his era.   I respectfully suggest the  "reality" of this "herm" may support his shop practices,  but is far different than what was experienced in the real world.

 

I have some background in how the Packard Company, in the early 1930's TRIED to make the poured babbit rod bearing concept work in the new environment of much faster driving.   They failed.   As a side note, their unsuccessful attempts included full-flow oil filtering and cooling ( great idea - particularly helpful in making any motor last longer)  and finned "caps" on the connecting rods themselves.  Another good idea to dissipate heat from higher speed operation.   Trouble was,  it didn't stop poured Babbitt bearing failure when cars were driven at the higher road speeds.

 

Packard pioneered with Federal Mogul the idea of the so called "precision steel backed insert".  In late 1934,  Packard demonstrated the dramatic superiority of the then new "precision steel backed insert" by running its smallest engine available for the 1935 model year,  WIDE OPEN for 25,000 miles.   My recollection of reports at the time, was the average speed of this 1935 Packard Standard Eight was over 90 mph.  

 

Packard noted that upon disassembly at the end of that "run",  its engineers concluded "the motor could have been re-assembled and run the test again".

 

Again, I cannot fault a restoration shop for its recognition that the typical pre-war collector car will never see sustained driving at modern speeds. SO no reason to go to the extra expense and effort of up-dating connecting rods to take "modern"  (meaning starting with 1935) precision inserts.

 

Let me also note that if the "poured Babbitt" contains appropriate amounts of either copper and/or silver,  they will be more durable, superior to the way they typically did it in earlier times ( and, regretably, the way some shops still do it today).

 

 

 

 

Most car builders used Grade #11 Babbitt bearings, as any Babbitt that was ever  made is still available today. Mr. SaddleRider, I have no problem with your story, but you left out many pertinent facts.

 

1. Federal-Mogul made bearings for most engines, as did the largest Clawson & Bals.  In the time frame in which you are talking about, Federal-Mogul was lining their bearings with lead Babbitt, especially the Rebabbitting  department of Federal-Mogul.  in about 1939 through the war years, most bearing companies used lead because the Government had all the tin.  So now, when factory bearings were replaced with Lead Babbitt,  could not take the RPM's, as Tin could.

 

So you see, that single thing, along with some shops, not knowing how to  pour Babbitt, and make it stick for the life of the motor has given a Babbitt a bad RAP.

 

There are also many shops that don't know how the regrind a center line on a crank, or they will have a .001-50 thousandths tapered Journal, or Pin in a new crank Grind. Many don't know how to get a High finish on a crank, worthy of good bearings. If you can go length way on a pin, with your finger nail, and can feel anything, it is not good enough!

 

I could write a book here, but my fabulous two finger typing has come to need a rest. Time to check to see if the girl Friend has got the Beans on.

 

Herm.  KohnkeRebabbittingService.com 

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