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How do you remove the front shocks....


Lebowski
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The breaking it off idea didn't work because I don't have a deep set 15mm socket. There's probably not enough room to bend it much anyway. There has a be a better way to remove the front shocks. Do mechanics in dealerships use visegrips on the top of the shock to hold the shaft so it won't turn or do they have a special tool? :confused:

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Guest Jim_Edwards

A deep socket and an impact wrench will typically spin the nut faster than shaft will spin. Just removed shocks that have been on a vehicle for probably 25 years that way. Took about one minute per side. One of the best tools anyone will ever invest in is a 24V battery powered impact wrench.

Of course there is a tool made to hold the flat on the shaft while turning the nut with an open end wrench. Works but not very efficiently. Especially if the shock mounting is somewhat below the opening in the upper control arm.

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invest in is a 24V battery powered impact wrench.

I looked for them on Ebay and the one I looked at was $150 plus $30 for shipping which is a little more than I want to spend for something that I will rarely use.

My neighbor suggested not using the ramps I used today but instead jack it up by the frame which would extend the coil springs and maybe I could fit the vicegrips between the coils and hold the shaft in place that way. I also found several videos on YouTube showing how to replace shocks.

I'm going to give it another try tomorrow. If anyone else has any suggestions feel free to pass them along....

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There is a special and inexpensive tool set available at most auto parts stores for this job. A deep socket drops over the shaft end with a hex end for an open-end wrench. The top of the socket is open to receive a second part of the tool that holds the shaft from turning. Makes the job very easy. My particular tool set is K-D.

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There is a special and inexpensive tool set available at most auto parts stores for this job. A deep socket drops over the shaft end with a hex end for an open-end wrench. The top of the socket is open to receive a second part of the tool that holds the shaft from turning. Makes the job very easy. My particular tool set is K-D.

That sounds like what I need. What is it called-a shock absorber removal tool? I'll check the web sites of a couple of auto parts stores and see if they have it. Thanks....

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There is another, one-piece tool which I've used with good results. It's kind of like an offset wrench, but on the end where the wrench would be, there's a bent shaft which is attached to a flat plate of metal. In the plate of metal, there are three different holes. One is the rectangle with rounded ends which will probably work on many different brands of shocks. Just slide the plate onto the top of the shock absorber shaft and then you have a no-slip way to keep the shaft stationary as you use either an open end wrench OR a flat ratchet to get the shock abs nut(s) (some use a second nut to lock the first one, rather than a "pal nut") loose. Works quite well!

On the other end of the tool, there's a pivoting sleeve which is treaded internally, but smooth on the outside. You can use this to snake through any holes where you need to help guide the shock absorber's shaft through to get it to where you can put the upper bushings on it.

Now, if you had access to an air ratchet and a stout compressed air supply, then you could do what the repair shops do and use an impact on the upper nut(s). The combined hammering action of the ratchet plus the speed the wrench will turn the nut, eventually, it'll free the nut and then off it'll come.

I've also used vice grips in the past, but you have to ensure that you get them on squarely, then hope you can turn it so it'll contact a part of the vehicle's body as you turn the nut to remove it.

That little tool I described was recommended to me years ago, by some friends. I found one and it's saved many "words" as I also like to do shock absorbers (considering that I have KONIs on one of my cars, which will need some adjustment from time to time) myself.

.======

/

/

/

_______/

My sketch didn't turn out as drawn, so if you string it out so that the slashes angle upward, then attach the ".======" on their upper end (the hinge and internally threaded sleeve), you might get an idea of what it'll look like.

Regards,

NTX5467

Edited by NTX5467 (see edit history)
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The bending the shock trick is the easiest. I've done it countless number of times. Make sure you move the extension very fast. I also put a 3/8 breaker bar on the extension to prevent it from rotating. Some times the stud will break off flush with the top of the nut. The nut will usually spin off with an impact if that happens. When you bend the metal quickly it creates heat. The metal "work hardens" and breaks. The same process works with a paper clip. A 15mm deep socket is a good investment. You can use it for many repair jobs on this car. A 12 inch extension worked best for me. Good luck.

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Last night I looked at several videos on YouTube that covered removing front shocks and I noticed one thing that they all had in common-they all took the front wheel off and worked through the wheel well. I tried that this morning and discovered that it was a lot easier accessing the top of the shock that way instead of opening the hood and bending over the fender. Anyway, I replaced both front shocks this morning in a couple of hours using vise grips to keep the shaft from turning and I thank everyone for their responses....

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To do the job quickly and efficiently I would do as Jim Edwards says and use a 1/2" impact with a deep socket. If for some reason the nut spins at the same rate as the shaft and won't come off don't waste any more time and get your nut splitter on there and break that nut in two. Even with a nasty one that has to be split you should be spending no more than eight minutes per shock to change even without a lift.

Don

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I don't have an impact wrench and I don't know what a nut splitter is. You need to remember that not everyone on this site has every tool there is and also may not be an expert mechanic. I'm happy that I got the job done successfully and I don't really care if it took me an hour for each shock....

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I don't have an impact wrench and I don't know what a nut splitter is. You need to remember that not everyone on this site has every tool there is and also may not be an expert mechanic. I'm happy that I got the job done successfully and I don't really care if it took me an hour for each shock....

_________________________________________________________________

You asked the question " How to Do it? " and I gave the answer. Sorry if you didn't like the answer. I will give some advise though and you need to remember; If your not familiar with doing a job please consult your service manual beforehand. It's like going on a trip somewhere you've never been without a map to guide you.

D.

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you should be spending no more than eight minutes per shock to change even without a lift.

I've got $1000 that says you can't replace a shock on my Buick in 8 minutes. That would involve the entire job which would include jacking up the car, removing the (locking) wheel cover, lug nuts and wheel, removing the old shock, installing the new one, replacing the wheel, tightening the lug nuts, replacing the wheel cover, and lowering the car off the jack. Let me know.... :rolleyes:

Edited by Lebowski (see edit history)
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Guest Jim_Edwards
I've got $1000 that says you can't replace a shock on my Buick in 8 minutes. That would involve the entire job which would include jacking up the car, removing the (locking) wheel cover, lug nuts and wheel, removing the old shock, installing the new one, replacing the wheel, tightening the lug nuts, replacing the wheel cover, and lowering the car off the jack. Let me know.... :rolleyes:

Believe it or not with a 1/2 drive impact you can remove the wheels and get them back on very fast. Eight minutes might be a bit optimistic, but it is safe to say it can be done in 12-15 minutes per side with the proper tools at hand.

Virtually everyone in this hobby has learned by experience and often doing things the hard way. We try our best to pass on what we have learned in order to keep others from having to learn the hard way. You and anyone else that jumps in trying to learn are to be lauded, as the more you learn about your vehicle the more you will enjoy having it. (accepting frustrations at time that will cause utterances of language nasty enough to take paint off)

My personal advice to anyone getting into the hobby is the first thing you do after buying your beauty is to buy all the factory shop manuals and other reference materials you can find. Invest in tools. Some of us over the years have acquired many thousands of dollars worth of tools, some of which we may only use once every five years. It doesn't cost an arm and a leg to get a reasonably good set of 3/8 drive sockets (both regular and deep), a set of extensions, swivel couplings, common open end wrenches, combination wrenches, and box wrenches to complement the typical screw driver set and a set of pliers. And as I mentioned before a 1/2 drive impact wrench. I recommend both cordless and pneumatic but not everyone can afford also buying a compressor so focus on the cordless. If for no other reason to throw in the trunk to help with changing a flat on road.

If into the hobby takes you on weekend trips to car shows, be smart and put together what you need to get you going if something minor fails and stick those items in the trunk. Being able to deal with minor problems yourself is a lot better than being stranded on the side of the road awaiting a tow truck on a Sunday afternoon when no shops are open anywhere.

Edited by Jim_Edwards (see edit history)
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I have a full set of Craftsman hand tools which include 3 sizes of sockets plus open end and box wrenches.

If someone has one of those GM labor rate manuals I'd be interested to know what it says about how long it should take to replace the front shocks on an '86 Regal....

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Guest Jim_Edwards
I have a full set of Craftsman hand tools which include 3 sizes of sockets plus open end and box wrenches.

If someone has one of those GM labor rate manuals I'd be interested to know what it says about how long it should take to replace the front shocks on an '86 Regal....

Those rate manuals are not really an accurate indication of how long it actually takes to perform a given repair. Built into them are such things as necessary trips to the tool crib and parts counter, etc. No one is ever billed actual repair time in a dealership. Additionally in a dealer shop one would not remove the wheels as the car would be on a lift making wheel removal unnecessary.

Edited by Jim_Edwards (see edit history)
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I've got $1000 that says you can't replace a shock on my Buick in 8 minutes. That would involve the entire job which would include jacking up the car, removing the (locking) wheel cover, lug nuts and wheel, removing the old shock, installing the new one, replacing the wheel, tightening the lug nuts, replacing the wheel cover, and lowering the car off the jack. Let me know.... :rolleyes:

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Although I really don't want to go to Kentucky at this time, a $1,000 bucks might get me there and back just about even. Beating flat rate is a fun challenge. Forty years ago before I went to work for a auto manufacturer in engineering I was working as a line mechanic for a VW dealer. A fellow tech bet me $100 bucks I couldn't pull a 1200 engine in less than fifteen minutes with the car racked and ready to start. I had that engine on the floor in 7 1/2 minutes, sounds incredible, but those cars were made for total serviceability.

Getting back to Jims comment about flat rate times. I have performed many time study operations as a tech and as a person conducting the test ( over thirty years) and we never allowed time for trips to the parts dept. Everything was always laid out and ready to go with all parts and proper equipment. The stop watch was only on just the job. One thing though, no one could use their own special tools, and sometimes on certain jobs the use of air tools was forbidden. Many times we had a full video crew filming the operations for service training and for warranty service campaigns/ recalls. I'm glad I'm retired now, but I must say those thirty five years working for that company went fast, sometimes it seemed like I was retired all along for most of the time it was good times.

Don

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I've R&R'd the front and rear shocks on my '77 Camaro many times over the years. With adjustable KONIs, you get used to doing that every so often. I do jack the front end up and usually take the front tires off for ease of getting to the upper stud nuts, but sometimes not. The tire usually drops down enough for decent accessibility.

8 minutes? 15 minutes? If I'm in a good mood, it doesn't take very long for each side, but with the advent of gas-charged shocks, it can take a little longer for the final attachment of the lower mount to the lower control arm. End result . . . I'm doing it for recreation and the enjoyment of doing it. Knowing that it'll make the car better to drive, is the real pay-off to me. On other things, which I might do after work, I found that allowing one evening per flat rate hour can be a good estimate, so that's what I plan for.

With all due respect, I never did like mechanics who broke stuff they were taking off just so they could save a little time, rather than "doing it right" (per accepted labor procedures). Using an air ratchet with socket extensions to get to the upper nut on the shock's upper stud is acceptable, though, but was observed to work variably well, although it did work.

I looked in my Chilton's Crash Parts Manual, at front shock absorber "time" on a '70 Chevelle, which would be the same mounting method as the Regal. The time listed was .4hrs per shock, which would be 24 minutes/side . . . per factory replacement procedures. I suspect this is "customer pay" or "Chilton" time rather than "warranty time". Over the years, it's been observed that some jobs will pay more than enough time to do them, whereas others pay "even" or "cut-rate" times, but in the grand scheme of things, everything usually evens out.

As stated, "time" is for just the labor operation itself, with all parts and tools ready to go and the vehicle in the mechanic's stall. GM used to also pay .1hr to pull the vehicle into the stall from the parking lot, warranty time, but few techs seemed to want to flag that particular labor op.

One thing which rankled the Ford techs several years ago was that Ford suddenly (seemingly arbitrarily) decreased labor times by about 20%. As this information is now on CD or uses Internet-based sources, there was no paper books to look at for comparison. Seems that they also deleted some labor steps in the process, too, which are now also Internet-based sources.

Used to be that customer-pay time (i.e., Chilton time) was 20% more than what warranty time was. That'd make the 24 minutes/side down to about 19 minutes/side for the front shock R&Rs.

Enjoy!

NTX5467

Edited by NTX5467 (see edit history)
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Guest Jim_Edwards
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Although I really don't want to go to Kentucky at this time, a $1,000 bucks might get me there and back just about even. Beating flat rate is a fun challenge. Forty years ago before I went to work for a auto manufacturer in engineering I was working as a line mechanic for a VW dealer. A fellow tech bet me $100 bucks I couldn't pull a 1200 engine in less than fifteen minutes with the car racked and ready to start. I had that engine on the floor in 7 1/2 minutes, sounds incredible, but those cars were made for total serviceability.

Getting back to Jims comment about flat rate times. I have performed many time study operations as a tech and as a person conducting the test ( over thirty years) and we never allowed time for trips to the parts dept. Everything was always laid out and ready to go with all parts and proper equipment. The stop watch was only on just the job. One thing though, no one could use their own special tools, and sometimes on certain jobs the use of air tools was forbidden. Many times we had a full video crew filming the operations for service training and for warranty service campaigns/ recalls. I'm glad I'm retired now, but I must say those thirty five years working for that company went fast, sometimes it seemed like I was retired all along for most of the time it was good times.

Don

I've never seen a dealership where parts were laid out and ready, and I candidly doubt you have either except for ideal time test conditions considering the typical car hits the mechanic's bay with nothing more to go on than a gripe sheet leaving the mechanic to figure out what is wrong and subsequently pulling the parts from the parts department or having to work on some other vehicle until parts arrived. I candidly would like to see a service writer that is 100% dead on with what is needed to be done to a car. I suspect what you have seen over thirty years is dealers paying techs/mechanics by the book time for the job and charging customers on an hourly rate times actual mechanic hours logged.

Edited by Jim_Edwards (see edit history)
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I've never seen a dealership where parts were laid out and ready, and I candidly doubt you have either except for ideal time test conditions considering the typical car hits the mechanic's bay with nothing more to go on than a gripe sheet leaving the mechanic to figure out what is wrong and subsequently pulling the parts from the parts department or having to work on some other vehicle until parts arrived. I candidly would like to see a service writer that is 100% dead on with what is needed to be done to a car. I suspect what you have seen over thirty years is dealers paying techs/mechanics by the book time for the job and charging customers on an hourly rate times actual mechanic hours logged.

_________________________________________________________________

I agree Jim, especially about the service writer. The best writers are guys who because of age, or physical condition were once tech's themselves. Same goes for service managers and teachers. Because I got out from the retail end of the game now forty plus years ago I always thought the best way to get a problem solved with the customers car was the interaction between the tech and the customer. The writers with no knowledge of cars just got in the way.

Don

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With all due respect to NTX5467, I live in Illinois with snow and salted roads. The shock will be totally rusted. I don't think that is a problem in Texas. I would have been unemployed if my boss saw me trying to save the threads to remove the nut on a shock that will end up in the garbage. A dealer service department is not a perfect world. The service writers, all the managers paychecks depend on my productivity. This repair equates to cutting off a rusted exhaust system that is being replaced. I also cut A/C lines that were being replaced in order to use a socket instead of a wrench to loosen the fitting. It helps prevent damage to the part that you are not replacing. You can save the customer a lot of money in parts. "Doing it right" means the car left the shop properly repaired to the manufactures specifications. There is nothing wrong with time saving short cuts that do no damage to the vehicle.

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With all due respect to NTX5467, I live in Illinois with snow and salted roads. The shock will be totally rusted. I don't think that is a problem in Texas. I would have been unemployed if my boss saw me trying to save the threads to remove the nut on a shock that will end up in the garbage. A dealer service department is not a perfect world. The service writers, all the managers paychecks depend on my productivity. This repair equates to cutting off a rusted exhaust system that is being replaced. I also cut A/C lines that were being replaced in order to use a socket instead of a wrench to loosen the fitting. It helps prevent damage to the part that you are not replacing. You can save the customer a lot of money in parts. "Doing it right" means the car left the shop properly repaired to the manufactures specifications. There is nothing wrong with time saving short cuts that do no damage to the vehicle.

_________________________________________________________________

rick60, I saw that comment to, and I almost responded too, but I thought about it again and rationalized that NXT5467 was only referring to butchers and not what we have to do when a nut or bolt breaks off or rounds out or a nut is fused to the shock. That's what torches, nut splitters,easy outs, bolt cutters, case savers, helicoils etc. are designed for.

I the case of this stubborn shock nut if it won't budge just split the nut and be done with it, besides the new shock is going to come with all new hardware anyway!

Don

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Guest Jim_Edwards
_________________________________________________________________

rick60, I saw that comment to, and I almost responded too, but I thought about it again and rationalized that NXT5467 was only referring to butchers and not what we have to do when a nut or bolt breaks off or rounds out or a nut is fused to the shock. That's what torches, nut splitters,easy outs, bolt cutters, case savers, helicoils etc. are designed for.

I the case of this stubborn shock nut if it won't budge just split the nut and be done with it, besides the new shock is going to come with all new hardware anyway!

Don

Exactly! We'd all prefer not to have to resort to extreme measures to get past an issue, but there are times that is the best and least time consuming method. One only learns that after spending a great amount of time butting their heads against the wall and in the end having to resort to those more drastic measures anyway.

One of the more frustrating experiences I ever engaged in was with a thermostat housing bolt that snapped off virtually flush with the intake manifold, which happened to be cast aluminum. The good old dissimilar metals electrolysis problem (idiot engineers have yet to learn a common steel bolt into aluminum ain't going to work out well over time). Wasted all sorts of time trying to get the remains out trying to use an easy out trying to avoid a total drill out and heli-coil fix. Ultimately that was the only solution, even if I didn't like it. It was the only logical route from the outset!

Don and Rick maybe what we need to do is write a general service book on what not to jack around with and what to do when normal procedures fail right off the bat.

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I understand that we might not see some of the same corrosion issues in northern central TX that others might see in other parts of the country. Whether it's from roadway ice melting solutions or sea salt infused air on the coast. By the same token, IF such salt-spray conditions are expected to be encountered, why not use some thick and highly water resistance chassis grease to coat the exposed threads of the shock studs and nuts? In the hardware package of my KONIs, there were two plastic "caps" to put on the shock studs and nuts when the job was complete. I suspect these same items might be available somewhere else than from KONI.

In the more recent world of dealership service departments, at least the way most now operate, is that once the service advisor writes the repair order (with the customer's concerns on it, as best he can interpret them), the repair order goes into the dispatch system. A tech draws the ticket, finds the vehicle, then investigates the customer's concerns. AFTER that has been done, then the tech sends the parts dept a request for pricing and availability of the parts which are suspected to be needed. The estimate then goes to dispatch for labor times/charges to be added, then back to the service advisor who then contacts the customer for approval to do the job.

Upon approval to do the job, the ticket is then returned to parts for the parts to be pulled and/or procurred. Then all of the parts requested are taken to the tech, who then commences to perform the repairs approved on the estimate. So, in that respect, the tech DOES have the parts on hand when they start the repair.

There are many times, on common repairs, that a service advisor might know what the most common "fixes" might be for the particular concern, BUT service advisors have been schooled to "not repair vehicles on the service drive", letting the techs do the final diagnosis in the shop. NOT to say that an informed service advisor who can easily work and converse with techs on a regular basis is not good to find and patronize! Personally, I'd rather patronize a service advisor who is up on all factory bulletins, with an outstanding level of product knowledge, and such than one who is in over their head if they write anything more involved than an oil change and tire rotation, with all due respect.

I know that there will be some techs who will do things in a manner which seems much more crude and shade-tree-ish than what I might desire to have done on my vehicle(s) in their care. I also understand the rationale for destroying something that's already worn out or damaged, especially if the tech might save some time (for the same labor time allowance) in the process. I've seen some mechanics do some things in a sloppy manner which ended up being very durable repairs, but if I tried to slop something together like that, my luck would not be the same nor would I be proud of what I did--just the way my luck seems to run.

Over the years, I've seen hackers who had good business and many repeat customers and did decent work. But I've also seen other techs who did equally good work, that didn't tear things up just because they could, or make messes because they could, and still managed to beat factory time on most repairs they did AND have a zero come-back rate. There might well be some times when an unconventional or innovative approach can work best.

Regards,

NTX5467

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Exactly! We'd all prefer not to have to resort to extreme measures to get past an issue, but there are times that is the best and least time consuming method. One only learns that after spending a great amount of time butting their heads against the wall and in the end having to resort to those more drastic measures anyway.

One of the more frustrating experiences I ever engaged in was with a thermostat housing bolt that snapped off virtually flush with the intake manifold, which happened to be cast aluminum. The good old dissimilar metals electrolysis problem (idiot engineers have yet to learn a common steel bolt into aluminum ain't going to work out well over time). Wasted all sorts of time trying to get the remains out trying to use an easy out trying to avoid a total drill out and heli-coil fix. Ultimately that was the only solution, even if I didn't like it. It was the only logical route from the outset!

Don and Rick maybe what we need to do is write a general service book on what not to jack around with and what to do when normal procedures fail right off the bat.

________________________________________________________________

Jim, In one of my classes in my first semester of college and even though I had three years of auto shop in high school, all we did was learn nomenclature, welding, brazing, general machine shop practices, and in general how to remove and repair those nasty things that break,strip and seize. Another class was machine shop and another a math class relating to all things automotive. In the machine shop we did all things such as line boring, decking, boring bar, valve facing, installing seats and facing, brake lathe, bridgeport lathe, re-sizing rods, casting and forging-yes we made own tools.

So somewhere in my library I have that book about how to fix those nasty jobs.

Mechanic's today don't get that kind of training. Before I retired one of the tech's working for me was working on one of our museum cars a 1937______ and this car needed a part for the "E" brake ( the ratchet part ) that had worn away. This guy had worked for me for fifteen years, anyroad I told him to go to the machine shop and make the part. I get this funny look on his face so I said you know you can't just go to the parts dept. and order it.

I ended up making the part for him... at least it got me out of the office for a hour.

Today all we have is parts re-placer's---send that block out to be decked or those heads re-built. Nothing is done in house and if they were done in house most tech's couldn't do the work because they can't work the equipment and they can't do the math because they don't teach this stuff in schools anymore.

Don

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Guest Jim_Edwards
________________________________________________________________

Jim, In one of my classes in my first semester of college and even though I had three years of auto shop in high school, all we did was learn nomenclature, welding, brazing, general machine shop practices, and in general how to remove and repair those nasty things that break,strip and seize. Another class was machine shop and another a math class relating to all things automotive. In the machine shop we did all things such as line boring, decking, boring bar, valve facing, installing seats and facing, brake lathe, bridgeport lathe, re-sizing rods, casting and forging-yes we made own tools.

So somewhere in my library I have that book about how to fix those nasty jobs.

Mechanic's today don't get that kind of training. Before I retired one of the tech's working for me was working on one of our museum cars a 1937______ and this car needed a part for the "E" brake ( the ratchet part ) that had worn away. This guy had worked for me for fifteen years, anyroad I told him to go to the machine shop and make the part. I get this funny look on his face so I said you know you can't just go to the parts dept. and order it.

I ended up making the part for him... at least it got me out of the office for a hour.

Today all we have is parts re-placer's---send that block out to be decked or those heads re-built. Nothing is done in house and if they were done in house most tech's couldn't do the work because they can't work the equipment and they can't do the math because they don't teach this stuff in schools anymore.

Don

Don your last line reminds me of a lament expressed to me six years ago by Ron Iskendarian. I had decided to "fix" the upper engine issues found with Ford's MEL block engines and decided to put a roller cam into it as part of the "Fix." Isky sold those things by the truckload back in the late 1950s through the 1960s, so naturally I figured I could pick one up fast from them. Wrong!

After three months of pleading on the phone with him Ron Iskendarian finally relented and agreed to grind a roller cam for that engine. The reason he really didn't want to do it was they no longer had the equipment in the production area to handle the task, was in their warehouse and no one in their production department had even a remote clue of how to operate it and he would have to do it. At that time Ron didn't even show up until 2:00 in the afternoon just to read the mail and make sure things were going smoothly. So after those three months of pleading I probably have the last roller cam on the planet personally ground by an Iskandarian residing in my '58 Mercury.

Oh, the fixes to the upper engine issues were successful. Only took a minor yet complete re-engineering of the whole darn valve train concept.

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