Ok, let’s talk about Automotive Machine Shops. Unless you are planning to buy and learn how to use a lot of real expensive machinery, you will need the services of an Automotive Machine Shop in order to repair, restore or rebuild your engine.
I am going to try to give you the information you need to pick a machine shop to do your engine work for you.
First of all, like any other business, there are good Machine Shops and there are some not so good ones. Some do excellent work but cannot seem to get it done in a timely manner. Others can get the work done but the quality is just not where it needs to be. Then there are the best which will use modern equipment and procedures to machine your engine parts and get the work done in a reasonable amount of time.
The quality part is really important if you are working on a late model engine. Newer engines like the LS series GM engines, Honda V-tec engines, 6.0 L Ford Diesels etc, need extremely precise machining in order to perform properly and last a long time. You simply cannot use the same techniques on a modern engine as we did on 50’s and 60’s V-8s and expect to have success.
So, how do you go about finding a good Automotive Machine Shop to do the work for you ? I would have to say that the number one method is by talking to others who have had work done and see who they recommend. If you are working on a street rod engine, ask around at some car shows, cruise in’s etc and see what others have to say. If you are working on a late model, stock type car or truck engine, you may want to ask some of your local automotive repair shops who they use for their machine work. Another source is the
Automotive Engine Rebuilders Association.
Although it is certainly not a guarantee, shops that are a member of an organization like the AERA generally are interested in keeping up to date on their trade. The AERA has a shop finder guide on its web site. Also, just because a machine shop is not a member it does not mean that they are not a good machine shop. Depending on the type of work they do, they might not feel that they need the information that is available through the AERA.
There are some machine shops that do nothing but performance work, others do mostly stock engine work and some will work on a mix of everything. For example, if you are building a race engine, it might be better to stick with a shop that has experience in that type of engine. A machine shop that does almost all stock repair work may not know the proper procedures for a high performance engine. And on the other hand, a strictly race engine shop may not know some of the procedures needed to work on a late model multi valve overhead camshaft cylinder head.
One very important thing to understand is that some machine shops do not actually build or assemble engines at all. This type of shop may not be able to give you all of the advice that you need to finish your project.
My personal feelings are that a machine shop that is owned by and has employees that are really interested in cars and engines will typically do a better job. “Gearheads” just seem to care a little bit more about the work they are doing on your engine parts.
Your first step after asking for word of mouth suggestions should be to visit the shop you are thinking of using. When you walk in the door, what is your first impression ? Is the shop clean and well lit ? Or is it so packed with unfinished work that you cant hardly move around ? If the floor is so dirty that you are afraid to walk on it, how clean do you think your engine parts are going to be ? Does the equipment look well cared for ? All automotive machine shop equipment will eventually show some wear and tear, but it should not be covered in dirty grease and metal chips. If the place does not take care of their own equipment, do you think they are going to care about your engine parts ?
Tell the person in charge what your project will consist of and get some prices and a time frame for getting it completed. Try to get a feeling for the willingness to help you with your engine repair. Do they really want to help you complete your project, or are you “just another customer” ?
If you do a little research and take a few steps in choosing an Automotive Machine Shop, it can make all the difference in the world in completing your engine project.
If you have any questions at all about choosing or working with your Automotive Machine Shop, please feel free to ask me by using my
Contact Me Page.
Have you had a great experience working with an Automotive Machine Shop in your area ? Would you like to refer them to other readers ? If so, please enter the details in the form below. Let us know what type of work the shop does. Hopefully your experience will help others in thier engine repair projects.
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