finding a machine shop


Staff member
HOW to find a decent machine shop
THATS SIMPLE, IN CONCEPT (but can be a P.I.T.A. in some locals)
GO TO THE LOCAL DRAG STRIP with a PAD and pen,ask several obviously experienced race car owners,about the machine shops they avoid and those they recommend
I don,t know about all areas but here in south/central Florida we have access to all the listed types of metal supply,dealers, welding equipment supply and machine shops, within 45 min-1 hour drive Id need, but of course you'll find there's several options in each category of who you want to deal with and the skill levels and parts selection and prices all vary a great deal between shops.
the best route is to take the time and effort to meet and talk to several dozen experienced racers at a local shop
,the problem is that,
theres always a few local incompetent and/or unskilled machine shops and over priced scam artists in most areas.
it helps a great deal if you take the time and effort to find a trust worthy and reasonably priced local machine shop ,

and trust me when I say this is critical, and yes, the compedent machinist will seem to point out endless things that should be done to increase durability, as it helps you decide what might be beneficial, or things you over looked,or just allow proper component function
and helps him make more cash,

,and a good machinist will try to guide you in component selection to help avoid mis-matched parts and low quality parts being used,
yes quality parts and machine work, ALWAYS COST more than you may expect them too!:rolleyes::D
the quality of precision machine work your machine shop does will have a huge effect on the long term durability and power potential of your engine.
Obviously you'll want to avoid ,places that either don,t do quality work or don,t do the work at all, or do it very badly..or fail to deliver work on the expected completion dates, and you won,t know which shops to trust without a bit of research with the faster local racers.
here is one area of reality, where the difference lies between the best vs the better ,
and the all too frequent .... guys charging an exorbitant amount of money for inferior work,

you know, exactly what I'm saying if youve ever dealt with skilled machine shops,
and the better mechanics, and all too often, scam machine shops, and fly by night operations, that pop up and go out of business every few years,
and why good machinist and knowledgeable engine builder's ,are so hard to locate, and most have long wait times , too get quality work done..
and why it almost always costs considerably more, and frequently takes longer to have some shops and race teams, work on your car or engine,
its also why many guys get rather pissed off, when they see what it costs for a top quality builder to build any engine.
and without doubt guys in some shops see what the best shops charge and think.. hell, if the best shop in my area, charges that much I should be charging a good deal more,
and I can knock that out for a bit less and in less time and make a killing...... and why finding a good machinist and machine shop is a real challenge in most areas.
I can easily suggest a cam , but its a rather meaningless gesture, and all too frequently a waste of time and effort for both of us.
simply because, without verifying the facts, and this is where Id say the vast majority of internet web sites,
and the recommendations, you see being posted in them, all too often, go wrong far too frequently.
yeah its easy to assume the timings correct the true functional compression, in every cylinder is nearly identical,
(most guys measure, two or three cylinders and without a second thought ignore the rest,
and thus they, blissfully assume all the other cylinders must be the same or so close its a waste of effort,
, most guys fail to put in the effort, too measure the less easily accessed cylinders, thinking
(why bother its a P.I.T.A. and if the first two or three are fine so will the rest of them, )
and that is the attitude that will be used for other factors, yeah, most guys, and every other guy reading similar threads on a vast ocean of similar web sites,
all over the internet, skip over anything that is redundant or takes a bit of extra effort, they simply assume they know things that may or may not be true.
the vast majority of guys , are absolutely convinced, that verifying every measurement and clearance issue in their engine,
in each cylinder is so close that they are effectively duplicate in all areas,
yeah without any doubt... its a waste of time and effort, too do what most guys, will just be convinced is busy work,
yes most tuners and car owners are just like the vast majority and are convinced everything between all the cylinders have not changed are exactly as you and they remember them too be..
especially if they have taken the time and effort too do things correctly several times in the past and found that to be true in the past.
thats the difference between the 5%-10% of guys consistently posting the best and most consistent time slips and lap times vs the guys that frequently win a few races,
but over a season or two, don,t consistently, year after year build a good reputation, for durability and consistently winning.


it is always helps to post your location,when posting questions, at least the city & state your located in because theres a good chance an experienced hobbyist or mechanic on this site may be reading this, located local to you, who is willing to help either for free or at low cost! or at least post advice and places to get parts locally
ask every guy with a car running 10-11 seconds or faster
(these guys will generally be rather familiar with local machine shops)
ASK these questions and in this order,
(3) where can you purchase metal and welding supplies
(4) what local engine builders get work out on time and at a reasonable price?
(5) IS there any machinist or machine shop that does exceptionally good work I should use?
(6) are there any local salvage yards that have better selections and prices?

ITS well worth the effort for you too, take the time to visit the local race tracks with a pen,pad and paper and ask a few dozen of the guys racing the 11 second and faster cars about which machine shops can be trusted to do quality work at a fair price and deliver on time! ask enough people to get a minimum of 12-15 separate suggestions, trust me a pattern will emerge in the answers with a minimum of 12-15 answers
There is local shop where I am that has had to change names 4 times and at least on paper owners three times in the last 15 years because they specialize in shoddy work and charging for work thats either not done or very poorly done. no one I know would trust them to gap a spark plug yet they still get unsuspecting customers because they are located near several auto parts stores. A good rule to follow is go where the faster racers go when they need work done because they are usually knowledgeable, and to keep their business, the machine-shop must be experienced and reasonably well equipped and stay busy enough because of their reputation.
take notes, and compare all your answers you'll see a pattern emerge after 8-10 guys (MINIMUM) answer your questions, and don,t bother talking to any car with a huge machine shop stickers on the doors ,as the obvious sponsor, because you know who they will recommend, they want someone else paying for their parts besides the cars owner, what you want to do is talk to the regular guys running the faster self financed cars.
theres also the machine shop I generally deal with, they have had the same owners and machinists for at least the last 20 years or so , and constantly have work stacked up, if you don,t get a specific date promised , IN WRITING ON YOUR RECEIPT, and DON,T PAY MORE THAN 1/3 up front, I can assure you it will take them a bit longer than you expect, but at least the works done correctly

machine shop services are priced very differently throughout the country. Your best bet is to talk to people in your area to find out which shops have the best reputations, for doing quality work at a fair price. Then pick two or three shops that are reasonable close (within an hours drive) that have good recommendations and go visit them for a brief question and answer session to get a feel for the shop . After talking to the machinist for a few minutes, and getting a basic price list and asking what type of major machinery they have you will have a good idea of who you want to send your work to, who can do a good job and whos full of BULLSSST. Remember though, good machinists are hard to find, and youll rarely find a good machinist working in a small shop at the rear of an auto parts store, look for real automotive machine shops with an established track record and reputation to uphold .


keep in mind your not looking for the guys that will make your car FAST as much as your looking for who can be trusted NOT to screw up your parts, and guys in the machine shop who can both follow instructions on repairs, and make valid suggestions and mods you’ve selected to do ,and those machine shops where the machinist will take the time and effort to advise you and do the job correctly and you also need to know who is doing sub-standard work, and should be avoided, that’s why both questions and in that order
remember to ask
take notes, and get at least 8-10 recommendations on several different nites at the track, from guys with the 11-10 second cars

and remember many guys who have slower cars than the 11 second bracket generally are using mostly bolt on and go parts with little use for a quality machine shops skills, but once you get into the more extensive mods machine work becomes critical to your success
that EXACTLY why I do all the work possible on my cars and engines....WHY I ve collected thousands of dollars in tools and done years of research...
I got soooooooo... tired and pissed off from dealing with scammers, thieves and morons who were in business too collect money from the CLUELESS masses of guys that wont or don't take the time and effort to find out what actually needs to be done and exactly how its supposed to be accomplished
and finding out that a huge percentage of the mechanics/garages and machine shops were at least partly staffed with guys who knew less and cared FAR less about doing the job correctly than I could ever comprehend, If your going to BE in business you might THINK you'll want to build a good reputation and look for repeat business, but all to frequently they are in it for a quick buck and screw the results or customers

Ive seen machine shops throw ALUMINUM cylinder heads in a CAUSTIC SODA bath to clean them, Ive seen MORONS try too charge me too torque plate hone a block, when they didn't even know what a TORQUE PLATE WAS or OWN ANY that fit that family of engines, Ive seen guys try to beat piston pins out of rods, guys who think a valve job is simply slapping grinding compound on a valve and using a drill to lap the valve into the seat, guys that charge for degreeing in a cam who don't own a degree wheel or a dial indicator and think aligning dots on the cam drive is degreeing in a cam,.....I could go further but you get the IDEA, LEARN and DO as much as you can yourself, collect the tools and manuals you need, and join a few clubs and find the knowledgeable few guys that do their own work rather than pay exorbitant prices to shops and take their chances... youll be way ahead! and when FORCED to deal with machine shops, you need to write a detailed set of instructions listing exactly whats to be done, on each component and the prices and dates the works expected to be completed on, and do the required research to find the reliable machine shops in your area,BEFORE dealing with any of them ... 35121.html

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some parts will need to be engraved

before dropping any component off at a machine shop you take DETAILED CLEAR PICTURES from several angles, date those photos and have SEVERAL copy's made,...make sure you list parts supplied, in detail with pictures, of those parts, make a detailed list ALL work to be done and HAVE FIRM expected due dates and prices for work, LISTED on a signed receipt and have the machine shop sign the work order listing of all major parts, show him you have the spare pictures, have a list of parts thats detailed enough that casting numbers and vin numbers are listed ,try to get a picture of the machine shop guy you speak to also, and stamp blocks on the oil pan rail,cranks on the flywheel flange stamp heads lightly on the ends all with your ph# or other ID, that shows in the pictures, obviously NOT on precision machined surfaces in most cases.
youve got to accept the fact that mistakes get made, parts get screwed up, lost, stolen or swapped ,some people are crooks, etc. if you don,t have positive dated photographic proof of what you dropped off, the work agreed to the dates promised and a way to identify your parts from similar defective parts they might be swapped out for, your screwed if your forced to go to court to seek compensation
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Staff member
before you go dropping off parts and run up a bill at any machine shop....
WHERE AND WHO did you check with?

(that the shop does good work):rolleyes:
always check at the local tracks and take notes from at least 5 independent sources and limit that to guys with similar cars that are running at least low 12s,
up to that approximate speed/et bolt-on parts easily suffice,
in most cars and the skill of the machinists is not that critical.

ok first step for future work, always get detailed proposals stating what work is to be done, what parts are to be used, who will supply and install the parts and all the costs of all materials and labor spelled out in detail along with where the parts are to be purchased and that all used components will be returned to the owner with a completion date, clearly stated. take lots of before and after pictures of the car, engine and components and demand a detailed work sheet.

this is one of the best investments you can make, watch this video it explains a good deal

next NEVER drop parts or a car off with some lame B.S. like OK he will call when its done!!
and verify the works BEEN DONE!
marking components like heads ,cranks intakes with a small die stamp helps

the last 4 digits of your ss# on parts helps along with clear photos

OK, think it thru your about to speed hundreds if not thousands of dollars do you even know that new pistons you paid for WERE installed and was the assembly rebalanced?, do you have anything proving that he didn,t just install the new cam?, if you paid for a line hone, and boring the block, or a dozen other machine shop processes how do you know they were even done!, you sure won,t be the first guy to pay for work that was never done or done half assed, so know what your looking at, how parts are supposed to look and measure before and after they are worked on.
Ive seen guys charged for torque plate hone jobs and the shop doesn,t even own torque plates or a hone machine,

DON,T GET ALL IMPRESSED if the shop has a few fast cars,with their advertising stickers at the track, and never take only one or two racers word as the last word, on the subject,of who does good precise work,because, it might only be their (BUDDIES) that they take the time to do work correctly on,
ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS, TALK TO LOTS OF PEOPLE, you'll eventually find out which shops do quality work and which do sloppy or slipshod work, or take money and never do the work correctly at times

a machine shop that you can drop off parts, explain what you want done and then get those parts back in a timely manor and ,use , the resulting work,and that doesn,t require you to verify everything was done correctly is as rare, as an honest politician who won,t take bribes, or contributions.
every time I think Ive found a good machine shop , and drop my guard, and trust them , Ive usually got screwed, if not on the price, at least on the quality of work, I don,t mind paying for quality work, as long as I get exactly what I'm promised WHEN its expected at THE PRICE I WAS QUOTED
understand that time is money, but when you PAY to have something done, it should be done on time and at the quoted price and done correctly

the longer I build engines the more work Im forced to do personally

this thread below may interest you


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Well-Known Member
grump, you've heard me tell my old stories, but your points here are absolutely correct.

when i was trying to squeeze the most bang out of my short block dollar, i talked to many racers, especially the dirt track racer guys at the time.

9 out of ten racers pointed me to one shop - they all said " the winning motors all come from 'XXX' shop. -- that was all i needed to hear. of course there were a half dozen engine shops in town that were more well known, mostly from advertising or builds for hobby guys who didn't really race their cars.

when i took my parts to XXX shop, they took the time to explain all the options, no pressure, no hype, then they built me a bottom end that held up like a mother and made a couple hundred passes + 30k road miles with no problem.

20 years later, i ran into the owner of the shop at a swap meet and thanked him for his great work.


Staff member
take several clear and detailed photos /pictures, of each & every part you supply,and mandate receipts or billing invoices from any parts the machine shop supplies, stating part number , brand and price, plus you need too stamp your parts with your phone number
,get detailed receipts and have the shop sign and date the back of the pictures,and print a date the parts will be completed on and ready for pick-up, don,t fall for the old (vague, in about one or two weeks) :mad::rolleyes:
you may be tempted to take as you deliver the parts, and get clearly written receipts PLUS have work to be done, DATE listed in detail and with the expected prices and completion dates, with a easy to verify number like your phone number, on both the parts and receipts.
you need to write a detailed set of instructions listing exactly whats to be done, on each component and the prices and dates the works expected to be completed on.

KEEP in mind if you don,t have a firm dated contract listing everything to be done and a FIRM due date when the parts are to be delivered IF You paid in advance, the machine shop most likely spent the money, and now has no incentive to work on your stuff.

I had a buddy drop off boss 302 ford heads to a machine shop in Florida,the receipt stated 2 ford sbf heads to be decked and a valve job, and they returned 2 barrel WINSOR heads, he went to court and since he could not PROVE that the heads he dropped off at the shop were BOSS 302 heads he got screwed, and the shop got away with swapping heads on him
ALWAYS take the time and effort to get detailed receipts and pictures.

I had another buddy drop off BRODIX aluminum heads and some new hire moron dropped them in a caustic soda bath for soak over night,..TOTAL LOSS, luckily he had detailed and clear before pictures, they were forced to buy him new heads, without clear pictures IM 100% sure they would have said the heads arrived in that condition

never be vague, in your list of whats to be done, and list specific DATES for completion,don,t except "in a week or so" have him write down a date, if he says 1-2 weeks,and two weeks is up on lets say "aug 12 2010" then have that date clearly listed, on the work order, as a firm commitment, your not trying to rush the guy or box him in as much as keep him from endlessly ignoring the work. and don,t for example list "DO VALVE JOB" list replace valve seals with type (XYZ) you prefer,ream or replace guides, cut valve seats ,three angles ,( list them) replace springs, listing installed height,spring load rates, spring bind height and make sure the spring seats machined ETC. back cut valves with 30 deg angle, etc. once you get into details theres far less area for confusion on the machine shops end as to pricing and whats to be expected, leaving far less room for arguments and the machine shop operator knows hes not dealing with some jerk that cant tell a valve guide from a lifter
IF they REPLACE parts INSIST on getting the original parts back at least long enough to inspect them.








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The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member
while these prices, posted here below, may not be typical of most machine-shops ,in your area, they are not that far off from what I see quoted at times, and machine work done correctly by an experienced and knowledgeable machinist is rarely cheap, nor, is it easy in many areas to even find a decent machine shop that has both the wide variety of expensive machine tools that are required to really do a complete performance engine build, and a machinist that knows how to use those tools, and even rarer still a machine shop that will have the work done correctly and at the price they quote, delivered consistently on the agreed upon time and date!.DEAL WITH A QUALITY MACHINE SHOP with a GREAT REPUTATION that depends on maintaining good customer feed back for repeat work.
a competent and experienced machine shop, machinist, you can trust to point out whats REQUIRED and what is SUGGESTED is a very valuable asset , you really should look for and researching what you think needs to be done, how that is accomplished and why its likely necessary in any particular application, goes a long way toward preventing both disagreements and wasted money on an engine build AS does having access too or better yet owning some precision measuring tools that allow you to check and verify that any machine work you pay for was in fact correctly done!

keep in mind theres material costs , tooling costs,consumables used and a skilled machinist trying to make a living, and time you might not have thought about like balancing the engine that can easily add $200-$600 depending on whats required, and custom valve train parts and the time required to assemble heads in labor alone could add $800-$2200 to a build sheets price tag.
need the crank polished? rods bushed?, valves back-cut? a multi angle valve job? theres a hundred way the price and time , to build an engine will cause the price you pay to increase so be aware its never cheap, fast or going to cost less than you expect it too, machine shops can and do charge $60 plus an hour and it can easily take several days to correctly assemble an engine.
it should give you some idea as to the cost of some machine work, and I find it rather amazing that when the newer guys in this hobby start planing to build a race or even a performance engine they will very commonly start pricing part costs and darn few even consider the LABOR or MACHINE SHOP costs to clearance fit, balance , polish and correctly assemble parts they buy, this is always a mistake simply because this facet of the build can take several weeks and easily add several thousand dollars in cost to the engine assembly process, yet its rarely considered, and in the vast majority of cases those costs are not something you can avoid or ignore and if your one of those people that take components out of the box and start bolting things together ,with few if any checks being made during the assembly process to verify how the parts fit, the required fit finish and clearances, your also likely to be one of the huge majority of guys who remain rather clueless as to why your occasionally having (UN EXPLAINABLE engine failures)
If you have an engineering back-ground you know that certain machine work will require certain types of tooling, and a quick look around most shops gives you some idea as to what they can handle, boring and honing ,block machining, indexing lifter bores etc. all require expensive machine tools ,Ive had machine shops quote me prices for work that there was no way in hell, they could do with the tooling they have on hand, and It should be rather obvious that if you don,t have the required tools your very unlikely to be able to do the work unless the machine shop sends part of the work out to a sub-contractor, thus its MANDATORY you carefully engrave or stamp, and photograph from several angles, the parts you drop off, and get very detailed printed and signed documentation listing both what you dropped off, what (in very explicit detail) you want done and when it will be completed and the total cost of that work, documented.
always ALWAYS get everything in detailed writing before you start specifying all machine work parts and labor costs, due dates and have every single part you supply ID stamped and photograph, listed and a value assigned with both YOU and the machine shop having identical signed copys
listing the cost and dates and work details

the old, we will give you a call when its ready,
and that usually costs about $300 or so to have that done unless we run into problems ,
just won,t cut it!

(if you TRUST THEM :rolleyes::mad:AT 90% OF MACHINE SHOPS,



find and deal with a reputable machine shop and don,t shop low price, get a guy you can trust to do the job correctly the first time, the last thing you need is to drop off a $3500 block or set of cylinder heads and get them back in far less usable condition then they were when you pick them up, or have the guy push a totally different set of parts out on the counter and swear you dropped these parts off rather than the actual parts you dropped off and it happens far more often than you might believe!
it certainly helps if you have done some research ,prior to having work dropped off, on what you need done and how to verify the works been done correctly and owning a few precision measuring tools is almost mandatory,
ask lots of questions, know what your talking about and know how to verify the works actually been done correctly to the agreed upon clearances or surface finish, or tolerances.
don,t shop low price rather shop for top quality work, done correctly at a fair price thats delivered on the agreed dates.
if you obviously know what your talking about, know the correct terminology and have the ability to verify the works been done correctly and insist on accurate documentation, and take dozens of pictures and have work signed in and out with a carefully documented paperwork trail, your a bit less likely to get SCREWED by the machine shop.

most of the machine shops I trust near me charge about $270-$300 for a valve job,and it can easily go up if you need welding or valve guides spring seat machining, new parts etc.
one shop, I learned to NEVER deal with early on, has a big sign outside listing valve jobs for $100/plus parts (Ive never seen anyone get out under $400 and work quality looks like a drunk with a hammer and chisel does the majority of the work!

ITS well worth the effort for you too, take the time to visit the local race tracks with a pen,pad and paper and ask a few dozen of the guys racing the 11 second and faster cars about which machine shops can be trusted to do quality work at a fair price and deliver on time!

Shop Labor Sheet
Shop Time $98.50/hr
Block Services
Short Block Labor
You Must Purchase A Complete Short Block Labor
For Any Warranty
Disassemble Short Block - Remove Crank, Rods, Pistons, Cam and Timing
Deluxe Degrease - Jet Wash, R-R Cam Brgs, Freeze Plugs, Oil Galley Plugs, and Magnaflux for Cracks
Bore - Rottler Bar - Bore For Your Size Pistons 45deg & Parallel To Mainline
Hone - Sunnen Power Hone Finished For Your Rings
Resize Rods - Sunnen Rod Machine W/New Nuts
Balance Rods And Pistons - Hines Computerized Balancer
Assemble Short Block - Install Crank - Pistons and Rods - Camshaft And Timing
4-Cylinder - $399.00 most
6-Cylinder - $469.00 most
8-Cylinder - $499.00 most
Install Cylinder Head(s) - Adjust Valves - $100.00 Most
Install Cylinder Head OHC - Adjust Valves - $137.50, 2Cams-$220, 4Cams-$400
Install Tin - Clean Install Pan-Covers-Intake - $275.00 Most
Crankshafts Engine Balancing
Grind most 6 or 8cyl Crank $142.50 4-cyl $169.50
Grind 7 main crank (6cyl) $154.50 6-cyl inline $200.50
Clean Polish $51.50 V-6 or V-8 $249.50
Magnaflux $53.50 Standard Flywheel & Pres Plt $36.50
Weld rod/main each $75.00 Crank Only w/Bob Weights $125.50
Weld Thrust $77.50 Need: Pistons, Rods, Crank, Rings, Rod
brgs, Flywheel (with Bolts),

Shop Labor Sheet
Block Services
Shop Time $98.50/hr
Tear Down Surface Blocks
Dis-assemble short block $87.00 Deck 4-cyl $98.50
Dis-assemble long block $109.50 Deck 6-cyl inline $98.50
Remove cyl head each $35.50 Parallel deck w/mainline 6or8 $164.50
Remove pan - covers - intake Each $11.00 Square deck (parallel & 90deg) $198.50
Cleaning Above covers .015” cut Addl $1.20/.001”
Del Deg 4-cyl WO cam brgs $78.50 Mock assem/check deck Ht. $88.00
Del Deg 4-cyl W cam brgs $83.50 Block Boring/Honing
Del Deg 6-cyl WO cam brgs $78.50 Bore - power hone $25.00ea
Del Deg 6-cyl W cam brgs $89.50 Install Torque Plates $35.50ea
Del Deg 8-cyl $94.50 Power hone Cyls $11.50ea
Deluxe Degrease: Remove cam brgs, core
plugs, oil galley plugs, jet wash, magnaflux,
install cam brgs, core plugs, oil galley plugs
plus parts
Sleeve cylinder + Sleeve $121.50
Block Work
De-rust block $93.50 Line hone Mains $181.50
Tank bare block $46.50 Mock assem/check clearances $134.50
R-R cam brgs $11.00ea Degree cam (must have card) $98.50
Tin work per load $22.00 Race prep SBChev $132.00
Clean Intake $40.50 Race prep: Relieves oil galleys, tap front
Plugs, internally restrict (solid only, relieve oil
returns, supply oil to cam thrust, improved
Connecting Rod Work
Recondition 3 or less $24.50ea
Recondition 4-cyl $88.50 Flywheels
Recondition 6-cyl $132.50 Surface flywheel flat $40.50
Recondition 8-cyl $176.50 Surface flywhl w/step or pins $50.00
R - R - align pistons $12.50ea Surface flywheel w/step & pins $55.00
R - R - size pin bshgs+PARTs $22.50ea R&R Ring Gear $37.50
Check big end for size $10.50ea VW Deep Step $60.50

Shop Labor Sheet
Cylinder Head Services
Shop Time $98.50/hr
Basic Valve Grind Hard Ex Seats
4 Cylinder OHV 2V per $104.50 4 Cylinder + Seats $99.00
6 Cylinder OHV 2V per $132.00 6 Cylinder + Seats $126.50
8 Cylinder $170.50 8 Cylinder + Seats $149.50
Recessed sprg (most ohc) $13.50/valve One only (cut in Type)+seat $40.50
Diesel heads $18.50/valve Each Additional (same head) $25.50
R-R removable type+seat $27.50
Basic Valve Grind: dis-assemble - clean
head(s) inspect, magnaflux, or dye test heads,
inspect guides, springs, and valves. Grind
valves, tri cut seats, assemble, and vacuum test
for leak down
Re-Surface Heads
4 Cylinder - Mill $64.50
4 Cylinder Surface $39.50
6 Cylinder Mill $75.50
6 Cylinder Surface $56.50
Pressure Test V-Type Mill $93.00
Cylinder head $58.50 V-Type Surface $65.50
Matched Pair $96.00 Above covers .015” cut Addl $2.00/.001”
Additional charge for special setups Mill Intake Side $40.50 ea
Guide Work Surface Ex Side $31.50 ea
4 cyl (bronze or cast)+guide $61.50 Surface Ex Manifold $57.00 ea
6 cyl (bronze or cast)+guide $79.50 Mill V type Intake $98.50
8cyl (bronze or cast)+guide $105.50 O.H.C.
R-R guide alum head+guide $10.000ea R-R cam/rock shafts - adjust $40.50ea
Valves and Seats Surface Rocker Arms $9.50 ea
Clean - grind valves 4 or less $5.50ea R-R arms from shaft/clean $30.00/shaft
Clean - grind valves 4 or more $5.00ea Misc
Tri-Cut seats 4 or less $13.50ea Set Valve Stem Hts(non adj) $2.50ea
Tri-Cut seats 4 or more $11.50ea Cut for OS Springs $11.50ea
Install OS valve w/bowl hog $15.50ea Install Studs w/shoulder+parts $159.50
Bowl hog 78deg $10.50ea Install Studs wo/shoulder+parts $123.50

related info
your only limited by your potential lack of imagination, skills and tools like a drill press and welder
,or what you can design and draw plans for, that your local machine shop can build for you
that might make acquiring custom mount brackets , spacers, adapters etc. and associated parts hard to fabricate!
just because a parts not easy to buy off the shelf for your particular application, in no way limits what you can build/fabricate or use.

threads related to cleaning parts and prep.
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Yeah its that time again.

Many shops just want to rebuild diesel engines today.
Dedicated contract work.
Just like Autobody men doing insurance work daily.

Pontiac guys have it worst.
No wants them to Win.

Mafia network in Illinois .

People will die and strange accidents sudden happen if Poncho stolen.

I trust my Bud Steve.
He knows me too.
Real I am.


The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member
TIM said:
Can this valve guide be repaired?
Yes, but:
you just have to be careful who works on it. the guides are replaceable but it's usually better to drill/ream to .500 and install bronze.

The factory guides are tapered, if the shop tries to press them out the wrong way the head will be cracked and un-repairable. Not only that, they're not a precision fit, they were pressed in and then bored, locating off the valve seat. When replacing them it's common to have sink the seat a bunch to get back on center. Not only that but sometimes they leak water un-repairably after replacement. Overall, much better to ream to .500 and install guides. Note this is not the same as knurling which is junk. If you let somebody work on them be dead sure they know what they are getting into. This is one of those places where "old guys rule." Most machinists who knew this stuff have long since retired. There are head guys who know, but usually they're working in a Hi-Perf shop that specializes in this stuff.

My take is there's rarely a reason to press out the original guides, just use .500 guides.

P.S. Just to be clear with R&R'ing the OEM guides, seat location's aside, the intakes are not an issue, only the exhaust's, these are NOT the same O.D. on both ends, one end is smaller due to the fact there is a water passage they pass through and seal up! They MUST be removed up towards the springs and reinstalled from the spring side. If you try to drive them down from the spring side you WILL crack the head without fail! Like I said, this is exhaust's only.

If your smart you'll find a machine shop that has a machinist or SEVERAL,with DECADES of experience and have consistently and repeatedly, regularly worked on your particular engine family, yes there are machine shops that specialize in BIG BLOCK chevy's and OTHERS that do mostly MOPAR or FORD, you sure don,t want a guy that does mostly rice burners thats never seen a 454 before working on your prized hot rod engine so take the time to research what machine shop you need to deal with.
ITS mandatory that YOU as an engine builder be aware that theres a few machine shops that are run by scam artists willing , even happy to cheat the less informed customers, and the decepion and cost cutting saves them considerable money while basically providing you with a very inferior product at an inflated price.
IMPORTED parts from over seas being substituted for much more expensive, well known brand name components, DOES HAPPEN!
It helps your engine's potential durability tremendously, if you take the time and effort to verify that you have, and that if you have a machine shop do all or part of your engine assembly that they, actually had the quality components, you paid for installed in your engine, Ive had several machine shops try to pass off and install really crappy quality components in engines while charging top dollar for brand name parts.
now I'm sure that easily 70% -90% of the guys never bother to check what they got back from the machine shop for accurate machine work or that simple things like the bolts, studs and bearings , rings and gaskets the machine shop used during the engine assembly were actually the parts you paid for, but I know for a fact that less than honest shops don,t bat an eye over making a few bucks extra with this bait and switch B,S.
Ive seen connecting rods, main caps, studs rockers push rods pistons, piston rings, cranks and several other components being billed as name brand components and lesser quality parts actually installed!
there was a machine shop in Hollywood florida , that for decades was well known for this deceptive practice






I purchased a fox milling machine several years ago when I got frustrated at local shops absurdly over billing me for darn simple milling machine work, I may or may not have made the smartest financial move as the cost of the mill is only a small part as you need rather extensive accessories and tooling before the machines useful and I'll admit I was not expecting those components to cost almost as much as the mill. I took several classes in college, and learned the basics, but you really learn more once your hands-on and youll find you always need to do more research, watch videos and occasionally pay some local machinist to show you how to do something correctly.. and of course theres an expensive and endless list of new tooling to be purchased , on the plus side the tooling and mill cost is partly offset by the savings in work your not sending out.
obviously dealing with a machine shop know to do quality and consistent high quality, 3 angle valve jobs is the first step in this process,
Yes ,Ive generally found you will need to disassemble and check run-out yourself and yeah,
that requires you purchase a few tools to do it accurately.

you can generally verify valve seat seal with simply pouring alcohol into the intake or exhaust ports with what ever port your testing vertical and watching for solvent or alcohol seepage in the combustion chamber ,

alcohol will seep past a marginal valve seat seal contact far faster than water will due to its lack of surface tension, so its a better test fluid. hand lapping the valve seats tends to help.
hand lapping valve seats can be done reasonably easily and greatly increases valve seat seal.

Weighing in at over 2400 lbs of cast iron and hardened precision ground steel, Model M1003 has the size and stability to handle the toughest jobs. With a 2 HP motor driving 8 speeds from 78 to 2400 RPM, 3 speed quill feed with a micrometer depth stop and auto reverse, and a variable speed longitudinal power feed, this machine has the ability to do the most complex and precise jobs. This brute has both power and finesse!
One-shot pump lubrication
Auto down feed
Quill feeds/spindle rev.: .0019", .0035", .0058" Auto stop with micro adjustable stop
R-8 spindle Longitudinal power feed
Hardened and ground table surface Chrome plated, precision-ground quill
Adjustable micrometer quill depth stop
Motor: 2 HP, 110V/220V, single-phase, TEFC, prewired to 220V
Spindle travel: 5"
Table size: 9" x 49"
Table travel (longitudinal): 27"
Table travel (cross): 12"
Max. dist. spindle to table: 18-3/4"
Max. dist. spindle to column: 18-1/2"
Knee travel: 16"
Head tilt: 45° both ways
Head swivel: 90° both ways
T-slots: 3 on 2-1/2" centers, 1/2" studs
Speeds: 8 Range of speeds: 78, 98, 197, 278, 670, 850, 1700 and 2400 RPM
Approximate shipping weight: 2405 lbs.
each area has machine shops with different tools, experience and unfortunately some machinists have attitude issues
and don,t seem to think delivering top quality work at reasonable prices and on promised delivery dates are a reasonable expectation.

I've seen a great many machine shops who either just don,t give a rats A$$ or they are CLUELESS INCOMPETENTS
you can't assume anything you paid for was done correctly,


in either case this forces a decent engine builder to verify all the work was properly done

a day or so spent in careful research & reading can save you hundreds of dollars and months of wasted work
related threads
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The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member
How to find a
Machine Shop
One way is to go to the GS Nationals in Columbus Ohio, attend the GS big block tech session then stop at
Skyline Chili on the way back to the motel. The next best way is to pop a bowl full in the microwave and to
read the GSXtra.
I had the opportunity to address those that attended the big block tech session on Friday night of the Nat’s
on the subject of how to find a good machine shop and for those that could not be at the Nat’s I will repeat
those details.
Bernie Rekus had instructed us to be as unbiased as we could in our presentations, so I decided to
concentrate on just what quality means when machine work is performed.
The following are the guidelines that I set for certain machine shop procedures and questions that might be
asked of the shop before leaving your prized pieces to be fondled by those that might not be as interested in
the quality that you might be.
Cylinder preparation: Cylinders must be bored with a boring bar whether deck mounted or positioned by the
crank, in either case the deck is used to center the bore unless a BHJ bore-tru is used, which corrects bore
centers and bores perpendicular to the crank housing bore. At least .003 must be left to hone to remove the
fracture left by the cutter (all ring manufactures recommend this). A power hone such as the Sunnen CV-
616, the older CK-10 or the new Rottler is the only way to hone a cylinder round and without taper unless
the operator has the patience of Job. With a torque plate and a power hone as described .003 to .005 can
be removed in less than an hour with accuracy of within .0002, that’s two tenths roundness and less than .
0005, that’s one half a thousandth taper. The exception to the taper is that the Buick blocks V-6 and V-8, as
with several other factory production models have unsupported sections of the cylinder at the bottom and
this unsupported section may measure a couple of tenth’s smaller. A shop with a lesser machine may only
bore to size and hone only about .0005 (one half thousandth) because it would take several hours to do the
job described with the power hone. The finish should be that as prescribed by the ring manufacturer. The
finished size should be at least the minimum clearance as described by the piston manufacturer.
Crankshaft housing bore preparation: All of the align honing machines that I have seen will do a good job of
straightening and correcting the inside diameter. Don’t use an align boring machine to try to straighten or
size the housing bore, it’s function is not for this purpose, it is used to correct drastically damaged housing
bores and when different caps are used, then must be honed for size and straightness. The finished size
must be within the factory tolerances
Cylinder deck preparation: Most machines capable of re-machining the deck of a block are pretty much the
same as far as the end result, but those that set up off the crankshaft housing bore will produce what is
generally called a square deck and will leave the same deck height end to end. Again as with the Bore-Tru,
BHJ has a fixture for most engines that corrects the deck end to end and also side to side.
Rod re-conditioning: Most machines made for this operation do a good job as long as the operator is
qualified and wants to do a good job. The finished size should be within the factory size.
Crankshaft preparation: Any good high performance crank should be ground to nearly perfect tolerances
and it takes very little extra time by a qualified machinist and a good machine to do a crank for a stock
application the same way. Rod journals should not have more than .0002 (two tenth’s of a thousandth’s )
difference measured four ways on a journal and also journal to journal. Three tenth’s (.0003) is the limit. The
same applies to the mains except the thrust might be .0005 smaller. Actual sizes of the crank depends on the
application and the clearances desired by the engine builder. The clearances should be ground into the
crank after the rod and crank housing bores have been re-machined and bearings installed and inside
diameters checked with a precise gauge for the rods and a dial-bore gauge for the mains.
Cylinder head preparation: Valves should be ground with a machine capable of less than .0005 (one half
thousandth) run-out. Seats should be ground the same way, less than .0005 run-out. The more modern way
of doing seats is with a seat and guide machine that uses three angle and radiused carbide cutters. These
machines do each seat precisely the same and also the same depth which is also important in trying to
maintain proper stem length on non-adjustable valvetrains such as stock Buick’s. An easy way to check
seats is to have the heads clean and positioned so that you can drop the valves in. If the valves pop back up
easily the seat is pretty close. Another way is to rest the valve in the seat and wiggle the valve in four
directions if they move the same, turn the valve 180 degrees and do it again, if again they move the same
the seat and the valve are concentric. With new valves and guides the movement will be very little.
If the valves seem to stick when dropped in or won’t move in one of the directions when seated and wiggled,
the job is not done properly.
It would be imposible to put everything necessary in just one column but the idea is the same in any
procedure, a better machine and a qualified machinist does a better job. How good does you job need to be
If your shop had been satisfactory to you, by no means change because of any mention I have made to
certain procedures. A good machinist is better than a better machine and a lesser machinist. If you are
dissatisfied with your current shop and want a change, ask questions of your next one before you try it. If he
can offer the services and quality previously described you have a better than average chance of getting the
job done right.
A few tools are necessary to check the work done by the machine shop and yes I said check the machine
shops work. Erasers are put on pencils for one reason, everyone makes mistakes.
A set of micrometers that measure in tenth’s of thousands are necessary to check the crank and a dial bore
gauge is necessary to check the housing bores of the rods and the mains in the block, also to check the
cylinder bores.
If you are spending thousands of dollars to build an engine, spend a few hundred to make sure it is right
when you put it together