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Unread 11-09-2011, 03:45 PM   #1
Balvar24
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1979 CJ7 
 
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Pison Ring Pliers Do I need em?

Well, do I? Rebuilding a 258 and I don't want to screw anything up. It's my first engine rebuild. Don't want to break a ring or gouge a piston.

Thanks.

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Unread 11-09-2011, 03:55 PM   #2
gosupes
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Get some pliers. Cheap and makes life easy.
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1986 CJ7, 4.2 w/4.0 head, TFI-HEI hybrid ignition, Clifford manifold w/Holley 390 w/cold air intake, OBA, 4.5" lift, Woody CV shaft and Tattons in front, 4.10 gears - lunchbox in front, Truetrac in the back, twin-sticked, blower upgrade for running topless, trying to keep it simple.

It's just a Jeep, and if you don't wheel it once in a while, it's not even that.
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Unread 11-09-2011, 04:19 PM   #3
addicted2dunes
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You'll also need a ring compressor when you go to put the pistons back in.
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Unread 11-09-2011, 04:25 PM   #4
Balvar24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by addicted2dunes View Post
You'll also need a ring compressor when you go to put the pistons back in.
Got one. Thanks.

So far I've sunk about $200 in extra tools so far, if anyone is thinking about doing this for themselves. I already had a torque wrench and general hand tools. I've bought alot of my stuff off of ebay (measuring tools, valve spring compressor, ridge reamer, etc.).
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Unread 11-09-2011, 06:16 PM   #5
mopar408
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if it makes you feel any better while you're fighting putting the rings on your pistons, be glad you ain't doing these, particularly if you break one at $140 a set.
http://www.competitionproducts.com/C...tinfo/43Z4065/
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Unread 11-09-2011, 06:16 PM   #6
JeepHammer
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When you install piston rings, make sure you don't expand them more than absolutely necessary to put them on the piston.
Some people expand them fully, to the limit of the pliers, and they don't like to snap back round when you do that.

---------------------

This is ASSUMING you put each piston in the cylinders and checked them for cylinder to wall clearance BEFORE you installed them on the rods!
Once you know what piston fits what cylinder the best -- and every cylinder in every engine is different, along with every piston, so move them around until you get the best, most uniform fit.

Once you get the pistons pressed onto the correct rods (each piston top should be marked for the cylinder it fits in) you are ready to fit the rings...

---------------------------------------------

What I would do If I were you,

1. I would make a piston ring depth gauge.
This doesn't need to be fancy, but it MUST square the rings up in the bore for test gauging.

Mine are usually home made, although there are 'Plastic' versions you can buy that don't cost very much.

An old piston top mounted on a flat plate works well.
Some guys turn the piston up side down with a rig in the oil groove land and use the piston up side down in the cylinder to square up the ring in the cylinder.
It works, but you must make sure that ring doesn't snag in the oil groove or you will cock the ring you are gauging in the bore.







The idea is to put the rings in the cylinder, one at a time, then use the tool or a piston to square up the rings.
Measure the gap with feeler gauges,
If it's too large or too small, you move the ring to another cylinder to see if it fits better there.

Keep the rings for each cylinder together, so they don't get mixed up again once you figure out what ring fits what bore the best.
I use a board with pegs for the rings/piston-rod assemblies numbered for each cylinder,

2. Once you find out what rings fit what cylinders correctly,
Or you have clearanced the rings to fit (Grinding rings is sometimes required to make a good fit for all in a set),
Then you can install the rings on the pistons.

Clean the piston grooves, pay particular attention to sharp edges or places where the piston is deformed.
It's rare you won't find a machining chuck mark on the ring area of the piston, so some times you will have to file or cut out the groove to clearance the rings during install.

I often file the ends of the rings on the VERTICAL surfaces, just break the edge over,
This keeps burrs and sharp edges from hanging up in the soft aluminum as you install, and it keeps burrs from digging in once they are installed.
Sometimes the ring end burrs will be so sharp and misaligned, they will dig into the piston and the ring won't rotate in operation, which is NOT good.

If you are using 'Molly' coated rings,
Be VERY careful about expanding the rings, you can pop the molly coating right off the ring surface if you expand it too much.

With plain ductile iron rings,
Make sure you are installing the rings with the CORRECT side facing up, and you get the rings in the correct places on the pistons.
The last thing you want to do with brittle ductile iron rings is break one taking it on and off two or three times during the install.

I've seen a TON of rings installed up side down, and on the wrong grooves, so it's easy to do.

Same with over expanding the rings and getting them out of round, which leads to scoring the crap out of the cylinder walls and chipping the crap out of the ring edges.

DO NOT FORGET to use some emery cloth and 'Break' the top edge of the cylinder!
If you have a completely square edge, or worse yet, machining/honing burrs on the top edge of the cylinder, you WILL hang a ring up when trying to insert the pistons.

LUBE YOUR RINGS WITH ASSEMBLY LUBE BEFORE YOU INSTALL!
This makes them come out of the ring compressor MUCH easier, Keeps the dissimilar metals (aluminum, ductile iron, cast iron) from corroding when they come into contact with each other,
And if you take your time putting the rest of the engine together, installing it, ect.
There WILL be plenty of time to corrode/rust before you fire the engine up and get some engine oil in there.

I would cut some long pieces of fuel line,
Slip those over the rod bolts so the rod bolts don't get into the crank journal surfaces when you install the pistons/rings.
A little rubber hose saves a LOT of cussing in the long run!

When you crank the engine over to put the rod cap on the rod,
Remember to BOLT SOMETHING ACROSS THE CYLINDER, OR USE DUCT TAPE!
The piston/rod WILL fall right out of the bore when you flip the engine to bolt the caps on the rods!
(Ask me how I know that! )

I ruined an $800 off set & barrel ground Mahle blower piston just about 5 months ago, and I've been doing this for about 35 years... So it DOES happen...

And no matter HOW careful you are about keeping a hand on the piston when you flip the engine, sooner or later that hand will try to catch something else, or reach for rod nuts, or drive tool, and the piston WILL hit the floor!
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Unread 11-10-2011, 07:18 AM   #7
JeepHammer
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Found the pics and added them above of the ring squaring tool when you gauge the gaps for each cylinder...
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Unread 11-10-2011, 08:41 AM   #8
Balvar24
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Thanks. Grabbed some cheapos from ye Olde Harbor Freight
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Unread 11-10-2011, 09:04 AM   #9
jeepdaddy2000
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I'm going to go out on a limb here...
I have successfully rebuilt dozens of engines, and never used a ring expander.
Place a soft rag in a vice. Slip the piston assembly into the vice so the bottom of the skirt is setting on the top of the piston and LIGHTLY tighten the vice down on the rod. This will immobilize the piston. After you have checked the ring butt gap (you can do this by installing the ring in the bore and pushing it down with a piston) and are ready to install them, lube the piston ring lands.
Roll on the oil rings first
Place the appropriate ring on the piston and using your thumbs, gently spread them till the ring slips over the piston and into the proper groove.
Check your orientation, lube the cylinder, install the compressor, and install the piston, Plastigauge the rod bearings, install the proper cap to the rod, and torque to the proper FT/LBS. I like to do the entire process and install one piston at a time. This keeps loaded pistons from being left lying in a pile.
Perhaps I have been lucky, but I have never broken a ring and never lost an engine to failure.
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Unread 11-10-2011, 09:08 AM   #10
Foundrydude
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A piston fits the bore tight enough you shouldn't need a squaring plate for an everyday street build, just use an old piston to push em down into the bores with lots of lubrication.

If you're using a ridge reamer then you're also dealing with a cylinder that's tapered from wear instead of a freshly bored cylinder. This means your ring gap is a moving target in the assembled engine so even if you go to great lengths to get it right......in function your number is not real.

If you properly file the gap edges, a ring installation tool isn't necessary. Just spiral em into place by hand. You'll expand them less using that method than using a cheap set of ring pliers.

Tip- Fit each ring using it's own cylinder, especially since you've not overbored.

Good luck!
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Unread 11-10-2011, 09:20 AM   #11
Balvar24
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I'm 0.30 overbored. Mr. Machine shop matched my pistons up for me before putting the rods on.
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Unread 11-10-2011, 03:20 PM   #12
JeepHammer
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I normally thread the rings on with my fingers, but you can cut yourself very badly doing it.
The ring ends are RAZOR sharp, so take care.
The pliers type expanders help out a bunch, just don't over expand when you don't have to...

I usually lube the grooves, then install rings in the grooves letting them squish the lube out.
The only sure way to have lube under the rings.

You DO NOT need sharp ends on the rings where the gap is, so if you decide to use a emery file to take the sharp edges off, it's no big deal, and I usually round over anything that touches the piston, grooves or body.
That keeps the rings from digging in and not rotating like they are supposed to.

Once the rings are on the piston, run a feeler gauge between ring and piston groove side, make sure your grooves didn't get pushed closed during handling.
If you find a tight spot, take the ring off and open up the groove so it ring has proper clearance and re-install.

I use a squaring tool like the one shown above because guys get a piston ring groove hung on the lip of the block and pretty soon you have a ring cocked in the bore and don't get an accurate reading of the end gap.
Since I like to keep the gap on the tight side, I need accurate gap readings.
The above squaring tool (or commercial made gauge) makes that possible, and I don't have to handle the piston/rod assemblies.

I build a LOT of tightly put together engines (not as many as I used to), I prefer accurate readings and tools that make my job easier, and reduce the chance I'll destroy something in the process.
The squaring tool makes my job easier and keeps the chances of breaking something to a minimum.
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Unread 11-10-2011, 03:37 PM   #13
Foundrydude
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Why did you buy a ridge reamer? The purpose of those is to protect pistons that you're gonna reuse. If you're boring then ya just knock the carbon off the ridge with some scotchbrite and blast the old pistons out with a hammer.

Good luck with the build
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Unread 11-10-2011, 03:57 PM   #14
Balvar24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foundrydude View Post
Why did you buy a ridge reamer? The purpose of those is to protect pistons that you're gonna reuse. If you're boring then ya just knock the carbon off the ridge with some scotchbrite and blast the old pistons out with a hammer.

Good luck with the build
Had it from another rebuild that I had already started. This one was, um, not forseen. Now, I'm building a F-134 and 258. The 258 is my runner. The F-134 goes in my M38a1 (see avatar). I started the F head, then the 258 broke a piston the day I dropped the F-134 off at the machine shop. I knew it was coming, but hoped to get one more winter out of her.

Good catch.
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