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Old 07-07-2009, 08:46 AM
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Engine Building Help...Connecting Rod Caps.

OK, so I got my block back from the machine shop and all is ready for assembly. I plastigaged the mains without problems. Plastigage read, guessing, .0018 (the squished strip was slightly larger than the .002 strip). The problem I'm running into is getting the caps off of the connecting rods. The rods have new ARP bolts pressed in and the big end was resized. I tried using my 16 oz. rubber mallet to bang them off but they wouldn't budge. I did manage to get one off but I was getting pretty irritated that they're so hard to get off. The one cap I did manage to get off, piston #1, I put in the engine to plastigage and I had a hell of a time getting it off to even check the squished plastigage strip. When I did manage to put the cap off it fell on the ground putting a couple dings in the cap and the bearing. So the set of bearings are now useless.

I ordered a brass hammer to help with the removal of the caps and hopefully all goes well. My questions.

1) The cap that fell on the ground got a couple of little dings in it from the concrete floor. Is smoothing these out by hand with sand paper acceptable?

2) Can you guys give me some tips how to remove the caps?

3) They seem darn near impossible to get off. Should I take them back to the machine shop to have them remove them and possibly do something to them to make them easier to remove? The rotating assembly was balanced so I don't want any work that'll throw that off.

4) How do I get a good plastigage reading preassembling the rods? I put the plastigage in the rod and not the caps, and I secured the crank using some vise grip pliers and tape, but I still seem to be getting a bad reading from having a hard time removing the cap. It's getting small from pulling and tapping with a rubber mallet.


Help...thanks in advance.

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Old 07-07-2009, 09:05 AM
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The crank needs to be in the block w/at least three main caps w/bearings holding it securely in place.

The mains w/caps should be oiled. The rod journals that you want to plastigage need to be clean and dry.

With the rod and piston installed into the block, bring the rod journal up to BDC (closest to you w/the block upside down) and seat the rod w/it's bearing installed against the cranks journal.

Lay the plastigage across the journal, install and torque the rod cap. Do not rotate the crank.

To remove the cap, take the nuts off, and w/a long piece of PVC pipe (at least that's what I use, others will have a differing idea on this), reach down to the underside of the piston and give it a tap to part the rod from its cap. Regardless of how you do this, don't tap or hammer on the ends of the rod bolts to part the rod and cap, and don't pry on the parting line.

The cap will then "wiggle" off if you go side to side carefully, not getting it hung up by going too far to either side. If it hangs up, re seat the rod onto the journal, tap the cap back down just enough to free it and start over. Don't let the cap contact the journal where the plastigage is at- this could ruin the measurement.

Plastigage is nothing more than a double check, AFAIC. If anything looks out of line, check things w/the proper tools. Use the full width of the journal so you can see if there's any bad taper. If you want to be really anal, check the journal at three different places of its circumference.

Don't forget to use protectors over the rod bolts when installing the rods into the bores. You can use fuel line, but the thin "store-bought" plastic protectors are easier to use, IMO.

Last edited by cobalt327; 07-07-2009 at 09:13 AM.
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Old 07-07-2009, 09:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cobalt327
The crank needs to be in the block w/at least three main caps w/bearings holding it securely in place.

Check...

The mains w/caps should be oiled. The rod journals that you want to plastigage need to be clean and dry.

Check...

With the rod and piston installed into the block, bring the rod journal up to BDC (closest to you w/the block upside down) and seat the rod w/it's bearing installed against the cranks journal.

Check...This is where the video that I bought says to put the plastigage. On the bearing that's in the rod. Then install cap and torque. I'll give your way a try.

Lay the plastigage across the journal, install and torque the rod cap. Do not rotate the crank. Check...I did noticed that the rod wanted to slide to the slide when torque and removing the bolts. What should I do to keep that from happening? Install both at once?

To remove the cap, take the nuts off, and w/a long piece of PVC pipe (at least that's what I use, others will have a differing idea on this), reach down to the underside of the piston and give it a tap to part the rod from its cap. Regardless of how you do this, don't tap or hammer on the ends of the rod bolts to part the rod and cap, and don't pry on the parting line.

Won't doing this give you a false reading because you're tapping the piston down smashing the plastigage more? So I install the piston / rod and pull it up to the rod journal. Dry. Then place plastigage on rod journal where the cap will go, install cap and torque?

The cap will then "wiggle" off if you go side to side carefully, not getting it hung up by going too far to either side. If it hangs up, re seat the rod onto the journal, tap the cap back down just enough to free it and start over. Don't let the cap contact the journal where the plastigage is at- this could ruin the measurement.

The cap wont wiggle off. At least not easily. They're hard to get off all the until the end. I did alternate taps side to side as to not lock the cap up, but it's still difficult.

Plastigage is nothing more than a double check, AFAIC. If anything looks out of line, check things w/the proper tools. Use the full width of the journal so you can see if there's any bad taper. If you want to be really anal, check the journal at three different places of its circumference.

True. I'm not real anal about it but this stage is frustrating me because the caps just don't come off that easy. Even pounding the caps with a rubber mallet they don't want to budge.

Don't forget to use protectors over the rod bolts when installing the rods into the bores. You can use fuel line, but the thin "store-bought" plastic protectors are easier to use, IMO.

Check...I've been using fuel hose.

Thanks for your help. You help gave me another idea, but I still can't even get to that stage cause I can't remove the rod caps. I've only got one off and I really had to pound it off with the rubber mallet.

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Old 07-07-2009, 10:01 AM
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I was just doing a little reading and it seems like the rod caps should just wiggle off once the caps are past the knurling. The caps on mine fight all the way, well, at least the one I did manage to get off, and get tougher to get off as they get closer to the end of the rod bolts. Is the normal?
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Old 07-07-2009, 10:04 AM
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Also, just curious about the small dings around the edge of the rod cap. There's a couple around the edge where the bearing will mate and a couple on the side. I sanded them smooth with some 60 grit and can't catch them with a finger nail now. Will they be OK?

Thanks.
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Old 07-07-2009, 10:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by V8 Super Beetle
What should I do to keep that from happening? Install both at once?
Yes, this would be the simplest thing to do, IMO.

AFA parting of the rod by tapping the piston down, if you were to hit it w/enough force, the plastigage could be damaged. The tap I'm referring to is not hard enough to do that. In fact I don't have to do it in any event, as no caps have been too hard to remove by hand on any engines I've built.

But as hard as your rods seem to be parting (for whatever reason) this may not be an option. If this is the case, by all means, use the plastigage on the rod side.

Quote:
I've only got one off and I really had to pound it off with the rubber mallet.
Man- I don't know what to say. Ive had some tight caps, but not to the extent that you describe.

If you hold off until this evening, there'll be better qualified folks who'll chime in. New bolts have fresh knurling so the rod caps bolt hole ID will be a good, tight fit. It's hard over the internet to judge these things- tight is a relative term here. But, as I said- what you describe seems to me to be abnormal.

Now, AFA the "dings" and such, chances are the cap will be OK. But here again, over the 'net isn't a very reliable way to make judgement calls like that.

If the cap fell onto cement from waist height, I do not think you will have knocked it out of round. Be careful when you gage this cap to be as sure as you can that there's not any tightness at the parting line- this is where you'd most likely see it.
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Old 07-07-2009, 10:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by V8 Super Beetle
I sanded them smooth with some 60 grit and can't catch them with a finger nail now. Will they be OK?
What you would want to do, is with a solvent-wetted piece of 600-800 wet or dry emery paper laid onto a thick, flat piece of glass or a surface plate, work the cap in a circular fashion to bring down the proud spots. This will maintain parallel surfaces better than by hand sanding it. This will take a while. You could start w/400 but only if the raised areas were pretty bad.

IMO, 60 is way too coarse.
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Old 07-07-2009, 11:36 AM
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That's pretty normal for rods with new ARP rod bolts.
The best way is to have a connecting rod splitter:
http://www.goodson.com/store/templat...1f85b193d12615
Short of that, a fairly large brass hammer, tapping on the little tangs on each side of the caps, back and forth, will work them off.
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Old 07-07-2009, 11:41 AM
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Thanks for all the advice. They are VERY had to remove. The machine shop installed new ARP 383 rod bolts and resized them. I don't think the caps have been removed since. Perhaps once I get them off the first time they'll be somewhat easier to work with? As of now, the only thing I can think of to get the caps off is to put them in a vise and knock them off with a brass hammer. That's how hard they are to get off. Can't wiggle them off, nada. Very tight.

I think the rod cap will be fine as well. I was just curious. I'll take some pics if I have to. It fell from waist height removing the cap, cause they're just that hard to pull off, and got a couple dings. I'll use some finer grit sand paper to smooth it out.

What a headache. Next build I'll just get screw cap rods.

I really appreciate the help and advice.
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Old 07-07-2009, 11:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plaintoast
That's pretty normal for rods with new ARP rod bolts.
The best way is to have a connecting rod splitter:
http://www.goodson.com/store/templat...1f85b193d12615
Short of that, a fairly large brass hammer, tapping on the little tangs on each side of the caps, back and forth, will work them off.
LOL, that takes the cake. I knew they exist but I'm just a guy in a garage trying to build an engine.

Thanks, but that's well out of my price range.
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Old 07-07-2009, 11:45 AM
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Yep, pretty normal.
The ARP's are slightly larger so they take a good amount of force to press the bolts in, and they are larger on the knurled section.
S.O.P. would be to mag them, clean them, install the new bolts, then resize, so there was probably no reason for the shop to have taken the caps back off. I rarely do. And yes, after several times of installing and removing the cap, they become easier to work with.
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Old 07-07-2009, 02:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plaintoast
Yep, pretty normal.
The ARP's are slightly larger so they take a good amount of force to press the bolts in, and they are larger on the knurled section.
S.O.P. would be to mag them, clean them, install the new bolts, then resize, so there was probably no reason for the shop to have taken the caps back off. I rarely do. And yes, after several times of installing and removing the cap, they become easier to work with.
Thanks for the input. It makes me feel better that's pretty normal.
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Old 07-07-2009, 02:50 PM
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For a cheap and easy rod/cap splitter -- Do you have a small (1 1/2"-2") tail pipe expander?? They aren't that expensive. You can't use it directly on the rod for obvious reasons, so here is the trick -- take a short piece of 2" OD PVC pipe about 2" long and then split it into 3 pieces making 1/3 moon shaped pieces, Put just two of these pieces over the tailpipe expander so that there will be a gap at the rod split line and secure with rubber bands. Insert the whole works into the rod so that the 2 PVC pieces push on the cap and the rod but not at the parting line. Expand the tool and the rod and cap will split easily.

Pound them off with a Brass hammer and you will risk ruining the roundness of the bore you just paid for with the resizing.

The tighter those caps fit the more secure everything is.
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Old 07-07-2009, 02:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ericnova72
For a cheap and easy rod/cap splitter -- Do you have a small (1 1/2"-2") tail pipe expander?? They aren't that expensive. You can't use it directly on the rod for obvious reasons, so here is the trick -- take a short piece of 2" OD PVC pipe about 2" long and then split it into 3 pieces making 1/3 moon shaped pieces, Put just two of these pieces over the tailpipe expander so that there will be a gap at the rod split line and secure with rubber bands. Insert the whole works into the rod so that the 2 PVC pieces push on the cap and the rod but not at the parting line. Expand the tool and the rod and cap will split easily.

Pound them off with a Brass hammer and you will risk ruining the roundness of the bore you just paid for with the resizing.

The tighter those caps fit the more secure everything is.
Thanks Eric. I can rent, or have on loaned, one from Autozone. I'll give that a try.

Thanks again.
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Old 07-07-2009, 03:05 PM
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Possibly the difference you describe is all about the knurling. Ever since ARP started using waveloc bolts, I've used them. It's been a while since I've had any recon'ed rods/ARP knurled bolts. Still never had any that I couldn't get apart... At least the fit isn't loose.
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