Wednesday, December 26, 2007

What You Pay For

I had been playing around (in my head) with a new slogan to use in my shop. Its based on the old saying "you get what you pay for". Obviously that works to use with persons who think my prices are too high. But, I think there is a danger in having my prices too low (besides not making a living). That would be the perception that if my prices are too low, my workmanship may not be as good as could be obtained at a higher priced shop.

A good example is the "Bare Bones" porting job I offer for Twin Cams. At $499, it is one of the best performance buys on the market for Harleys. When I developed this porting job, it offered outstanding flow for a very reasonable price. With the addition of the knowledge I gained during my week of school with Joe Mondello, they are probably some of the best heads available anywhere for any price! But that still doesn't stop some customers from wanting to upgrade to a more expensive porting job, even though they may not really be in the market for the higher performance potential that the more expensive porting job makes possible.

But now I have seen the other side of the coin. I recently had the displeasure of disassembling a Knucklehead engine that had been "rebuilt/restored" elsewhere. This engine had not been run since its "rebuild", so all of the sins of the rebuilder were plain to see. Though I have never met the person who performed this "restoration", it still nearly made me sick to my stomach to see his workmanship. If there ever was a case of not getting what you payed for, this was it!

Upon pulling the heads, the first problem was apparent. Rust pits in the fresh bore. I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt on this one. Maybe the oil consumption would not be too bad, and perhaps one could justify leaving the bore as small as possible, since it is for a restoration. Yeah, I'd be willing to give him that one, if that was the only thing I found. Pulling the cam cover, though, really told the story. The pinion shaft looked as though it had spent 50 years laying in a swamp before being bead blasted and then sanded. The shaft had deep rust pits over the entire surface. There was a good .002" wear on the end of the shaft that fits in the cam cover pinion bushing. That combined with a pinion bushing that had never been replaced (this was a 1938 engine) came to a grand total of .009" clearance. The factory service manual calls for .0005" (half a thou) to .0012" for that bushing clearance. Nearly 9 times too big!

Bushing end of pinion shaft

Splitting the cases revealed that the roller bearing surface of the pinion shaft was just as rust pitted as the rest of the shaft. It may have lasted a few hundred miles before disintegrating, but other things would have prevented the engine from ever running that long.

Roller bearing surface of pinion shaft

The cam was in similar shape. Lots of pitting on the cam lobes, along with .009" bushing clearance on one end and .006" on the other. Pulling the oil pump revealed a decent body and gears, but a pressure relief spring that may have come out of a ball point pen rather than the correct one. The check valve spring looked to be 70 years old, and in case it never dawned on you, springs do tend to loose some pressure with time.

About the only clearance that I found that was not way too big, was the valve to guide. And that was way too small! All four valves were fit at .001 clearance. Now, with the huge pinion bushing clearance and the way too weak pressure relief spring, there is no chance that the oil pump could have built enough pressure to get any oil to the heads, so the valves would have stuck anyway. However, at .001" valve to guide clearance on a Knuckle, it would not have mattered if the valves were submerged in oil, they would have stuck!

And then there are the rocker arms. New standard shafts in worn out rocker arm bores. One of the rockers is worn so badly that a +.010 shaft will not save it. That and rocker pads that show 70 years worth of grooving.

Wear on rocker pad

Like I said, it is enough to make me sick to my stomach. Work like this goes far beyond incompetent. Its is down right theft to charge any amount of money for this type of work!

You get what you pay for. Well, that is not always true. The person who did this to this engine proves that sometimes, no matter how low the price, you will not get any value for your money. I try to be at the opposite end of the spectrum. I do my very best to give the customer his money's worth and more no matter how high (or low) the price.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I Like Mike?

I need to make it clear that I am writing this "spur of the moment", and without any research, but here goes anyway.

A side bar on one of my favorite blogs had an "I Like Mike" link to the Mike Huckabee campaign web site. Now this particular blog is by a Baptist pastor who's viewpoints I appreciate, who's insights I find edifying, and who's doctrine I (as far as I can see) agree with. Mike Huckabee is also a Baptist pastor, but I know nothing of him outside politics.

Listening to conservative talk radio as I often do at work, I have heard the opinion expressed by one of our local talk show hosts that Mr. Huckabee is very liberal on every issue except abortion. Now given a choice between a liberal who is pro abortion and one who is anti abortion, there is no doubt in my mind I would chose the one who is against murdering babies. However, I would much prefer an anti abortion candidate who is also a conservative.

A couple days ago I caught a news snippet of a small portion of what I assume was the last Republican presidential debate. In it Mike Huckabee was being "hounded" for an answer about his belief as to the biblical story of creation. Mr. Huckabee would not affirm his belief in the Bible's version, that is, six days. The best he could do was to express his belief that God did the creating, but he did not know how long he spent at it. If I am not mistaken, his answer alluded to the "day/age theory." (in other words, each day mentioned in Genesis was a metaphor for an age or undetermined length of time)

I have to admit, this really gives me more doubts about Mr. Huckabee than the accusations of liberalism I have heard. I am perfectly willing to accept that someone can hold a different view on the proper role of government in our lives. As a conservative I am no fan of big, nanny state, tax and spend government. I may reject his political views for that reason, but could still "look up" to him for his stand against abortion and his Christianity.

However, his answers on the creation issue leave me wondering. There is little doubt that the bible describes creation as taking place in six literal days. The text explicitly states "and the evening and the morning were the first day" after each day of creation. Not only that, but if each "day" were indeed an "age" (what ....10 thousand years, 10 million years, or even 10 billion years?) then you may have a tough time explaining how the plants created in the third "age" survived until the sun was created in the fourth "age".

The possibilities as I see them are as follows:

1 Mike Huckabee as a Baptist pastor does not know the bible very well

2 Mike Huckabee as a Baptist pastor does not believe the bible to be reliable

3 Mike Huckabee as a Baptist pastor is willing to compromise his beliefs in order to not be looked down upon as a hopelessly uneducated hick by mainstream evolution believing voters.

Of these three possibilities I honestly can't decide which I would find most disappointing. Can anyone think of any other possibilities that would leave me feeling better about "Mike"?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Why St. Lee

When I first started this blog nearly a year ago, my wife Jane pointed out that I really needed to do a post explaining why I go by the pen name "St. Lee" in my posts. She pointed out that anyone seeing it might get the wrong impression. After all, many would think that you must have a pretty big head to assign the title "Saint" to your name. I agreed that it did warrant an explanation, but I am only now getting around to it.

If you have read any of my posts having to do with Christianity, I trust you will not have gotten the impression that I feel I have anything to boast of in either the fact of my being a Christian, or the life I live in regards to that Christianity. Any glory that is due is due only to God!

Quite the contrary, the moniker St. Lee came about as a result of a bit of satire that I had engaged in. Well before I started this blog, I was in the habit of following a number of other blogs regularly. One of my favorites was the now "retired" Purgatorio which managed to add a little humor to many people's day by bringing attention to some of the strange things done in the name of Christianity. Fairly early on, I read a post there about praying to Saints. I couldn't help responding to a comment by a lady who was obviously Catholic and wanted to explain the practice of praying to Saints. I have copied her comment here:

"Why? Because God has given his saints certain areas of expertise and dominion so that we here on earth can go to them for specific requests. It’s divine delegation, like the CEO of a large company. For instance, if someone wants to pray for protection during a long journey, he could pray to St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers. His request goes straight to St. Christopher who has been given authority to answer that prayer (or not).It’s similar to the apostles ability to heal and cast out demons which was given to them by Jesus when he sent them out to preach the good news.It’s not mandatory that we pray to saints, but the option is open to us if we choose to do so.Please feel free to throw your stones now. "

My "tongue in cheek" response to her was as follows:

"Ok, I get it. In God’s business plan, he has delegated saints (like me) to answer the prayers of non saints. Wow, that’s quite a big responsibility. Kind of makes you wish the overworked CEO could find the time to deal with each of the non saints personally. "

And I signed my response "St. Lee"

Of course this nice lady's comment was based on her Roman Catholic understanding of the term Saint. If I am not mistaken, the Catholic faith has to officially declare a person a Saint, based on their good works leading to sanctification. My comment was based on the Baptist (and biblical I believe) understanding of the term; that is one who has been born again and declared righteous and holy due to the work of Christ completely separate from our own good works (or lack thereof).

Incidentally, I recall being taught as a young teen in the Lutheran Church something just about half way in between these two extremes. During a class we were told that a saint was not someone declared such by the Catholic Church, but actually any Christian who lived a very, very good life. When the class was asked to give examples of people they knew who qualified for the title saint, several of the other students agreed that my own mother fit the bill. I remember having somewhat mixed emotions at the time. Delight that my peers would see her in that light, but a bit wary because I knew she was not as perfect as they might think (though she really was a sweetheart). I still have somewhat mixed emotions, but I now have the clear realization that no matter how others may have seen of my mother, what matters is whether or not God saw her through the blood of Christ!

That is the story of how I became St. Lee on the blogosphere. It started as a bit of satire, but I decided to keep it since it fits only by the grace of God and the sacrifice of Christ. It was not until I had been using the pen name for some time that it even dawned on me that it could also be seen as a play on words ...Saintly ...St. Lee. As an adjective, saintly really does not fit, though by the grace of God that is slowly changing and some day will be an accurate description!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Oversize Valves in a Knuckle

(some of this post is taken directly from an answer that I posted on the FlatHeadPower bulletin board in response to a question about what was the customary way to modify stock Knuckle heads for a 2" intake valve. I thought I would add a little more info and make it a post here)

Vintage hot rod Harley's gotta love 'em! And one of the most popular motors to "hot rod" in times past was the venerable Knucklehead. If you have been around Harleys long enough, you have likely heard the stories, some might even say legends, of somebody that had a Knuckle that would "whup" anything around. Seems that every locality has at least a few of these stories that the graybeards can relate with a little prodding. Like all legends, the stories likely had their roots is some degree of fact.

So, what made these hot rod Knuckles so fast? Like every good motor, it was a combination of the right parts and the right modifications. Some of the most popular mods included installation of Flathead flywheels for an increase in stroke. Along with the flywheel change, often the flywheels were lightened to increase the rate of acceleration. A surprising number of Knuck heads were modified to run dual carbs. Cams could be re-ground for more lift and duration. And then there was porting and polishing along with an oversize intake valve. This last modification, the oversize intake valve is what I would like to focus on in this post.

A vintage modified dual Linkert Knuck

Back in the old days, the usual way to install a big intake valve in a knuck was to remove the old seat insert and grind the new seat right into the cast iron of the head (like an iron head XL). When you do it this way, a 2 inch valve is barely big enough, and many of them used a 2 1/32" or larger valve. For good flow you want the "choke" under the 45 degree seat to be a maximum of about 90% of the valve head diameter. If the stock seat insert is 1.875, then you can see that even the 2 1/32" valve would leave too large a diameter hole (90% of 2.031 is 1.828). On the other hand, low lift flow will likely be a bit better with the "too large" diameter under the valve, and lets face it, street knucks are for the most part limited to low lift. A bigger problem with using a 2" valve directly onto the cast iron might be any misalignment between the guide and the machining for the seat insert. If they are not close to concentric, there may not be much of the valve "catching" the head on one side.

valve seat cut onto cast iron of head after seat insert removal

A 2 1/32" (2.031) intake valve may have been the most common size used in the "old days" but there are some other considerations also. The valve pocket in the piston may not be large enough to give clearance around the edge of the valve. Even though you will likely be using a Shovelhead piston, remember that those will have been manufactured with a 1.940" (1 15/16) valve head diameter in mind. That means that if your intake valve and piston are coming close enough to each other (remember the intake valve will begin to open before the piston even reaches TDC) then even if there is plenty of depth to the piston valve relief, it may not be of sufficient diameter. The edges of the valve reliefs in the pistons can be opened up easily enough with a die grinder, but machining them on a mill will give a much more professional look.

A 2 1/16" (2.0625) intake valve will come closer to the ideal size for cutting the seat directly into the head (at least from a flow standpoint), but if you are still running a 3 7/6" bore, then opening the diameter of the valve relief in the piston will put you perilously close to cutting into the top ring groove. With anything larger than a 1.94"intake valve it would be a really good idea to mock up the motor with clay in the valve reliefs on the pistons. That way after you have gently rotated the engine a couple revolutions, you can see (and measure) the actual valve to piston clearance via the flattened clay. Don't forget that it is best to use light springs on the valves to avoid deflection of the valve train during this check.
Many of the large valve conversions done in times past used what I assume to be a tractor valve. That involved cutting down the valve head diameter as well as cutting a new keeper groove to shorten the valve. If you have to shorten the stem, then you should use a lash cap so that the rocker pad has a hardened surface to ride on. The added thickness of the lash cap should be considered when determining valve length. Whatever valve is selected should have a fairly minimal tulip or you will have to shorten the bottom of the guide for clearance (something a knuck can little afford; the knuck guides are already too short for good longevity!)

An example of a valve that will work (though far from ideal) is a Perfect Circle (brand name) 211-2455. It is a 2 3/32" with a 3/8" stem and not much of a tulip. The stem length is plenty long for mounting in a lathe to cut a new keeper groove. This valve also has a 30 degree seat angle rather than a 45. If you plan to use a 30 degree seat, then you are already there, but with the extra diameter there is enough material to allow you to grind it to a 45. One of the drawbacks to this valve is that the stem diameter is actually .3725". A stock Knuckle intake valve will have a stem diameter of approximately .375" so unless you are using guides that leave a little extra meat in the I.D. for fitting, you will likely wind up with more clearance than you might want.

When machining an oversize valve for use in a Knuckle, your first steps would be to cut the head diameter to size, grind the 45 degree seat on the valve, and then reduce the margin (which will have become wider due to cutting down the diameter) back by cutting the face of the valve. Once you have all of that taken care of, you are ready to cut the new keeper groove. You will want to mount the valve in the lathe by the stem end and cut the groove as close to the chuck as possible to keep everything concentric. The groove only needs to be "squared off" on the top edge, since that is where the spring pressure will apply force to the keeper. The very last step is to actually shorten the valve. This can be most easily accomplished by cutting the stem an appropriate distance above the new keeper groove with a cut-off wheel, leaving a small amount of extra material to face off on your valve grinder's valve stem tip refacing wheel. Don't forget to take into account the height of the lash cap, and where it will ride in relation to the valve keepers, when determining where to cut the valve.

note the keeper groove is only squared on tip end

Rowe replacement Knuckle intake has overall length of 3.575" with about .090 of that being the margin. I have cut 2.060 intake valves for use in Knucks using 3.585 as the overall length with .050 of that being the margin. This length does not take the needed lash cap (Crane # 99422-16) into account; it will add .060" to the effective length. If you are working from scratch, the 3.585 length (or 3.645 if you are having custom valves made: 3.585 + lash cap) may be a good place to start. If you start with the same length as a stock valve you will have to sink the valve quite a bit to get the stem protrusion in the ballpark for proper rocker arm geometry, and that will lower the compression ratio and tend to "shroud" the valve hurting flow.

Another option would be to install an oversize seat insert and use a 2" iron XL valve. This valve is readily available as a 1/16" oversize for a '70 to '84 XL. It is approximately the right length, so you don't have to mess with shortening or lash caps. The drawback is that you need to come up with a 5/16" I.D. valve guide and suitable springs, top collars, or keepers. The FHP knuckle heads used an "off the shelf" 1 15/16" XL intake valve, but I never did see where they offered the guides for 5/16" stem in any oversizes. Their spring kits should work for such an application, though the lower collar may be a problem.

But is this type modification worthwhile at this late date? That depends. By far the majority of Knucklehead owners today are just thrilled to have one to ride. Many would probably be horrified that anyone would consider modifying an otherwise stock Knuckle head, despite the fact that this particular mod can't be detected externally. Of course all of these modifications can easily be applied to any of the reproduction Knuckle heads, such as those from V-Twin and those from Flathead Power (now part of S&S). And, there are always those people who just can't leave things alone. I am one of those. There is hardly an engine I own that has not been modified for more power, and just being a priceless antique is not enough of a deterrent to keep me in check. Are you one of those people too?
If your goal is to build a Knuck that will dominate everything around, just as those of legend did ....well, that probably isn't going to happen. On the other hand, there are a whole world of bikers out there who will be totally blown away by just how strong your Knuckle can run! In my book, that is just one of life's little pleasures.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Whats so Amazing about Amazing Grace, part 7 and final

The song Amazing Grace continues to be an all time favorite of Christians everywhere. Today I would like to finish up my commentary on the song by looking at the final verse. If you missed the rest, you can find the first installment here.

This following verse was not part of the original song written by John Newton. Though the author is unknown, I believe that he has managed to give one of the most striking descriptions of eternity you will find this side of heaven.

Verse 6
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun

Picture this if you can. You have been in heaven for ten thousand years. That is an amount of time that most of us have a tough time grasping. After all, many of us may live to be 70. Some may reach 80 or 90, but few will reach 100. Ten thousand years would be a hundred 100 year lifespans. That is a long time in any one's book. But after the equivalent of that time in heaven, the amount of time you have remaining to spend with God .... has not decreased by a single day! There is no end, it just continues forever and ever. Like I said, its hard for us to fathom.

Revelation 21: 2-4 tells us; "And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."

No death, no sorrow, no crying, no pain; only the glorious presence of God. And it will go on forever. I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty good to me.

The only trouble is, that same description of how long eternity in heaven lasts also applies to how long an eternity in hell is. That should be a sobering thought for us! If you are reading this and you have not been born again, then this description of eternity should cause you to fear God.

As Jesus says in Matthew 10: 28; "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."

If on the other hand, you have been born again, it should lead you to re evaluate your efforts to spread the gospel! Certainly if we consider those who will spend eternity in hell, we can well understand the statement that "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes"

Amazing Grace, what an amazing song! Not only is Amazing Grace full of good biblical doctrine, but one cannot help being be inspired by it. In fact, one of the few things I find more inspiring than the song itself is the amazing grace of God that the song is based on!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Whats so Amazing about Amazing Grace, part 6

If you have not been following my commentary on the beloved Christian song Amazing Grace, by John Newton, you can find the first installment here. Now on to verse five.

Verse 5
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow:
the sun forbear to shine
But God who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow:

Here again, it is easy enough to find scripture to support the lyrics. When the day of the Lord comes, this old earth will be purged by fire. All of what so many hold precious will be destroyed

2 Peter 3: 10-11 says; "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,"

the sun forbear to shine

Revelation 21 tells of how the holy Jerusalem that will descend out of heaven from God, will have no use for the sun because it will be lighted by the glory of God
Verse 23 of chapter 21 states; "And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof"

But God who called me here below,

1 Peter 2: 9 tells us; "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;"

Certainly those who have been born again, have been called by God out of spiritual darkness into the light of Jesus Christ! And let us not forget the title of this song. Amazing Grace. 2 Timothy 1: 9 reminds us of how that calling relates to grace; "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,"

Will be forever mine.

1 Corinthians 1:9 "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord." Keep in mind that our calling is by God, and it is him that is faithful. Praise the Lord that our continuing fellowship does not depend upon our weak flesh. It, like salvation is by God's grace.

1 John 5: 13 "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God."

We are all going to die physically, unless we are still here when the Lord returns. Obviously our physical life is not what John is speaking of here. The "eternal life" in view is spiritual in nature. When you are saved, born again, it is a spiritual birth. Before that point a man's spirit is dead, dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2: 1). But the spirit that is born in salvation is an eternal spirit. Eternal life, once bestowed, can never be withdrawn or thrown away, else it never was eternal life in the first place!

Eternal life is one of the great promises of God's amazing grace.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Whats so Amazing about Amazing Grace, part 5

We have come to verse 4 in my commentary on the song Amazing Grace by John Newton. If you would like to start at the beginning, click here.

Verse 4
The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures

The Lord has promised good to me,

There are great promises in the bible; one of the greatest is that of salvation. In John 3: 16 the bible says: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

His Word my hope secures

Note that " Word" here is capitalized. Jesus Christ is called the Word in the book of John. John 1: 1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Our only hope of salvation is in Jesus Christ, the Word. Christ secured that salvation once and for all on the cross of Calvary.

He will my Shield and Portion be, as long as life endures

Both shield and portion are biblical terms. Ephesians 6: 16 "Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked." Our faith in Jesus Christ truly is our shield, he is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12: 2).

Psalms 73: 26 "My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever."

Our flesh and heart will eventually fail. Each of us will die (unless Christ returns first). But if you are born again, then it hardly matters, because as it says in 1 Corinthians 15: 55-57 "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ"

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Whats so Amazing about Amazing Grace, part 4

Continuing on with my series of posts on the song Amazing Grace, I would like to take a look at verse 3 and some of the sound doctrine found in it. If you missed the start of this series, you can find it here.

Verse 3
Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home

Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares I have already come

Have you ever noticed that many of the Christians who you meet will tell you how often they came close to death in one way or another before they were saved? I could relate a number of instances from my own life in which I could just as easily died as remained unscathed. Was it just luck that I lived long enough to become a Christian at the ripe old age of 44?

‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,

No, I really don't believe in luck. Proverbs 16: 33 says: "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD." That's right, according to the book of Proverbs, "chance" is not an issue. God truly is sovereign!

and grace will lead me home

It is the free and unmerited gift of God that sanctifies the Christian. As Phillipians 1: 6 states: "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:" It is God who begins the good work in the Christian in saving him, and it is God who continues that good work in the Christian in sanctifying him. God does not save us and then leave us to our own devices to "keep" our salvation by our own right acts. No, it is he that continues to work in us to cause us to persevere.

But is it possible to lose your salvation? Certainly, if it depended upon our own weak flesh, it would not only be possible, but it would be inevitable. But as this song states (and more importantly the Bible teaches), it is grace which keeps us, and leads us home.

In John 10: 27-29 Jesus said: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand."

It is God’s grace that keeps his elect safe through those dangers, toils and snares before salvation, it is God’s grace that saves us, and it is God’s grace that will keep us safe through the dangers, toils and snares after salvation. It is God' grace that leads us safely home to heaven.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Whats so Amazing about Amazing Grace, part 3

This is the third in a series of posts about the song Amazing Grace, written by John Newton. In the first post I told a little about Newton's life. In the second , I started to examine some of the biblical doctrine contained in verse number one. Today I would like to continue to do the same with the second verse.

Verse 2
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear

comes from God, and by definition it is a free unmerited gift of God. This verse states that it is a gift from God that we fear him. Proverbs 9:10 states: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding." Job 28:28 says: "And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding."

The knowledge of the holiness of God should lead us to understand our sinfulness as well as how much we are deserving of judgement. This should cause us to fear God! And it should cause us to depart from evil, in other words to repent! When someone tells you that they do not believe in a god that you have to fear, then they likely do not believe in the same God that the bible speaks of. They have not received that first grace of God teaching them the beginning of wisdom.

And grace my fears relieved

The free and unmerited gift (in other words, grace) of salvation is what will finally releive the fear of judgement that the law instills in us. 1 John 4: 17-19 tells us: "Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us." The fear of Judge has been replaced with the godly fear of a loving Father.

How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed

If God’s grace is not precious to you above all else, then its likely you never saw yourself as a wretch deserving hell, and never were a partaker of the grace of the fear of God. I find that the longer I have been saved, the more precious grace is to me, because the longer I have been saved, the more I see how short I fall!

By God's grace I will continue with verse 3 of Amazing Grace in my next post.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Whats so Amazing about Amazing Grace, part 2

In my last post I spoke a little about John Newton, the author of the beloved song "Amazing Grace". I told a little of his early life, how he became a Christian, and even the epitaph that is on his tombstone. Today I would like to look the lyrics of the first verse, giving biblical support for the doctrine that I see there, and with a little luck continue with the other verses soon after.

Verse 1
Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind but now I see

Grace is indeed amazing! But what exactly is it? A common easy to remember, simplified explanation which you may hear in many churches is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Not bad, but perhaps a little over simplified.

Webster’s defines grace thus: the free unmerited love and favor of God - unearned and undeserved. I think that really nails it! The bible talks much of grace, but one of my favorite verses about grace is Ephesians 2: 8-9 "For by GRACE are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast."

How sweet the sound

Anyone who is truly saved knows how sweet the sound of the word grace is. But the reason it is so sweet is deeply tied to being "a wretch like me" which we’ll look at in a moment.

That saved

Simply put, a person is saved when he is born again. John 3: 3 says "....except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." In Matthew 1: 21 it says "....and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins." You see, when Jesus saves you, it is not just from the penalty of sin, but also from the bondage of continuing in sin!

A wretch like me

Wretchedness speaks of the total depravity of man. Once you have seen yourself in the mirror of the ten commandments, you will start to get a view of your wretchedness. Romans 7: 13 says in part: "....that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful." In fact, if you are having a hard time seeing yourself as a sinful wretch, keep in mind that Isaiah said in chapter 64 verse 6 that "....all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags". That’s right, as if our sins were not bad enough, God views our good deeds (outside of Christ) as filthy rags!
What is amazing about grace is that it should be bestowed upon me! I am that wretch who has neither earned nor deserves grace.

I once was lost, but now am found

This may chafe against some that may claim to have been a Christian their whole life, but it is quite biblical. In fact I can only think of two people mentioned in the bible who were not once lost. One, of course, was Jesus Christ himself, who was to do the finding. The other was John the baptist, who scripture states was filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb (and that is not to say he was not a sinner in need of salvation).

1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. "

You see, even if you find yourself on the list mentioned in 1 Corinthians above, there is still hope for you through Christ Jesus our Lord and Saviour. The terms saved, born again, and converted are all found in the bible and they all speak of a change. While one cannot base their salvation on the fact that their lives have been changed, the lack of a lasting change should certainly be cause for alarm.

Of course when we hear the phrase "once was lost but now am found" it likely brings to mind the parable of the lost sheep as found in Luke 15: 4-7; "What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance."

In the passage above, I would just ask; who did the searching, the Shepperd or the sheep? The fact that it is Christ that seeks out the lost, and not the lost who seek out Christ shows the irresistible call of God. Though from the human perspective it may seem that it is man who seeks salvation, scripture makes it clear that "We love him, because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19)

Was blind but now I see

Before being born again, each of us is blind, and it is because we have been blinded by the god of this world as 2 Corinthians 4: 3-6 states: "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. "

If, as it says in the passage above, that our minds have been blinded by the god of this world, then something needs to take place in order to give us sight. We need a miracle! We can see a picture of that miracle in the story of Jesus giving sight to a man blind from birth (John chapter 9). So too, are each of us helplessly blind until Jesus has performed a miracle upon us in giving us spiritual sight!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Whats so Amazing about Amazing Grace

This hymn has been a favorite of many Christians for decades, particularly of those of us who have experienced God’s amazing grace. The story behind the song is nearly as inspiring as the song itself.

The song Amazing Grace was written by a man by the name of John Newton. John was born in the year 1725, and by age 11 he went to sea. Eventually he worked his way up to the point where he captained his own ship which was involved in the slave trade. Hardly a promising start for a man who would write one of the most beloved songs in the history of Christianity.
In 1748 while Newton’s ship was at sea they found themselves in a terrific storm. Things looked very grim and John despaired of his ship or anyone aboard surviving. For the remainder of his life, this event is the time that John Newton pointed back to as the time of his being born again.

You may be surprised to learn than Newton did not immediately quit the slave trade. What he did do immediately, was to make sure the slaves were treated humanely; a trait quite uncommon for the time. Such is the way of God, for that even as salvation may be an immediate thing, sanctification certainly is not. Soon God worked on Newton’s heart in regards to his involvement in the slave trade so that by the year 1755 he had completely given up seafaring, and learned Latin, Greek, and Hebrew; eventually becoming a minister.

One of John’s early influences in the religious realm was George Whitefield, a leader of the Calvinistic Methodist Church (I was quite surprised to learn that there ever had been a Calvinist branch to the Methodist faith). The song Amazing Grace was probably composed by Newton between 1760 and 1770.

Newton’s tombstone, which I also find inspiring, reads:
JohnNewton, clerk, once and infidel and a libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he had long labored to destroy.

Now that we know a little more about the author, in the next few days I would like to look at the text of the song, and some of the biblical truths that are to be found therein.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Back to School

So, what’s new at Lee’s Speeds Shop? Funny you should ask that. I recently finished up a 3 day, one on one, advanced cylinder head porting class for Harley Davidsons at Mondello Technical School. The opportunity to spend the time with the legend, Joe Mondello, fine tuning my porting skills was something I am very glad I did not miss out on.

sign at the entrance to the Mondello Technical School

When I call Joe a legend, I mean Legend with a capitol L. The list of those who have used Joe’s porting work reads like a who’s who of every type of racing. Don Garlits, Carrol Shelby, Andy Granatelli, A.J. Foyt, Connie Kalleta, Grumpy Jenkins, Eddie Hill, Don Prudhomme, John Force, Mickey Thompson, Smokey Yunick to name just a few of the most recognizable (and there are a boatload more who anyone with more than a passing interest in racing would likely know) Some of the major milestones set with Joe’s heads are: first to run 200 mph at the drags, the first to go 7, 6, and 5 second E.T.s in Top Fuel, the first 200mph runs in Top Fuel, Injected Fuel, Top Gas, and Fuel Altered. Like I said; Legend with a capitol L.

Now, why would a guy who has been porting Harley heads for 18 years and done more than 750 sets in that time (such as yours truly) need to go back to school? The obvious answer is "re-read the list above". Joe Mondello has been porting heads for over 50 years. The not so obvious answer is "new technology". You see, Joe, working with Lloyd Creek of Creek Flow Management, have developed "wet flow testing" to the point where it can fill in some of the blanks as to why some heads that show good flow on a dry flow bench do not make as much power as other heads with similar dry flow.

Besides bringing a couple sets of stock Twin Cam head castings to port under Joe’s tutelage, I also chose to bring along a sample of my "Bare Bones" ported heads as well as one of my top of the line "R-Port" heads. The first day at the school, while Joe was going over some theory with me, he had one of his guys do a dry flow bench test on the heads I had previously ported. I was happy, though not totally surprised, to hear from them that they were impressed with the flow numbers. (after all, I have a dry flow bench, so I already knew they had good flow numbers). The real test though, and a big part of why I was there, was to find out how they measured up in the wet flow bench testing.

In the mean time Joe and I went to work on the stock castings I had brought along. I have to admit I was unsure whether this part would be a waste of time, since I had plenty of experience porting. In retrospect, I must admit that the techniques, procedures and tricks that Joe taught me just in regards to the actual porting and polishing made the trip worthwhile! Not only are my ports looking better than they ever have, but I am able to accomplish the work in less time. That means I will be better able to keep the cost down for you, the customer.

the crew at Mondello's
L to R: Bret, Dave, Joe, and Mike

Wet flow testing did show that the heads I had previously ported had more fuel falling out of suspension in the combustion chamber than the heads Joe and I did together. That is not really bad news, since I now know that despite making very good power, my heads can still be improved.

The last head that Joe and I worked on was a quick job on one of the new Screamin’ Eagle 110 heads. Since I had previously ported a couple sets of these also, I knew we could get the flow figures up, but I was also curious how they would come out in the wet flow testing. As it turns out, the ported 110 heads have pretty decent wet flow characteristics providing one particular procedure is followed. What is that, you ask? Well, I’m afraid you’ll just have to send your heads to me for porting to find out.

Bottom line; armed with more knowledge and better techniques I fully expect to see even better results where the rubber meets the road, or more accurately where the rubber meets the dyno.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Reactions to Christ

This past Sunday morning pastor Voigt preached on some of the reactions and attitudes of those coming into contact with Jesus in Mark 15. This chapter describes the trial, scourging, and crucifixion of Christ. One of the phrases that stands out in this chapter due to its repetition is "King of the Jews". In the varied reactions we can see many of the same attitudes that are displayed by people today when confronted with the fact of the Kingship of Jesus.

First of all we see Pilate in verses 1-15. If he had been given a choice he would not have been involved with the whole "Jesus situation" at all. His attitude can be summed up in one word. Indifference. Pilate did not perceive Jesus to be guilty of anything worthy of death, but that conviction was not enough to make him take a stand and release him either. He would have happily let Jesus go free with perhaps just a good beating as somewhat of a compromise.

In verses 8-15 the crowd of people are shown to be easily influenced. Wishy-washy you might say. The chief priests, in verse 11, are said to have "moved the people" to release Barabbas instead of Jesus. It is quite likely that among this crowd were some of the same people who had a week earlier hailed Christ's entry into Jerusalem with cries of Hosanna. Disappointed, perhaps, with Jesus failure to take the nation by force, they were quick to turn on him.

Next are the Roman soldiers. Verses 16-20. They, as a group, already have hatred and contempt for the Jews. They are more than willing to take it out on Jesus. They are bullies who like nothing more than to beat a man when he is defenceless. It is part f their job, and they love their jobs!

In verse 21 it is said of Simon of Cyrene that the soldiers "compel" him to bear Jesus cross. From the text we get little information about this Simon except that he was an unwilling participant.

The Jewish religious leaders can be found in several places throughout this chapter. Their motivation is made clear from verse 10, which states that Pilate knew that the chief priests acted out of envy. Clearly they wanted to remain the focus of religious authority in the Jewish nation, and so needed to get rid of this Jesus that so many of the people were turning to follow.

But where were the disciples? Not to be found in this text! Even the women who followed Jesus were said to be "looking on afar off" in verse 40. Now we know from other books of the Bible that at least some of the disciples were present, but they apparently were keeping a low profile. Keeping their distance. Not making an outright denial of Christ (as Peter had done earlier), but neither willing to share his fate.

Its pretty easy to make the comparison between those described here in Mark 15 and the people of our time. Perhaps most of the world is like Pilate. They can take or leave Jesus. They are willing to accept that he was a great teacher, but...

Unfortunately, many of those who call themselves Christian today may fit into the mold of the crowd who were so easily swayed. They may be hailing Jesus as savior one day, only to reject him as King the next, when they find he is not the one their man-made theology made him out to be.

Clearly there are "Roman soldier" types at work today. Atheists show their hatred of Jesus Christ on a daily basis. They hold him in utter contempt just as most of those soldiers did so long ago. For the most part they make it obvious that their hatred is reserved for Jesus, since they rarely waste any time attacking any false religions.

Simon the Cyrenian. His modern day counterpart can be seen in nearly anyone who is unsaved. They are an unwilling participant in God's great plan, but participant they are nonetheless. In fact it is only after God has saved us and changed us that we begin to become conformed to his will. Phillipians 2:13 says: "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

We have some religious leaders that appear to be in it for the fame and fortune. They take the focus off the King, and seem to prefer that the spotlight is on them. These modern day "chief priests" seek to keep their athority at all costs.

And what of the disciples? How many who really are Christians spend much of their time keeping a low profile? Watching the work of the Lord from a safe distance? All of us are guilty of this to some extent at one time or another. Keeping our focus on the King should help!

Friday, October 19, 2007

How to Please God

As you may have noticed, I seldom link to posts by other bloggers, but I just finished reading a post by Dennis over at The Recliner Commentaries which was one of those that I agree with completely. So completely that I wish I had written it myself. And since I so strongly agree with it, and since I did not write it, I am going to do the next best thing and link to it.

So, click here HERE for a great dissertation (don't let that word scare you off, it doesn't take that long to read) on pleasing God.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Piston Survival Training

Any time you start dealing with old Harley engines with cast iron cylinders, there will be some concern about piston "scuffing", "scoring", or "sticking". All pretty much the same incident, just a matter of degree. In this installment of my series on the Stroker Flathead Engine Build , I would like to address this issue.

I have touched on this issue in another post, The Great Knucklehead Cylinder Controversy . Scored pistons can be a heartbreaking proposition when it leads to a broken cylinder. Its not much fun even if it only causes enough damage to require an overbore. Having seen so many badly scored pistons come out of cast iron cylinders, I was naturally concerned about how the pistons would hold up in this Flathead.

Pistons stick, score, or scuff for one reason. The piston gets hot enough that it expands to the same size as the bore, leaving no clearance. Having too little clearance initially is only one of a number of possible causes. Lack of oil on the skirt can be one culprit. Lack of cooling (sitting in traffic) can be another. Retarded ignition timing and lean mixture are others. Add to that the fact that cast iron motors like Knuckleheads, Flatheads, and Iron Sportsters just tend to hold a lot of heat and you can see the potential for disaster!

In recent years I have been getting the piston skirts for Knuckleheads Teflon coated. The Teflon does a couple of things. It gives an extra margin of "lubricity", but it also allows you to run a little more clearance without fear of getting noise from piston slap (the Teflon coating "dampens" the sound). When Joe (the owner of the Flathead) brought up the idea of having additional coatings done, it sounded like a good idea.

What we wound up doing was having the piston skirts coated with a Teflon and the domes with a ceramic. The ceramic reflects the heat rather than letting it "soak" into the part. Most of the heat which ends up in a piston comes through the top due to being exposed to combustion temperatures. The ceramic should keep the pistons cooler, and thus less likely to stick. The Teflon on the skirts will give an extra level of protection in case of a break down in the oil film.

Added to this we did a ceramic coating on all parts of the combustion chamber (on the Flathead that means both the head and cylinder) including the face of the valve. We also ceramic coated the back side or "tulip" on the exhaust valves and the exhaust ports. Now with all those surfaces having a ceramic coating on them to limit the amount of heat soaking into them, this should be one of the coolest running Flatheads around.

One last thing. Likely not needed, and something you would want to do on a stock looking motor, but I added piston skirt oilers. With some careful measurements I determined that oil ports could be added to the cylinder flanges front and rear of each cylinder. Not any extra room here, so if you choose to do a similar modification be careful ! The holes need to be low enough that they are below the oil control rings with the piston at bottom dead center. Whatever fittings you use have to be small enough to clear each other in the "V" between the cylinders. I used some fittings from Clippard which were a #10-32 thread, 90 degree with 1/8" hose barb. Thses fitting are normally used in pneumatic air control devices. The actual hole going into the cylinder I limited to .050". Like I said, there is not much room for error here. I fed the oilers by way of a "T" in the oil pump return line.

Between all the teflon/ceramic coatings and the piston oilers this Flathead should prove to be about as bulletproof in the area of piston scoring as you can make it!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Your Local Church

There seem to have been a lot of posts recently on the blogs that I follow about the local church. Interesting how God works, leading different Christians in different locations, most of whom have never met or even know of each other to focus on the same subject. Having spent over a year in search of the right church for my wife and I to join, and having become members within the last 6 months, it is a subject I have given plenty of thought to.

During the time of searching (much of which consisted of "scouting" church web sites during the week and attending a different church every Sunday morning) I went though a goodly amount of soul searching as to that selection. At some points I wondered whether I was being too picky about certain things we deemed important, but were not actually issues of doctrine. At other times I wondered if it would be better for us to just continue endlessly attending a different church each week because we could not find one we agreed with in all areas. One thing that we never did consider though, was calling it quits on attending services altogether!

Hebrews 10:24-25 "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."

Though we have this biblical command not to forsake the assembling together,attending church services is something that has never been a burden since I became a Christian about 8 years ago. In fact, I tend to think that anyone who doesn't have the strong "desire" to attend services at least once a week has fallen victim to one of two possible maladies.

The first possibility is that you have managed to "ween" yourself from church services. The world we live in today seems to just beg us to do other things on Sunday morning. Many of us spend a lot of time making a living, leaving little time for all the distractions the world provides. I am sure I am not the only one who puts in more than eight hours every day during the week, plus at least a half a day every Saturday. That barely leaves time to keep the lawn mowed, let alone a few fun activities. Forty years ago, when I was a lad, this was not such a trap. Since Sunday was largely considered a day of rest, very few commercial enterprises were open to lure one away those Sunday morning services. No one I knew had parents with any kind of cabin or lake property to cause them to be out of town on the weekends. Face it, there was not much else to do on a Sunday morning back then except go to church. Not so today. If you are not so worn out by working too many hours during the week that you want to sleep in, then you surely will be tempted by all of life's other pleasures that there never seem to be time for. Certainly life's circumstances can get you out of the habit of going to church regularly if you let them.

If it were not possible for a real Christian "ween" themselves from attending services, then we would not have needed the warning of Hebrews 10 quoted above.

The second possibility is that you really are not a Christian in the first place. Perhaps you do not even claim to be one. My guess is that if such is the case the only real desire you may have to attend services would be the working of God in calling you to him. Follow that calling. Your salvation is in the gospel, and the gospel has been entrusted to the local church.

What if you claim to be a Christian, but have never felt much desire to go to church, but only a sense of duty? Maybe even more like a chore. That should be enough to cause you some worry. The bible makes it clear that there is such a thing as making a false profession of faith. 2 Corinthians 13:5 says "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? " It is not an unhealthy thing for a Christian to consider their spiritual condition from time to time. Better to find your lack now than to one of those Jesus spoke of in Matthew 7:22-23 when he said "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

In fact one of the clear "proofs" that the bible gives us that we are indeed saved is that we love the bretheren. As it says in 1 John 3:14 "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death."

So, if you are saved, then you love your brothers and sisters in the Lord. Why would you not be a member of a local church? That is where you will find those brothers and sisters. And if you are a member, why would you not be a regular attendee? My wife and I have children and grandchildren who live out of state. We don't get to see them very often. My wife is going to visit them in about a week, and I wish I could be there with them. It gives me a real ache down deep when I think about spending time with them. But on a slightly smaller scale I get the same feeling when I am going to miss a church service. I think that is the way it is supposed to be.

Now the church that I belong to is a small one, and in the last year has suffered from even lower than usual attendance. No fault of the pastor. He certainly delivers a good challenging sermon ever week. Most of the members tend to be "older" with children that have started their own families. And as is so often the case, those grown children no longer live in the area. This has lead to very small number of children in the church, which means no children's programs. It is tough to attract new, young families without a program for their children. Sort of a catch 22. The bottom line is that there is a very real concern that the church will not be able to continue. Ouch!

My point is this; If you are a Christian and you are not a member of a local church, then why not? It is your biblical duty! If you are a member of a local church and you do not attend or support financially on a regular basis, then why not? It is your biblical duty! Do not take your local church for granted! Not only do you need your local church, your local church needs you! Be involved. Why? Because the Lord that died for your sins wants it that way!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Day of Atonement

As a continuation of the series of sermons on the Jewish Holy Days from the Old Testament, this past Sunday our pastor preached on the Day of Atonement. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, fell on Saturday September 22 this year. I wrote about the previous week's sermon on Rosh Hashanah here in this post titled Trumpets

As I said in that post, the Feast of Trumpets has much to do with remembering the giving of the Law. Focusing on the law should put us in mind of how miserably we have failed at the keeping of it. Once the law has shown us our need, then the atonement shows the solution. The Day of Atonement has to do with redemption, that is the buying back, or payment made for our sin. As Hebrews 9:7 says "But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:"

This day was a foreshadowing of the great payment which would be made for sins by Christ as our great high priest which we see in Hebrews 9:11-12 "But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us."

Eternal redemption! That is certainly something worth spending some time remembering!

Saturday, September 22, 2007


by Lee Wickstrom

Quoting from the SuperFlow operators manual: " In it's simplest form, flow testing consists of blowing or sucking air through a cylinder head at a constant pressure. Then the flow rate is measured at various valve lifts. A change can be made and then the head can be re-tested. Greater air flow indicates a flow improvement. If the tests are made under the same conditions (emphasis ours), no corrections for atmospheric conditions or machine variations are required. The test results may be compared directly."

"Under the same conditions"; therein lies the rub. Variations include, but are not limited to:

1. Brand and size of flowbench -Variations between brand of flowbench can be a problem when comparing data. There is probably no good rule of thumb for comparing results from different brands of flow bench. Even when using the same brand of flow bench differences will be seen between benches of different capacity. (for instance a SuperFlow 110 vs. a SuperFlow 600)

2. Test pressure used - SuperFlow has a chart in their operators manual for converting flow figures from commonly used test pressures to other commonly used test pressures. Flow figures taken at 10" test pressure must be converted in order to be compared to flow figures taken at 25" test pressure.

3. With or without intake manifold on intake port - Obviously a flow test done with a restrictive stock manifold on the head will not show as much cfm as one with a very unrestrictive manifold.

4. With or without carb on intake - Same idea as with the manifold, in order to compare apples to apples the flow figures you are comparing need to be taken through carbs that flow the same.

5. Type and design of radius entry on intake - If testing is done without a carb or manifold a radius entry should be used at the port entrance. The shape and size of this radius entry can effect flow figures. If an intake manifold is used on the head, it too should have a radius entry.

6. With or without pipe on exhaust - Adding a piece of pipe to the exhaust when using a SuperFlow 110 does not seem to effect the results much, while on the SuperFlow 600 with its higher test pressures it makes a large difference.

7. Design of pipe on exhaust - flow figures will increase from having a "bell mouth" or "flare" on the exit end of it.

8. Operator methodology - The way in which the operator does the test can also play a big part in results obtained. The angle that you read the manometers from will affect the results, as well as how quickly you take your reading after turning the machine on, to name just a couple variables.

All of these variables can be minimized to the point of being negligible if you are comparing only heads that are checked on the same flow bench. In other words, "Cousin Roy's Backyard Porting Shop" (fictitious name, I hope) with his SuperFlow 110 may do just as good a porting job as Mr. Hi-Tech in LA (who uses a SuperFlow 600 with all the bells and whistles), if he has done his homework and learned from his testing, porting and re-testing. The trouble is, it may be hard to know how his work compares without testing Mr. Hi-Tech's heads on Cousin Roy's bench or visa versa.

How then can the average consumer pick the best cylinder head shop to spend his money with? Well, here are some guidelines that we would suggest:

1. Spend your money with a shop you can trust. Ask around. If possible talk to someone who has used their services before.

2. Is the shop's reputation based on advertising or on results? Anyone can claim to be the best cylinder head porter in the business. The truth be known, any GOOD porting shop is capable of putting out quality work. There is a limit to how much any valve size is physically capable of flowing. Most talented cylinder head porters should not be too far apart on their flow figures for the same head and valve size. Much of the difference in their flow figures may be attributable to the items listed previously with the heading "under the same conditions."

3. Does the shop keep records of their flow testing? If you are paying for a porting job and flow test you should get a copy of the results. If you are not getting a flow test with your porting job, the price should reflect that. Some misunderstanding can be eliminated by using correct terminology. A flow test is only the actual measurement of the airflow. Porting is the actual modification to the head to increase the airflow. A "ported" head has not necessarily ever been on a flow bench. A "flowed" head is for the most part a meaningless term, since you can put a stock head on a flow bench and test it. Usually when a person uses the term "flowed head" what they really mean is "ported" or "ported and flowed". It is not illegitimate to sell a porting package without flow testing. Remember though, without a flow test you are at the mercy of the experience of the person doing the porting. If they do a lot of the particular head and valve size you are using, then they can probably be fairly consistent without checking every head. Stock evo heads are pretty easy to be consistent on, but if you only port one every 4 months you may not realize that you have done something different and lost flow unless you test the head. Shovel heads are at the other end of the spectrum. The large differences in port core from one head to the next make it very difficult to get consistent results without testing and rework. CNC ported heads are a different matter altogether. Due to the repeatability of the machine, the minimal difference in flow from one head to the next should only be because of core shift in the head casting. In this case a flow test is not really needed. All heads should flow reasonably close to the CNC Port Master (the head which was ported by hand and then digitized for CNC)

4. You get what you pay for... sometimes. A mediocre porting job will probably flow about halfway between a stock head and a well ported head. Hopefully the price will reflect that difference. Don't expect top notch work for a dirt cheap price. On the other hand there will always be people out there who are more than willing to charge premium prices for mediocre work and make up for it with bravado. See # 1 above. SuperFlow says there is only a 1% difference in the flow loss due to wall friction between a sand cast and a polished surface. Shine does not necessarily equal airflow.